As he trained me to officiate weddings, Dad advised me to ask my clients: “(Bride), what does (groom) bring to the table that will help to build a successful marriage?” And of course, I ask the groom the same thing.
This question often causes them to stop for a minute and think. In the midst of all the doves and costumes and choices of sweet cake, I’ve just asked them a carpentry question, or something to do with foundations and cement.
Then they start to smile and say wonderful things about each other. Partner A will brag about Partner B’s wit and tremendous poise under pressure. Partner B will counter with Partner A’s organizational skills and ability to get along with all kinds of people. They catch a glimpse of the daily appreciative collaboration ahead.
Once, long ago, I rejected a wedding couple, based on how the groom answered this question.
They were in their forties, successful in their businesses. She had taken up his daily jogging habit and joined him on his travels. You could tell she really admired him. “What does she bring to the table that will contribute to the success of your marriage?” I asked him. He considered for a minute.
He said, “Well, you know, it’s all about me. I need to put my energies to where they can make the best life I can for myself, after all. And she is so easy to be with, comfortable to be around. She’s a really good fit for me, just like an old slipper, a soft, old shoe.”
I looked for her reaction at this statement. She didn’t appear to find anything wrong with being called an old shoe. Or how he sidestepped listing any real qualities that belonged to her.
I bet my Dad would have gently but firmly guided them through their odd dynamics to see if there was a chance for honest partnership between them. But I was new to ministering and felt unready to be a counselor. I closed the interview without comment and later declined to take the wedding.
I’m sure they got married anyway. I wonder if she ever woke up from her enchantment, and what that looked like.