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You said, “Yes!” Congrats! Now, the planning begins. Where to start? The venue, music, big or small wedding, indoor or outdoor, caterer, DJ or band, wedding cake, dress, tux, bridesmaids, groomsmen… OH MY! 

Lots of preparation for the big day, but what about preparation for the marriage?

What can you do to focus on the lifetime together after you say, “I do?” 

These do’s and don’ts for engaged couples can help you think about preparing for #marriedlife:

Do’s:

  • Do take a premarital course. We accept driver’s ed and hours of supervised practice as part of the responsibility of operating an automobile. Marriage has more curves than any road you’ll ever drive. A premarital course will cover topics you may not have discussed yet, such as children, in-laws, finances, and intimacy. You may not get all your questions answered, but you’ll get the conversation started. Check out our Preparing for Marriage Online Course.
  • Do seek out a mentor couple. Seek out a couple who has the marriage you want. Couples who have been married at least 10 years have experienced ups and downs and have navigated some tough topics. You may quickly learn their “perfect marriage” has taken lots of dings and isn’t as perfect as you perceive, but it is healthy and thriving. Learn from experienced couples that share your values.
  • Do talk about expectations for your marriage. A giant pothole for couples is unmet expectations. These are often unmet because they are never discussed. Don’t assume your soon-to-be spouse can read your mind. I hate to tell you, but they can’t—and never will. Communicate your expectations clearly and often.
  • Do evaluate your habits. Ask yourself the question, “Am I ready to be a spouse?” Are there bad habits you have that you need to ditch before the big day? If you’re unsure whether you have any habits that need to be addressed, ask those closest to you for honest feedback. Check out this blog for more info on preparing yourself for marriage.
  • Do look for ways to care for one another. Marriage requires a mindset shift. It’s no longer about me; it’s about we. I’m not saying you lose yourself. I’m just saying there’s a bigger picture in play now that you’re married. By helping your significant other, you are focusing on “we.” When we put the needs of our spouse above our own, intimacy and connection grow.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t forget to make the relationship a priority. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the wedding. Don’t let your connection get lost in the busyness. Once the guests have gone, the relationship remains.
  • Don’t just plan for the wedding; plan for the marriage. You’re working hard to prepare for the wedding; make time to talk about your dreams and expectations for your marriage. Grab some coffee and have some marriage-centric conversations.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. My wife and I laugh a lot and sometimes at each other. You both are gonna have quirks that you’ll find funny– and sometimes not. Marriage requires a sense of humor. Have fun with each other! Laughter makes the heart grow fonder.
  • Don’t stop working on your marriage. A healthy marriage takes effort. Always look for ways to pour into each other and your relationship. Just like a car requires maintenance, so does your marriage. Easy maintenance is to keep dating your spouse. Put a regular date night on the calendar and make it a priority.
  • Don’t forget marriage is a partnership. You aren’t partners in a small business named, “Family, Inc.” You are life partners for life. You are each bringing different backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, perspectives, opinions, and quirks into this partnership. Allow those differences to complement, not compete.

Marriage is exciting and fun, but it’s even better when you are intentional about investing in each other and your relationship. These do’s and don’ts for engaged couples will help you both avoid problems before they start as well as build a strong foundation for the issues you can’t even foresee. As you prepare for the wedding, don’t forget to invest today in your marriage.

“I had no idea how much planning was involved in getting married,” remembers Amy Carter. “On top of surviving wedding planing, my fiancé and I were trying to sell my condo so I could move to Nashville. Fortunately, both of our families were very supportive of us as we planned for our big day. I was surprised how much my mother and I agreed on details of the wedding.”

Carter is lucky. Many couples preparing for their wedding day find themselves between a rock and a hard place by trying to please their parents, siblings, friends, grandparents and others who have an opinion on how the wedding should go. One bride’s mother refused to help because her daughter preferred a small and intimate wedding instead of a large formal affair.

Most experts agree that planning for a wedding is something most brides and their moms look forward to. Things can get a bit sticky, though. But don’t fear; there are some things you can do to help avert bitter feelings.

First and foremost, this is your day. Others may give their opinion about how things should go, but ultimately the bride and groom get to have the final say.

“We are probably different than most couples because we were more concerned about doing it the way that made us comfortable instead of being so concerned with stepping on toes,” says Rebecca Smith. “We set the rules early.

“There were certain things that I really didn’t care about, like the flowers. When my mom asked me what I wanted, I told her whatever she picked out would be fine. For us the overriding theme was we are incredibly excited about being married. We don’t want our focus on the wedding to be more than our focus on our marriage.”

At some point during the planning process, Rebecca and her fiancé acknowledged that something could go wrong. They eventually realized it really didn’t matter because they would still be married. They didn’t pursue a perfect production.

According to the experts, the Smiths would get an “A” in wedding planning.

Here are some additional tips to help you survive wedding planning:

  • Decide what matters most to you. You can’t give 100 percent of your attention to everything, so decide where you want to focus and delegate the other things. This is a great way to involve family members without feeling like they are trying to control your day.
  • Decide on a realistic budget. Although the average wedding today costs between $20,000 – $25,000, couples can have a beautiful wedding for significantly less money. Since money is the top area of conflict for couples, one way to begin your marriage well is to be realistic about your finances. Know what you and your family can comfortably afford. The amount of money spent is not a determining factor in the success of your marriage.
  • Plan for your marriage. It is easy to get so caught up in your wedding planning that you neglect to plan for your marriage – all those days after the wedding. Take time out to attend premarital education classes or a marriage seminar. Read a good book together, like Fighting for Your Marriage: A Deluxe Revised Edition of the Classic Best-seller for Enhancing Marriage and Preventing Divorce or Before “I Do”: Preparing for the Full Marriage ExperienceYour marriage will be stronger if go into it with your eyes wide open.
  • Enjoy this time. Even though the preparation may be a bit stressful, schedule your time so you can truly enjoy these special moments. For many, this is a once in a lifetime experience. Instead of looking back at a whirlwind of activity that you really don’t remember, take non-essential things off the calendar. Rest adequately, eat well and don’t let others steal your joy.

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

Headed down the aisle soon? You probably have some thoughts rolling around in your brain in terms of being engaged and your expectations. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

Almost everyone comes to marriage with some pretty specific ideas about how things will be. These expectations might be based on what people have experienced in their own family (things they liked or didn’t like and don’t want to repeat), a romantic movie, a previous relationship or even the Hallmark Channel.

Here’s the thing: Whether it’s how you plan to handle money, accepting support from family and in-laws, how often you will make love, being on time, handling conflict, career aspirations, helping with chores or cleanliness, if you don’t talk about your expectations ahead of time, there’s a really good chance it could lead to some disappointing and frustrating moments in the future.

People often don’t voice their expectations because they fear the other person won’t live up to them.

If you do talk about them and your spouse-to-be doesn’t see these expectations as a big deal or doesn’t plan to change their approach to these issues, you may try to convince yourself that once you have a ring on your finger and things are more final, things will be different. Don’t be fooled, though. There are plenty of studies indicating the best time to look for behavior change is before the wedding, not after.

Unspoken expectations can silently kill relationships. Do yourself and your fiancé a favor: Be honest about your expectations. Just because your family did something a certain way doesn’t mean you necessarily have to do it the same way. It could be that while discussing what is important to you both, you realize your expectations aren’t realistic.

One thing you want to guard against is sacrificing who you are in the name of your relationship. If your faith is very important to you and you strongly expect your fiancé to one day share your faith values, realize that change is possible. But it could place a hefty load of tension on your relationship.

It’s totally possible that you and your fiancé have engaged expectations of each other that you don’t even realize you have. Taking the time to go through a premarital education experience either in person or online could help you both identify things you feel strongly about and help you to work through those issues before you get married. Talking about your expectations ahead of time can save you a lot of headaches and heartache down the road.

Image form Unsplash.com

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

David and Claudia Arp and Curt and Natelle Brown found that many seriously dating and engaged couples had questions. Turns out, many couples wonder the same thing.

“In many of our seminars, couples told us they were in love and wanted to feel confident that they could make their relationship work,” say David and Claudia Arp, co-authors of the marriage preparation book, 10 Great Dates Before You Say “I Do.”

“While there are no total guarantees, there are certain areas couples can look at ahead of time that will give them a good indication about the potential longevity of their relationship. We wrote this book with seriously dating couples and engaged couples in mind. For seriously dating couples, the dates give them specific focus areas to help them determine if they should take the next step in their relationship. For engaged couples, it is great preparation for marriage.”

When you are in love it is hard to imagine that any differences in opinion could really cause a rift in your relationship. After the Arps married, the honeymoon was over and their hormones settled, they discovered something. Marriage didn’t quite meet their expectations, and little things irritated them.

Surprisingly, after going through the 10 Dates, couples discovered a number of things they had not discussed that could be cause for irritation. For example, one couple discovered they didn’t agree on how to decorate their house. Another couple didn’t believe it was important to talk about how they will handle their combined income.

“We looked for fun and creative ways to cover topics such as sharing hopes, dreams and expectations and appreciating your differences to managing your money and celebrating intimacy in your relationship,” the Arps say. “It was important to us to help couples talk about things they might not otherwise discuss.”

Marriage preparation can help couples better decide whether or not they are ready to marry each other at this time. The 10 Great Dates give couples a road map to help them get to know each other better.

What are your expectations for your marriage?

Couples contemplating marriage shared a few of their expectations with the Arps:

  • I expect my partner to always understand and encourage me.

  • Our marriage will always make us happy.

  • We will talk about everything, and therefore we will avoid serious disputes.

  • With two incomes, we will be financially secure – especially since two can live almost as cheaply as one.

  • Our love life will always be exciting and satisfying.

  • I expect my mate to meet my needs—to be a lot like me.

“Obviously, these people were shocked when their mates were unable to live up to their expectations,” David Arp says. “It is hard enough to meet expectations when we know what they are, but it is impossible when we don’t.”

Even in the best of relationships, these expectations would be hard to live up to. Marriage is a choice.

If you want to get your marriage off to a great start, do yourself a favor – get 10 Great Dates and go through it and/or participate in marriage education classes. Hopefully, these activities will help you understand each other better. Then, you can make wise relationship choices now and in your marriage in the future.

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

Engaged couples spend endless amounts of time planning for their special day. In the excitement of wedding showers, choosing the flowers and the cake, and finding the perfect dress, some wonder if they can make it work. They don’t necessarily question their love for each other, although some actually do. It’s more about wondering if they can reduce their risk for divorce.

Most scholars agree that couples marrying today face a substantial risk of divorce. Many couples, however, don’t realize that certain factors increase their risk.

“While there are academic arguments about how great the average risk is, there is a lot less argument among scholars about the relative risks,” says Dr. Scott Stanley, co-director of the Center for Relationships at the University of Denver. “Some people face a higher risk of divorce and others a very low risk. What follows is not an exhaustive list, but it will hit the highlights.”

Individual Characteristics Linked with Higher Rates of Divorce:

  • Marrying at a young age (younger than 22)
  • Getting less education
  • Having parents who divorced or never married
  • Being a more reactive personality to stress and emotion
  • Having a prior marriage that ended
  • Prior to marrying, having sex with or cohabiting with someone other than your mate
  • Having a very low income or being in poverty

“While some people face a higher risk of divorce than others, many people who have a very low risk nevertheless worry about divorce happening to them,” Stanley asserts. “Some people avoid marriage because of their fear of divorce, but avoiding marriage won’t really reduce one’s chances of experiencing heartache and family instability.

“To really avoid the possibility of such pain, one would need to avoid love, sex and children altogether. For some, avoiding marriage may actually increase their likelihood of experiencing the very thing they fear—heartache and break-up—because marriage can be a potent force for clarifying and reinforcing commitment between two people.”

Stanley contends that BEFORE MARRIAGE is when you have the most power to reduce your risk for divorce. He suggests the following 7 tips as you proceed.

  • Take it slow. Waiting allows you to see a person’s behavior over time versus a snapshot in time.
  • Don’t ignore red flags. Bad behavior will likely not get better once you walk the aisle.
  • Look for someone who shares your beliefs and values. Chemistry is great, but it is not the binding glue in a relationship. Love does not conquer all.
  • Look for mutual dedication to the relationship. Both people should be willing to make sacrifices.
  • Establish mutual commitment to be together. Avoid sliding into staying in a relationship because of constraints such as signing a rent agreement or purchasing furniture together.
  • Get premarital training. There is solid evidence that completing premarital preparation together can improve your odds in marriage.
  • Be realistic about potential mates. There are no perfect people, but two imperfect people can walk the road together and be transformed by a life of loving commitment.

“Marriage involves a choice to risk loving another for life, but that is different from gambling with your love life,” Stanley says. “Just make sure you are deciding rather than sliding your way into your future.”

***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 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.***

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

What makes a marriage really work? Is there any way to guarantee that love can last forever? Here’s how you can get your marriage off to a great start.

It has been said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

Many people are in love with the idea of marriage. However, many couples fail to prepare for inevitable bumps in the road ahead. Some are just not ready to handle the tough times. Before you take a walk down the aisle, consider making some wise choices that will help ensure a successful marriage.

Get premarital education

Education allows couples to identify potential areas of conflict and discuss them before saying “I do.” Experts say that some premarital inventories can predict with 80 percent accuracy which couples have the potential for divorce. These inventories can give couples an idea of what issues to work on, therefore avoiding the divorce pitfall. Premarital education can resolve some important issues before they get out of hand and make it easier to seek help down the road. Some of the most hotly debated issues among couples are finances, in-laws, sex, employment, expectations and children.

Learn how to resolve conflict and communicate effectively.

How you manage conflict is a strong predictor of marital success or failure. Danger signs include withdrawing or leaving during an argument, attacking the other person’s character instead of focusing on the problem, and escalation. When you listen to each other and talk as friends, you can learn a great deal about your partner and what is important to them. Resolving problems together is a win/win situation that encourages intimacy in the relationship.

Learn what your partner expects from marriage.

Knowing what you expect from each other can prepare you for the years ahead. Unrealistic and unmet expectations often lead to resentment. Knowing what to expect and how to meet each other’s needs can be the glue that holds your marriage together.

Be committed to the permanence of marriage.

Commitment, as well as love, is a choice. Couples who believe that divorce is not an option are less likely to take steps toward ending their relationship. In addition, older, more experienced couples can provide much wisdom and support through the years. Sometimes, mentor couples can give insight on handling difficulties constructively within the marital relationship. Marriage is not a 50/50 relationship, as we often hear. It requires 100 percent from both partners. If you want to make your marriage last, it must be a top priority for both of you.

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

Are you a keeper? Here are FIVE areas a person should know about another person before marrying them:

1. Make sure you have taken the time to get to know the person you are marrying.

Get to know them, their family, what their conscience is like, compatibility potential, relationship skills and previous relationship patterns.

2. How do you know you can trust them? 

As you get to know a person based on the areas above, you shape a picture in your mind of what this person is like. From that picture comes trust. 

3. Are they reliable? 

As you really get to know a person, you look to them to meet certain needs that you have. People prove they are reliable over a period of time.

4. What is their level of commitment? 

As a relationship grows, it goes through different definitions. Each definition is a level of commitment. Friends have a low level of commitment, whereas best friends have a higher level of commitment to each other and soul mates have the highest level of commitment.

5. What role does physical touch play in your relationship? 

If you base your relationship solely on physical touch, you can easily deceive yourself into believing there is more to the relationship. Ask yourself: If physical touch was not part of your relationship, what would your relationship be like?

Read more about this in How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk or Jerkette by Dr. John Van Epp or visit www.lovethinks.com.

***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 your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***