Saturday, April 22, 2017

House-Hunting is Like Marriage Prep

Part of the "marriage prep experience" for many Catholic couples includes a weekend-long event called Engaged Encounter. It's time and place where starry-eyed couples hold hands and talk about their future and how they will potentially address different issues and topics in their marriage.

I am a big believer in the weekend-long Engaged Encounter, and we loved having this experience during our engagement. We benefited from it a lot, and I'm so grateful that we spent that weekend away, instead of doing a one-day retreat or something similar.

That being said, I think it's interesting to see how different things are once you get married. When we were on Engaged Encounter, all of these different topics for couples to discuss individually-holidays, money, work-were fairly broad and futuristic. We weren't actually going through any of those things at the moment, since we were still engaged, so we just hypothetically talked about how things might happen in the future, and how we would address them.

But let's be real: It's one thing to calmly discuss all these hypothetical scenarios when you're spending a dreamy, prayerful weekend away, and it's another thing to face the reality of dramatic events head-on once you get married. 

I've been finding that this reality holds true when house-hunting, as well.

In the beginning, everything is whimsical and exciting. You sit and dream about what your first house might be like. You brainstorm together, making a list of all the features that you need or want.  You talk and talk and talk, and you know that you'll probably have to make some compromises eventually, but that's all in the future, right? This initial phase of dreamy house-hunting is sweet, and it's a lot like some of the discussions that happen in marriage prep: Everything is hypothetical and coated in a rosy, happy-go-lucky aura. When house-hunting really gets going, though, the mood is entirely different.

Suddenly, that initial list you made seems very broad, and each house embodies the features you desire in different ways. You look at pictures of houses online online, and it's just like when you went wedding cake shopping: the first few pictures are cute, but after a few hours, you're ready to be done and would be overjoyed if you never see another mock fireplace again in your life. And, all of a sudden, you and your spouse realize that you prioritize different aspects of your future home. In the initial house-dreaming phase, you knew that you'd each have to make compromises at some point, but now the reality of that implication actually hits you in the face.

Like marriage prep, house-hunting can seem to drag on and on. But, just as marriage prep ultimately leads to a wedding day and a lifelong marriage, house-hunting will ultimately eventually hopefully lead to a house that will become a good home.

In marriage prep, we found that the most important aspect to focus on-outside of our relationship with God-was our unity as a couple. Whether faced with the drama of reception details or miscommunication among several people, it didn't matter who was "right" and who was "wrong." What mattered was that my soon-to-be husband and I grew in unity as a couple, and tackled issues together with self-giving love, understanding, and teamwork. In the same way, I've found that what's most important in house-hunting isn't focusing on what I want vs. what my husband wants, but instead focusing on growing in unity as a couple as we try to address both of our needs and the needs of our family.

Marriage preparations involved lots of growth in patience, and house-hunting is no different. I'm learning how to practice patience in a whole new way. I know that when we do find the home that we both are happy with, it will be well worth the wait. Until then, I'll just keep waiting, praying, and eating Whoppers Robin Eggs as our eyes glaze over from looking at house after house and all the mock fireplaces that I could care less about.

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