I guess announcing for the first time on Sunday that the class would start on Tuesday was not enough time for even the most enthusiastic of potential class members to clear their schedules; no one came. I guess I can save my notes and such for next week.
About a year ago, as the First Counselor in our ward, I gave a talk in sacrament meeting which was all marriage advice for men (several of the tips were of course applicable to women, but I didn’t want to be seen as whining at my wife from the pulpit). Several people asked me for a copy of the talk afterward.
Months later, the Relief Society asked me to be a guest speaker at their monthly evening meeting — about differences in marriage. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a harder speaking engagement: telling women (including my wife) what they could do to improve their marriages. I supplemented my own thoughts with a slew gleaned from the marriage blogs showing on the sidebar, which are largely Protestant/evangelical Christian blogs. As I told the sisters, I had yet to come across a comparable marriage blog specifically from and for a Mormon viewpoint.
“You should start one!” one of the sisters said.
I laughed that off; after all, most of what I was telling them was recycled from other people’s blogs, and there are enough regurga-blogs out there.
Two weeks ago, from the stand before sacrament meeting, I caught sight of a young married sister. When I say “young,” I mean young: she’s nineteen, so’s her husband (who had to work that Sunday), and they’ve been married a month. They’re living in her parents’ basement; he’s a recent convert to the Church and has little family support (in truth, he has little family to support him), and they would be starting post-secondary education soon while working.
I thought, “They really need something.”
I proposed to the bishop that I teach a marriage class specifically for newly-weds, which I defined as those married five years or less; I’d teach it at the church on a weekday evening. (The standard optional Marriage & Family course at church is usually taught during Sunday School, and it often encompasses all ages: newly-weds, parents with five children, and old folks, with a grandparentish couple teaching.) I warned the bishop: “I’m going to stray from the manual so far that I probably won’t even look at it. I don’t want this to be a recitation from a text, as worthy as that text may be; I think this should be a from-the-heart sharing and discussion of things I’ve learned from eighteen hard years of marriage, helping them skip some of the stupid mistakes.”
He said as long as I don’t preach anything too weird, I’m okay.
My second main motive is to get these young couples together. With work and school hashing their schedules, most of them have never had a chance to meet each other except in the halls at church. They need an opportunity to connect with each other, to realize that there are other people in roughly the same situation they’re in.
All of which is preamble. We invited eight couples, but I don’t know how many will be able to come (owing to that same aforementioned work/school thing). I’ve also mentioned to another ward that meets in our building that we’re beginning this class, and they’re welcome to send over their own young couples.
And finally, the question you’ve all been waiting for: So why the blog?
For one thing, I don’t want to prepare handouts before the class, because a lot of the value to be found is in the discussions we have and the conclusions we reach. I’ll be blogging after each class as a recap, not before each class as a syllabus. This can be of value both to those present who want to review and those who miss a class.
For another thing, if it’s of value to the newlyweds in our ward, wouldn’t it be useful to newlyweds in other wards?
For a third thing, I’m a content-producing junkie. It’s true. Any project I undertake makes me wonder, “Can I turn this into blogging or something?”
So there it is. Tonight is the first class. Further bulletins as events warrant.