The following are quotes from various resources on Newlywed adjustments and issues. We pray they will minister to your marital situation.
• In the beginning, were the words: promises exchanged during a dreamy candlelit wedding ceremony. But in the beginning, when we were crazy in love with our husband, the pledge to love and respect him was a painless promise to make. After all, he was our knight in shining armor, the man of our dreams and, by far, the easiest guy in the world to respect. Right? But somewhere along the way, somewhere between our marriage vows and mortgage payments, somewhere between the magical and the mundane, we learn there is more to the words, “I promise to love and honor you,” than we had originally thought. Much, much more… (Judy Carden, from the book, What Husbands Need)
• Marriage is more than sharing a life together; it’s building a life together. What you do now is for both, and what is said now is for both. What your purpose is now is for the kingdom and giving glory to the image of God. (Norm Wright, from the book, “One Marriage Under God”)
• How does a newlywed couple live out the promise made before God and a community of family and friends? Decision, priority, balance, and forgiveness are the keys. Decision is the operative word. Fidelity requires decision, decision to follow through on a pledge. Decide to act honorably. Decide to put your marriage as number one each day. (Mary Stubler)
• Who, newly in love, preoccupied from morning till night with thoughts of love, can believe they will ever be out of step with their partner, that the feelings they are experiencing so strongly will ever fade? Certainly no bride or groom wants to hear that their flame will burn lower in time. But in a sense, it will. The passionate love that begins a marriage cannot sustain a marriage. Newlyweds who equate true love only with passion are doomed to disappointment. (From the book, “Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts by Dr’s Les and Leslie Parrott”)
• As you settle into your new life, each of you will try to create the same environment you enjoyed as a single person. The problem is —no matter how much you are alike —your definitions of “normal” are different, which leads to conflict. For some reason, most engaged couples believe that there will never be conflict in their marriage —that somehow they will be different. If your definition of “normal” doesn’t include resolving conflict, one or both of you will panic when conflict arises, believing “we aren’t normal —marriage shouldn’t be like this!” However, that is EXACTLY what marriage is like. Conflict is normal!
…The first year of your marriage is the best time to develop and practice healthy communication and conflict resolution skills. These skills will make your marriage stronger, as you conquer conflict together and not only celebrate your differences but use them to make your marriage a unique testimony of your life in Christ. (Bill and Bridget Dunk, from newsletter for GTO Ministries, Marriages.net)
• People draw their marital expectations from two wells. One is courtship. If dating was wonderful and starry-eyed, why would you expect marriage to be otherwise? If spending 20 hours a week brings us such joy, you might think, more time together as husband and wife could only be better! But think back to your courtship. Wasn’t it largely a mirage? What did you do when you didn’t want to be alone? You got dressed up and did fun things together. What did you do when you were tired of talking? You went home. How did you deal with financial decisions? You made them on your own. When you were dating, there were some built-in escape valves in your relationship. Now that you’re married, there’s no other home to go to. Your spouse’s finances are yours, and vice versa. By its nature, courtship allows a couple to live in denial. Marriage makes that posture much more difficult to maintain. (Glenn Lutjens, one of the authors of the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)
• Typically the first year of marriage is the most conflict-intense. From the time a couple gets engaged through the first year of their marriage, they’re making all kinds of decisions, both big and small. Conflict arises as they work out together how decisions will be made. For example, the wedding itself usually creates a lot of conflict because there are so many decisions to be made. Conflict almost always accompanies times of increased stress. (Tom, from the book, Happily Ever After)
• The early years of marriage can be just as stressful and difficult as the later years, but for different reasons. Although you may not be adjusting to a new screaming baby or trying to parent a rebellious teen, you’re trying to do one of the most difficult tasks of all time: become one flesh. Blending two people with different backgrounds, learning experiences, family histories, and expectations into one marriage is nothing short of a miracle. Maybe that’s why God must be in the center of it to really make it work. But even with God right smack dab in the middle of the two of you, there will be clashes, changes, concessions, and compromises. That’s what this stage of the marriage is for —to spend time developing a strong connection between the two of you and to start learning and applying the skills that will become the foundation of a strong marriage that can really go the distance. It’s about learning to “leave and cleave” and becoming one flesh. (Dr Debbie L. Cherry, Child-Proofing Your Marriage)
• Many of the challenges of the first five years stem from distorted expectations. We live in a fast-food culture with a sense of entitlement to having everything happen on demand. But marriage doesn’t work that way. The apostle Paul advised Christians to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). As radio Bible teacher Alistair Begg has noted, we need to do the same in our marriages. Many spouses are blind-sided by the complexities of married life, having assumed they instantly and naturally know all they need to know about making a relationship work. Begg suggests that we should expect to work out the marriage relationship “with fear and trembling” rather than being cocky and deluded by the notion that it will all come easily. (Wilford Wooten and Phillip J. Swihart, from the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)
• Far too often what seemed irresistible in the swirl of hormones and emotional highs during courtship turns out to be irritating in the 24/7, “up close and personal” daily life of husband and wife. The mature and responsible guy seems to become a stiff, nit-picking perfectionist, boring and sexually uninteresting. The girl who appeared to be such a wonderful, bouncy, free spirit now looks like an irresponsible, immature twit with no depth at all. Is that what’s happened with your wife? The truth is that she’s the same woman you fell so much in love with. But you have changed —stripped of your illusions about her. (Phillip J. Swihart, one of the authors of the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)
• Any genuine relationship which offers the “magic” of love also contains the seed of disappointments, flaws, and failures. Few of us are aware of that reality at the beginning of marriage, for our expectations run high. When we meet the person who seems to fill in the lonely spaces in our heart, and the feeling is shared, we say it’s too good to be true, but we believe that it is true anyhow! We desperately want to believe we have found the ideal love relationship which will fulfill all our dreams.
After marriage when the discontent slips in, when we discover that our partner is less than “a perfect fit” as a mate, and that our relationship is less than the perfection we counted on, this may disappoint us and disturb us, but it can also mark the beginning of our true love affair. Wisdom tells us that although life will not be a perpetual honeymoon, something much better, much richer, can be ours if we’re willing to direct our secret choices toward building love-filled intimacy with the real person we married. (Dr. Ed Wheat, from book, Secret Choices)
• The love you now have for your partner will undergo numerous changes and evolve into many different forms over a lifetime together. Accepting this fact can help you keep your love alive, saving your marriage before it starts. But more importantly, accepting love’s changeable nature allows you to relax and enjoy its many manifestations. Over time, you will see how love’s many forms strengthen and deepen your relationship, enriching your lives with its exquisite beauty and rare character. (From the book, Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts by Dr’s Les and Leslie Parrott)
• We each experience love in different ways. Part of your job in these early years of marriage is to be a student of your spouse. Learn everything you can about him or her, and put into action what you learn. Finding out how you can make your spouse feel loved is essential to experiencing continued closeness. Staying close also requires that you continue to do the things you did during dating and courtship that drew you close together in the first place. If you want to stay in love forever, commit to doing the things that made you fall in love in the first place —and do them forever. (Dr Debbie L. Cherry, Child-Proofing Your Marriage)
• There are two myths about the first year of marriage. One is that it’s all sweetness and light; the other is that it’s hell on earth. They are myths because every marriage is different. Whatever is happening to a particular newly-married couple is no more than raw material, a starting point on which to build the marriage. And you can start from anyplace. (Dr James Healy)
• They say that marriage doesn’t really start until you return from your honeymoon, and they’re right. For this is the first time you’re actually together as man and wife without the glitter, without the hype, without the distractions of ceremony or vacation, and with all the decisions of starting out still to be made. For most newly married couples, it also means setting up a new home, which is supposed to be fun, which is supposed to be exhilarating, and which often turns out to be exasperating. You didn’t just gain a husband or wife —you gained his or her old sofa bed and chairs, the old posters (from college!), the old T-shirts, and boxes of things you may well be fighting about 3 weeks or months after the day after your wedding day. The point is, you most likely won’t be haggling about things; you’ll be fighting about what those things mean or meant, to you or your spouse. (Curtis Pesmen, Your First Year of Marriage)
• The first year of marriage is like wet cement —the impressions made in it are much harder to change once it has set. (Robert Wolgemuth)
• The truth is, husbands are on trial in the first year of marriage. Wives are too. There’s no denying it when you think about it, but people don’t think about it all that often: they take the two-lives-merge-into-one part of marriage for granted. They assume things will just work out. Fortunately they often do, a lot of time; but as the majority of couples find out, the merging of lives on a day-to-day, ultimate basis is a lot more complex than they thought. From good and bad habits around the home to eating patterns and cooking in the kitchen, to his-and-her bathroom styles and beyond, nesting is testing —each other. It’s tricky business, it’s tough, but it does have rewards. (Curtis Pesmen, from the book: Your First Year of Marriage)
• A responsibility that newlyweds take on without asking for it concerns their partner’s sense of style. For now it is at least part of their own. “Before being married I dressed my home and rooms to my taste and style,” Laura related. “Now there are two styles and tastes to think about. I remember that looking at art on our honeymoon was really an eye opener: I love colorful pictures, and my husband likes scenery types of art. Totally opposite! His colors and styles are more realistic, and much calmer. In a very full store that had shelves and walls full of art, we didn’t agree on one painting that we both liked. Being married, we realized, we’re going to have to compromise. A lot! (So we bought no art!) “Also, even when I was picking up items for my family, things as little as postcards, now I had to think about two families. It’s not that it’s a burden, or bad. It’s just an adjustment.” (Curtis Pesmen, Your First Year of Marriage)
• Motto for the bride and groom: We are a work in progress with a lifetime contract. (Phyllis Koss)
• APPLY THE “24-5 PRINCIPLE” —based in part on Deuteronomy 24:5: “If a man has recently married he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” Many couples don’t take enough time to talk, bond, and firmly connect with each other during the early days of their marriage. If you’re a newlywed, you can apply the 24-5 Principle by doing the following: • Establish a special, exclusive covenant for one year. • Refrain from all extra responsibilities during that year. • Focus on and establish your marriage before you move out into career advancement, ministry, and further education. • Invest in and bond with your spouse emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and sexually. • Bring happiness to one another; limit your time with others during the first year. You can expect some resistance from family members and friends on this decision. But ask them to pray for your marriage throughout this first year together. (James Groesbeck with Amy Swierczek, one of the authors from the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)
• Marriage is a journey through predictable passages, or stages, of love. These stages —romance, power struggle, cooperation, mutuality, and co-creativity—are sequential seasons of love in marriage. Each stage has its own challenges and opportunities, and each builds on each other, eventually bringing your love to its full potential. (From the book, Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts by Dr’s Les and Leslie Parrott)
• The first change the woman must adjust to is no longer being a bride. (Sheryl Nissinen, The Conscious Bride)
• Some men act as though their work is done the moment their bride says “I do.” It’s almost as though, on their wedding day, they take their to-do list and put a check mark next to “find a wife.” Then after the honeymoon, it’s back to work —and back to that to-do list —with many more battles to win and more check marks to make. Perhaps the most interesting part of this phenomenon in men is that, at the same moment they’re feeling a sense of finality about their wedding day accomplishment, their brides are seeing it as just a beginning. (Robert Wolgemuth, Mark DeVries, From the book, The Most Important Year in a Woman’s Life/ The Most Important Year in a Man’s Life)
• During the honeymoon period, there is a tremendous amount of goodwill, trust, and a willingness to adjust. You both have a narrow window of opportunity to change bad habits in yourselves, set some ground rules, and become aware of the other’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses. This is the time in which you will develop your communication patterns. (Kay Coles James, from the book: What I Wish I’d Known Before I Got Married)
• Unfortunately, after the honeymoon period ends, too many couples forget to make their marriages a number one priority. They start to take each other for granted. Everything else seems more important— careers, children, hobbies, community involvement, and personal pursuits. And when marriages aren’t attended to as they should be, trouble sets in. Couples start arguing about every little thing. Or, they simply grow apart. And although growing apart isn’t a marital death sentence, it requires hard work to set things on course. (Michele Weiner-Davis)
• The success of a marriage comes not only in finding the “right” person, but in the ability of both partners to adjust to the real person they inevitably realize they married. (John Fisher)
• An overriding cause for much of the marital stress of the first years of marriage is the preoccupation with living life, resulting in a failure to build intimacy in the marital relationship. Before marriage, much of your time and personal energy was spent in getting to know each other. Many couples assume that after marriage they don’t need to keep at this process of developing intimacy; however, the adjustment process will tend to drive you apart unless intimacy continues to be cultivated. Intimacy demands time together, effective communication, a willingness to know and be known by each other, and a desire to meet each other’s needs. As a couple in the early years of marriage, you need a commitment to build an intimacy base. Then at each of the later stages of marriage, you will be held together because of intimacy, not just because of obligations such as the mortgage or children. Any investment in each other now will be enjoyed all during your married years. If you invest now, in the midst of being very busy, you’ll receive the reward of a strong marriage for the rest of your lives! (Jim and Sally Conway)
• Every marriage faces pressure points that test a couple’s mettle: getting adjusted to one another, launching a new career, the birth of the first child and subsequent children, children going to school and moving out of the house, serious illness, and retirement. These milestones can cause upheaval in the happiest of marriages. If the change is not expected and planned for, love is thrown off course. But if the marriage is good and change is anticipated, there is a gradual process of acclamation, and love finds a new sense of fulfillment. (From the book, Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts by Dr’s Les and Leslie Parrott)
• The early investment in building an exceptional marriage costs a fraction of what it will take to keep a lousy one on life support. The early investment takes less time. It takes less emotional anxiety. Have you ever walked down a sidewalk and seen a hand print or someone’s name etched into its surface? Think about how much work it took to make those marks and how difficult it would be to change them. Indelible marks are made on your marriage early. They’re not very difficult to make, but they’re extremely difficult to change.
Scripture is clear that there is —and should be —something undeniably different about the first year of marriage. The implication is that, particularly for a husband, there is a receptivity to change during this year, perhaps as at no other time in his life. We call this “THE WET CEMENT YEAR.” Once the patterns of the marriage are set, change can and does occur, but it may take something like a jackhammer to bring it about. Too many women spend the first year of marriage working hard not to make waves, hoping that the little irritants and insensitivities of their husbands will simply go away. But in almost every marriage we’ve observed, problems not dealt with in the first year simply become larger and more paralyzing as the years go by. (From the book, The Most Important Year in a Man’s Life/ The Most Important Year in a Woman’s Life by Wolgemuth and Devries)
• Long before the fires of frustration ever threaten to engulf your marriage, make sure you have at your fingertips more than enough resources to extinguish them. So right here and right now, in your first year of marriage, put together a team of people who will promise to stand with you on the side of your marriage— a marriage mentor couple, the pastor who married you, maybe even a professional counselor you both trust. Invite them today to be a part of your support team. You’re not looking for a group of people to be your therapists and to solve your problems. You are simply looking for people who you trust and who can create an environment of hopefulness for you— those who will encourage you to hold on to all the right reasons you married each other in the first place. (From the book, The Most Important Year in a Man’s Life/ The Most Important Year in a Woman’s Life by Wolgemuth and Devries)
• Isolation is a strategic ploy of the enemy. He wants you separated from others so that you think you are the only couple in the whole world who ever had a particular problem. That’s why you need to start early to find other couples who are kindred spirits and row together by sharing the struggles and triumphs in your lives and marriages. At least one other couple needs to know how you really are doing in your marriage. This point is so important that I will say it again: You need at least one or two other couples who know how you are doing in your marriage. (Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Starting Your Marriage Right)
• Every married individual must adjust to qualities in a spouse that were not noticed or were ignored during the dreamy days of dating. (Dennis Rainey)
• At prime moments, God will use your marriage to show you how to love the unlovely. (Dennis Rainey)
• In-laws can be wonderful. That’s the good news. But do beware: The relationship between you and your in-laws can be less than smooth and supportive. Overly detached parents can put stress on a marriage. As you’re getting started in your new life, it’s imperative that you and your husband —not your parents —set the guidelines and boundaries that will be most supportive of your marriage in the long run. But get ready. Making these adjustments will most likely be more challenging for you than it will be for your husband. (Susan Devries, Bobbie Wolgemuth, from the book: The Most Important Year in a Woman’s Life)
• Learning to get along with each other’s family is a gift you each give the other. And it may be the most valuable gift you give or receive during your marriage. If affects the two of you now, but later it will have a big impact on your children. Grandparents are very important, and the two of you are the gate through which the families have to pass to have a relationship with your children. (Steve and Kathy Beirne)
• What you say and do now in relation to your in-laws will set the tone for years to come. Getting off to a good start is very important because it is difficult to undo the first impression. Go slow and listen more than talk. Different families have different ways to show love, affection, approval, etc. (Steve and Kathy Beirne)
• Newlyweds should always follow the golden rule in dealing with their in-laws because if everything goes “right” one day, newlyweds will also be parents-in-law. (Leah Shifrin Averick)
• To limit confusion and minimize conflicts, it works best if each of you is the primary spokesperson to your own parents when it comes to working out differences. Also remember to keep you relationship with each set of parents separate and positive. Avoid making comparisons. One set of parents does not need to know everything the other is doing, such as how much time you spend with them or what they buy for you. (From the Marriage Partnership article, “In-Law Tug-of-War” by Ingrid Lawrenz)
• Holiday visits: Often, there is blind defensive loyalty to one’s own family. For that reason, a new spouse can be seen as a critical intruder. So begin by frankly acknowledging each family’s traditions and desires. One family might view Christmas as a major reunion that lasts several days—and nights. A spouse who accustomed to a different style of celebration might prefer instead to split up the time between the two families. It would be easy to read a new son-or-daughter-in-law’s departure from the “norm” as a rejection of the time-honored tradition. So it’s crucial that you prepare your family for some changes and offer an explanation so your spouse won’t come across as the “bad guy.” (From the Marriage Partnership article, “In-Law Tug-of-War” by Ingrid Lawrenz)
• “Within every new family, there are so many issues of ‘intentional togetherness,'” says Bryan Brook [Ph.D., an author and Denver-area couples counselor] None, perhaps, is as highly charged as holiday time, but you probably know that already. What you may not know is why that is so. It turns out that holiday pressures go way beyond shopping and who’s cooking what and what time to show up —they have to do with exaggerated feelings. “Because we’re supposed to feel more love” during certain times or days of the year, Brook explains, the tension that would already be apparent, say, on any given non-holiday Tuesday in July is heightened on holidays. And then, if the love doesn’t magically multiply —more and more on cue— a couple may wonder, “What’s wrong with this picture?” when there may not be anything wrong at all. (Curtis Pesmen, from the book: Your First Year of Marriage)
• Try to be your spouse’s biggest fan. It’s not uncommon for parents to view an in-law as someone who has taken their “baby” away from them. If they hear about your mate’s every little failure, it’s only natural for them to want to take your side. However, don’t hesitate to turn to parents for help if serious problems arise such as drug, alcohol or physical abuse. (From the Marriage Partnership article, “In-Law Tug-of-War” by Ingrid Lawrenz)
• Tugs from the in-laws may not seem as intrusive when each knows that he’s “Number One” with the other spouse. The bond grows between husband and wife when each considers the other’s needs and wishes before those of anyone else. Indeed in Genesis the Bible directs, “Therefore shall a man leave the house of his mother and father and cleave unto his wife.” (Genesis 2:24) ” Establishing this “baseline” is perhaps the most important step in heading off in-law conflict. (Leah Shifrin Averick)
• Maggie Scarf points out in her book Intimate Partners, that when couples marry, they must set about redefining themselves in line with their new visions of themselves and in line with their different definitions of reality. This, as you might expect, does not happen neatly in the first week or month of marriage. Especially when you’ve got in-laws mixed into the melange. “Each member of the pair,” Scarf writes, “has… come into the marriage with a different autobiography; the specific family cultures from which they spring have impressed certain ideas and beliefs into their psyches. …The major struggle, in the early phase of marriage, is about what the themes of their new, jointly scripted scenario will be.”
The minor struggles, meanwhile, are the day-to-day dealings about casting aside parts of the past and deciding what you call your in-laws: Mom? Dad? Or do you dare to use their first names? The unofficial rule: If you’re comfortable enough to ask them, chances are you’ll be able to call them Mom and Dad. (Curtis Pesmen, from the book: Your First Year of Marriage)
• The public is so ill-prepared for and ill-informed about marriage —they don’t realize that the first two years of marriage is the time when a new civilization is hammered out. We mislead couples by calling it the “honeymoon” phase. We send them off without the basic understanding of what to expect or the skills they’ll need to lay the foundation for a life-long marriage. It’s cruel and barbaric —we’re still in the dark ages when it comes to marriage. Just getting the basic stats like these out to the public is the first step. Explaining what the research has found about WHY the first two years have the highest failure rate is the next step. And, teaching couples —equipping them what to do about it —how to improve their odds —that’s the key. The first 3 years also has the highest infidelity rate. Very few people realize that. So much needs to be done in marriage education. (Diane Sollee)
• A cultural myth says that the first two years of marriage will involve romantic love, passionate sex and be problem free. The myth suggests that newly married couple should just enjoy life and sex; they have nothing to worry about. Like much of common-sense “pop psychology” advice, it is not just simplistic. It is wrong. In reality, the first two years of marriage are crucial in building a solid marital bond of respect, trust and intimacy. A positive, integral part of the bond is developing a couple’s sexual style so that sexuality can be a shared pleasure, a means to deepen and reinforce intimacy, and a tension reducer to deal with the stresses of life and marriage. When sex goes well it serves a 15-20 percent role in enhancing marital vitality and satisfaction. (Barry McCarthy PhD)
• This is a time when you discover the real influence your family has had on you. If your family was secure, you’re probably going to be secure in this new relationship. If your family was chaotic and unpredictable, you will probably feel a need to create chaotic interactions between you and your spouse. If your family was harsh, you will discover a growing harshness in this new relationship. If your family was abusive, you’ll discover a block in your ability to attain true intimacy. This often confuses people because these traits lie dormant in our lives until we say “I do.”
These are the characteristics of intimacy that were emotionally programmed into your life by the people who loved you the most in your childhood. These traits don’t necessarily show up in friendships, ministry, or work relationships. With the commitment to enter a sexual relationship, the door is opened wide for these deep-seated qualities to surface. If these characteristics are healthy, you get a head start in your marriage. You will still need to grow to adjust to them because they are “new” based on a new stage in life, but the adjustment will be gradual and relatively simple. If these traits, however, are unhealthy, your need to grow is intense. These qualities are challenging to the relationship and can be destructive to your future. (Bill and Pam Farrel, Red Hot Monogamy)
• One of the most damaging things many newlyweds bring into the bedroom is their own foolish and unrealistic expectations, often based on worldly erotic myths or their own past immorality. Modern people have not understood that successful sex does not come from having the perfect body and finding the dynamic sexual athlete who can perform up to our standards. Successful sex involves a successful human love relationship (and we’re using love here in the Christian sense). We should try to maximize our physical attractiveness, not as an egotistical discipline intended to bring attention to ourselves, but as a selfless act of giving for the benefit of our current or future mate.
Our bodies are a stewardship. We should plan to show up on our marriage night with the most pleasant body possible for the sake of our spouse. We should continue to observe self-restraint after marriage, also for the sake of our spouse. We want to give our spouse the most pleasing gift possible when we take him or her into our arms. (Dennis McCallum and Gary DeLashmutt, The Myth of Romance)
• One in 12 couples is heading for the divorce courts after 24 months —more than double the figure for seven years. Dr Michael Svarer, who led the study at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, said the risk of a split rose rapidly throughout the first 18 months of a marriage and then slowed before reaching a peak at two years. (Quote from an article sent by Smart Marriages)
• TAKE THE WORD DIVORCE out of your vocabulary: Consider the following illustration of what marriage commitment should be. If you were on the 10th floor of an apartment building and you smelled smoke you would naturally look for a fire escape. But if there were no fire escape, the only sensible thing to do would be to put out the fire. When a couple makes a commitment that divorce is never an option, they give themselves no fire escape. The foundations of trust are strengthened. If threat of divorce is used as a tool of manipulation, the relationship is in serious trouble.
During the first few years of marriage, there were a few times in the heat of arguments when either Roxana or I would threaten a divorce. We were smelling smoke and were ready, if necessary, to head down the fire escape. I don’t believe either of us really considered divorce an option. We both hold strong beliefs against it. Yet even the threat of divorce was eroding our trust in each other. Each of us began to be afraid that the other was serious. We talked about this one day and agreed never to use the threat again, regardless of how hurt or angry we were. Our trust is very strong now because we know that we’re committed to putting out the fires. We have no fire escape. We can therefore depend on the fact that we’ll have each other regardless of what happens. (Conrad Smith, from the book, Why Just be Married When You Can Be Best Friends)
• After each receives the mate God has provided, the next step for the husband and wife is to join forces. The Bible’s word for this is cleave, which literally means to stick together like glue in a permanent bond. As the melodrama of God’s presentation of Eve to Adam comes to a close, the scripture says, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they will become one flesh”(Genesis 2:24). Cleaving is not just about sex, although the beautiful act of sexual intercourse certainly illustrates the physical aspect of becoming “one flesh.” Cleaving is much more. Another good word for it is commitment, a total lifelong decision to stick together physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Without question, it’s a challenge for both spouses to accept all the differences in each other when they marry. But this is God’s plan; in spite of the things in your mate that repel, He wants you to receive and cleave. And the result is a partnership of exponential strength and awesome potential. (Dennis and Barbara Rainey, from the book, Starting Your Marriage Right)
• In at least one aspect, marriage is like football. In a close game, the winning team is usually the one that made the most significant adjustments in strategy along the way. That’s what effective coaches do at halftime —give their players the key adjustments that will gain them the advantage in the final quarters. A winning marriage requires the same mind-set. A husband and wife need to recognize that surprises requiring proactive adjustments await them in their relationship. (Dennis and Barbara Rainey, from the book, Starting Your Marriage Right)
• The first task newlyweds must accomplish if they’re to complete the first passage of marriage is to mold two absolutely different, independent persons into one unit. That won’t come easily. Take two headstrong individuals and forge them into a unit without sacrificing their individuality. What a formidable task! To get through the passage of young love with flying colors, you, as well as every other newlywed, have to master this task. Regardless of what the couple thinks (or imagines), their intimacy in the beginning is superficial. True intimacy grows only as a couple get to know each other better. Persons in a new relationship haven’t had enough chronological time to do that in depth. This is true no matter what the actual age of the persons involved. Teenagers and 70 year olds suffer equally. They feel compelled to walk on eggs, as it were, when dealing with each other. “Will this upset her?” “How will I tell him about this?”
A new couple, regardless of chronological age, has simply not logged enough time in harness to develop deep intimacy. Often a new couple inadvertently strains their fragile intimacy by loading it with burdens it cannot carry. “This is the intimate relationship that will solve all my other relationship problems from the past. I will finally receive what I need.” Friction with parents, failed prior relationships, perhaps even failed marriage —all melt away in the brilliant heat of this new and encompassing love.
Conflict, however, is inevitable, no matter what the ages or backgrounds. The new couple aren’t far enough into their relationship to know that conflict is nothing more than a normal part of marriage. How the couple deal with that conflict, however, can make or break the union. [Editor’s note: for help in this area of your marriage look in the “Communications” section of this web site for tools to help you work through conflicts in less damaging ways.] (From the book, Passages of Marriage by Minirth, Newman, and Hemfelt)
• Traditions and holidays might not seem like a big deal when compared with communication, finances, and sex. But how you celebrate events in life can be a place where expectations go unmet. And for many people, holidays can be stressful enough without adding another person’s traditions to the mix. Chances are, your families celebrate differently. (Toben and Joanne Heim, Happily Ever After)
• Couples who wait to talk about finances until there’s a problem set themselves up for conflict from which they may never recover. As much as you may think it’s preventing discomfort early in your marriage, it’s never helpful to abdicate the responsibility for decisions about what to do with “our money.” (From the book, The Most Important Year in a Man’s Life/ The Most Important Year in a Woman’s Life by Wolgemuth and Devries)
• What are the financial problems that most often hit newlyweds? First, I’d say, is debt. It’s a monster that can ruin marriages. Even “honeymoon debt,” student loans or car payments that are brought into the marriage, can add pressure. And conflict can spark from that. Second is understanding what money means to your spouse. For some people, money means control. “I have lots of money; that means I have control.” Some people think money gives them power, freedom and independence. “If I make enough money, I won’t need anyone else. If this marriage doesn’t work, I’ll be fine.” Once spouses understand how they both think about money, they can work through their differences. (Roger Gibson, First Comes Love, Then Comes Money)
• Few issues can eat away at the fabric of a marriage like a husband and a wife who have different unspoken expectations about finances. (From the book, The Most Important Year in a Man’s Life/ The Most Important Year in a Woman’s Life by Wolgemuth and Devries)
• “Let not your left hand know what the right is doing” may be good alms-giving policy, but it’s sure not the way to run a marriage. Commit yourselves NOT to make not heavy decisions without consulting one another. Questions of finance, child-raising, lifestyle, major purchases —all pertain to the marriage partners as a unit, not as individuals, for the welfare of the marriage itself depends upon harmony in these (and other) areas. You are working as a team now; teamwork requires that the members keep in step, each knowing what the other thinks and does.
This is not the surface example sometimes given of the wife getting husband’s approval to buy a new vacuum cleaner. This is the husband seeking the wife’s counsel, as she does his. Two heads are indeed better than one. Sharing decision making benefits the marriage, but the very process of making decisions jointly provides a far more important by-product —improved intimacy. As two persons work out complex issues, each learns more about the other —how that person thinks, what matters to that person, what that person needs at the deepest level. (From the book: Passages of Marriage by Minirth, Newman, and Hemfelt)
The following are quotes from various resources, which center on the different stages of marriage.
• Life is lived in seasons. And similar to the natural seasons, there is a seeming tug of war between the seasons of life as one merges into the next and things change. A great question to be aware of and answer together is, “What season are we in right now in our relationship or in our lives?” Periodically looking at everything in your life through this lens is a key to being able to flow with and appreciate what each season brings your way. It’s a crucial key to your attitude and ability to enjoy each season for what it is. (Rowan and Mara Fraser, from Couplethingsblog.wordpress.com article, “Driving Your Conversations Deeper: Seasons”)
• Each marriage goes through different seasons, and each season has distinct challenges and specific blessings. Newlyweds have the challenge of considering another person’s desires. But they soon discover the joys of married life as they learn to care for each other. The arrival of a first child ushers in a different season in marriage and brings with it the challenge of sacrificing the couple’s wants to care for the needs of a baby. Both mates are challenged to learn flexibility, for life with a young child is unpredictable and taxing. But there is a wonderful blessing in watching this treasure begin to respond to your love.
The season of having children at home brings many challenges. One is finding time to cultivate our marriage relationships. We are forced to reorder our priorities and determine what really matters in family life. That reordering brings blessings to our marriages. Some seasons are more challenging than others. The benefit lies in working through the challenges and focusing on the blessings. Ask God to give you a fresh vision for the season you are in right now. Fresh vision often comes when we recognize and develop our gifts. We want to be with those who bring out the best in us and encourage us. A blessing we can give each other is to encourage one another’s gifts. (Susan Yates, from book, “A House Full of Friends”)
• Your marriage must be built to outlast your children. Even if you do not have children yet, the principle remains the same for any marriage regardless of the season of life —your marriage must be built to grow through every life stage and still be on its feet at the finish line. Just what can you expect in the years ahead, and what can you do to make sure your marriage reaches its full, vibrant maturity? (Dennis and Barbara Rainey, book: “Starting Your Marriage Right”)
• Sometimes a marriage has been too child-centered to the detriment of the couple relationship. It is important for couples entering any stage of marriage to commit to keeping the relationship “partner-centered.” In a “we-centered” marriage, the couple’s love relationship is central in their daily lives. This allows their love to flow outwards to their children and others. The Church makes it clear that couples are called to love one another in an extraordinary fashion. A good way to begin redefining the marriage is to reread your wedding vows to one another.
Allowing oneself to grieve the loss of particular roles enjoyed during parenting years is a healthy start to new growth. Discussing openly the strengths and limitations of the relationship and setting new goals together is also helpful. Letting go of old hurts and resentments is a necessary step towards growing healthier and holier in the marriage. Sometimes professional help may be needed. (From the Foryourmarriage.org article, “The Empty Nest”)
• Each passage of marriage through which every married couple travel, like bases on a softball diamond, must be appropriately dealt with if the next one is to count. And the tasks that accompany these passages must be completed before the next tasks commence. By tasks we mean attitude changes one must make and jobs one must complete in order to maintain an intimate marital relationship. Should a runner skip over a base, inadvertently or on purpose, dire problems result. Should a runner get stuck on one base, the only way he can leave is by walking away scoreless. That’s infinitely less satisfying than making it to home plate, for the aim of the game from the very beginning is to make it home. (From the book “Passages of Marriage” by Minirth, Newman, and Hemfelt)
• There is a cost in keeping the marriage relationship vital and growing. One of the prices paid is in time. It’s a payment that can’t be held back without devastating consequences. So to continue ensuring a joyful relationship, or to return to a more loving relationship, decide here and now that you, as a couple, are going to pay the price in time. (From the book, “Opposites Attack” by Jack and Carole Mayhall)
• The bottom line of your marriage contract is the bottom line of any union contract —two entities helping each other succeed and move forward. (From the book “Passages” by Minirth, Newman, and Hemfelt)
• The Romantic Love stage often feels so good that you want it to last forever. In fact, you expect it to last forever! In a new job or a new love, everything seems perfect at first. When you see things that you don’t like, you might deny or at least minimize them. You tend to go above and beyond what is required or expected. You feel energized, alive, and filled with new dreams. In romantic relationships, your heart is filled with love and you know that this person loves you. You both find many ways to show your love. When you’re apart, you are thinking of one another. Everything feels right. Some people feel a sense of finally ‘being home’ or of being ‘complete’, feeling alive and connected.
What we now know through research is that not only is your heart full of love, but your brain is flooded with feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine and PEA (phenoethalymine). Chemically, it belongs to the type of drugs like amphetamines. However, the effect it has on behavior is similar to that of an endorphin. Like most endorphins, PEA increases energy, feelings of well being, positive outlook, and diminishes pain. It increases sexual desire. PEA is what allows you to skip meals and sleep. If you usually tend to be anxious, PEA may help you feel safe and calm. If you are usually depressed, you might have more energy and see things more positively. You believe that it is this other person that brings the best out in you at last you’ve found the one! In some ways you are loving ‘under the influence!’ So, enjoy if you are in this stage! (Dawn J. Lipthrott from the About.com article “Are You Going Through a Stage in Your Marriage or Relationship“)
• Getting to “we” seems like a given for newlyweds: You’ve planned the wedding together, tied the knot in front of friends and family, earned the marriage license that proves the two of you are an official legal entity. Yet experts say it’s important to make a concerted effort to heighten and reinforce this new sense of oneness —and then to guard and protect it. “It’s so important that couples form their own new, separate union together,” says Claudia Arp, who with her husband, David, founded Marriage Alive International and co-authored marriage books including 10 Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage.”
“But we see a lot of husbands and wives who never, ever re-prioritize their relationship after marriage. They’re still entwined with their family of origin, putting their parents and siblings first. Or they’ve been on their own for years and don’t realize that their friends or job or other interests no longer take precedence. You need to be able to say ‘My spouse comes first.’ Yes, you love and respect your parents. And you still get together with your friends. But this is your anchor relationship. If you establish this now, it will be easier to hold on to when life becomes more complicated later in your marriage.” (Sari Harrar and Rita DeMaria, from “7 Stages of Marriage” from chapter “8 Ways to Forge a Sense of We”)
• A crucial task facing couples in the first few years of marriage is developing an identity as a couple. In part, couples have to define “who is in” and “who is out” of their relationship. … After newlyweds define who they are as a couple, they next must face a long list of decisions about how roles and duties will be divided up. This is a challenging task that requires honest communication so a couple can work together on the best solutions. The couples who come out of this stage the strongest are the ones who develop a clear and stable sense of “us” so they can approach life as a team. (Scott Stanley, from the article, “Now and Forever” from Marriage Partnership Magazine)
• “Too often when the children leave the nest, couples move from a child-focused marriage to an activity-focused marriage,” Claudia Arp said. “Community or church activities may now take up the time and energy formerly devoted to your children. Kids were buffers and unfortunately, these activities may still be buffers to a mutual partnership marriage. “Couples need to make the transition to a partner-focused relationship.” (Linda Wessling, from the Fifty Plus Advocate article, “When the Kids Fly the Coop”)
• Our marriages are never static; they are always changing —either growing or withering. …Oneness in marriage gives the picture of two persons joining their lives to form a marriage team —growing in intimacy in all areas, enjoying one another completely. Any help we offer our mate helps our team. Any pain, hurt, insult, any lack of support or faithfulness, any failure to help our mate will reflect back on our team. (From the book, “The Marriage Track” by Dave and Claudia Arp)
• We’ve all heard jokes about marriage ruining a perfectly good relationship. And it might even feel like that in your own relationship or in that of someone you care about. Why does something that starts out feeling so good seem to go downhill once you take that step of commitment? One reason is that relationships go through predictable stages, although the intensity may vary from person to person and couple to couple. You may notice that relationships with friends, a boss, a job, or an adopted child may follow a similar pattern; everything seems wonderful and then the “honeymoon” is over.
Frustrations or hurt feelings begin to mount. In marriage or in a deeply committed love relationship, these stages take on new intensity. There is much more at stake when we make a commitment to spend our lives together to love and be loved. So why does the love seem to go away? One of the culprits is that couples get stuck in one of the early stages and are no longer moving through them. (Dawn J. Lipthrott, from article, “Are you Going Through a Stage in Your Marriage?)
• Being aware of the stages of marriage should help couples to understand that their relationship, even if in a tough or awkward spot, is probably normal. Even with the ups and downs faced in absolutely every relationship, you can still have an amazing connection with your partner for decades to come. All it takes is a little attention, love and effort. Do it! You are worth it. (Dawn J. Lipthrott, from the article, “The Stages of Marriage: Reality Check)
• I‘m certain that if more couples realized that there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they’d be more willing to tough it out through the downpour. The problem is, most people fool themselves into thinking that whatever stage they are in at the moment, is where they will be forever. That can be a depressing thought when you’re in the midst of hard times. And in marriage, there are lots of hard times, unexpected problems with infertility, the births of children (marital satisfaction goes down with the ‘birth of each child), the challenges of raking a family, children leaving home, infidelity, illnesses, deaths of close friends and family’ members. (Michele Weiner-Davis, from the book, “The Divorce Remedy”)
• Seasons change, and so will the place you’re in now in your marriage. And when a season starts to change, talk about it openly. Talk, discover, share what’s coming down the road. Instead of having static expectations about your relationship, feel free to let them follow the natural rhythm of the seasons your love will pull you into.
Life is lived in seasons. Which one are you in? What do you like and not like about it? What season is coming? Face it together, hand in hand. (Rowan and Mara Fraser, from Couplethingsblog.wordpress.com article, “Driving Your Conversations Deeper: Seasons”)
• It takes guts to stay married … There will be many crises between the wedding day and the golden anniversary, and the people who make it are heroes. (Howard Whitman)