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I took a call on a Sunday evening. A woman inquired about premarital counseling. She and her boyfriend have been living together for over a year. To ensure that their planned wedding would be a success (his words, she told me), they made an appointment for an initial session.

Due to working hours, they came at 6:00 p.m. A long day for me; probably for her too. Austin and Janie arrived on time. We shook hands and Austin immediately started talking.

“Thank you for seeing us. I don’t know if I can speak for Janie, but I’m a little nervous for myself.”

I took advantage of sighting them as they were sitting close together. Janie’s facial expression read sympathy for me at first.

I have a question. Whose idea was it to seek premarital counseling? I’m just wondering

“We talked about this for several months. Do you agree with Janie?”

“Yes, I agree. If you’re wondering why it took us so long, we asked ourselves the same question.”

So you agree? I would like to know about your relationship. How long have you been together?

“We’ve been together for a year and a half. We’ve been living together for about a year.”

Janie nodded in agreement.

Tell me something about you. In each case, what do you think advice could be useful for? Janie please

“Well, ok. I’m 25 and have been self employed since high school. I come from a poor family. I have four siblings. We’re not exactly close; they all live in different states. They’re all older than me. One of mine Sisters helped raise me after mom and dad got divorced. I lived with my two sisters and my mom. Both my brothers lived with dad. Money was tight. One sister moved out and went to college out of state . The sister who helped raise me worked and brought home money. Mom worked two jobs and was away a lot. I did well in high school. I went to school to become an LPN. I have a job, I like. I wish they paid better. People like to ask us how we met. That may sound strange to you. Well, I guess you’re not here to judge us, are you?”

Yes Janie I’m not here to judge.

“Well, see, I’ve never had any kind of counseling before. Maybe that’s why I didn’t delve into premarital counseling sooner. Anyway, we met at a rehab where I worked. You will laugh. Most people think Austin worked there too. That’s not the case. He had back surgery. He can tell you. He was a patient. I was working the second shift, which meant passing medication along with my other duties. Austin was in great pain. He asked me to read to him before bed. He told me that his mother and father read to him when he was a kid. Thinking back, I think maybe he was flirting. We shouldn’t be too kind to patients. Austin was very popular with the staff. I look back and felt proud that I could be caring and professional. limits you know. I had a good education. Austin’s rehab went well. A month or two after he was released, he sent me flowers for rehab. My supervisor asked me about limits. There was no report that I crossed boundaries when Austin was my patient. A card that came with the flowers just thanked you for reading to him and being a caring soul. No one had ever said those words to me. He added his phone number to the card. Also, nobody has ever given me flowers. That was a whole new experience. I called him to thank him for the flowers. He was polite and not pushy. He asked if he could call me just to talk. I hesitated and held off for a few months. I called him to ask how he was doing. how was his back We arranged to meet for a coffee. He was polite as I said and insisted on paying the bill. Fast forward, we met for a hike on this trail that lay alongside meadows full of wild flowers. Hey, I’ve talked too much. Give Austin his time.”

Austin’s eyes were on Janie the entire time she spoke. Nice introductory body language.

“I’m glad Janie told you about the flowers. You see, I grew up in a wealthy household. I had two siblings, a brother and a sister. I am forever lovingly bound to them and their families. My parents have been married for 35 years. They work hard and taught us this lesion. I also went to high school, then college for construction trades. I was injured at work, had surgery, was rehabilitated and returned to work at my father’s company. He hands over the company to my siblings and me. My parents also taught me love. We didn’t go to any particular church. We talked a lot about God. We felt blessed with every ounce of goodness that came our way. I got to know the power of love. Those words and their true meaning are etched into my brain forever. When I was in rehab, I prayed to God for healing. I prayed silently. I was blessed with good people who helped with my healing. I had some trouble sleeping. The staff was too busy to attend to a special need I required. Only Janie took the time to read to me before bed. My family was often visiting and had to leave long before bedtime. Both of my parents read to us all before bed. Mom always told us that good stories leave a happy bedtime and sweet dreams. During my rehab, Janie’s voice was soothing and loving. I thought that’s why I sent her flowers. I have felt love all my life. It was no coincidence that Janie came into my life. That’s how I was raised. I was busy building a foundation for my life with work and a future. I have friends. I didn’t feel like people would talk chemistry to a woman until I met Janie in rehab. (looks at Janie) I think I felt something extraordinary. I’m not sure you know what you’re offering Janie.”

What an introductory event. Let’s meet again folks.

“Sounds wonderful. We have more to tell you about our vision.”

I look forward to it. Until we meet again next week, have a good time.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

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