The following are quotes from various resources to help those who are preparing for marriage. We pray they will be helpful.
• If all you’ve thought about is the wedding and not the marriage, then you might need to think again. (Renae Willis)
• Getting married is the boldest and most idealistic thing that most of us will ever do. (Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage)
• The Bible stresses the need to persevere in doing the right thing: “‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). The ‘harvest’ results from continuing to do the right thing, working until the very end. You’re not just choosing to get married; you’re choosing to be married. That means feeding your marriage every day, “so long as you both shall live.” You’re promising not just to live together, but to grow toward each other. Your spouse will have a legitimate expectation that, after the ceremony, you will make your relationship a top priority in your life. On your wedding day, you’re not just saying, “I do.” You’re committing to, “I will. For the rest of my life.” (Gary Thomas from his article, “Hungry Again”)
Preparing For Marriage
• Too many couples fall in love, but they don’t realize that falling in love and getting married are two different steps. It’s not too difficult to fall in love with someone. But that doesn’t mean that you should spend the rest of your lives married to each other. You may have “loved” each other through a certain season of your lives, but this relationship may not be one that would last through the rest of the seasons of your lives. Marriage is something you commit to because you’re both equally committed to each other. And you’re both committed to the Lord who wants to bless your union, helping it to be one that reflects God’s agape (unconditional) love.
If either of you don’t feel like you can commit to living together for the rest of your lives in unconditional commitment to your marital union—then it would be best to either put the wedding on hold until you’re both committed to do so. Otherwise, you should let the relationship go and move on with your lives apart from each other. The time to do this is BEFORE the wedding —NOT afterward. (Cindy Wright)
• In taking marriage vows, we are doing what the Lord Himself did with Abraham: making a promise of love to one individual. In keeping this promise, we are actually mirroring the Lord’s own faithfulness to all His people, a faithfulness designed from the beginning to spill over to the whole of mankind. (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage)
More on Preparing for Marriage
• “What will my significant other be like as a spouse?” The Answer: ‘The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.’ (This is according to my good friend, Dr. Steve Wilke.) It’s as easy as that. What are they like now? Does she fall apart when things don’t go perfectly? Does the slightest disappointment lead her to act like nothing ever goes right? That’s what she’ll be like as a wife. Does he check out of life when he’s under stress, escaping into video games or worse? Then that’s what he’ll do as a husband. Putting a ring on someone’s finger doesn’t change their brain—it just means you now own their issues.
“If you want to know how your boyfriend or girlfriend will behave as a spouse, honestly examine how they have behaved after their infatuation with you died down (infatuated people are a little more motivated to put up a false front). If you get engaged and/or married in the flush of infatuation, just realize you don’t really know what you’re signing up for. You might get lucky—or then again, you might not.” (Gary Thomas, from his article “What Will Your New Spouse Be Like?”)
A Question Posed
• Q: I’m a young woman and I met a young man recently where I work. He asked me out and he’s proposing a relationship. I like him a lot but when I ask him about his faith, he told me that though he is a Christian, he does not bring his faith into the relationship. I decided I couldn’t have a relationship with such person. Am I too hasty in my decision?
A: I believe you have made a wise choice. While it’s good to ask someone “Are you a Christian?” before you begin dating, it’s better to ask, “Are you a follower of Jesus?” They may sound the same, but there’s a huge difference. Someone may say they’re a Christian because they were confirmed when they were 12 or grew up in a Christian home. When you ask if they’re a follower of Jesus, then you’re asking whether or not they read their Bible, pray regularly and are growing in their relationship with God. If a person just says they’re a Christian, you can make a lot of assumptions that may or may not be true.
Before you begin dating, find out about the persons character. Remember that character will also manifest itself in self-control. How does the person respond to frustration and disappointment? Does the person treat you with respect —verbally, spiritually and physically? Do they know their own boundaries? All of this is linked to one’s faith. You don’t want to date someone who claims Christianity, but has no desire to grow in their relationship with the Lord. That is a road you don’t want to go down. (Gary Smalley)
Deliberately Preparing for Marriage
• Marriage is not to be entered into lightly. It is to be entered into reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God. When you consider marriage in these terms, you may wonder how two relatively immature individuals can make such an awesome commitment. Too often, we tend to focus everything on the wedding ceremony. Yet we focus little or nothing on marriage. We see the beauty of the ceremony. But we miss the beauty and wonder of the covenant. We sometimes also miss the fact that we are embarking on one of the most difficult journeys of our lives. It’s one that does not begin on the wedding day. (Kay Cole James, What I Wish I’d Known Before I Got Married)
• Gen-Xers have things so romanticized that they think if they’ve found the “right person” —the right “compatible” match — then their main work is done. We don’t need to teach them to value marriage or to have more courtly or romantic courtships. They’ve got that down. We need to help them get smarter about marriage. And, we can! (From: archives at Smartmarriages.com Subject: Starter marriage: A new term for early divorce)
• If we marry before the age of 21, we are at high risk for divorce. The average age for marriage now is 25 for women and 27 for men. But wait. Risk again increases if we wait too long to tie the knot. “If you marry after the age 30, marriage happiness drops a lot,” said Dr. Popenoe. Why? We have more personal baggage and higher independence at that age, he said. (Smart Marriages.com, Subject: The Mechanics of Marriage)
Follow Your Heart?
• Many will instruct you to “follow your heart.” This advice can lead to a heartbreaking situation. One emotional student was heard to exclaim, “I know I’ve met the right girl … I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, and I’m flunking all my tests!” Sounds like a case of the flu to me. Let me suggest, instead of asking, “Am I in love?” ask, “Is my love mature enough to produce a fulfilled love, marriage, and sex relationship?” I prefer to evaluate love in terms of maturity because I believe we are always “in love.”
The issue isn’t whether or not you are in love. The real question remains, “Is my love mature enough to lead to a commitment and a lasting relationship?” (Josh McDowell, The Secret of Loving)
• If you have serious doubts and get married anyway, the odds are that you’ll be sorry. Don’t let your desire to get married overpower those doubts. (From the book “Wonderful Marriage” by Lilo and Gerard Leeds)
• 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)
Preparing for Marriage Responsibly
• One of the chief reasons so many marriages fail is that the functions of a date and mate differ radically. That of a date is to be charming; that of a mate is to be responsible. But unfortunately, the most charming individuals are not necessarily the most responsible. And yet the most responsible are just as often deficient in charm. (Sydney Harris)
• Do opposites attract? Yes, they do. The problem with that is, is that opposites ATTRACT. What will drive you crazy about your mate are the things that attracted you to them at the outset. That’s why you have been careful of that. I’ll make this statement: to the degree that you and your future mate are socially opposite, you had better balance it out with an equal amount of flexibility and holiness. Couples that are real close in everything that they like can get bored in life because it’s easy just to go together.
If you’re really at a disparity, that’s okay. But if you’ve got 30 pounds of difference, there had better be 30 pounds of flexibility. If you’ve got 100 pounds of difference with you and your mate, there had better be 100 pounds of holiness and godliness with each other. You’ve got to be able to enjoy the same things. (Tommy Nelson, from Familylife.com broadcast: Unity – Part 2 of 2)
• If a couple find out before marriage how flimsy the basis of their love is, they are fortunate. (Marriage specialist Sylvanus Duvall, Before You Marry)
Preparing for Marriage, Not Just a Wedding
• 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. It is also preparation for a marriage. (Dennis Rainey, Preparing for Marriage)
• All too often, people marry before acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to take care of their mates: to meet their emotional, mental, and physical needs. One of the ironies in our society is that a person has to have four years of training to receive a plumber’s license. But absolutely no training is required for a marriage license. Our educational system doesn’t even require communication courses basic to the meaningful development of any relationship. (Dr Gary Smalley)
• A wedding is not a marriage. A wedding is only the beginning of an undertaking that may or may not develop into a marriage. What the couple have on their wedding day is not the key to a beautiful garden. It is just a vacant lot and a few gardening tools. (David and Vera Mace)
• A marriage is not a joining of two worlds, but an abandoning of two worlds in order that one new one might be formed. In this sense, the call to be married bears comparison with Jesus’ advice to the rich young man to sell all his possessions and to follow Him. It is a vocation to total abandonment. For most people, in fact, marriage is the single most wholehearted step they will ever take toward a fulfillment of Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor as oneself. (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage)
Facing Change As You Are Preparing for Marriage
• If your partner seems unable or unwilling to change, you have to face the possibility that such behavior may never change. The mistake many people make is to ignore the problem. They say to themselves, “Oh, it’ll get better once we’re married.” Marriage will not magically transform your partner’s behavior. If a person is not motivated to make improvements at this stage, before marriage, it is unlikely he or she ever will. The longer you wait, the less likely it will be that your partner can change. If you or your partner cannot behave in a way that makes you both happy, you are not the right partners for each other. (From the book, “Wonderful Marriage” by Lilo and Gerard Leeds)
• 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. (Kay Cole James, What I Wish I’d Known before I God Married)
• When couples fall in love they typically experience great passion for one another. This initial “Infatuation Stage” leads most couples into believing they have found their true soul mates. But once old behaviors and patterns show up with time, many couples lose the excitement and connection that once fueled their passion. Unfortunately many couples mistake that early infatuation with true love and give up on the relationship. (Pat Love, who defines this stage in her book, The Truth about Love)
Preparing for Marriage and Its Ups and Downs
• All relationships go through predictable patterns. The four up-and-down stages of love are: Infatuation, Post-Rapture, Discovery, and Connection. Physiological changes account for some of the intense feelings brought on by initial attraction. Phenylethylamine, Dopamine, and Norpinephrine, for example, combine to create the natural high new lovers feel that helps them bond. This heady infatuation stage, glorious as it may be, is not what love is really about. (Pat Love, The Truth About Love: The Highs, the Lows, and How You Can Make It Last Forever)
Infatuation to True Love
• Reasons to slow things down when you’re still in the infatuation stage of love: When attraction, or romantic passion, occurs, we often lose our ability to think rationally. We may be oblivious to flaws our partner might possess. In this stage, couples spend many hours getting to know each other. If this attraction remains strong and is felt by both, the people usually enter the third stage of love: attachment. Attachment, or commitment, has to be strong enough to withstand problems and distractions. Again, chemicals are involved. Playing a key role in the attachment stage of love are oxytocin, vasopressin and endorphins.
A lot of chemicals surge through your brain and body when you’re in love. Estrogen and testosterone play roles in the sex drive. Without them, we might never venture into the “real love” arena. That initial giddiness that comes when we’re first falling in love includes a racing heart, flushed skin and sweaty palms.
Researchers say these are caused by the dopamine and norepinephrine our bodies are releasing: • Dopamine is thought to be the “pleasure chemical,” producing a feeling of bliss. It is associated with euphoria, craving and addiction. • Norepinephrine is similar to adrenaline and produces the racing heart and excitement. It heightens attention, short-term memory, hyperactivity and sleeplessness. Together, it is believed, these chemicals produce elation, intense energy, craving, loss of appetite and focused attention.
Researchers have also discovered that people in love have lower levels of serotonin. Also neural circuits associated with the way we assess others are suppressed. That possibly explains why those in love “obsess” about their partner. The feelings of passionate love, however, do lose their strength over time. Studies have shown that passionate love fades quickly. It is nearly gone after two or three years. This results in your being able to see your lover rationally, rather than through the blinding hormones of infatuation and passion. (St. Petersburg Times, What is this Thing Called Love)
Preparing for Marriage as a Like-minded Couple
• The Bible gives us one very specific standard for finding the right marriage partner: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Why is this so important to God? The reason is this: The believer and the unbeliever do not share the same values and future hope (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). However, Christians are to be like-minded about important issues. If two Christians are committed to their marriage and to obeying Christ, they already possess the ingredients for success. Unfortunately, the world we live in is inundated with many different kinds of professing “Christians.” That’s why it is important to use discernment before devoting yourself to the lifelong commitment of marriage.
Spend a sufficient amount of time together before discussing marriage. We suggest experiencing all “the seasons” of life together before committing for life. Watch how your potential partner reacts to different situations. Watch how they behave around family and friends. And watch the people they associate with. Discuss issues such as morality, values, children and church affiliation. Are you in agreement in these areas?
Study God’s Word together, especially the roles and duties of a husband and wife found in Ephesians 5:22-31; 1 Corinthians 7:16; Colossians 3:18-19; Titus 2:1-5; and 1 Peter 3:1-7. Are there any red flags or major doctrinal disagreements? Finally, we recommend premarital counseling for all engaged couples. (Bill and Bridget Dunk, GTO Ministries, Marriages.net)
Deeper Issues While Preparing for Marriage
• Don’t stop with the question, “Is this person a Christian?” You need to ask a much deeper question than that: “Is this person I am thinking about marrying displaying the character and mind of Christ?” I would look deep into the character of the individual. Make sure he or she loves the Lord with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. And look for the “markers” that are displaying that love in their lives. (Dr Gary Smalley)
• 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. (James Dobson, Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide)
• 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. You must also be willing to change and to grow accordingly. (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage)
• 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)
Preparing for Marriage Beyond the Wedding
• 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. (Dr Phil McGraw)
• 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 where they’ll be a continual reminder of what you promised one another. This will remind you 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 good it comes to following through on sacred wedding vows. Your vows are supposed to be kept “until death do we part”… “from this day forward.” (Cindy Wright)
Remember What God Tells Us:
• Do not be quick with your mouth. Do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth. So let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools. Fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:2-7)
• PLEASE DO NOT MARRY IF:
(1) You are unwilling to put the needs of another person above your own. (2) You are easily offended, carry grudges and are unwilling to forgive. (3) You are an abusive person (Mentally, emotionally and physically). (4) You are unwilling to commit. (5) You have an unresolved addiction problem. (6) Your career is the most important thing in your life. (7) You do not share the same beliefs, values, life priorities or vision. (8) You’re unwilling to be an active partner sexually with your spouse. (9) You’re unwilling to agree on an approach for handling finances, children and life decisions. (10) You expect your spouse to change after you get married.
Remember, successful marriages are not of perfection, rather of two people willing to grow closer to Christ and each other. Don’t be discouraged if you struggle with any of the above reasons, but before you get married, do yourself and your future spouse a favor by first committing to grow stronger in each area. (Dr Randy Carlson, Theintentionallife.com, a Marriage E-mentoring tip)
• 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. (Kay Cole James, What I Wish I’d Known before I Got Married)
Preparing for Marriage
• You will make your heaven or hell on earth by the person you decide to marry. (Ravi Zacarius)
• The love we have for each other before marriage can be grand. But it’s also very vulnerable to change after the wedding. That’s when 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 others who encountered such problems. That’s why we need to be better prepared before we marry. 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? (Todd Outcalt, Before You Say “I Do”)
• 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, The Secret of Loving)
Preparing for the Wedding and for Reality Afterward
• Often the female is infatuated with a “wedding” more than a marriage. The wedding is the ultimate showcase and the relationship then quickly subsides afterwards. Beware young men on this one! (Delores Stone)
• Snared by the $40 billion wedding industry machinery, brides and their relatives are mauled and squeezed until they come up with a sum large enough to buy a small car or two. “The belief attached is that if I spend hand over fist —if everything’s perfect —we’ll have a great day and a great marriage,” said Sheryl Paul Nissinen, author of “The Conscious Bride: Women Unveil Their True Feelings about Getting Hitched”. But future brides certainly know that dress designers, florists, caterers and others in the matrimonial bazaar are playing upon their deepest, most childish fairy-tale dreams. That’s not the problem.
The trouble is that they like the fairy tale. In fact, they adore everything about it, especially the glass slipper that fits their foot and theirs alone. Is it so terrible to want to suspend reality in favor of magic for one day, as long as you promise to don your sensible shoes the next day? I don’t think so. But it’s terribly tricky because a wedding is a fantasy magnet. The fantasy may start with a single desire. It’s the desire to look beautiful or to marry in a spectacular church. Then, before you know it, you’re expecting every element and every person involved to conform to an astonishingly detailed blueprint called “My Wedding Day.” The diagram seems to have been drawn secretly by your brain. (From: Smartmarriages.com Subject: Putting Your Wedding on a Pedestal)
Preparing for the Wedding and Preparing for Marriage
• So many celebrate the wedding by putting forth months and months of work while 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. This 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 that’s about to begin 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 that needs to be diligently prepared for in advance. This is to insure that the love 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. They then 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)
FOR THOSE CONSIDERING MARRIAGE:
• There has to be a theological unity. You and your future husband or future wife, have to be on the same page on who God is. He is your reference point for how you act, for how you perceive the universe, for how you perceive man, children, everything is your perception of God. They don’t simply have to be a Christian. But they have to line up on the major particulars. If you are an evangelical, and you see it in a certain way, and you marry a charismatic, you’re going to have some struggles, but major league. If you marry a non-believer, you don’t even interpret the universe the same —in marriage or morality.
…There’s not a one of you, under the heat of longing for marriage that can set aside what you know to be true and marry a non-believer. I can give you names, events, and dates where I’ve seen it happen. Being single and being alone is a struggle. It’s tough to be single, to be lonely. But I’ll tell you what’s tougher is to be married and be lonely. To be lonely in a king-size bed with a person there that you cannot relate to is a major issue. When you are single, there is light at the end of your tunnel. But it’s the providence and the timing of God. (Tommy Nelson, from Familylife.com broadcast: Essentials – Part 1 of 2)
FOR THOSE CONSIDERING MARRIAGE:
There has to be a moral unity, meaning that they can’t merely both be Christians. They both must be under the auspices of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If you have a man that takes his dictum’s from his flesh —even though he can recite the Gospel and give the time of his testimony, we’ve got a problem. There has to be a moral unity, a North Star that doesn’t move.
My wife and I made a vow that we’d never spend a day out of the Bible before we got married. That is because we knew that what attracted us to us was character. And that character was because of the person of God and His Word. And if we got away from Him, we lost essentially what attracted us. (Tommy Nelson, from Familylife.com broadcast: Essentials – Part 1 of 2)
• Keeping your covenant vow has everything to do with character. Your character must be such that you do not break your word. If your marriage vow (your word) is not sacred to you —if you break it for ungodly reasons —you are not a man or woman of your word. You do not have the character it takes, and you are not marriage material. If these words seem severe, they are intended to be. Many Christians are divorcing —still claiming to be following and obeying God. Most of these have no basis for divorcing their spouse. God hates covenant breaking. Divorce is covenant breaking. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). (Mike Williamson, “Building Your Marriage Upon the Rock”)
Some men can never be husbands until they have been brides, until they have been the bride of Christ,they can’t be your husband or any woman’s husband. Because the qualities that you want in a man are going to be qualities of love, kindness, tenderness, gentleness, and honesty —those are qualities that are in God visited upon men. If that man is superficial with God, you have no guarantee that that man is going to maintain those qualities.
And there are some men who can simply never, ever be married. They can have dogs and cats, but they can’t have a human in that house with them because when a man isn’t submitted to the Lordship of Christ, he can become irresponsible or abusive, and both of those will drive you crazy. And so you check that man for his faithfulness in church, his faithfulness in the Bible, his faithfulness to his mother and his father, his commitment to moral purity. Look for those things in him, because that’s the North Star that gives you a reasonable assurance of his character. That’s the fountain out of which will grow your affection is the continuity of that character.
Watch that girl. If that girl has a problem with her authority of her parents, if she has a problem with her teachers, why do you think you’ll put [a wedding ring] on, and she’ll look to you and say, “My head and my sovereign.” Do you really think that will happen? Don’t you do it! There are some women who can never, ever be married because of that very thing. And whenever you get a man, whenever you get a woman that is resistant to Genesis, chapter 1—who God is —you can’t have Genesis, chapter 2 —marriage. First, Adam sees God; first, Eve sees God; THEN they see each other —Amen? (Tommy Nelson, from Familylife.com broadcast: Essentials – Part 1 of 2)
• When you’re ready to pledge to love and serve the person you’re marrying as Christ washed the feet of His disciples, then you’re ready for marriage. The problem comes into our married lives when we marry out of “neediness.” We aren’t to marry out of neediness, but to serve one another and work to bring out the best in each other so that together you serve Christ in a manner that could never happen apart from the manner in which you complete one another in Christ. (Cindy Wright)
• 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. (Neil Clark Warren)
• 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 and 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 we react 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)
• To have a great marriage each of you has to have some idea what kind of family you want to have —a lot of children, few children, or no children at all. You also might want to discuss where you’d like raise your children —what part of the country, what kind of community. It may depend on the kind of family you come from. If both of you are only children, that may be what you want for yourselves. If both of you came from a large family, you both may want to duplicate that experience. Or you may want the opposite.
… You may not know exactly what your family plans are, but it is important to start the discussion now so you can discover if there are big issues that could divide you later. In a good relationship, where there is agreement, such discussions will only bring you closer together. Serious disagreements over whether to have children or not can put an end to an otherwise strong relationship. It’s best to face this possible crossroad sooner rather than later. (From the book “Wonderful Marriage” by Lilo and Gerard Leeds)
Additionally, in Preparing for 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)
Preparing for Marriage Disagreements
• 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)
• When you marry, it’s to approach life as a team “from this day forth.” It’s to change the way we live. (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 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)
Healthy Communication Skills
• 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.(Dr Debbie L. Cherry, Child-Proofing Your Marriage)
Questions to Consider
• Is your prospective mate understanding? 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”)
Expressing Love After Marriage
• 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”)
• Marriage is an intertwining of two hearts and two lives to help each other live up to our potential. (Cindy Wright)
• 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 Firstthings.org)
• 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. It’s burdened with pressures that the first marriage didn’t have. (Smartmarriages – Subject: Remarrying: Way of Life)
Foundationally Preparing for 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 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”)
• Probably the most widely believed of all the marriage myths is this one: Marriage will ensure my happiness. This myth seems ridiculous indeed when you consider the math of marriage. It’s one sinner plus another sinner equals two sinners. That’s double trouble under one roof. Add a couple “sinnerlings,” and we’re talking quadruple trouble under that same single roof. (From the book, Fit to be Tied by Bill and Lynne Hybels)
• 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 who 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, noting 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)
• 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), and 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 by H. Dale Burke)
• 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 about an ability or skill they have that they’d be willing to share with the prospective son-or-daughter-in-law if they so desire.
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, but wasn’t really 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)
• 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 such as: How important to you is the celebration of special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day? What is your idea of “celebration”? Exactly, what to you is “romantic”? What would you like for me to do specifically to show affection and care? (Really get down to particulars here, such as: 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%.” (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 healthy and sustain love over a lifetime. Most people seem to think love should “naturally” sustain itself as it did during the beginning of our relationship with each other —but that just isn’t realistic. (Cindy Wright)
Honestly Preparing for Marriage
• 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 —where you come from and what you expect —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 today at lunch 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. (Toben and Joanne Heim, from their book, Great Expectations)
• 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 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)
Preparing for Marriage with Eyes Open
• 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, knowing full well that eventually reality will strike with a vengeance, conflicts will arise and hostilities brew, and 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)
Dailiness of Marriage
• 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)
• Unfortunately, there is a MARRYING MOOD—a marrying mood that causes temporary insanity and sabotages normally clear-thinking brains. And too many single adults, young and old, get caught up in it. The wrong car? You can trade it in. The wrong house? You can sell it. The wrong spouse? (from the book, Fit to be Tied by Bill and Lynne Hybels)
• It was a beautiful wedding like any other heartfelt vows. There were a mother’s tears, tender love songs, forks tapping glasses, the first dance, and then a night of merriment. But there was this elderly couple sitting alone amid the revelry. I don’t know who they were or even if I was related to them. But there they sat, with gentle smiles, a pleasant nod. Yet this is what grabbed my attention. They were holding each other’s hand. It was a subtle gesture of love —nothing overt. They probably didn’t know they were doing it.
But as I passed them, I thought to myself, “Now THAT’S a marriage.” As my wife and I left that wedding, I couldn’t help but think that the elderly couple I spotted should be the ones getting the congratulatory hugs and kisses. They should be featured in the spotlight dance together. Any two people an get hitched. It’s happily growing gray together that’s the tricky part. (Growing Gray Together: Northwest Indiana Times – “A wedding isn’t a marriage” written by Jerry Davich)
• LOVE IS PATIENT (1 Corinthians 13:4). How do you know when infatuation is growing into love? How can you tell if the early excitement you feel will develop into caring? And how can you tell if the early excitement you feel will develop into caring? One of the sure signs of love is an increasing patience with each other.
Preparing for Marriage for a Lifetime
Genuine love is characterized by patience. If love is real, it has time to slow down and examine itself. Love takes time to ask what is best for each person involved. This is not just today but in the future as well. If you’re in too much of a hurry, what you feel is probably another four letter word the begins with L: lust. A relationship fueled by lust will last about as long as a piece of dynamite with a lit fuse. Patience is one of the primary evidences we have that, given the right fuel, a relationship can last a long time. (From the book, Questions Worth Asking Before the Ring by William Coleman)
• The best things people take from a marriage education course are how to talk without fighting, and how to open up and share. They also learn how to put on the brakes when anger begins. Plus, they learn 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.” (From: Smartmarriages Subject: Marriage education: Learning to talk through problems)
• You don’t marry one person—you marry three. You’re marrying the person you think they are, the person they are, and the person they’re going to become as a result of being married to you. (Richard Needham)
• With the life mate decision, you’re not only marrying a person of the opposite sex, you’re determining your future mother-in-law, and your future father-in-law. Also, you’re determining your children’s grandparents, your children’s other parent, your future nieces and nephews, and all of the rest of your in-laws. You are also determining 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)
Examining the Past
• 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. That is 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. (Dennis Rainey, Preparing for Marriage)
Preparing for Marriage and for Changes
• Mothers-in-law 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 (and courageous) wife, after hearing several “shoulds” and “oughts” shared with her mother-in-law the following statement: “Joan, there are times when what you say could change just a bit. If so, 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 simply 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 by Norman Wright)
Changes in Priorities
• Alan and Lauri were leaving the church following the reception. That’s when Alan’s mother came rushing out with a formal looking piece of paper and a pen in her hand. “I know you’re eager to leave, and I want you to,” she said. “But this is so important. It will take just a minute. Alan, I need your signature on this form. I’ve already signed it.” Alan looked puzzled but took the paper. He quickly read it and then with a big smile signed it and handed it back to his mother. His mother then gave the form to Lauri.
With moist eyes and a friendly smile she said, “Lauri, this paper belongs to you —and so does Alan. I used to be the Number One woman in Alan’s life. I’ll always be his mother. But this is my declaration that I’m transferring the position of being Number One woman to you. This is a signed certificate giving this position to you, as well as my announcement to Alan. I want to be sure that he understands this change. Have a wonderful honeymoon. I love you both.”
With that, Alan’s mother turned and walked away with both Lauri and Alan smiling; but now the tears were in their eyes. This was a wedding gift. What do you think the first 5 years were like for this couple? (From the book, The Other Woman in Your Marriage by Norman Wright)
Points to Consider While Preparing for Marriage
• I read with interest the front page August 9th Boston Globe article, “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. That’s 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. That is because of a lack of Shared Parenting legislation. Men post divorce are often destroyed financially. 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. Plus, they need more medical care. They have higher rates of alcohol and drug use, earlier sexual encounters, and have higher violence rates and fare worse in school. One would think with all the downside that society would do everything to 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. An intact family is healthier for all concerned and less expensive and safer for society. Support local initiatives to have marriage saving programs. (An excerpt from a letter written by Peter Hill, addressed to Smartmarriages.com, titled, Shared Parenting Solution, concerning an article they posted.)
• 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.” It 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. They 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, Subject: 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 “Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook” written by Jerry Hardin and Dianne Sloan)
Realistically Preparing for Marriage
• 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, featured in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine)
• People think they have to find their soul-mate to have a good marriage. You’re not going to “find” your soul-mate. You get married, and after 20 years of loving, bearing and raising kids, and meeting challenges—then you’ll have “created” your soul-mate. (Diane Sollee, smartmarriages.com)
• Marriage can be wonderful. It can be deeply satisfying and mutually fulfilling. But if it becomes that, it is because both partners have paid a very high price over many years to make it that way. They will have died to selfishness a thousand times. They will have had countless difficult conversations. Additionally, they will have endured sleepless nights and strained days. They will have prayed hundreds of prayers for wisdom and patience and courage and understanding. And they will have said, “I’m sorry” too many times to remember. They will have been stretched to the breaking point often enough to have learned that, unless Christ is at the center of both their lives, the odds for achieving marital satisfaction are very, very low. (Bill and Lynne Hybels, from the book, “Fit to be Tied”)
Preparing for Marriage and Life in the Future Together
• 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)
• 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. (Todd Outcalt, Before You Say “I Do”)
Preparing for Marriage with Different Backgrounds
• 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?” (Jerry Hardin and Dianne Sloan, from the “Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook”)
• 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. You are to 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)
Lastly, as you are Preparing for Marriage:
Here is a prayer that Gary Thomas offers (in his article, “Hungry Again”) as an example of something important to pray:
“Heavenly Father, there are so many good things to pursue in this wonderful world You have made. But guard my heart so that I don’t put anything ahead of my relationship with You and then my relationship with my future spouse. Give me the commitment to feed my marriage on a daily basis. Don’t let me become weary. Don’t let me become apathetic. I realize I am entering a relationship that will need to be nurtured for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.”