by Debra Fileta truelovedates.com
The epidemic of extravagant weddings is seeping into our culture in an unmistakable way. Turn on the TV at any given time and you will find a plethora of shows centered on the concept of achieving the so-called perfect wedding.
The wedding planning process includes finding the perfect dress, landing the perfect reception hall, making sure you’ve got the right flowers, food, cake, music, wedding party, DJ, photographer, centerpieces, invitations, ceremony, rings, shoes and more. While there is no doubt that there is value in celebrating such a sacred day, is it possible that in our celebration- sometimes we miss the focus?
When it comes to wedding planning, there is a tendency to focus on the minor details while neglecting the main point; planning the wedding, while neglecting to plan the marriage.
Far beyond planning the particulars of a wedding day, the time of engagement is a really sacred time. It’s a chance to get to the bottom of who you are and reflect on the person you want to become. It’s an opportunity to connect with and continue getting to know the heart of the precious partner God has placed in your life.
It’s a time to begin working, preparing and planning for the marriage you hope to build.
As you reflect on some of the most important aspects of planning a marriage, here are some must-have conversations before you walk down the aisle:
1. Past: When it comes to planning for a marriage it’s crucial to talk about your past, because the past has a role in shaping the present. Whether your past is tainted with pain, or filled with hope- you need to get real with where you come from. Past relationships, family history, and significant experiences (both positive and negative) that have shaped you are just some of the things that need to be discussed as you look back- so that you can join together in moving forward.
2. Family: What role will your family play in your life once you are married? How will visits, holidays, and special occasions impact your relationship with one another? Will you start your own traditions, or continue those of your family of origin? What role will our family have when it comes to our life and decision making? Combining two people from two separate families into one is something that many people take lightly. But it’s a topic that can cause much strain and stress if not tackled in part before you say I do.
3. Sex: Our views of sex and sexuality are shaped long before we commit to marriage. It’s crucial to get comfortable with this topic of conversation, because it’s one that you’ll carry on for the rest of your married life. What are your views of sex, and how have they been shaped? What is your past sexual history and how might that impact your relationship? What expectations do you have and are you on the same page? Understanding your sexual views and knowing your partner’s is a valuable part of preparing for intimacy.
4. Secrets: I get a lot of questions from people wondering when is the right time to share “secrets”- the parts of your life that you rarely share with others. There is no better time to share these intimate things than now, as you look ahead at marriage. From family secrets, to personal choices, from health problems to mental health concerns, this is the time to share things big and small, paving the way for honesty and openness as the foundation of your relationship.
5. Expectations: Because expectations are such a deep-seated part of who we are, we don’t often think about them. But talking about these things gives us a chance to bring them to the surface in a constructive way. What are your views on work, family, and marriage roles? How will you accomplish the cooking, the cleaning and the chores? This is just skimming the surface of the things we may expect going into marriage, and it’s an important conversation to have.
6. Money: It’s amazing how such a seemingly benign topic before marriage, can become such a trigger after. Too many couples get caught in the trap of financial stress and struggles because they didn’t take the time to discuss the finances How do you feel about combining money? What are your spending habits? Do you have any debt and how are you going to pay it off? What are your views on saving, tithing, and giving? Getting on the same page when it comes to money will save you so much strain as you soon become one.
7. Faith: When it comes to genuine faith, it’s a part of you that should be oozing out of your life long before marriage. But just as important as it is to retain our individual relationship with God, it’s important to connect in our faith experiences as we look toward marriage. Discussions about prayer life, reading God’s word, spiritual roles, theological beliefs, and denominational preferences are all things that need to be considered and discussed as you move forward.
8. Children: Above and beyond dreaming about baby names, there is so much more to the topic of family planning before marriage. How many children do you hope to have? What happens if you aren’t able to get pregnant? How were you parented, and what are your personal views on parenting? Who will take care of the children, and what are your views on day-care, schooling, and the like. There are many important aspects to this topic that would be beneficial to take the time to discuss and work through.
9. Boundaries: Essentially, boundaries are your views on what is okay and what is not okay when it comes to your relationship and marriage. What do boundaries look like with friends of the opposite sex, past boyfriends/girlfriends, and even family members. How will we protect our time, guard our emotions, and prevent our bodies from negative interactions with others?
10. Struggles: One thing I know about marriage, is that it magnifies everything. Your strengths…and your weaknesses. Before you enter the pressure-cooker of marriage, you need to get real with your bad-habits and hang-ups here and now. Do you have a tendency to express anger through rage? Do you struggle with any addictive behaviors? Are there any areas in your life that you need to expose and address before you move forward toward marriage? Take the time to talk frankly and honestly about your struggles, and make the time to work toward hope and healing.
The season before marriage is a rich and joyous time in a couple’s life. Don’t allow the pressure of creating the “perfect wedding” to keep you from focusing on what really matters. Plan your wedding, but most importantly, plan your marriage- because a healthy marriage is something worth truly celebrating.
Article ran originally on truelovedates.com. Used with permission.
Debra K. Fileta is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in Relationship and Marital issues. She, her husband and two children live in Hershey, PA. She is the author of the new book True Love Dates (Zondervan, 2013), challenging young men and women to do dating in a way that is psychologically sound, emotionally healthy and spiritually grounded. Visit www.truelovedates.com and follow her on Twitter to get your dating questions answered and to learn more.
Publication date: December 11, 2013
Read more about what the Bible says about marriage in our Marriage Guide that walks through many hot topics surrounding marriage today in light of God's Word.
It's Not the Size nor the Wedding Trends that Matter...It's the Way of the Inner Spiritual Foundation You Create Together.
It's not the size of your wedding, be it an elopement or a Big White Wedding. It's the Way in which you marry that truly matters.
Couples viewing their marriage as nothing more than a mere legal formality or one big lavish party may not be considering the overall outcome. Let us consider some basic and vital Preparing for Marriage Wisdom.
20 Reasons Marriages Fail (Even Christian Marriages) at CrossWalk.com
Ultimately, the act of getting married intersects with family and friends at some point. There's little chance of avoiding it, so it may be best to go with the flow in this regard, they will want to attend.
Even the smallest of weddings should be shared and filled with love and joy.
Even more important is...what is created in this moment in front of family and friends holds a lot of significance. Sharing your marriage creates beautiful memories everyone will cherish and remember fondly.
The people that love and care about you want to be there for your wedding and will likely feel cheated and hurt if they are not given the opportunity to attend.
The well wishes and love generated from your nearest and dearest family and friends are very relevant, even in the smallest of weddings.
It is said that getting married is “the most idealistic thing we will ever do.” How true that is!
We didn’t think so before we got married, but we sure saw it afterward.When we enter marriage we’re filled with so many hopes and dreams. We believe they all will come true. That’s because we have found the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with. We believe we are two people destined to build a life of love together.
But as we look around we see so many couples who don’t seem excited about their love anymore.
As we look at the divorce statistics, we need to take note. These couples were probably filled with the same hopes and dreams as us. They probably thought they had found the person they could build a great life with —a life filled with love. But something changed along life’s path for them. It’s something, or some things that took them by surprise.
Perhaps, just perhaps, a big part of the reason might be that they didn’t work through as many hidden, unrealistic expectations as they should have before marrying. It’s very possible that if they had, they would have been more prepared for the real world they would enter into if and when they married.
That’s why books, such as the one that Bill and Pam Farrel wrote titled, The Before-You-Marry Book of Questions published by Harvest House, is a great one to go through together with the one you are dating or engaged to.
It seems to be a good one to give you insight into some very important issues you will eventually encounter. And it sure seems wise to process through those important matters now, rather than waiting. This way you’re all the more sure of your choice in each other. And you’re all the more prepared for the great marriage you believe you will build together.
How I wish that my husband Steve and I would have had a book, such as this one.
We came into marriage SO unprepared. We were just sure that our love would “naturally” grow and grow. It didn’t. Yes, at first things were great. But eventually as life pushed us against each other, as it most often does, we encountered major problems in our marriage. That is something we never, ever thought would happen to us. Perhaps you can relate.
I believe with all my heart that this type of book is essential to help you learn not only more about each other, but also to learn how to better learn how to handle differences. It helps you to persevere in working together. It shows you that sometimes you have to “agree to disagree.” Other times, you need to build relationship bridges, despite your differing ways. This book will help you with that mission.
What I like about this book is that the authors, Bill and Pam mix it up. The methods they use help you better get to know each other. You may think you know what you should, but as you go through the questions and the exercises, I think you’ll be surprised. I found several things about this book and many questions different than other pre-marriage question books. They all have their own unique slant on what they are trying to help you learn about each other.
So, please consider getting this one, The Before-You-Marry Book of Questions, plus a few more for a good balance. We recommend many in the “Recommended Links and Resources” in the Marriage Prep Tools topic.
“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. (Toben and Joanne Heim)
Here’s some advice from Dr Debbie L. Cherry, which I hope you will take seriously:
“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. It’s 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 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. This will help you make it through to that last stage. That’s when once again you’ll find that you have more time for each other.”
I hope you will because I believe it can truly help you.
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
The truth is, building a loving, healthy, supportive and lasting life together doesn't just happen...it's created,