Tales From the Groom: There Is No Dana, Only Zuul . . .

Carl looks to open the lines of communication.

I remember reading a great unattributed quote that stated, “Communication is the art of depositing a part of yourself in another person.” In the 1984 classic Ghostbusters, this truism is taken literally.

There’s a turning point in the movie’s central love story between Dr. Peter Venkman and Dana Barrett, in which communication becomes a point of contention for the star-crossed pair. Their relationship becomes complicated when, moments before their first date, Dana becomes possessed by the evil spirit Zuul, a mythical Sumerian beast-dog who has commandeered a refrigerator.

Through Dana’s body, Zuul tells Peter she’s “the gatekeeper” of Gozer the Gozerian, an ancient demigod affectionately known as Gozer the Destroyer. With her buddy “the keymaster,” Zuul plans to help unlock Gozer from the netherworld so she can obliterate all of mankind. Shocked, Peter demands to talk to Dana, to which the demon responds:

“There is no Dana, only Zuul!”

This is an amazing display of two people opening up and connecting with each other, detailing their goals, expectations, plans, and fears all in one scene. I was struck by the ability of the Zuul/Dana character to be very concise and straightforward with Peter, even in her possessed state, as she lets him know who he’s dealing with at all times and what the story is. I believe that through this connection and understanding, Peter and Zuul/Dana set the foundation for the successful relationship they have across the Ghostbusters story arch.

Now, I think anyone who’s reading this blog can agree that there are a few more intricacies to putting together a wedding than, say, total world annihilation. I mean, you don’t need to decide on centerpieces or figure out invitation fonts or printing options for that.

Kristin and I thought the idea of premarital counseling might be a healthy exercise to unearth and discuss some of the things we don’t talk about all the time since we’re caught up in the hurricane that is wedding planning.

Being Catholic, we knew could go through Pre-Cana, a six-week required course for those who want to marry in a church that’s designed to remind you of what’s meant by “until death do us part” and give you the chance to gain a more spiritual appreciation of your relationship. But because we’re not exchanging vows in a church, it gave us the opportunity to look into some other options.

One of the more hands-on approaches was the University of Minnesota’s Prepare/Enrich Program, which provides couples with relationship-evaluation techniques and exercises that help accentuate their strengths as a unit and help ferret out areas for further development. Rather than a psychological evaluation of our well-being or a heavy-handed religious take on what it means to be committed to each other, this curriculum struck us as a comfortable method for opening up some aspects of our relationship and having the chance to discuss them.

Case in point: Part of the curriculum is about making constructive “assertive statements,” where you take responsibility for your request in a positive and respectful manner by using “I” statements rather than saying things such as “You always . . .” or “You never . . .” (both the kiss of death in our household).

This has been really helpful as we start to get into the nitty-gritty on wedding design, and it has helped us cut off some points of contention before they come to a head. And as we get into the pressure cooker of the last few months before W-Day, that’s going to be an incredibly valuable skill to have.

Plus, it helps a guy appreciate knowing when he’s talking to the woman he plans to marry or a Sumerian demigod who plans to destroy everything in her path.

Read Carl's story from the beginning

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