Dan and I are two weeks in coaching a club volleyball team together. This is my sixth season coaching, Dan's first. Our team is delightfully wonderful, we have the minis - nine and ten year olds (can you believe how young they are starting volleyball these days!!!). They are little studs.
I love looking from off the court to see all twelve of them huddled around Dan, who is almost twice their height. He is so good with them! The best part is they don't know we are engaged (some of them suspect but aren't confident enough in their suspicions to accuse). At practice we are Coach Julie and Coach Dan and it's all business. In the beginning, it was surprisingly difficult to keep it platonic. Not that we can't keep our hands off each other for an hour and a half straight, it's just that we are accustomed to a certain amount of physical contact as the status quo, and we can't really hold hands etc. (or any kind of affection, even verbal) on the volleyball court.
We fixed this by creating the following code:
high five = kiss
high ten = real good kiss
elbow bump = hug
toe touch = i love you
So if you ever watch us coach and see us exchange a high five, you'll know it's actually a PDA.
Our team will probably figure out that Dan and I are romantically involved when we have to miss a week of practice because we are on our honeymoon... so we should probably tell them ahead of time. A little later in the season we'll come up with a creative and cute way to tell them that we are getting married. Open to suggestions...
We just took a class called God’s Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage, curriculum based on 1. the biblical foundation for marriage by God’s design (i.e. Genesis 2; Matthew 19; Eph 5; 1 Cor 7) – and examining what all that actually means – and 2. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (=amazing. Study it.).
Key take-aways: entering marriage must be a Free, Total, Faithful, Fruitful mutual self giving, each of these four qualities is equally necessary, and equally influential and dependent on the others. JPII’s TOB is pretty intense, but in summary I would say it addresses: What does it mean to be “man” by God’s design. What does it mean to be “woman” by God’s design. What does “one flesh” really mean (and love vs. lust). How do we take all this and live it out in our indissoluble marital unions. There are books upon books studying TOB, which was compiled in the 80’s based on JPII’s General Audiences from 1979-1984. TOB seems to me to have picked up momentum in the last decade with certain subsets of Gen Y. A very logical atheist could look at the body’s natural design and arrive at some of the same conclusions as JPII, but it’s way cooler when you consider how we were designed with purpose by a Creator who loves us and wants us to be full of joy (and our marriages too!).
We’ve also been going to a series of four sermons on the marriage topic by a Presbyterian pastor, which have been really good. Quite a bit of overlap in biblical references from our (Catholic) Joy-filled Marriage class to this (Presbyterian) talk series, which is really cool. Last weekend’s talk was on the importance of emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy as being equally important and equally dependent and influential on one another.
We are pumped about all this stuff. In theory… it’s beautifully fool proof. In practice… well, we certainly know that our marriage will have its share of challenges! Sometimes we just chuckle; we are doing all this marriage prep and talking about all these things but at the end of the day, like every marriage, ours is going to require hard work and sacrifice and unconditional love and respect even (especially) in tribulations.
Up next is Natural Family Planning (NFP), which we are especially pumped about. NFP is a diligent practice that serves as a sort of “game plan” for chastity within a marriage, upholding one another’s dignity and human nature, and of course achieving or avoiding pregnancy by observing the natural fertility cycle. NFP employs the principles of self-mastery, self-giving, all three kinds of intimacy, communication, and an intense study of male/female fertility by both partners. In other words, Dan is going to know what my body is up to pretty much all the time… which, as you can imagine, has great benefits! Imagine, a man’s tender consideration of what’s happening in his wife’s body any given time of the month – what a beautiful thing. It’s not a cure-all for marital issues, but it’s a great habit and the statistics supporting NFP are incredible.
Chart and sharpies in hand... we’ll start NFP class in January. I’m stoked.