“I think my spouse is depressed. How do I support them?”

“I’m single and depressed. Will I ever find love?”

“My relationship is unhealthy and it’s taking a toll. What should I do?”

These are just a few of the questions we hear regularly at First Things First about mental health concerns and intimate relationships. Which leads us to ask an even bigger question– how and why do intimate relationships affect mental health?

In 2021, the research journal Social Science and Medicine | Population Health published a study to examine the association between relationship status and mental well-being at four different life stages. Researchers tracked and followed up with the same cohort of men and women over 30 years.

In summary, compared to marriage, being single or divorced/widowed was associated with depressive symptoms at every age in men. For women, being single – but not divorced/widowed – was associated with depressive symptoms. 

Among men, being single or divorced/widowed was also associated with lower self-esteem at ages 32, 42, and 52. In women, an association was found between lower self-esteem and being single at age 32 only. 

Several sound theories about the positive effects of intimate relationships on mental health can be made from this and correlated studies with similar results and findings. Here are a few researcher’s suggestions: 

Simultaneously, several studies have revealed the negative effects unhealthy or insecure intimate relationships can have on individuals’ mental health. Here are a few findings from cumulative studies:

Frequently, research backs up what we already know from common sense. As human beings, we have a deep desire for connection and secure, intimate relationships. We are more likely to thrive when this need is met. When this need is unmet or is met inadequately, we suffer in all areas of our lives. Our mental health is a large part of the equation. It can’t be ignored.

May this be a catalyst to focus on positive mental health practices and healthy relationship practices for yourself and the one you care about the most. 

Our world is filled with technological devices and relationships. With technology always (or nearly always) with us, we can be more productive and fill in the gaps in our day. Isn’t that a good thing? Maybe.

Let’s look at how technology impacts your relationship with your significant other. Remember: Technology is a tool. It can be used positively or negatively.

Technology Gaps

Let’s look at those “gaps” technology often fills up. There are many opportunities in the day for “small talk” that isn’t small at all. These may not be times when you’re doing heavy relationship work. But these moments build “connective tissue” that can strengthen your relationship. (If you can put technology in its place.)

  • When you wake up.
  • Car rides.
  • Meals.
  • Leisure time.
  • Before you fall asleep.

Those may look like ordinary parts of your daily routine, but they are chances to connect. They’re also opportunities for technology to steal your attention. “Technoference” describes when technology interrupts face-to-face interaction.

Interruptions and Distractions

Technoference affects most couples in some way. Consider these findings from a recent survey of married/partnered women by the University of Pennsylvania. The women surveyed indicated that the following distractions and interruptions happened daily.

  • 62% said technology interferes with their leisure time together. 
  • 40% said their partner gets distracted by the TV during a conversation. 
  • 35% said their partner will pull out his phone if he receives a notification, even if they are in the middle of a conversation.
  • 33% said their partner checks his phone during mealtimes together.
  • 25% said their partner texts other people during the couple’s face-to-face conversations.

The goal isn’t to assign blame. The goal is to be actively present with the love of your life. Technology isn’t the problem. Technology presents a wealth of opportunities to do positive relationship things. 

Have A Talk

The only reliable way to measure the technoference in your relationship is to talk with your spouse about it. 

Feeling up to some relationship work? Carve out some uninterrupted time to talk about the impact of technology on your relationship. Here are some questions to get you started. 

Please keep in mind that technology is so ingrained in our lives that we aren’t always conscious of how we use it or the habits we’ve formed. You both probably have some blindspots. Approach this conversation in a positive, constructive way.

  1. Do you ever feel like you’re competing with technology for my attention? What are some examples?
  1. Even when we’re together, do you ever feel like I’m not fully “present” with you because of technology? Do you mind sharing some examples?
  1. Do I have any phone/television/social media/gaming/online shopping habits that are a source of tension with you? Let’s talk about them.
  1. What sensible boundaries for technology can we put in place to ensure our relationship is our first priority?

These conversations can be a revelation. They can also bring up sensitive topics like mutual account access, over-sharing on social media, passwords, and other thorny couple issues. Trustworthy spouses can have strong, differing opinions. 

If the technoference conversation is shifting toward past problems, insecurity, control, or trust, technology probably isn’t the real issue. You may need to bring in some professional advice to work through difficult areas where you can’t reach an agreement.

Don’t forget to be creative and discuss using technology to enhance your relationship. Stay connected through texts, Facetime, and apps that prompt conversations or help you track your couple goals.

Sources:

McDaniel & Drouin Parker. (2019). Daily Technology Interruptions and Emotional and Relational Well-Being.

https://rb.gy/upte3

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Our world is filled with technological devices and relationships. With technology always (or nearly always) with us, we can be more productive and fill in the gaps in our day. Isn’t that a good thing? Maybe.

Let’s look at how technology impacts your relationship with your significant other. Remember: Technology is a tool. It can be used positively or negatively.

Technology Gaps

Let’s look at those “gaps” technology often fills up. There are many opportunities in the day for “small talk” that isn’t small at all. These may not be times when you’re doing heavy relationship work. But these moments build “connective tissue” that can strengthen your relationship. (If you can put technology in its place.)

  • When you wake up.
  • Car rides.
  • Meals.
  • Leisure time.
  • Before you fall asleep.

Those may look like ordinary parts of your daily routine, but they are chances to connect. They’re also opportunities for technology to steal your attention. “Technoference” describes when technology interrupts face-to-face interaction.

Interruptions and Distractions

Technoference affects most couples in some way. Consider these findings from a recent survey of married/partnered women by the University of Pennsylvania. The women surveyed indicated that the following distractions and interruptions happened daily.

  • 62% said technology interferes with their leisure time together. 
  • 40% said their partner gets distracted by the TV during a conversation. 
  • 35% said their partner will pull out his phone if he receives a notification, even if they are in the middle of a conversation.
  • 33% said their partner checks his phone during mealtimes together.
  • 25% said their partner texts other people during the couple’s face-to-face conversations.

The goal isn’t to assign blame. The goal is to be actively present with the love of your life. Technology isn’t the problem. Technology presents a wealth of opportunities to do positive relationship things. 

Have A Talk

The only reliable way to measure the technoference in your relationship is to talk with your spouse about it. 

Feeling up to some relationship work? Carve out some uninterrupted time to talk about the impact of technology on your relationship. Here are some questions to get you started. 

Please keep in mind that technology is so ingrained in our lives that we aren’t always conscious of how we use it or the habits we’ve formed. You both probably have some blindspots. Approach this conversation in a positive, constructive way.

  1. Do you ever feel like you’re competing with technology for my attention? What are some examples?
  1. Even when we’re together, do you ever feel like I’m not fully “present” with you because of technology? Do you mind sharing some examples?
  1. Do I have any phone/television/social media/gaming/online shopping habits that are a source of tension with you? Let’s talk about them.
  1. What sensible boundaries for technology can we put in place to ensure our relationship is our first priority?

These conversations can be a revelation. They can also bring up sensitive topics like mutual account access, over-sharing on social media, passwords, and other thorny couple issues. Trustworthy spouses can have strong, differing opinions. 

If the technoference conversation is shifting toward past problems, insecurity, control, or trust, technology probably isn’t the real issue. You may need to bring in some professional advice to work through difficult areas where you can’t reach an agreement.

Don’t forget to be creative and discuss using technology to enhance your relationship. Stay connected through texts, Facetime, and apps that prompt conversations or help you track your couple goals.

Sources:

McDaniel & Drouin Parker. (2019). Daily Technology Interruptions and Emotional and Relational Well-Being.

https://rb.gy/upte3

h

L

You’re constantly fighting with your significant other and just can’t take it anymore. Your spouse continually ignores you, and you feel so alone in your marriage. There’s a piece of you that wants to make it work, but you’re also exhausted emotionally, mentally, and physically. What do you do?

A quick Google search will provide familiar answers from well-known publications and celebrities.

If your needs aren’t being met, the relationship is probably dead.”

“If you’re tired of feeling like the only one trying in your marriage, it’s time to call it quits.”

“If you argue often, it’s time to move out and move on.”

The problem with those answers is that all romantic relationships go through seasons of tension, stress, conflict, and disconnect. According to Dr. Dana McNeil, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist certified in evidence-based methods from The Gottman Institute, all couples experience rough patches. “The bright side is all couples who experience these rough patches also have the potential to work through the issues and come out stronger and more “in love” than ever before,” says Dr. McNeil.

Staying in a mentally, physically, or emotionally abusive relationship is never the answer. In fact, if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, get help now by contacting the National Domestic Abuse Hotline by visiting thehotline.org or calling 1.800.799.SAFE.

It doesn’t mean your relationship is failing if you find yourself in disagreements regularly, feeling disconnected, or even stuck in a negative rut with your spouse or significant other. These seasons may not provide enough fuel to burn your relationship to the ground. In fact, the fuel they provide could ignite a deeper, more intimate flame than you’ve ever experienced together.

There is no sugar coating the situation,” says Dr. McNeil. “You will have to make the decision that the relationship is worth being in and working on… you must commit to rolling up your sleeves and doing your part.”

Once you make that decision, here are the next steps, according to Dr. McNeil:

1. Notice your role in the disconnect

There’s the “we stuff” that impacts a relationship, and then there’s the “me stuff.” Take inventory of your attitude, mindset, and any internal work you may need to do. While couples therapy is a good option, individual therapy can also clarify your role in your relationship.

2. Focus on fun

Positive experiences lead to positive emotions. Getting stuck in a pattern of negative thinking about your significant other and your relationship is easy. Create moments and experiences that boost intimacy and affection. Remembering what your relationship felt like when things were good may be all you need to stay motivated and work through this rough patch.

3. Ask for what you need and drop the blame

Have you openly voiced your needs? It’s common to assume our significant other or spouse knows us so well we shouldn’t have to tell them what we want or need. In fact, it’s easy to think that if they really loved you, you wouldn’t have to ask them to clean up the kitchen after you cook, make time for a regular 30-minute conversation with you in the evenings, or acknowledge your interests. But, the truth is, no amount of love, care, and commitment can transform someone into a mind reader. That’s why it’s important to voice your needs and desires with no assumptions or blame placed on the other person.

Decades of research and personal experiences have shown that romantic relationships can enhance your life, lower your stress levels, and increase your overall happiness. If it feels like your relationship or marriage is doing the opposite at the moment, I hope trying these three steps provides some momentum to turn your situation around.

If you’d like to talk to someone about your relationship or marriage, or if you’d like to receive some deeper insights, reach out to First Things First today. You’ll be connected with a relationship coach who can help you identify barriers and obstacles that are keeping you from having the relationship or marriage you desire. Get connected now by going to FirstThings.org/coaching or emailing us at [email protected].
Lauren Hall is the President and CEO of First Things First and can be contacted at [email protected].

  • Learn more about Dr. McNeil’s excellent work here.

6 Things To Know Before You Get Married

Knowing some things ahead of time can lead to a happier relationship.

My wife and I often get asked a common question: “What do you wish you’d known before you got married?” 

Our marriage isn’t perfect by any means. We’ve had our ups and downs. But according to recent statistics, the average length of marriage in the U.S. is just over 8 years. So, it makes sense to ask questions of a couple who’s been married longer than that.

Most couples anticipate having a long, happy marriage. And they should! But if you’ve been married any amount of time, you probably recognize it’s not always smooth sailing. Your marriage is going to get rocked by waves. Sure, there will be times when the sun is shining and the seas are calm. Just know before you get married, there will be storms ahead. But you can navigate the storms and make it through.

In his book, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, Dr. Gary Chapman says, “No one gets married hoping to be miserable or to make their spouse miserable, yet the highest percentage of divorce occurs within the first seven years of marriage.”

Chapman’s book provides a marriage blueprint. He lays out 12 potential areas of stress for married couples – they’re great to think about before you get married.

Here are six of the areas he addresses:

1. Being in love is not an adequate foundation for building a successful marriage.

The “honeymoon phase” of marriage typically lasts for up to two years. This phase usually is idealistic and romantic. Don’t get me wrong, this stage is fantastic; it just needs to be treated realistically. This is a time to learn and adjust to each other. Differences will become apparent, but that’s OK. A healthy marriage requires commitment, trust, and communication. You need more than just that loving feeling.

2. Romantic love has two stages.

Chapman describes the first stage of love as a time when couples expend lots of energy doing things for each other, but they don’t consider it work. The second stage of love is more intentional. It requires work to keep emotional love alive.

3. The saying, “like mother, like daughter” and “like father, like son” is not a myth.

Chapman doesn’t suggest that your spouse will become their mother or father. But parents do greatly influence who we become. You will see some traits of your spouse’s parents in them. Be aware of this.

4. How to solve disagreements without arguing.

Conflict is a normal part of marriage. When two people spend lots of time together and grow closer, they won’t agree on everything. That’s OK. Not every conflict has to end in an argument. You can handle disagreements through healthy conversation and compromise.

5. Apologizing is a sign of strength.

Apologizing isn’t always easy. Some even see apologizing as a sign of weakness. It takes a strong person to say, “I was wrong; please forgive me.”

6. Mutual sexual fulfillment is not automatic.

Many newlywed couples don’t anticipate this being an issue. Dr. Chapman shares that while men focus on sex, women focus on relationship. We’re all built differently and have different sexual drives. Those drives change with varying stages of marriage as well. So, what do you do when you feel like sexual fulfillment is lacking? Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Couples who have been married for a long time talk about these issues and more. Marriage takes open, honest communication and flexibility from both people. It won’t always be smooth sailing, but you can navigate the storms together and enjoy those smooth seas. There is beauty in every phase of a relationship.

Other blogs:

5 Tips For Newly Engaged Couples – First Things First

5 Things You Should Have In Common With Your Spouse

Can A Marriage Survive Without Intimacy? – First Things First

If you or someone you know might be addicted to porn, you’ve come to the right place. But first, a quick quiz. 

I’ll give you a choice between two websites, and you guess which website gets more clicks. Ready?

  1. Netflix.com or Porn Website 1?
  2. ESPN.com or Porn Website 2?
  3. Twitter.com or Porn Website 3?
  4. CNN.com or Porn Website 4?
  5. WebMD.com or Porn Website 5?

If you guessed “Porn Website,” you were right every time. In fact, if we combine the top five porn websites, porn ranks fourth for all internet traffic… with 2.8 billion visits per month.1

Remember, that’s just the top five porn websites. If we combined them all, one could argue that the internet is mainly a pornography delivery service.

2.8 billion ranks porn behind only Google, YouTube, and Facebook in monthly visits.

(About 90% of these visits are on mobile devices.)

Why am I telling you all this? To encourage you. That’s right. I want you to know that if you, a partner, or a family member is struggling with pornography, you’re 100% not alone. Pornography addiction is an epidemic.

Everyone is (obviously) so private about their pornography use. If you feel like you need to stop and you can’t, it’s easy to feel like it’s just you. Like there’s something about you that’s defective. You’re not defective.

Along with millions of other people, you cranked up what researchers refer to as the Triple-A Engine Effect (Accessibility, Affordability, and Anonymity.)2 Now, you want to turn that engine off. And you definitely can. There’s help, too.

If you’ve discovered that your partner uses pornography or is addicted to it, you might be wondering what’s wrong with them, or even if it’s you. (Short Answer: This is your partner’s issue. They may be succumbing to a porn addiction along with millions of other ordinary people.) Don’t waste energy thinking about how you’re part of the problem. Think about how you can be part of the solution.

Understand the dynamics and pathology of porn addiction.

Porn use has become incredibly normalized and trivialized.

It’s not just accepted. There’s a sense of entitlement. Mobile devices have opened up a free, bountiful Pornicopia. This has led to widespread addiction.

Public opinion about pornography has cooled down as technology has heated up. One Gallup poll indicated that 58% of respondents believed pornography is “morally wrong.” 40% believed it is “morally acceptable.”3 This is a tectonic shift from only two decades ago.

SIDEBAR: I frankly don’t care if you think pornography is morally wrong or not. I’m not here to moralize. I’d rather philosophize. This is what’s up. Pornography kills something important inside you. At the same time, it’s killing your ability to experience and enjoy genuine sexual intimacy. You’re cheating yourself out of one of the single best things in life. You’re creating a fantasy world. And reality will never be able to keep up. Plus, any addiction or compulsion you can’t control should make you stop and think.

Addiction to pornography might seem less complicated than real human relationships. So, maybe you avoid the risks of emotional vulnerability, relational availability, and personal accountability. But your life will also be devoid of the rewards embedded in those risks.

Sexual gratification via pornography is free, convenient, and anonymous.

It’s like grabbing some drive-thru instead of preparing and enjoying a gourmet sit-down dinner. Porn is low-effort, depersonalized, you-pick-the-menu sex. It doesn’t expect engaging dinner conversation. Porn won’t judge your poor table manners or that you don’t help with the dishes.

But. Porn. Is. Just. Empty. Calories.

There’s an ongoing debate among clinicians and researchers surrounding pornography. Is it really an addiction? Based on some recent research4, some professionals prefer the term compulsion.

This should give you hope. We aren’t talking about chemical dependence. We aren’t talking about physical withdrawal symptoms.

This is a habit. You can break a habit and/or replace it with a healthier one. What do clinicians and researchers agree on? Pornography can be destructive… to yourself, your partner, and your relationship. I’ll let them explain how.

But I Can Stop Whenever I Want To.

Porn addiction refers to a person becoming emotionally dependent on pornography to the point that it interferes with their daily life, relationships, and ability to function.”5

Here are the signs:

  1. Porn becomes a central part of your life.
  2. Pornography causes relationship issues or makes you feel less satisfied with your partner. Your sex life becomes less satisfying.
  3. You engage in risky behavior to view pornography, like viewing it at work.
  4. You ignore other responsibilities to view pornography.
  5. To get the same release that less extreme porn once offered, you view progressively more extreme pornography .
  6. You’re frustrated or ashamed after viewing porn but continue to do so.
  7. You want to stop using pornography but feel unable to do so.
  8. You cause yourself physical pain or begin to experience erectile dysfunction.
  9. You’re using pornography to cope with sadness, anxiety, insomnia, or other mental health issues.

Remember the 2.8 billion monthly visits to the top five pornographic websites in the U.S? That’s over 1,000 visits per second. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, that’s over 7,000 visits to porn websites.

People clicked on pornography of all kinds… Women being degraded and abused. Sexual exploitation. Rape fantasies. And even child pornography.

You’re here at the moment.

I believe your next click will be the right one.

Sources:

1Semrush. (December 2021). Top 100: The most visited websites in the U.S.https://www.semrush.com/blog/most-visited-websites/ 

2Cooper, & Mcloughlin, I. P. (2001). What clinicians need to know about internet sexuality. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681990126947 

3Gallup. (n.d.). Moral issues. https://news.gallup.com/poll/1681/moral-issues.aspx 

 4Weir, K. (2014, April). Is pornography addictive? American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/pornography 

5Villines, Z. (2021, February 25). What to know about porn addiction. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/porn-addiction 

FTF Resources:

What To Do When You Catch Your Husband Watching Porn – First Things First

Why Does My Husband Watch Porn? – First Things First

Should I Be Upset That My Husband Watches Porn? – First Things First

Resources for Dealing with Porn Addiction – First Things First

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

11 Things NOT To Do When Planning A Wedding

Keep your focus by avoiding these things.

So you’re planning a wedding. Everyone from family and friends to social media is giving you advice so your day can be all that you could ever dream of. Plus, there are a ton of tips and lists out there of all you should do to make your wedding day perfect and memorable. It can be overwhelming.

We’ve got some of those list and blogs, too. But our goal is to help you avoid things that lessen the wedding planning experience and negatively affect the marriage. 

Here are 11 things NOT to do when planning a wedding.

1. Don’t assume you know how much everything costs.

Everyone says, “Set a budget and stick to it.” Do you know why that’s hard? Have you ever planned a wedding before? When I got married 17 years ago, I had no idea what venues, catering, photographers, gifts, etc., cost. Yes, know what you can spend. That’s important. Don’t decide how much you’ll spend without finding out what a reasonable cost is.

2. Don’t neglect your mental health.

When the urgent is always getting prioritized over the important, then the important gets neglected. YOU are important. Wedding planning can be super stressful. Don’t overlook doing fun stuff, relaxing, exercising, and “me” time.

3. Don’t neglect your fiancé.

Pay attention to their mood, stress, and attitude. How are wedding preparations affecting your fiancé? Are they taking care of themselves? Are you showing them you want to be with them?

4. Don’t forget: The wedding celebration is one day. Marriage is hopefully forever.

The quality of the wedding does not reflect the quality of your marriage. I’ve gone to picture-perfect weddings of couples who were divorced within three years.

5. Don’t ignore red flags.

Are you and your fiancé having trouble compromising? Are they unwilling to listen? Don’t brush off warning signs just because you think it’s part of wedding prep. Marriage brings about potentially stressful situations. Address relational issues now. Assuming they will go away “just because” may set you up for disappointment later.

6. Don’t succumb to the comparison game.

Whether you’ve looked at other weddings, social media, the movies, etc., your wedding is your wedding. Your marriage will be unique, and so should your wedding. Don’t aspire to have the wedding someone else dreams of. Live your own dream.

7. Don’t neglect premarital preparation.

Premarital education enhances the likelihood of satisfaction and less conflict in your marriage. Research backs this up. Don’t take the approach, “I don’t need premarital education.” We offer a great online preparing for marriage course here.

8. Don’t start planning your escape.

Once you get married, you’ve got to go all-in. If you’re already preparing for what happens if the marriage doesn’t work out, you’re more likely to utilize that plan at some point.

9. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

You’ll forget stuff, and you’ll misplace things. You will think you told someone something you didn’t. You’ll envision something one way and then realize how crazy it was. Laugh at yourself. No marriage is perfect, and weddings aren’t either. The goal of a wedding is to get married, not to have a perfect ceremony.

10. Don’t neglect date nights.

Is there so much to do that you don’t have time to go on dates with your spouse-to-be? If so, something needs to be scaled back, delegated, or dropped.

11. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

Figure out how family and friends can help, and delegate. Part of the joy of those relationships is helping each other.

Let’s face it, planning a wedding is probably one of the biggest parties we’re ever in charge of. 

I used the word “party” intentionally. Parties are meant to be fun and memorable even if they can be a lot of work, time-consuming, and stressful. Staying focused on the purpose of the wedding instead of perfection can help you find more joy as you get ready for the party.

Source:

E.B. Fawcett, A.J. Hawkins, V.L. Blanchard, & J.S. Carroll, “Do premarital education programs really work? A meta‐analytic study,” Family Relations, 59 (2010): 232-239; S.M. Stanley, P.R. Amato, C.A. Johnson, H.J. Markman, “Premarital education, marital quality, and marital stability: Findings from a large, random household survey,” Journal of Family Psychology, 20 (2006): 117-126.

3 Reasons We’re Getting Married After Living Together

There are many factors to consider about marriage.

I’m a man who didn’t want to get married. I’ve lived with the mother of my children for 15 years. Fifteen years. Now, I realize the importance of marriage and wish I had gotten married years ago.

Reasons I Avoided Marriage

  • I grew up around people that didn’t value marriage.
  • My parents never got married.
  • I saw so many marriages end in divorce.
  • I was scared of commitment. 

Can you identify with any of these reasons? Maybe yours are different, but for me, I think it really came down to fear. Some parts of marriage seemed practical, but other parts didn’t. I saw a lot of cheating going on, which was scary too. I didn’t want any part of that.

Sometimes our real intentions are hidden a few layers deep. At times, we just need someone to lovingly shake the ground we walk on to bring maturity to the surface. I’ve always been a leader, even though I never really followed the rules of life. Sometimes I tried to make it without what some say: “It’s all his plan for being successful.” I’ve seen the ups and downs of life and marriage, so I was a little terrified. 

I’ve racked my brain on how I would explain in my own words about my experience without fear. I didn’t want to bore you about what I’ve been through in a short blog. But in my mind, I know this is going to be a journey for you too. 

Like I said, we’ve lived together for many years. So, what has changed? Why am I ready for marriage now?

Here are a few reasons we’re getting married after living together all this time:

1. For me, getting married is about growth and seeing how life goes when you do what’s right by each other.

The years of pain and hurt come at a cost that only you and the person you’re doing life with know about. My fiancé and I have been through a lot. A lot of pain and a lot of hurt. But at the end of the day, my goal is to grow. I’ve seen what can happen when you do what’s right by each other. And even after everything we’ve been through, there’s something better for our relationship in the future. We just have to put in the work to get there. 

2. I really feel ready now more than ever.

People often ask me, “Why are you not married yet?” The thing is, I knew I wasn’t ready mentally. But for me, life has shown me that it’s always been about timing. When getting your dream job and trying to climb the ladder to success, the right person pushes you to become better. So many great things are happening in our lives that make me want to get to the next step in life.

3. My support system has grown over the years, and I see what it takes to succeed in life and marriage.

Just being around my family and friends that support me no matter what life throws at me inspires me to never give up and to keep going spiritually and mentally. It goes back to what I’ve been trying to get my fellow fathers to understand. It’s a process in life that we have to be willing to take – to right our wrongs and focus on becoming better. So for me again, I say getting married after living together is part of me trusting and showing and believing. 

I feel that it’s important to show my kids that marriage can be a great thing if you both believe in it and lead by example. And I’m looking forward to showing my family that I am committed to being there for the long haul.

Other blogs:

How to Prepare Yourself for Marriage

Prepare for Marriage, Not Just the Wedding