Monday, June 29, 2009

How Did You Prepare for Marriage?


On Thursday morning, our family is going to be heading down to Burbank. One of my dearest friends, the first young woman that I ever discipled, is getting married this weekend, and I'm so thrilled and honored to be standing up as one of her attendants. As I was thoughtfully choosing a meaningful wedding present for her and inscribing her wedding card, I got to thinking a lot about marriage.

In our day and age, people spend so much time, money, and energy on weddings. Most couples spend their entire engagement simply discussing wedding plans. But, what happens after the cake is cut and the last dance is over and ballroom has cleared...and you come home from the honeymoon? Did you spend any time at all preparing for this--preparing for marriage?

I know that my friend and her fiance have not fallen into this common trap. They have spent their entire courtship preparing for marriage, and they have spent even more effort on this vital preparation during the months of their engagement. With this preparation, their passionate love of the Lord, their sacrificial love for each other, and their constancy in prayer, I'm certain they will really have a leg up on starting out on this incredible journey of life together.

If you are married, how did you prepare for marriage--or did you? What advice would you give to an engaged or courting couple to help them prepare for married life? If you're engaged or courting, what sort of advice would you like to have as you prepare for marriage?

I'll do my own follow-up to this email (hopefully tomorrow if the kiddos cooperate!), but I'd love to hear from my readers first. You always give me such good food for thought, and some of you are much more experienced wives than I, so I'd love to chew on your responses before drafting my own.

9 comments:

  1. My husband and I started our relationship while we were both separated from the Lord. What we've learned about marriage we've learned the hard way, but eventually we realized the "secret" to an everlasting marriage is to recognize God as a party of your marriage, and to put Him first in all things. I'm thankful we came back to the Lord before our marriage was another statistic.

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  2. My situation is the same as Heathyr's. I'll echo her response and also add that each individual should be fully aware of the role that they are stepping into and what each expects of the other in that capacity.

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  3. My husband and I didn't have the opportunity to get too caught up on wedding preparation. We didn't even see each other in person for the year before we were married. We lived in different continents and five time zones apart. We were friends who realised that we had reached our limit in serving the Lord as singles and could be more effective as a couple. We had a short engagement, only 16 weeks in which we had to arrange for a visa for my husband to come to Scotland to get married.

    We did talk through everything we could think of, roles, expectations, shared vision for the future. We also had a year of separation after marriage while going through immigration for me to live in the USA. For us the key to our marriage and to adjusting to living together has been our shared focus on the Lord. He is the glue that binds us together.

    My advice would be talk with each other. Talk about the future. Talk about your dreams. Talk about how you both see family life years down the road. Talk about everything you can think of about life after the honeymoon. Even the little things like who gets to take out the trash should be discussed before you actually start facing the realities of everyday life.
    Lyn

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  4. Hi there! This message is so timely for me--my wedding is this coming August. My fiance and I have had an extended engagement--3 years. It has been a very long journey together. In fact, too long. We've spent three years almost exclusively focused on wedding plans. The wedding is out of control. I feel at this point that it's no longer about either me or my fiance and certainly not about the marriage but about what people will think. Both sides of the family seem to have this craziness and are getting very worked up over tiny details like napkin colors and guest books. Not once has either my mother or his offered to discuss what it means to be a wife. I wish someone had or would.
    We already live together, something that in retrospect, I'm not sure I'd do again. (Please, don't judge, we only discovered our faith this past Christmas.) However, I'm sure there must be more to marriage than just cohabiting, but I don't know what it is. I don't know what to look for or what to expect, or if it's going to be more of the same ole, same ole. I'm feeling a little exhausted by the whole event and honestly wish we'd just eloped. I hope you and your readers have some information on how to make the transition from fiance to wife.
    Thanks!

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  5. Hi Bethany, thanks for this post. BG and I have 39 days before the wedding, and we're doing what we can to prepare spiritually and emotionally for the big adjustment we'll make as we're married, move into our home, and start our lives in a new state.

    I'd say what we're working the most on is communicating well and listening to one another. We truly want to treat each other respectfully and kindly, while serving God through our marriage, too. I feel like we're doing well with this, which i am grateful for. We're trying to make clear our expectations as well so that we aren't assuming anything about the roles we'll have in our marriage.
    I love BG dearly, and I am so grateful to become his wife. We have a pretty traditional view of marriage, and I am thrilled that we've had the chance to talk so honestly about it and know what we desire for our marriage in the short and long term.

    Honestly, the one thing I am nervous about is the "separation" from my parents. Now, as you know, I've been away at school for a long while. We're just very close, and I've always had an affectionate and loving relationship with them, and talk with them on almost a daily basis, so I am just kind of worried that despite my excitement about the wedding day that I'll get a little emotional about "leaving" them to get married. Does that make sense? It's hard to know your oldest daughter is marrying, but it's also hard to BE that daughter and know that it'll be difficult for your parents. How can I ease into that transition and make it easier for my parents while making my husband my "priority?"

    Thanks for this article, I am excited to read the responses.

    Have a wonderful time at the wedding, what a happy celebration!

    C

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  6. Dear Bethany, This is a lovely picture.

    I've heard before the meaning to the details about the wedding ceremony. I need to read it again. It answered so many questions about the service and what it all meant. The Biblical meaning about the marriage ceremony, the clothing, the celebration, all the meanings about the train of the dress, the rings, the decorations...enhances the meaning of the service. I hope to come upon this information again.

    I've been married for 34 years with many challenges and if it hadn't been the Holy Spirit within me due to accepting Jesus as my personal Savior,
    bowing my knee to Jesus as Lord, respect for God with a huge Faith in Him,
    prayer in Jesus Name to Almighty God,
    reading the Bible,
    being gut honest with God,
    having fellowship with Christian women of all ages,
    thinking on the things of God,
    having a husband that gave up on the world and returned to Christ,
    I WOULDN'T HAVE STOOD A CHANCE.
    Being tender toward one another is a must.
    Having time together is a must.

    Marriage should not be entered into lightly. Come to an understanding what COVENANT means.
    God and His ways a must.
    Don't lose your personality.
    Have joy and laughter in your marriage.
    We are to RESPECT our husbands and they are to love us as Christ loves the Church!
    Continue to make dates, even if that's a simple walk around the block. Can't use the excuse: it cost money we don't have.
    Stay gushied up for your man...perfume, clean face, pretty nightgowns, sweet and gentle words whispered in their ear.
    Be the best of friends and go through Life together.

    For you all that decide that living together first before marriage or are sexually active...you will have to come to an understanding as to why God doesn't want us to participate in this. Many don't understand that sex isn't just a physical act...it involves our emotions as well along with becoming one flesh with the sexual partner. Sex within the marriage is such a special thing that we are to have this with only our married spouse. No where else in the universe are we to have another relationship like the one we have as a married person.

    As for preparing for marriage...you need to know how this person will behave in stressful situations, will the husband be a protecter and a provider or a narcissistic punk. How do they handle their money and if they pay their bills, who their God is, if they have a roaming eye, what their moral code/fiber is, helpful, considerate, loving, have good work ethics, hard worker, clean, how they choose to relax, has no sexual diseases, honors their word, isn't a drunk or drug user, stays away from gambling, honest businessman, what they think marriage is all about and the validity of it. I could go on and on, but won't.

    Know that when you marry someone, how they conduct themselves will seriously affect you and family. There are consequences to our actions. Have the same values and worship ALMIGHTY God.
    Don't be revengeful when hurt.
    Explain our feelings.
    Kiss each other goodnight.
    Don't go to bed angry at one another.

    Deanna

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  7. One thing I want to add,
    Believe the word of God when it says, husbands are to cleave to their wives. We leave our Parents.

    When we marry, no longer are the Parents to have final say so in how we conduct our marriages and how we live. Respectfully, we can love the Prents, but we are to be cleaving to one another to our spouse. You have birthed a new family as husband and wife with new traditions that will be celebrated as husband and wife, not husband, wife and parents all in the same bed.

    You will get into a world of hurt if you don't place your spouse above and before the parents and other family members, friends, hobbies, work, etc.

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  8. Very interesting! Well, here is my 2 cents...
    My husband and I didn't prepare for marriage so to speak. However, we both had a healthy idea of what marriage would be like. Also, he had been divorced and had full custody of his child, and well, I grew up a in a home with parents who didn't portray the healthiest marriage. So with those things in mind, my husband and I were determined to have a healthy marriage. First piece of advice I would give women in particular is this, submit to your husband, even when you don't agree. We have been married for 16 yrs, and I daily have to ask GOd to show me how to submit. I grew up in a home where my "Women's Lib" mom controlled everything. My father was emasculated throughout my childhood, I remember it clearly. I find we are most at peace, and well functioning in our family when I am submitting, honoring, and respecting my husband, because ultimately, I am submitting to and honoring Jesus when I do these things. Honor, respect and submit, even when you don't agree, or he doesn't "deserve" it. God ALWAYS deserves these responses and that is who we are doing all this for. Remember that on those difficult days.

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  9. Some great stuff here. I especially like Deanna's comments.

    We prepared for marriage by going to 6 sessions of hour-long premarital counseling with a state-licensed Christian counselor (required by our church). Very helpful. We talked a lot between ourselves and with our pastor and happily married friends. An engaged/marriage conference was also helpful.

    Advice to engaged or married couples:

    1. Pray for your fiancee (fiance? I never get that right) and, when you're married, pray with your husband. If you're single, don't just pray that you will have a husband one day...pray FOR him, even before you know who he is.

    2. Do not let existing family squabbles intrude upon your wedding. Detach with love. Family feuds should not dictate who is invited/not invited, who is ring bearer/not ring bearer, etc.

    3. If you don't already know how, learn to cook before you get married. You will save lots of money and set off the smoke alarm less often! (Ask me how I know...)

    4. If your fiance yells at you, shoves you or hits you, or makes you feel belittled, run don't walk out of the engagement, even if he uses out-of-context scripture to rationalize his behavior. (This didn't happen to me, but I just feel the need to make this "public service announcement.")

    5. Google Urinary Tract Infection, aka honeymoon cystitis, before you get married. Know the symptoms and techniques for prevention ahead of time.

    6. If you are going on a long flight for your honeymoon, try to plan a day or two of down time before jumping on a plane.

    7. The best thing for our marriage was when my husband suggested I leave my high-stress job and go freelance. He didn't force this upon me, but he let me know it would be ok, and I was happy to do it. I've been amazed by how much better our marriage is for it. (I realize though that we have been blessed with my husband's income and that everyone's situation is different. Also, we got married later in life, so were able to come into the marriage with higher incomes than younger couples, just because of being in the workforce for longer.)

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