Prep & Prime…Are you ready?



It seems that as of late, the last week or two, GOD has seen fit to allow many of my close acquaintances the opportunity to prepare for the next level of commitment and relational BLISS: marriage. With that being said, a good friend recently asked what I would say to a couple who is about to begin premarital counseling- what they need to talk about, and what advice I might give. And here’s what I came up with (as always, feel free to comment or add your own advice in the comments!):

The main thing I would tell any engaged couple is this: TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING YOU POSSIBLY CAN!!! If something comes to your mind, you might as well talk it through! You’ll never be sorry that you discussed something in advance of making the biggest human commitment of your life.

SOME SPECIFIC THINGS TO TALK ABOUT

  • How each of your parent’s marriages worked– the pros/cons strengths/weaknesses
  • Be COMPLETELY open and honest about who you REALLY are- when no one’s looking, what REALLY gets you mad/sad/frustrated/etc. Talk about your real weaknesses- the ugliest things from your past that no one else knows… he should know yours and you should know his.
  • The situations that seem far-off… what to do about birth control? how many kids to have? whether you dislike some particular age of children? whether either of you have fears about having children, or having boys, or girls?
  • Household things – how you’ll split household duties
  • How you are with pain/sickness?… How much you depend on medicine?… (by that I mean that some people never take anything, and some people take Tylenol and Sudafed at the drop of a hat- that might be good to know) Plus it’s good to know if your future spouse is a real weenie about pain or will tough it through most anything… it’s just good to know in advance.
  • What your feelings are about ailing relatives, aging parents?… How much will that affect your work and home? Will you want to take them in and care for them or will you be prepared to help a sibling or facility take care of them in your stead?

As you get closer to marriage, you’ll want to talk about any fears/issues that come up with intimacy. Share about your sexual histories- be fully blunt and honest. Talk about how you both feel about the roles of a man and woman. Find out the REAL scoop- not to discourage you but to prepare you realistically… how much of this will be your responsibility or his? Does he like certain chores more than others? Do you? Find out who does which chores in your parents’ homes: cutting the grass, doing dishes, cleaning the garage, cleaning the kitchen, maintaining the garden, caring for pets, etc. You may be surprised to find out that your expectations of who does what may be different.

And then what about finances? I won’t delve too far into that one because there are heaps of books and resources that talk about that… who will pay the bills? Whether you’re a spender or a saver? What about him? Etc…

PRINCIPLES FOR MARRIAGE

There are some principles I want to share with you that have served us well in our marriage:

  1. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. We have always talked things through (started this practice in our courtship)- even if we’re up til 4am, which happened a time or two early on but hasn’t happened in years, we deal with arguments and disagreements before we go to bed… we don’t have lingering “issues” that cloud each day and each additional disagreement.
  2. Don’t ever let divorce be an option. Don’t mention it, don’t threaten it. Don’t talk about roads not taken. Once you commit, commit. And let that be evident in your communication with each other– “you’re my only”. (And of course, I’m NOT talking about situations of abuse or infidelity. I’m talking about in normal marriages with two fallen human beings who disagree and differ on many things, there shouldn’t be an easy “out”.)
  3. Don’t entertain ANY hint of affection towards other people. Other Christian women will talk about how “cute” some actor or musician is… but this has always been off-limits for me. I don’t even allow a HINT of attraction to be fed in my mind or heart- one way that I go about this is to not “feed” male friendships, and not have physical contact with people of the opposite sex. We just don’t want any hint of it… sometimes it will mean that I seem cold or distant towards other men, but that’s OK. In this day and age of over sexualization, I would rather be seen as unapproachable by a man than to be seen as someone that he thinks he can have a flirtation or fling with.
  4. Just say “YES” (to meeting each others’ needs). Once your married, I mean. For me, that means that I don’t say no (in words or body language) to intimacy. We didn’t start out with this as a rule, but we’ve just always been open to each other in that way. I’ve found that a LOT of my friends use or have used sex as a negotiating tool and it has become a point of difficulty in their marriages. For my husband, that has meant being willing to TALK and meet my communication needs. Both of us have gone out of our ways to be open to saying yes to each other so that we are the ones meeting each others’ needs, rather than each of us feeling like our needs have to be met outside of the marriage relationship.
  5. Be each other’s biggest cheerleaders and defenders. Your husband ought to know that if ANYONE has his back, it’s you. You are the one that cheers for him and promotes him in his strengths, and shields and protects his weaknesses. In many marriages, sadly, it’s the other way around: the wife is the one who points out every failure and flaw and overlooks the strengths and good things in her husband. And that just ought not be. He ought to know that you are going to protect the areas where he is weakest (for example, that might mean that you take the lead on balancing the checkbook, or that if he struggles with an organized workspace, that you take the time to organize it for him so that he can be effective and efficient… rather than deriding him for the disarray in his office.) Basically, this is just being the BEST helpmeet, I think. Where he is weak, I can help him, and where he is strong, I can promote him and praise him.
  6. Make your marriage your top human priority, just behind your relationship with God. I’ve seen that many women in particular allow the kids to take the place that the marriage ought to have in their mind and hearts – children become a bigger priority than their husband, and that just ought not be. We should know that with having children, our “nest” will some day be empty, but we will still be with our husband/wife. I don’t want to get to that stage and just be barely hanging on by a thread- I want to stay in this stage, excited about our time together- ready to start a new phase together, and delighted in the job we’ve done together as a couple and when the time comes, as parents. The way to make that happen is to continue pouring ourselves into the marriage relationship- with physical and verbal intimacy… making sure that we’re on the same page about life choices and events, and then continuing to work on it and work on it and work on it, and – well, you get the picture.
  7. Commit to do the maintenance! It’s constant upkeep and work- but I’ve heard some analogies that it’s kind of like a car or a house- that you can either do the regular maintenance and enjoy it for a LONG time, or you can skip the maintenance and end up with HUGE problems to fix. It’s true- as a couple, we just try to do the maintenance and adjustments on the front end, rather than at some future date when there are way too many “issues” to narrow it down to what the real problem is.

Establish your “norms” now!

If you are in a courtship or a newly engaged couple, I would encourage you to talk through these things and establish a pattern of honest communication now. You can lay the way for a good marriage by communicating openly now, and giving yourselves realistic expectations about what’s to come. I pray that this next phase of your life is a true thrill and a blessing to your life- that God will grow you and change you into the man or woman he wants you to be through this new role as husband or wife. Many Blessings!

© 2011 The GOoD Life. Courtesy of Right The Vision. All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “Prep & Prime…Are you ready?

  1. EXCELLENT article. GREAT advice. This is the season for MARRIAGE. But, preparation for marriage has to proceed it! GREAT read.

  2. As usual, this was great!

    I was having a discussion with some of my single girlfriends about what conversations to have during courtship. One of the things we tossed around was how to get a man to feel comfortable opening up to you about his history (whether it be sexual, financial, or whatever) without him feeling like you may judge him or exploit his vulnerabilities. Any insight?

    Keep up the awesome work ma’am!!! (when I get married I’ll tell my husband to send you an offering… LOL)

    • Hey Layla,

      First of all, thanks for being such a loyal reader, I sincerely appreciate the weekly feedack. Now on to your question, I think the basis for the male to feel comfortable enough to disclose such info would be through time and the building of a genuine friendship as a foundation. Most people don’t tell their WHOLE life story in one setting so the trust must be built so that they know you won’t exploit them, the same as with a female. I believe most males willingly disclose this information when asked especially when clear limits and intentions have been laid out (of which they should make explicitly known). If they don’t plan on advancing it’s usually clear in questions that you may deem important that they feel no compulsion or need to answer. I hope that I have adequately addressed your question, if not let me know and I will try to do so more precisely.

  3. Awesome Awesome Awesome!!! Might I add discussing spirituality is key as well…the popular saying “A couple that prays together, stays together”

    God bless you sis 🙂

  4. This was great! Your blogs are definitely on time! These are the things I WISH I was told prior to getting married. It would have made things much easier, but God is good and we are making it work! I will be passing this along to others.

  5. I love your blog…….. I follow you on twitter & i’ve been reading from day one. Great message. I wish all engaged folks & even married folks could read this…… Very Informative!

    I admire your respect for marriage (Cuz I feel the same). Your tweets are inspring as well.

    Remain a blessing & I pray God continue to use U & your family.

  6. Whether in an engagement or courtship in preparation for marriage, be as financially free as possible. That means if you have debt be it for school or a car, that BEFORE you say “I do” that debt is as little as possible. Don’t start your marriage in a deficit.

    Thanks sis this was right on time. Been on my mind a lot lately. Love ya

  7. Great great read! As a single woman in a serious relationship with a God-fearing servant-man, I am soaking up all the GODLY advice I can. We are doing great and I want to keep it that way! Thank you!

  8. Good advice sis! You may also want to add that people should talk about how they handle conflict and how many kids they want and how they would like to parent. A lot of times having kids causes issues that cause people to get into arguments, but if you go into a marriage knowing that this is what you can expect of your spouse when it comes to child rearing, then you’re not thrown off when it happens. Keep up the good work & continue to let God use you!

  9. Ma’am, this is REAL TALK!!! I’m so proud of you and I agree with EVERTYHING you stated in the blog. Very good job!

  10. Def taking these basic practical principles into my future marriage! Its important for the single to teach the #TeamPending! lol! This is great advice and nuggets sis! Preparing for marriage during the glow of courtship is vital and to make sure both are on the same page… Having a like mind! Love it! Continue to let God use you and express your passion for the highest covenant and be the example!

    In Heels in Happiness,

    TC

  11. love it sis! indeed… no stones left unturned. in all things GOD must be the foundation and His Word is our road map. we must first honor GOD and Love the way He has shown us. i love all the real life principles because they are so important as ppl tend to let “being in love’ cloud their vision, when these things are very important. being in a relationship with some you like is just as important being with someone you Love! do the ground work, build strong walls and have a sturdy unmovable cover. great work sis! talk about it! communication is key.

  12. Hello Sis,
    Once you again you are rocking it. Keep it up and I am going to let you do some guest blogs on my site. God is pouring out all over your writings. Love ya, Sis
    Your Bro, Q

  13. Seamless & amazing! You broke down the VERY things that need to be communicated!! You are doing an awesome job!!! So happy for you!!!!!

  14. I know I am late reading the entire thing, but this is really good stuff, that everybody should know and learn and reinforce if they already know them. Are you going to turn these blog posts, etc into a book, business of some sort one day? If not you should def do so!

  15. All of your post have been great! I particularly like this blog because I have discussed alot with my boyfriend but you never know what else to talk about so I have some other topics now :-)! Sorry it took so long to respond but I know your next post will be right on time and I will be waiting for it!

  16. On time! Having experienced many blow ups with my biyfriend as a result to non-communication, I agree with you wholeheartedly. We’re finally at the point, where we value the bottom line more than we value our need to be right all the time. I love him, he loves me, if we’re really serious about taking the next step, we have to be serious about honest communication and be willing to roll up our sleeves and talk out the kinks.

  17. So wise…your advice and wisdom is on point. Thank God for using you for this crucial ministry. I’m learning lots…and soooo proud of you~!

  18. I was up late tonight just reading your articles and you write with such clarity! This article especially really hit the spot! I appreciate you taking the time to write this article because when I ask about how to prepare for marriage I am told to pray. I completely agree but it is good to have these guidelines you shared to help me get to the core issues that need to be addressed. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s