Another exercise was the “Question Jar.”

Before we got married, my wife and I had to take a mandatory church marriage class. The Baptist church would not marry anyone without it.

The idea was: After eight weeks of rigorous marriage training, couples would receive an official certificate, trimmed in gold, with their names on it. And this certificate would prove to the world, without a doubt, that couples were spiritually prepared to stand at an altar and combine health insurance policies.

Keep in mind, this certificate wasn’t a marriage license. This was a “Baptist pre-marriage class certificate,” from the back of the “official Baptist marriage workbook,” purchased for $24.99.

Within the Baptist tradition, you see, you can’t do anything without first obtaining a certificate and unanimous committee approval. Even Sunday greeters are required to attend a four-week class that teaches them to properly say: “Here’s your bulletin, possible wayward reprobate sinner, sir.”

Thus, my future-wife and I arrived at the fellowship hall each week to participate in courses that prepared us for cohabitation.

These courses featured many important games which the workbook termed “marital building exercises.” Many of which were developed by professional marriage book authors—some of whom had been married to the same person for as long as three to four years.

One such exercise was the Egg Test.

In this game, the future-bride (Jamie) balances an egg on a spoon clenched between her teeth. She wears a blindfold and walks across a room.

The future-husband (me) stands on the opposite side of the room (over by the piano). He uses ONLY his words to guide his future-wife through an obstacle course made up entirely of folding chairs which represent the confusing Maze of Life.

On the chairs are Post-It notes, labeled with various day-to-day marriage problems like: “car trouble,” “bills,” “career,” “children,” “chapter 11 bankruptcy,” “sharing the covers.”

In this exercise, the woman stumbles over chairs, spoon held in her mouth. She is thus forced to either trust her mate, or remove her blindfold and dog cuss him before his peers.

I realize that non-Baptists might think this game sounds ridiculous. But this exercise equips young couples with the wisdom needed for facing the increasingly common threat of folding chairs.

Another exercise was the Question Jar.

In this little gem, we were given empty mayonnaise jars and slips of paper. We wrote personal questions on paper and dropped them in the jar.

Couples were encouraged to read questions to their potential mates in front of the class.

For example, one man asked his sweetheart: “Which country do you want to visit that’s NOT in America?”

You had to love this guy.

His fiancé smiled. “The Grand Canyon,” she said. “I always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon.”

They were perfect for each other.

Then another woman read a question: “Honey, how do you prefer your steaks? Rare, medium, or well-done?”

He responded with: “Medium-rare, darling.”

And this couple was then granted permission to marry and have as many kids as they wanted.

When Jamie, however, read a question, she did not ask how I wanted my New York strip. She asked:

“Just how many girlfriends came before me?”

Jared White, who sat next to me in class, bowed his head and whispered, “Give him strength, Lord.”

I am getting off track here. As of now, my wife and I have been married for sixteen years. We are happy. And we do not balance eggs anymore unless absolutely necessary.

Still, marriage class was valuable. Mainly, because we laughed about the whole Egg Test thing until we almost peed ourselves. We’ve laughed a lot over the years.

I’ve always enjoyed making that woman laugh.

It was about ten years into our marriage that doctors found something in my wife’s breast. It was a truly bad day. We did what all couples probably do. We tried not to talk about it. We tried to live normal lives. But it doesn’t work like that.

At night we would lie in bed and hold each other. I remained awake, smelling her hair. I know that sounds strange, but her hair smells better than average hair.

After the months of waiting, tests, and worrying, the UAB doctor gave us good news. I cried in the exam room—right in front of the doc. What a day.

Anyway, today I was in the storage shed. There was a dusty box beside my workbench labeled: “books.” I opened it. I found a sixteen-year-old workbook.

It made me laugh. It made me sniff. In the back pages was a certificate with two names on it, trimmed in gold. Two names that do not sound right unless they are said together.

We passed the class, Jamie.

No eggs were harmed in the making of this column.


  1. Steven Paul Bailey - September 19, 2019 9:39 am


  2. Colleen Shabluk - September 19, 2019 11:25 am

    Wonderful memory of innocence and beginning a life together. Your writings always remind us that we are more the same than we are different.

  3. Joe Patterson - September 19, 2019 11:25 am


  4. Barb - September 19, 2019 11:52 am

    You hit it out of the park today, my friend. I’m sure you and Jamie have a day-to-day ball and that’s the way it should be.

  5. Jan - September 19, 2019 12:45 pm


  6. Rhonda - September 19, 2019 12:56 pm

    Jamie was a gift. And I am sure you to her just the same. And it is special and more rare than you think to find someone who loves you that way. I am going to give thanks that Jamie got a good report from UAB. Its a wonderful place but we didn’t end up on that wall of survivors. I truly hope something tickles you to death all day long!

  7. Karen - September 19, 2019 1:31 pm

    From your writings, I can tell you love Jamie, but more than that, you value her and appreciate her. Happy 16th year together. May your eggs never be broken. By the way, I love the drawing today.

  8. Connie Havard Ryland - September 19, 2019 1:39 pm

    I love the way you celebrate Jamie. Y’all give me hope. Love and hugs.

  9. Steve - September 19, 2019 1:40 pm

    I , “we” did one of those multi day silly premarital sessions with the church. That marriage lasted two years. I’m not sure why, I guess her “new” boyfriend didn’t like me. I never met him. I’m sure he was a nice guy; at least his unknowing wife would say so. It’s funny how the church and I both got it wrong. Maybe we should have used eggs! 😂

  10. Tom Luckett - September 19, 2019 1:56 pm

    One of your best. Thanks!

  11. Chris W. Spencer - September 19, 2019 2:01 pm

    Happy Anniversary Jamie and Sean!! May God bless you with many more years of love, happiness and good health together.

  12. Shelton A. - September 19, 2019 2:34 pm

    We had to take a marriage class, too. We were in our 10th year when we divorced. Episcopalian classes don’t do balancing eggs or question jars…maybe we should. Got a good laugh from this…thanks!

  13. Shelton A. - September 19, 2019 2:38 pm

    p.s. Happy Anniversary! May you two have many, many more filled with laughter (all you have to do is put an egg in a spoon-lots of laughs), joy, good dogs, and lots of love.

  14. C. Will - September 19, 2019 3:00 pm

    My then soon-to-be husband and I had to go through our Baptist church’s pre-marital counseling if we wanted to be married in the church. This would be the second marriage for each us, plus we each had been single for approximately nine years after our first marriages. At the conclusion of the “course”, the counselor/pastor declared we would never make it and he had serious doubts about marrying us.
    Well, we decided phooey with that, got married, and made it 25 years when he passed, the last ten years being cared for by me after he was in a catastrophic accident. He was the love of my life, my “person”, half of my soul. He died almost 11 years ago and I am still lost. Sure, I go about the daily motions and smile constantly, but there is always that part of my heart that will always be broken. I am so very thankful for the journey we had and the lessons we learned along the way.

  15. Susie - September 19, 2019 3:01 pm

    Hahahaha🤣that was so funnnyyyy.
    Congrats on passing the test and loving each other, and many more happy years to come.

  16. Marge - September 19, 2019 3:05 pm

    56 years of sharing my life with my “egg on a spoon” partner/husband! I smiled all the way through your posting today…till I read “two names that don’t sound right unless they are said together”. I cry as I write, remembering how very special Tom and Marge were together. I smile, knowing Sean and Jamie, are perfect together.

  17. Steve Scott - September 19, 2019 3:42 pm

    Those marriage classes, retreats and seminars have given me many laughs over the years. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  18. Thressa Wood - September 19, 2019 3:54 pm

    I very much enjoyed your post!! I love when you include Jamie in your stories.
    I did wonder if the egg in the spoon had more to do when her taking direction from him without talking back.
    I’m happy it blessed you two with 16 wonderful years together!!

  19. Linda Moon - September 19, 2019 4:23 pm

    Laughter is a wonderful medicine in marriage. UAB is a good place to be when actual medical care is needed for a suspicious something in a woman’s breast. You and Jamie passed the workbook test long ago and have stared down the fear of cancer. Folding chairs are never the only obstacle couples face! I think you two will go on to graduate with Honors!!

  20. Susie, as well - September 19, 2019 5:00 pm

    Beautiful post! What, by the way, is today’s drawing of?

  21. Edna B. - September 19, 2019 5:32 pm

    Your marriage to Jamie sounds wonderful. May God Bless you both with many more happy years together. Sean, I hope your day is super. Hugs, Edna B.

  22. Jackie - September 19, 2019 5:48 pm

    My name and my wife’s name were linked together by most people we knew even before the wedding. Very seldom do we hear one without the other. In eight days we will celebrate anniversary number 55. We laugh at ourselves and with each other daily in spite things doctors say.

  23. Jackie - September 19, 2019 5:50 pm

    in spite OF things doctors say.

  24. Martha Black - September 19, 2019 7:12 pm

    I can see why you & Jamie passed the test & have stood the other test “of time”. Commitment & an offbeat sense of humor. I think you’re “hopelessly devoted” & that is wonderful!

  25. Ala Red Clay Girl - September 19, 2019 7:50 pm

    It does my heart good to hear of couples happily married even after many years!

  26. Gaynell Lumsden - September 19, 2019 9:24 pm

    You are so funny Sean. There’s no other like you – imo. Happy Anniversary every day.

  27. Connie - September 19, 2019 11:19 pm

    “Possible wayward reprobate sinner” — still laughing. With love from one of your recovered Southern Baptist sisters.

  28. That's jack - September 20, 2019 1:27 am

    I have said it before, you and me are LUCKY Rascals. This coming Sunday we will celebrate 63 years of marriage. That was long before required counseling was discovered, thank goodness! We woulda ruined an egg (or two).
    Good one my friend, THANKS for a fun read.

  29. Anne Crawford - September 20, 2019 2:57 pm

    My husband started reading your columns after you posted about having visited our hometown of Auburn, KY. recently. He enjoys them so much he now shares them with me and our grown children and their spouses. This one about marriage longevity has had us all smiling. Being able to laugh often -despite the hardships we all must face from time to time- is the key to having a happy, healthy life and marriage. Thank you for adding to that so adeptly.

  30. Carol - September 20, 2019 3:25 pm

    I miss my love 😢
    Hang on and hold them tight ❤️
    Love ya !

  31. Jon Dragonfly - September 21, 2019 3:34 pm

    You may have passed the Class, but the sixteen years proves that you passed the TEST.

  32. Mary Ellen Hall - September 27, 2019 12:48 am


  33. Mary Hicks - October 14, 2019 1:04 am

    Memories are made of this! You and Jamie are blessed to have found each other. God bless you and Jamie.


Leave a Comment