Wednesday, August 02, 2006

We want your marriage to succeed, as long as you don't mind a threesome with Jesus.

I'm trying to find a nonreligious premarital counseling or education class. Eric and I are firm agnostics, and we don't like the idea of being told how to handle our marriage by a Christian or other religion-based person--plus we don't know any, and it would be weird to walk into a random church and say, "Hi, we don't go to this church, or any church at all, and we don't know you, but would you talk to us about our marriage?" We called private counselors and found they're really, really expensive (especially since I have to pay to get a bumper replaced and I'm staying home from work involuntarily today). I e-mailed the Ohio Department of Mental Health about this some time ago, asking for suggestions. They suggested asking my county mental health board. I called them today and they had no idea; there are no publicly funded agencies that do that sort of thing. "It's not a mental health issue," explained the first person I talked to. The second person I talked to could only suggest a nondenominational minister, private counseling (which I already said I'd investigated and couldn't afford), or calling 211, a United Way info call center. I tried calling and, at least on my cell phone, it didn't work.

I can't find my phone book (did I mention our house is haunted? The vents used to sing, but now they've stopped and instead inexplicable things have been disappearing: the power cord to my printer, the extra bits to my screwdriver, and now the phone book) so I went online and spent the last forty-five minutes or so trying to find something local and non-Christian. There are many people advertising themselves as premarital counselors or educators; their sites are pink and purple, or yellow and blue, and hard to navigate and read. There are licensed counselors, licensed and certified counselors, and educators who took a one-day course or use a teacher-in-a-box kit. Not reassuring. (I also did a brief search of "Jewish premarital counseling," just to assure myself that they have it. They do; they get it through their rabbis. So do Muslims. This site has a history of American marriage prep programs, which is interesting if not helpful.)

This article says it baldly: if you aren't religious, you're on your own or stuck with higher fees. I'm full of angry energy about this. If they're trying to get covenant marriages into law and prevent divorces and all that, and they are, and they're focusing on premarital counseling to help, why can't I get premarital counseling without getting it from someone who will inevitably believe I'm going to Hell for not believing in his/her God? At this point I want to go get a master's in counseling psychology and start my own nonreligious premarital counseling practice. Offering workshops for people who can't afford several sessions of private counseling. With a quiet, tasteful, easy-to-navigate website, thank you very much.

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