Christie and Jim celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with both of their families. Just before the meal, Jim began to tell Christie how thankful he was for her and what he appreciated about her. A bit embarrassed, she asked him if he realized he was talking to her in front of their entire family. With a smile on his face, he responded, “Yes.” After a few more moments of sharing, Jim asked Christie to marry him. She said yes, and everyone broke out in applause.
Many couples get engaged over the holidays. In fact, according to WeddingWire, almost 33 percent of marriage proposals occur between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
“There is something special about celebrating the big moment with family and friends who are gathered together during this special time,” said Dr. Greg Smalley, co-author of Before You Plan Your Wedding…Plan Your Marriage. “However, the memories of the ‘moment’ are often shoved to the backseat as many of these couples hurriedly launch into planning for a June wedding. Since they only have six months to get ready, they spend all their time planning for the ‘day’ instead of doing things that will help them stay married for a lifetime.”
Smalley contends that this is a common mistake made by many couples. They think they have all the answers for marital bliss, only to find out they were wrong.
“We see so many couples who clearly want to have successful marriages,” Smalley said. “The good news is most of them can be successful as long as they get the right knowledge and skills. Research shows that couples who succeed gain the knowledge they need before they settle into destructive patterns that often lead to divorce.”
A study conducted by Dr. David Olson indicates that 80 percent of couples who participate in premarital preparation report higher marital satisfaction. Additionally, studies show that couples who participate in premarital preparation are 31 percent less likely to divorce.
“Most newlywed couples are clueless that they are getting ready to face enormous adjustments like managing expectations, dealing with disagreement and disappointment, household issues, financial decisions, intimacy in their relationship, in-laws, how to spend free time, personality differences, re-orienting old friendships and more,” Smalley said. “The key to successfully navigating these adjustments is a) attacking the problem and not each other, and b) feeling emotionally safe with your spouse.”
When two people feel emotionally safe in their marriage, they are much more likely to reveal their deepest thoughts, feelings and desires because they know they will still be loved, accepted and valued. When couples are able to share at this level, they are much more likely to get to the heart of the issues listed above and work through them. Interestingly, communicating at this level actually increases intimacy in the marriage relationship. The skills to do this are what couples learn through premarital preparation.
“You can have a ‘perfect’ wedding day and a safe marriage relationship. It just takes some additional effort,” Smalley said. “Building a safe relationship is key to a strong foundation for your marriage. Ideally, your marriage should feel like the safest place on earth.”
Are you planning for the day, or are you planning for a lifetime?
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