While no amount of preparation would have made me the perfect bride, it could have helped me enter marriage as a more thoughtful, easier-to-live-with spouse.
I have a confession to make. As a single, I didn’t prepare well for marriage.
The truth is, I didn’t really prepare at all … that is, not until I started dating my now-husband, Ted. It was then that the possibility of matrimony became a reality and I suddenly recognized the need to ready myself for it.
I wish I would have started sooner.
Because preparation takes time. And while no duration of it would have made me the perfect bride, there were things I could’ve addressed as a single that may have helped me enter marriage as a more thoughtful, easier-to-live-with spouse. The same is true for you.
There are things you can do now as a single to better ready yourself to begin the spousal journey in good shape. So whether the title of “spouse” is in your near future or years away, here are five things you can do to prepare for it.
1. Evaluate your habits.
When Ted and I were newlyweds, there was a particular habit of his that stood out to me … in a good way. He never left the toilet seat up. He defied all of the stereotypical stories of men and bathrooms I’d come to believe were true over the years.
This behavior of his wasn’t something he was taught as a kid, though. Instead, he adopted it in his adult years as he hosted single events at his condo. It was one way he made an effort to be courteous to his female friends. Years later, when we got married, this habit he’d embraced when he was single became a way to show kindness to me, his new wife.
Just like Ted evaluated his toilet seat routine and made a change before marriage, you can do the same with regard to your daily habits. Do you have patterns of behavior that may prove annoying, thoughtless or hurtful to a future spouse? These habits may be related to personal hygiene such as where you leave your dirty laundry, or could pertain to poor time or money management.
If you’re not sure whether a habit may need addressed, ask those closest to you for honest feedback. Choose people who know you and your behaviors well. This may include parents, siblings, roommates, or friends you’ve known for several years. Allow them to be candid without fear that you’ll be offended by their observations.
2. Fine tune your conflict resolution style.
You’re probably familiar with the five conflict resolution styles. If not, an article from the University of Notre Dame identifies them as avoidance, giving in, standing your ground, compromising and collaborating. The healthiest of these being collaboration, or what I label a “team-first fighter” in my book Team Us: Marriage Together.
What does a team-first fighter look like? This individual approaches conflict with an “other-first” mentality. This is evidenced in their desire to understand the other person’s perspective, a relinquishing of the need to be right, less concern for personal reputation, and an extension of grace and understanding.
Although I consider myself a team-first fighter now, this hasn’t always been the case. When I got married, I was a strict conflict avoider. My default was to pretend conflict didn’t exist. What I didn’t realize until after I got married was just how dysfunctional this was. It took several years of marriage for me to learn how to exchange my conflict-avoiding ways for that of collaboration.
Perhaps you’re more balanced than I was. It could be that you’re already a team-first fighter, or you tend to compromise, which means you’re on your way there. But it’s possible that like me, conflict sends you running toward denial at bullet-fast speed. While the bad news is your conflict resolution style is far from healthy, the good news is you can work now to change it.
Your single years are the perfect time to identify how you deal with conflict and determine what, if any, changes need to be made. One way to determine your style is to think about the last two or three times you’ve encountered conflict. Think back to how you responded in each instance and what you could have done differently.
3. Learn to not take yourself too seriously.
Ted’s lighthearted view of himself is one of the top five things that attracted me to him. Even though he had two master’s degrees, had traveled internationally, and was a talented musician, he didn’t take himself too seriously. This man knew how to laugh at himself and have fun in the process.
How about you? If asked, would others say that you take yourself too seriously?
Don’t misunderstand. There’s certainly a place for approaching particular aspects of life with seriousness. At the same time, there’s also something seriously attractive about an individual who can laugh at their mistakes, flaws and shortcomings — a person who can take a risk and fail because he’s learned to laugh it off and try again. Marriage comes with many opportunities to fixate on the negative, but being able to laugh together has been proven to create healthier marriages.
If laughing at yourself and your mistakes is hard for you, it may be time to develop a more lighthearted opinion of yourself. You can start small by learning to react with levity to little frustrations or mistakes. Lock your keys in your car? Instead of growing angry, figure out a way to see the humor in the situation. Or, if you’re like me, and you have trouble properly pronouncing English words, let alone words in other languages, don’t let your mispronunciation fluster you. Instead, figure out how to joke about it. Others know you’re fallible. Recognizing and accepting that can be attractive and liberating.
4. Seek out opportunities to serve.
The best marriages are made up of individuals who sacrificially serve one another; those who, for the sake of their relationship, weigh their spouse’s needs over their own. The problem is servanthood isn’t something that naturally occurs the day you promise, “I do.” Instead, a servant’s heart is cultivated over time. Sometimes lots of time.
But you can begin to develop it now as a single. Start by seeking out opportunities to serve within your community and at your local church. This could be helping elderly neighbors with their grocery shopping, or babysitting at no charge for a single mom. You could volunteer in your church’s children’s ministry, or participate in outreach programs.
Even if it means getting out of bed early on a Saturday or putting in hours after a long day at work, make it a priority to put others’ needs before your own. Make servanthood such a natural part of your life now that service will come more naturally in marriage.
5. Take a friendship inventory.
Chances are, you’re surrounded by some sort of community. These people may include your family, friends, co-workers or classmates. It’s important to surround yourself now with a support system that can encourage and help you later, when you get married. To find out if you have the right kind of friends, do a simple friendship inventory. Ask yourself these three questions:
● Do my friends esteem or value marriage?
● Do my friends view the opposite sex with respect?
● Do they affirm me at any cost, or are they willing to offer me gentle correction?
If your closest friends receive three check marks — great! You’re good to go. However, if your friends flunk this inventory, try having a heart-to-heart talk with them. Maybe they don’t realize how they’re coming across. Share how you’d like to see them encourage you in specific areas. They may just rise to the occasion.
Go Ahead … Start Now
You don’t have to wait until you’re in a serious relationship to prepare for marriage. You can start now. I guarantee that your future spouse will appreciate — and benefit from — your efforts. Your intentionality may even be one of the things they find most attractive.
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Our ceremonies are Living Christ Consciousness Centered.
What does that mean?
Please take a moment to understand the basics.
The human mind has spiritual currents running through its thought streams. These streams contain vital information from Spirit that is highly valuable to humans. Spirit is the source of everything TRUE, BEAUTIFUL, and GOOD and conveys these ideals through the human mind that intersect with a person’s beliefs, helping the individual ascend into the higher information that uplifts and improves the quality of life.
In human life, spiritual growth is achieved by aligning with these spiritual currents that come from both the personality and mind of Spirit by intellectual assent and emotional devotion. Christ Consciousness is the growing human recognition and blending of the human evolutionary (or ego) mind with the Divine Mind and the Divine Personality that is the source of human happiness and fulfillment. This awareness accrues over time within the consciousness of human thinking when intention, attention, and openness is focused on knowing who and what is that “Christed” state of being—the higher mindedness of enlightenment.
As this awareness in the human mind grows and strengthens, life becomes more liberated, joyful, peaceful, and love-dominated. The fear which creates isolation and despair begins to diminish in thought and feeling. You are free to live the life you were born to live — as a child of Spirit in a love-filled and supportive universe.
Is Christ Consciousness Christian?
Do I have to be a Christian to achieve Christ Consciousness? The highest state of intellectual development, emotional balance and spiritual maturity is sometimes termed the “Christed” state because of the sacredness and purity of the individual who has achieved it. Jesus achieved this in his human life, and was given this term before his name as the recognition of his achievement of this spiritual status. This path is open to anyone regardless of their religious tradition if and when he or she is open to become a living vessel of LOVE, TRUTH, BEAUTY and GOODNESS on the planet and actively strives to attain it.
This is not a term used exclusively in the Christian religion, nor does it mean that you must adhere to a Christian belief system to attain this state. All of the world’s religious traditions offer a path to achieving this “Christed” status, and people are free to find their way in the context of their religious choice. What is significant to remember here is that each person has his and her own path to finding God-Source-Spirit, and to open to allowing that path to unfold naturally. Sometimes people find their way within the context of certain religious beliefs that the major world’s religions offer; some people will find their way by blending some beliefs together in a unique and innovative way. All ways and paths are honored if they lead a person into becoming more loving, forgiving, patient, kind, compassionate, tolerant, and happy. All paths of LOVE lead to the same Source of All That Is. We all share the same Creator-Source as living expressions of that Source Personality and we all are moving back home to unite with our Divine Source.
Christ consciousness is the state of awareness of our true nature, our higher self, and our birthright as children of God. Christ consciousness is our living expression as a child of Spirit as we unfold our own divine life plan onto the earth plane: bringing heaven to earth. Living in the reality of our “Christed” self is actually being fully alive and invested in who we truly are. In our “Christed” self we live as inspiration for others to seek this for themselves so we can collectively move our planet forward into the divine plan for planetary transformation and glorification.
Jesus: The Inspiration for Human Life
It is the goal of human life to evolve toward Spirit. This is the journey that unfolds over the course of one’s lifetime—it is the adventure of moving from time and space to eternity. Spirit ever reaches into the hearts and minds of humans to urge us to choose the ascension path to unite with the Source of Creation. One way Spirit does this is to incarnate as a human to reveal the Divine Source's personality to humanity to serve as encouragement to discover and walk the path of Spirit. God actually steps down into the form of a human to show us the way back home. The person who fulfilled this role for us is Jesus.
Jesus’ teachings centered around helping people find their own internal source of Spirit. He lived what he taught. He was the embodiment of love and goodness, peace and understanding. His God-centeredness allowed him to achieve what we consider miracles because he understood the natural laws of the universe and was able to tap into the great power of LOVE to bring healing to people. He practiced meditation and prayer to gain strength to meet the challenges of daily life. He consistently showed love, kindness, patience, gentleness to others and encouraged them to open to the Spirit within themselves. He said, “The kingdom of Heaven is within.” He lived his life to show us how to find Spirit and what a human personality looks like when he or she is Spirit-centered. He paved the way for us to find God for ourselves.
Jesus’ divine life plan disclosed itself to him over the course of his lifetime. Just as we can open ourselves to our Indwelling Spirits to find our own higher purpose, Jesus accomplished this during his human lifetime. He is an inspiring guide to help us achieve this for ourselves. Once he fully achieved his own state of “Christ consciousness” he was able to manifest and depict to others his divine self. His life purpose was two-fold and provides the living link between our Creator-Source and humanity: to show each person how to experience God in himself/herself and for himself/herself, and then to embody the Creator and reveal God’s love for each person to those who were ready to grow in Spirit.
The significance of Jesus’ life overshadows the Christian religion that evolved over centuries of human thought and beliefs and interpretations about his life. While this intellectual belief in Jesus is a way to know him, you can also have a personal relationship with Jesus that is more satisfying than any idea coming from a belief system that you may have learned about him. This is the experience of knowing him in your in the inner-most part of your being. Invite him to enter into your heart and mind to give you answers to the pressing questions about your life. Invite him to show who he is and the role he can play in your life to help you become more of who you truly are. You can ask him any question.
No question is off limits; even those regarding his teachings and the Christian religion that evolved around the events and mysteries of his life. He will give you the truth about himself and the teachings of Christianity that trouble you or cause you to have doubts about or reject him, questions about the crucifixion and why it occurred, questions about God’s relationship to humans, questions about his teachings and resulting human interpretation; anything at all. He is open to hearing your complaints, your questions, and your concerns. He will address each one of them in a manner that will have you amazed and delighted at what you learn.
Jesus is much better and more approachable than any institutionalized belief system about him. In going directly to him, you will get an enhanced picture of who he is and the role he can play in your life to help you become a better person, to find happiness and fulfillment, to accompany you during your struggles, to give you courage and strength, and to help you find the answers to all of the urgent and pressing questions of your life. He was tested here as a human, and there is no one living past or present that has his unique perspective on life. He is here for you now. Invite him into your life and allow him to delight you to your heart’s content.
Growing in Christ Consciousness
There is something within us that yearns for love. This is embedded within the deepest recesses of consciousness. Nothing short of total union with the Divine Love will satisfy the deep inner desires of the soul, once it has tasted of this and been awakened to the light of Truth.
This is the journey into Christ Consciousness. It is the treasure hunt for love, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, empathy, mercy, kindness, tolerance, patience, and courage. It is discovering what Spirit wants for you – abundance, joy, happiness, and peace of mind. All of the difficulties of your life – anger, guilt, shame, obsessive/compulsive disorders, addictions, and other emotional toxins and mental maladjustments, even physical ailments can successfully be overcome by aligning in the Christ Consciousness, allowing yourself to be made well and whole by your Creator Source, who takes on the form/role of Spirit Father and Spirit Mother, Divine Parents to renew you in their divine attributes.
Above everything else that has happened to you in life, you are deeply loved. However, it is very difficult to feel love from your Creator Source due to many factors of how you may have experienced childhood and the imprinting of your mind and soul from hurtful, shameful emotional wounding. This is not the way you were created to live. Your Creator does not want you to live with any kind of emotional baggage of anger, guilt, isolation, or fear. The problem in human life is that we have learned how to mistrust and not to expect good things to happen to us. This is a fallacy, and can be overcome by returning to a place within you that needs to be re-parented – only this time by perfect Divine Parents who can treat you the way you deserve to be treated: with acceptance, validation, understanding, patience, compassion, kindness, support, and most of all, love.
These wounded places within are something that your Inner Spirit longs to heal. Acknowledging that you are in pain and honestly facing the fact that you cannot “fix” yourself brings you into that place of simple trust – that childlike faith that is so important to allowing yourself to being taken care of; something that your Divine Parents gladly and willing delight in doing along with the presence of your Inner Spirit. Growing in Christ Consciousness takes you into the realm of being a spirit child so that the loving hands of the Infinite Source can gently repair the damage in the psyche, fix distorted thought patterns, and cleanse the emotional toxins that weigh upon the soul. Coming into the alignment with Christ Consciousness is a time of great liberation, rebirth, and renewal of spirit, mind, and body.
As we have become accustomed to taking charge of our lives and always want to be in control, growing in Christ Consciousness takes some time to fully unfold. It requires a dedicated intention and attention to spend some stillness time in aligning in the Divine Mind, and offering oneself to be re-made like Spirit. But each time we do this, our loving Divine Source will always respond to our needs and fill us with hope, love, peace, happiness and the joy of being alive. Always will we have the opportunity to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit out in the world, thereby demonstrating our ability to become like more Godlike.
As these spiritual treasures build within the mind, life becomes more beautiful and meaningful as we discover we are truly not alone. We have a compassionate and loving guiding Divine Hand supporting us at all times, and with this firm assurance, we are truly free to live, to experience life to the fullest, and to reach our potential as children of God!
The sacramental nature of marriage makes this action more than a physical bond,
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