A Different Path

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By: Thomas Schulte, CFP®

Back when I was a young pup at US Wealth, circa fall 2016, I found myself in a bit of a tizzy. During my morning routine I received a text from Jenn (also in a tizzy) reminding me that it was Alex’s birthday. Since I had only been on the team for a few months at that point, I had yet to learn that Alex strongly discouraged any gifts to be given to him. With time working against me, I pulled out a bottle of French wine that had been gifted to me and since I am no big fan of wine, I threw a few ribbons around it, slapped a bow on the bottle, and handed it off to my boss in glorious tribute. Another phrase for glorious tribute: suck up, bootlick, toady. Why bring up this embarrassing moment? Because I recently chose against a similar path, however instead of the involvement of my boss, this time it was with a Zoom meeting full of priests and religious officials.

For those of you that don’t know, I proposed to my best friend, Khrista, at Griffith Park in Los Angeles back in September--and for some reason she said yes. We agreed to hold off on any wedding planning for a month to enjoy the engagement, but as you may imagine, that one month flew by and the wedding planning hit me like a rogue wave of bricks. The wedding will take place around her family in Los Angeles, which brings us to last month’s virtual adventure.

Like most other churches, you are required to complete Pre-Cana in addition to religious-based relationship courses. At first thought, Khrista and I believed this to be a walk in the park as we have both been exposed to years and years of religious education and have been together for over seven years. Our first step in this process: a Zoom meeting full of couples tuning in from across the country, several priests, family counsellors with PhDs and parish administrators. The meeting was scheduled for the early hour of 11pm east coast time, so we were dressed in pajama bottoms and t-shirts to get right to bed after what we expected to be a short, informal meeting just to show-face. Immediately upon logging into the Zoom meeting and seeing the other couples dressed in suits and dresses in front of their picturesque backgrounds of lavish pools and beautiful living rooms, we began to realize this may not go as expected.

Although the other couples looked like Tom Brady and Giselle outside their former fortress in Brookline, they weren’t particularly chatty. The priests and administrators were asking couples to share their stories of how they met and why they chose this church, etc. but no one was overly-eager to speak up. With the growing awkward silence, Khrista and I blurted out a quick hello and wave. We may have broken the proverbial ice, but the other couples followed up and incinerated the ice. One after the other, the couples one-upped each other with stories of unconditional love, volunteering, helping the needy, saving stray animals, devoted prayer -- everything under the sun! The Zoom meeting went from an open discussion to an oral examination seemingly to prove deservedness to be wed – to no fault of the church. Before saying something utterly ridiculous, I thought of my suck up moment in 2016 and proceeded to bite my tongue and smile.

We must have passed the test because after this Zoom, along with a couple of individual Facetimes with the priest, we have set our date and could not be any more excited. I have quite the remarkable fiancé.