The following are quotes from various resources to help to prepare you for marriage. We pray they will minister to your situation.
Getting married is the boldest and most idealistic thing that most of us will ever do. (Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage)
From Gary Thomas:
The Bible tells us that we all stumble and fall and sin. Before you marry you need to know how the person you are marrying stumbles. You want to know what you’re agreeing to live with and what you have to work with. Marriage isn’t about being young and romantic together, it’s about growing old together (and doing what is right according to God’s ways).
Regardless of your level of compatibility, conflict in marriage is inevitable. One of the most important things you need to know is whether your partner can stand the heat. Will s/he be willing to get help when the going gets tough? Is s/he willing to take a marriage education class to learn the necessary skills to get and keep your marriage on track or back on track? Would s/he be willing to go to a qualified marriage counselor or speak to your pastor or rabbi? And if you’re going to talk, talk about the taboo, x-rated subjects. Discuss infidelity, infertility, aging parents, job layoffs, unexpected illnesses or deaths. Talk about the hard stuff.
Does your partner know that over two thirds of what couples argue about in marriage is unresolvable? Does s/he know the predictable transitional stages that ALL marriages go through regardless of how much couples love each other? And does your mate know that while marriage is still one of the greatest institutions on earth, it’s not for the faint of heart? In fact, it’s [extremely] hard work!
It Only Takes One
And since it only takes one person to end a marriage, you might want to ask your partner, “Under what circumstances would you feel that our marriage would be over?” I know this question isn’t pretty or romantic, far from it, but since most divorces are unilateral decisions, it might help to know what might prompt your spouse to call it quits. It could be a deal breaker. So, here’s the bottom line from the Divorce Buster. Don’t place too much weight on those compatibility quizzes. Be more impressed with your partner’s level of commitment. With the right attitude and adequate set of relationship skills, even the quirkiest of personality differences or opposing life goals can be worked through. Know your prospective partner’s willingness to stay the course even when love isn’t easy. (Michele Weiner Davis, from her Divorcebusting.com article titled, “What to Ask Before Tying the Knot”)
There’s an old saying:
“Marriage is a school in which the pupil learns too late.” If we aren’t ready for marriage or if we choose a poor marriage partner, this can be very true. Yet for most people, it doesn’t have to be. To be sure that it isn’t, we need to do three things. First, we need to be prepared to be a reasonably mature, emotionally healthy, and spiritually committed spouse. Second, we need to select a mate who is ready to be a reasonably mature, emotionally healthy, and spiritually committed spouse. And third, we need to be willing to face our needs to grow and become better people and well-adjusted marriage partners. (Dr. Clyde Narramore, from the article: A Pre-Marriage Checklist)
Marriage specialist, Sylvanus Duvall writes:
If a couple find out before marriage how flimsy the basis of their love is, they are fortunate.
Potential for Intimacy:
No other human relationship can approach the potential for intimacy and oneness than can be found within the context of a marriage commitment. And yet no other relationship can bring with it as many adjustments, difficulties and even hurts. There’s no way you can avoid these difficulties; each couple’s journey is unique. But there is much you can do to prepare for that journey. An engagement is not just a time of preparation for a wedding, but also preparation for a marriage. (Dennis Rainey, Preparing for Marriage)
Kay Coles James writes:
The moment you know that this is the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life, you should start the engagement process. Once you know this, the nature of the relationship changes. You view actions differently, the pressure to have sex increases, and your relationship with others is affected. If you’re considering getting engaged, write out the sentence Staying married is hard work fifty times. …Though I say this with some humor, I think these points bear repeating: Don’t underestimate the work involved, but don’t panic either. (What I Wish I’d Known before I God Married)
From Dr James Dobson:
One of the first things you and your fiancé need to develop is a meaningful prayer life even before the wedding. …My wife, Shirley, and I did that, and the time we have spent on our knees has been the stabilizing factor throughout nearly forty years of marriage.
Mike Mason puts it this way:
To keep a vow, means not to keep from breaking it, but rather to devote the rest of one’s life to discovering what the vow means, and to be willing to change and to grow accordingly.
“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, One Marriage Under God)
From Dr Phil McGraw:
The event of getting married is a lot of fun. It’s a party —you plan it, everybody comes, they celebrate, and you’ve got caterers and flowers. That’s the wedding. But it’s the merging of two lives after the wedding that will be the greatest undertaking you’ll ever face in your life. It involves sacrifice, it involves work, and if you have children, it involves huge, huge amounts of responsibility.
Being in love does not mean that you shouldn’t have to work to create a life. You’re going to have to learn to share time, and space, and money, and effort and energy. You need to have a division of labor. Set goals for your children. There’s a lot of work in a marriage and when you’re thinking about it, make sure that you have goals so you’re moving in one direction. Don’t just flounder around.
Ask your pastor for a copy of the words of your wedding ceremony.
Tell him in advance that you’ll want this so he’s prepared.) Then frame and hang them in a place (like in your bedroom) where they’ll be a continual reminder of what you promised one another, and what you vowed before God on your wedding day. Too often married couples forget the promises they made. The old saying, “out of sight, out of mind”, is not a good thing to have happen when it comes to remembering and following through on sacred wedding vows —which are supposed to be kept “until death do we part”… “from this day forward.”
If either person isn’t 100% committed to scale every mountain that comes before you to make your relationship work then you aren’t ready to enter into it. That’s part of the reason the divorce rate is so high. People are entering into the commitment they’re making without having the strength of character, fortitude, and resolve to keep the promises they’re making to each other and also to God. God cares VERY MUCH that we keep our marital promises —He enters into the marriage with you whenever you marry so your promises aren’t only to each other but also to Him. (Cindy Wright)
Kay Cole James wrote:
You must have the strength to be willing to end the engagement if you do not believe that marriage is the appropriate step. There is a reason that we do not go straight from the proposal to the wedding chapel. The engagement period is not just for planning the event; it is also for thinking through what it means to be married and, specifically, what it means to be married to this individual. Now, sometimes you might have the strength to call off the marriage, but you’re worried about the fallout with your family. Please don’t be. This is one of the most important decisions in your life, and you cannot allow your worry about hurt feelings to cause you to make a terrible mistake. A few minutes or days of embarrassment and hurt feelings are far easier to handle than months or years of a troubled marriage.
Love Can be Grand
The love we have for each other before marriage can be grand. But it’s also very different and is vulnerable to change after the wedding. The dailiness of everyday problems start to invade the relationship. If you don’t think that’s true just look at the divorce statistics. How many of those who marry ever thought they would eventually divorce? It’s safe to say that very, very few thought that. They thought their love was different than other couples who encountered such problems. That’s why we need to be better prepared before we marry because love changes and we’d better make sure we’re as prepared as we can be. (Cindy Wright)
I wonder how many marriages would fare better today if each one in the relationship paused to consider this question: How do I really know that this person will seek my happiness above his/her own? (Before You Say “I Do”)
From The Secret of Loving:
Neither you nor your potential mate is going to be perfect, nor will you ever be. The qualities we look at which go into becoming the right person easily can seem overwhelming. But bear in mind that not every aspect of each of them will be present or perfectly active all the time. If your attitude is, “Well, I’ve never been good with money that’s just the way I am,” your marriage has a problem already. If however, your attitude is, “I’ve never been good with money, but starting now I’m going to work on changing that,” you’re on the right track. And, of course, this perspective is applicable not only to how you handle money, but also to other qualities. (Josh McDowel)
So many celebrate the wedding by putting forth months and months of work ahead of time into planning for and preparing for this sacred event. And it’s good that couples hold the wedding ceremony as something of honorable esteem to be celebrated. It’s a sacred God-honoring event. And then after the wedding ceremony there’s an immediate wedding reception held in celebration. Also, so much work is put forth ahead of time so the reception is a true celebration, which is also good —it’s a joyous time to enjoy with all those that witnessed the marriage of two individuals who have pledged to now promised to “love, honor, and cherish each other, until death parts them.
“But what about the marriage?
What work and effort is put forth ahead of time to prepare for the marriage after the wedding celebration? We contend that the most important aspect of all that the wedding represents is too often neglected ahead of time. The wedding ceremony commemorates the first day of a life-long journey. It needs to be diligently prepared for in advance.
This is to insure that the love and honor the marrying couple is pledging in covenant with one another and with God, starts off with their best foot forward. From that day forward for the rest of their lives, a new life together as husband and wife begins. This life is set forth as a team, with God and for God. For the act of marriage is ALL ABOUT GOD. It’s not about us —we get that so twisted around. It’s all about God. We miss the “mission of marriage.” (Cindy Wright)
From Neil Clark Warren:
Get yourself healthy before you get yourself married. Too often we bring our unexamined selves into our marriage relationship. Also, have a cultivating commitment to have a quality relationship with each other in your marriage.
• When you’re marrying, you’re marrying all of the history of that person. (Unknown)
•This is a good time to identify your family differences.
Also identify your personal expectations of marriage that result from your unique upbringing. We all have expectations, even if we aren’t aware of them. Most of our expectations are not voiced —or even recognized —until they have been broken. When a spouse doesn’t do or say something that we “expected,” we realize it and react —often not too positively. There’s no way you will be able to identify every expectation or discuss every situation you may face and consider how you would want to deal with it. However, the process of learning to identify and discuss expectations as you realize them creates a healthy building block for discussions when stressful situations arise in the future. (Dr Debbie L. Cherry, Child-Proofing Your Marriage)
• Remember, you are moving toward a lifetime commitment. Whatever is concealed now will eventually be revealed. (Dennis Rainey, Preparing for Marriage)
•When we consider marriage:
We need to evaluate our past problems and how they may affect our prospective marriage. Many Christians and non-Christians think that marriage is the perfect “escape hatch” from their past. Actually, marriage often multiplies the destructive impact of former problems. For example, consider uncontrolled anger. Some who struggle in this area may never actually “blow up” at their dates or fiancés. This may lead both partners to conclude that the anger will not cause problems in marriage, even though it may still be causing problems in other non-romantic relationships.
After they get married, they are discouraged to find that their outbursts of anger are alive and well. When married, those who cannot control their anger typically turn their fits of rage primarily toward their spouses, often causing alienation and hurt within the marriage. Clearly, we should learn as much self-control over our anger as possible before marriage. We may also need to explore the reasons for our rage episodes. But anger is no different than other areas of damage in our lives. Unresolved problems from the past are rarely solved by marriage, but the marriage can be damaged by them. (Dennis McCallum and Gary DeLashmutt, The Myth of Romance)
The fact that you’re having disagreements with each other isn’t a problem.
That just shows that there are some areas of your relationship that need to be worked on. And that’s normal. People are different, so of course you’re going to run into times where your differences come out and rub each other the wrong way. But what’s important is that you both commit to work on those differences until both of you are satisfied. When you do that, you’re walking the right road together and over the long-run you’ll do just fine. (Cindy Wright)
Make a plan for your marriage.
Going into marriage without a plan is like playing a football game without memorizing the playbook. If you are going to win, you have to have team meetings, set goals, learn and relearn skills, learn how to lead and follow, and share responsibilities. You both need a copy of the playbook. If you want a “til death do us part” marriage you center. (Julie Baumgardner, from Firstthings.org)
• Now is the time to learn how to argue constructively before you have children. (Cindy Wright)
• We must remember that we’re not teaching skills to equip me to get what I want and you to get what you want. Instead we must focus on teaching skills that will equip us to keep our relationship, our “us-ness”, and our marriage alive. (Terry Hargrave, The Essential Humility of Marriage)
From Dr Debbie L. Cherry:
Taking time to develop the healthiest communication skills you can at this stage can save you much heartache in future stages that are even more stressful. Couples are often very good at both talking and listening during dating. This open and honest sharing is how you became so close and what made you feel you knew each other so well. You took time to really listen to each other and gave each other your undivided attention on a regular basis.
Once married, these skills (like many of the healthy skills of dating) seem to get lost in the shuffle of daily events. The time you have available is less and less as the children arrive. So take advantage of the fact that during this stage there is more time for the two of you to communicate and grow closer. Use the time available in this stage to develop the best communication habits possible, which will help you make it through to that last stage, when once again you’ll find that you have more time for each other.
Take time to develop a habit of talking to each other daily, even if only for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn the television off and share with each other about your day or any other topic that’s of interest. Without strong communication skills, the other stages could end up driving the two of you apart. Be sure to learn how to handle conflict in a way that actually resolves the issue and doesn’t just sweep it under the rug, only to have it rear its ugly head in the future. (Child-Proofing Your Marriage)
Is your prospective mate an understanding person?
The matter of understanding and trust is extremely important in any relationship, of course. Think about the following questions: 1. Does he or she listen to you attentively and give you a chance to express your opinion and feelings? 2. Is he or she open-minded, rather than rigid and opinionated? 3. Is your intended willing to bend and compromise, rather than insisting on having his or her own way? A negative response to even one of these questions can have serious consequences for a successful marriage. While you can never expect two persons to be in complete agreement about all issues, there should always be a climate in which you can reach a satisfactory compromise. A marriage is at risk when one person is dominant and the other is submissive only to “get along.” (Donnald C. Cushenbery and Rita Crossley Cushenbery, Coping with Life After Your Mate Dies)
Be intentional about discussing your values.
You and your fiancé will be faced with many challenges in your marriage, and in many instances, you will have to rely upon your higher ideals of faithfulness, truth, and goodness to see you through. If you find that you and your fiancé share many of the same values, you will possess a greater peace and happiness in the years to come. (Todd Outcalt, Before You Say “I Do”)
• If I were getting married again, I would want to know that my life mate was able to express her love for me and felt comfortable in doing so. Before you get married, attempt to ascertain those qualities that you cherish most in your loved one, and make certain you will not be that one thing which is tossed aside when something more attractive comes along. (Todd Outcalt, Before You Say “I Do”)
• Couples who believe that divorce is not an option going into a marriage are less likely to take steps toward ending their relationship. Marriage is not a 50/50 relationship, as we often hear. It requires 100 percent from both partners. If you want to make your marriage last longer than the wedding flowers, it must be a top priority in the lives of both individuals. (Julie Baumgardner, Executive Director of First Things First)
Leslie Parrott, who with her husband, Les, wrote the book Saving Your Second Marriage, says people go into their “encore marriages” with “a mythical sense of security that they won’t make the same mistakes again.” But, on the contrary, they make all kinds of mistakes. Some gravitate toward people who are similar to their previous spouses. Others get remarried to “get even” with a former spouse, or for financial reasons. Still others rush into another marriage because, being divorced, they feel out of step with the community or wonder if they’re “bad” people. “You’re fragile after divorce. You might be depressed,” says Parrott, a professor at Seattle Pacific University, and that can lead to fantasizing about marriage, particularly by women. But, if anything, marriage can actually be harder the second time around, burdened with pressures that the first marriage didn’t have. (Smartmarriages- Subject: Remarrying: Way of Life/Black Marriage)
“A relationship that will improve over time must have a solid foundation from the beginning.
“If you’ve ever tried to build a campfire, you know the importance of using seasoned wood. Green wood (or recently cut wood) does not burn well. It makes a lot of smoke but never a roaring fire. Seasoned wood, on the other hand, gives warmth. The same is true of relationships. A green relationship does not burn well because it hasn’t been seasoned. Only time and experience can season a relationship. (From the book, “Questions Worth Asking Before the Ring” by William Coleman)
“Some couples need to share the secrets that may cause a lapse of trust further down the road in marriage.”
For example, some men might open up and admit that they once made a bad decision with another woman that resulted in a pregnancy. Some women might tell about a lapse of faithfulness while still in current relationship. I once married a couple in which the groom had disclosed to his fiancé that he had killed his father. He had done it in self-defense when he was a teenager. And not all secrets are heavy ones. One fellow admitted that he had never liked his fiancé’s hairstyle. One young woman revealed that she felt uncomfortable with his friends. A relationship that can open up to this level of honesty and trust is bound to deepen.” (Todd Outcalt, Before You Say “I Do”)
•Many couples enter marriage unrealistically.
God wants us to be full of faith but “wise as serpents.” With the great wealth of literature, videos and tapes available to us on the subjects of marriage, sex, finances, communication and so forth, no couple should enter marriage unaware of Satan’s devices to undermine and destroy relationships. (From the book, Called Together by Steve and Mary Prokopchak)
Beyond reading books:
Try premarital counseling and generally not having your “eyes on the fantasy,” says Ms. Piver. She has two recommendations for terrified couples. The first is to slow down. “I don’t mean have a 5-year engagement,” she says. But once they decide to get married, they should think deeply and tune into each other. “Don’t let the wedding industry or your family’s culture or religious culture take over your plans.” The second is to be a team. “This is the first step of your life together,” she says. She notes that it “isn’t a good spirit” if half of the couple is totally disinterested in making plans. Of course, “This doesn’t mean he has to choose your shoes for you.” But both people should be involved, eyes wide open. (Smartmarriages, Subject: Near Mrs)
From H. Dale Burke:
• God wants us to make our marriages a priority and work on making them great, not just held together with clenched teeth. This is why during a wedding I like to have couples look each other right in the eye when making their vows. This is serious business, not just legal preliminaries to the reception and honeymoon.
Therefore, I’m proposing a new addition to the old tradition of exchanging vows. After the couple has exchanged vows with each other, they should turn and look upward or bow their heads in prayer or maybe approach an empty chair (representing the real but unseen presence of God). They talk directly to their Lord as they repeat their vows to the Lord of the covenant. He is, after all, the most important Guest, the Audience to whom we will ultimately be accountable. And remember, He is the One who now joins the two into one. (Different by Design)
Bring Both Sets of Parents Together, if Possible
• I’ve heard of couples bringing both sets of parents together [before the wedding] and sharing and comparing their family tree. It’s amazing what you can learn through this experience. A minister shared with me that on the last session of premarital counseling he asks both sets of parents to come along with the couple. 3 significant subjects are addressed.
Each set of parents I asked to share a prepared list of expectations they have for the couple after they’re married. The couple has the opportunity to identify which expectations they can meet and which ones they cannot. Each father and mother talks abut an ability or skill they have that they’d be willing to share with the prospective son-or-daughter-in-law. They also discuss the wedding day and the ceremony itself, to discover who wants what. Over the years, the cost of the most of the weddings was reduced by 50% when everyone discovered that some of what they’d planned was for the other party’s benefit. It wasn’t really what they desired. (From the book, “The Other Woman in Your Marriage” by Norman Wright)
• A wedding is just a wedding —a party. It doesn’t prepare you for the marriage that follows. (A guest on the Oprah Show Monday)
• Have you done your emotional work before the wedding so you’re prepared for the marriage? (A guest on the Oprah Show)
Take some time to explore with each other questions. Here are a few:
How important to you is the celebration of special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day? What is your idea of “celebration”? What to you is “romantic”? Also ask, what would you like for me to do specifically to show affection and care? (Really get down to particulars here. Say, I want you to greet me with a kiss when I come home. I’d like you to hold my hand in public. I’d like you to sit on the couch with me when we watch television.) In specified items, which is most important to you? Least important?
As you talk to each other about these issues, talk also with God about them.
Remember, God is a creative God and will give you new, creative thoughts if you ask Him. He is full of ideas! And He is just waiting to reveal them to you. Then, too, talk to older people who evidence love in their marriages. Ask them how they show their partner special love, and write down their answers. Read books. (Jack and Carole Mayhall, Opposites Attack)
• If you can answer these questions with your fiancé openly and honestly, experts say, you’re on a good course in regard to your friends: • Should you (did you) invite your ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend to the wedding? Was the decision pain-staking or difficult? • Will lunches with old girlfriends/boyfriends be allowed once you’re married? How about meetings for drinks? Dinner? • Is a weekly or monthly girls’/boys’/ night out okay? • What if a friend asks you to keep secret, for example, an affair or abortion? Would you tell your spouse? Always? (Curtis Pesmen, Your First Year of Marriage)
• Diane Sollee, director of the D.C. —based Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, says that premarital programs work. “We have research showing that a couple who spends at least 12 hours in a premarital-education program decreases their chance of divorce five years out by 50%.” (This comes from article: Can This Marriage Be Braved, featured in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine.)
• We go to school and teachers teach us to read and write. But nobody teaches us about the purposeful commitment and intentionality it takes to make our marriages sustain love over a lifetime. Most people seem to think love should “naturally” sustain itself as it did during the beginning of our relationship. But that just isn’t realistic. (Cindy Wright)
“It’s as simple as this: You can pay now or pay later.”
You can do the long and rewarding work of talking about your histories. Talk about where you come from and what you expect. You can do this or you can wait until those issues just show up. And they will show up. A friend of ours who has been married about 3 months told me that even though he and his wife spent a lot of time talking about expectations and histories, they still have issues that surface from time to time. But they’re more like “aha” moments that remind them of some basic things they already know are true. He said those things are easier to handle because they already know so much about where they come from. (This comes from the book, “Great Expectations… An interactive Guide to Your First Year of Marriage” by Toben and Joanne Heim.)
Need to Learn Skills
Most people believe they know how to drive a car when they turn 16, yet the government requires that they take a test to ensure they know the rules of the road for the safety of the general public. Research has proven that if couples learn certain skills such as conflict resolution, effective communication, etc. they stand a significantly better chance of having a healthy, lasting marriage.
Statistics show that children and adults benefit from healthy marriages. Why would we not encourage them to learn these skills BEFORE they walk down the aisle? This works best for their benefit as well as the benefit of the general public. Too many couples are entering into marriage ill prepared for the challenges they’ll encounter. It behooves all of us to encourage young couples to spend as much time preparing for their marriage as they do for their wedding day. (Julie Baumgardner, MS Executive Director of First Things First)
• Too often engaged couples approach marriage with rose-colored glasses and hold to the dream of having a Cinderella ending.
• Most unmarried people have no idea what it takes to make a marriage work; they grossly underestimate the price people have to pay to build long-term, mutually satisfying relationships. And they fail to understand that the only people with the strength to pay that price are those who have plumbed the depths of their relationship with God, and have dealt with their own brokenness. (From the book, “Fit to be Tied” by Bill and Lynne Hybels)
“It is inexcusable that couples are allowed to marry without taking mandatory conflict resolution lessons.”
Yet it happens all the time. Teachers, pastors, parents, and friends sit idly by and watch starry-eyed lovers overdoes on romance and infatuation. They know full well that eventually reality will strike with a vengeance. Conflicts will arise and hostilities brew. The once blissful couple will face an emergency that neither partner will be prepared to face. Because they have not been coached or trained, they will have no emergency procedures to fall back on.
So what will they do? In most cases, they will resort to the only conflict resolution procedures they’re familiar with: the ones their parents used. Even if they witnessed an unhealthy, unacceptable method of conflict resolution, and even if they vowed they would never behave that way, in the absence of proper training, they will almost inevitably revert to the method they grew up with. (From the book, Fit to be Tied by Bill and Lynne Hybels)
Weddings are dripping with hope, promise and passion. But they have little to do with the daily “You left the toilet seat up again” institution of marriage. A fancy wedding to a marriage is like a bottle christening to a boat; sure it’s flashy, full of ritual and filled with alcohol, but it doesn’t keep the boat afloat. And neither do romantic, yet hollow words like “Cupid,” “forever” and “soul mates.” (Growing Gray Together: Northwest Indiana Times- A wedding isn’t a marriage -By Jerry Davich – Times Staff Writer)
• The best things people take from a marriage education course are how to talk without fighting. They learn how to open up and share, how to put on the brakes when anger begins, and how to come back to the conversation in a safe, constructive way, said Dr. Scott Stanley. “And, they’ll also have increased confidence in their relationship.” (Smartmarriages Subject: Marriage education: Learning to talk through problems)
• You don’t marry one person; you marry three. You marry the person you think they are. Also, you marry the person they are. Plus, you marry the person they’re going to become as a result of being married to you. (Richard Needham)
From Bobb Biehl:
With the life mate decision, you’re not only marrying a person of the opposite sex, you’re determining your future mother-in-law. You’re also determining your future father-in-law, your children’s grandparents, your children’s other parent, and your future nieces and nephews. Plus, you’re determining all of the rest of your in-laws, where you, and your children, will likely spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays for the next fifty plus years. The success or failure of your marriage impacts a lot of people. Communicate honestly and clearly on these issues. Your extended family for generations to come will be influenced by your discussions and your decisions. (From the book, “Getting to Really Know Your Life-Mate-to-Be” by Bobb and Cheryl Biehl)
Dennis Rainey, in his book, Preparing for Marriage:
Much of who you are today is a product of your past. You and your fiancé have probably not attempted to conceal your background from each other. But you may not have taken the time needed to adequately examine how your past influences your future. One of the most underestimated influences on your new marriage is your family. When most couples marry today they assume that their marriage is between two people who want to become one. In reality, it is two people and two families that are coming together to form a new merger. You will leave your father and mother so that you can cleave and become one. However, as you will see in the years ahead, your family’s impact on your new family must not be minimized. Instead it should be understood and planned for.
Norm Wright gives the following insights:
Mothers-in-laws who are invaders tend to use the words “should” and “ought” excessively as they impose their standards on others. “Should” and “ought” imply, “I know better than you do and your ought to listen to me.” This problem has a fairly predictable outcome; it’s called, “Shut out mother-in-law.” Conversations become abstract, and detailed plans are omitted from conversations. Avoidance is the order of the day, and this leads to greater deterioration of the relationship. Criticism and advice are more likely to be heard when “maybe” is substituted for “ought” and “should.”
One young wife, after hearing several “should’s” and “ought’s” shared with her mother-in-law the following statement. She said, “Joan, there are times when what you say could change just a bit and I’d receive it better. Perhaps you could begin substituting the word ‘maybe’ for ‘should’ and ‘ought’. And while you’re learning, whenever you forget and use the old words I’ll remind you by saying the word, ‘maybe.’ Perhaps that will help.” This is a positive way to handle a delicate situation. (From the book, “The Other Woman in Your Marriage” )
From Peter Hill:
I read with interest the front page August 9th Boston Globe article. It said, “Younger blacks absorb a wariness of marriage.” It’s not just black men but men in general who are becoming every more wary of marriage. This is with good reason. The rate of divorce is alarmingly high and for men especially divorce can be exceedingly harsh. Men in divorce tend to lose much more than women. They often have their kids taken from them, or their role as fathers greatly diminished. This is because of a lack of Shared Parenting legislation. Men post divorce are often destroyed financially, and are labeled as dead beats when they’re dead broke. They lose their house, and, due to all these losses, sometimes lose their way. So their fear of marriage is well founded. The effect of divorce on society is manifold.
Children of divorce have a harder time making attachments as adults.
Children of divorce have higher suicide rates, and need more medical care. They have higher rates of alcohol and drug use, and have earlier sexual encounters. They also have higher violence rates and fare worse in school. One would think with all the downside that society would do everything to maintain and strengthen marriages. In addition, one would think that in the event of separation and divorce that society would do its best to keep both a mom and dad involved in kid’s lives. However this is far from the truth to the detriment of children.
…Society must do more to strengthen existing marriages. If they don’t the fabric of society will continue to fall apart with more expensive solutions for society. An intact family is healthier for all concerned and less expensive and safer for society. Support local initiatives to have marriage saving programs. (From the Smartmarriages.com article titled, Shared Parenting Solution)
Statistics show that the town of Leavenworth has an unusually high divorce rate of 80%. The Rev. Randall Terrill uncovered that statistic recently. He and 14 other clerics are refusing to marry couples unless they’ve been through months of counseling. The preachers are calling it a “community marriage policy,” which is designed to lower their divorce rate. Terrill says the same kind of counseling has worked in other towns. In Modesto, Calif., the divorce rate dropped by 40% after a similar policy was implemented, according to the reverend. In all, couples will need 3 to 4 months of counseling from the clergy before they can tie the knot. Terrill said couples will have to meet with their counselors 4 or 5 times. The couples will also have to meet with couples who are already married.
Terrill knows that some couples won’t like the idea and won’t want to take the time before exchanging nuptials. But he said something must be done. “We want this marriage to last a lifetime. If you’re not willing to invest some time to prepare yourself for that, then we wonder about your commitment to each other,” Terrill said. (Smartmarriages article, Preachers Delay Marriages/Feds Urge Marriage/TV Unreality)
“You’ll never know everything about the person you’ve chosen to marry.
“But the more information you have before entering into this commitment, the less chance you will be confronted with unfulfillable expectations. (From the book, “Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook… How to really get to know the person you’re going to marry” – by Jerry Hardin and Dianne Sloan)
Most couples finish Pre-Marriage Mentoring sessions with more confidence in their relationship. Most go on to marry. But sometimes the opposite happens. One guy, Mike remembers, “canceled his wedding two weeks before the wedding. Her parents were flying up from South America. He had already bought the tickets. “But the mentoring, Mike says, did exactly what was intended. It helped identify and stop a bad marriage. That is painful but so much less painful than marrying and later divorcing.” (From the article: Can This Marriage Be Braved”)
“People think they have to find their soulmate to have a good marriage.
“You’re not going to “find” your soulmate. Anyone you meet already has soulmates —their mother, their father, and their lifelong friends. You get married, and after 20 years of loving, bearing and raising kids, and meeting challenges —then you’ll have “created” your soulmate. (Diane Sollee, smartmarriages.com)
• When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you’ll be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
Todd Outcalt, in his book “Before You Say “I Do” wrote:
I read about a couple in Florida who had decided to lay new carpet in the living room of their home. The wife insisted on shag carpet. The husband, however, insisted that a short-nap carpet would be much easier to clean and manage. Refusing to give in to the other, each insisted on having the carpet of his or her choice. One weekend, while the husband was away on a business trip, the wife ordered her favorite carpeting from a same-day carpet service. She watched contentedly as the men unrolled and installed a fashionable wall-to-wall shag.
When the husband returned home to this surprise, he was livid. The next day, after his wife went to work, he brought the lawn mower into the house. He fired it up, and casually proceeded to mow the living room! In a few minutes he had reduced the luxurious shag into a short-nap carpet. That evening, the wife sued for divorce. Before entering into marriage, discuss anger. Find out how each of you deals with your anger, how you vent your frustrations.
You know you love each other. But is love enough?
You have grown up in distinctly different families. You have your own thoughts and feelings about marriage, children, religion, sex, work and careers, and money management. Each of you has priorities and expectations about the way people should conduct themselves in marriage. But have you openly discussed and evaluated your priorities and expectations? Unexpressed expectations are the seeds of trouble and conflict. One of the first questions we ask couples in our premarital workshops is, “What do you think is the most important ingredient to have in a good marriage?” (From the book, “Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook” -by Jerry Hardin and Dianne Sloan)
If you determine together to marry because you sense the anointing of the Lord upon your relationship, and you persevere with the Lord’s continual guidance, know that marriage can be very, very good. I want that for you. I want that for everyone who marries. But be cautious. The apostle Paul approached the subject of marriage the same way. He said in 1 Corinthians 7:25, “Those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.” That is my heart also.
I LOVE being married to my husband. But I caution everyone who marries to know that it won’t be easy to combine your lives together. Approach life as a marital team —no matter what it looks like now —life together will change and reshape itself. You will have to make a lot of sacrifices to make your marriage into a good one. Please pray, prepare, and proceed very reverently and cautiously into marriage. (Cindy Wright)