Eighty-nine percent of married couples who attended premarital education BEFORE marriage found it to be helpful down the road. Worthwhile classes will teach you communication skills and conflict management tools, along with addressing appropriate expectations.
Find a mentor couple.
Seek out an older, more experienced, happily married couple to provide wisdom and support to you as you begin your adventure together.
Start thinking “We” instead of “Me.”
Marriage is a partnership. It will serve you well to remember you are on the same team. Make time to pursue activities together and explore common interests.
What are your goals for your marriage? How will you decide who does what around the house? Who will manage the money? Discuss your goals to help ensure a successful marriage. Unrealistic and unmet expectations often lead to resentment.
Since commitment is a choice, believing in the permanence of your marriage will actually help your relationship as you prepare for marriage, and over the long haul.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/man-in-black-suit-putting-crown-flower-on-woman-head-3775261-scaled.jpg13672048Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-07-09 00:00:002021-12-20 16:46:07Prepare for Marriage, Not Just the Wedding
When you dreamed about your wedding experience, did you ever think so many people would participate in the process?
Your mother is hurt because you aren’t wearing her wedding dress. The maid-of-honor has forgotten it is your wedding – not hers. Your fiancé’s family thinks the wedding plans are too formal. How will you choose two flower girls when you have six cousins who are the right age?
“These are the landmines that often hit brides out of left field,” says Elizabeth Thomas, co-founder of The First Dance. “After planning our wedding and finding out the hard way that lots of people had strong feelings about certain aspects of ‘our’ day, I wondered if there were other brides out there feeling the same way. I found out there were tons of them. My father and I decided to build this website to help engaged couples manage the people stress of wedding planning and have more wisdom to carry over to their marriage.”
Checklists can’t predict which wedding tasks or people in your life have an emotion, opinion, or stake in how to complete a task.
To make matters worse, sometimes the person with the emotion or opinion doesn’t even know it until it’s already final or it’s too late. Thomas discovered this when her wedding invitations arrived.
“I was so excited!” Thomas says. “I went into the living room to show my dad. Keep in mind that up to this point he had not seen nor expressed any interest in the invitations. He took one look at the wedding invitation and panicked! He started moving from room to room, but no matter what lighting he was in they were too difficult to read. They were unique invitations with red ink on red paper, orange ink on orange paper and yellow ink on yellow paper. We have a ton of middle-aged and older guests who will have similar eyesight to my father. Reprinting the invitations was out of the question. Needless to say, it was an emotional moment!”
Ask any bride what they are experiencing.
You’ll find that underneath the “it’s my day, my way” mentality is the desire to have a joyous wedding planning experience. Nobody enjoys making their mom angry, stressing their dad about invitations or frustrating their groom. Some brides stress so much trying to maintain their ground that they just give up and let someone else have the final say.
After surviving her own wedding, Thomas believes that couples can intentionally make the wedding planning experience pleasant for everyone involved.
Here are a few ways to make that happen:
To the bride: Over-communicate about wedding plans that involve your groom. Whether you two agree that he’ll do a few tasks or you want his opinion on something, if he has no clue then he will have no idea what the decision is about. He needs to know who is impacted by it, the work involved and the timing of the task. Huge breakdowns happen when grooms are not given specifics around tasks. Then, the bride invariably believes he doesn’t care or is not being supportive enough.
To the parents: Keep your cool when others lose theirs. It’s not your wedding, but you do have a stake in it. Don’t be passive or pushy, but recognize that this is about more than money. It’s about emotion, relationships, loyalty, obligation, influence, control and competition. Money should not trump relationships. Don’t use it to blackmail, threaten, or manipulate – or you will pay a big price.
Know your role in decisions. There are three general roles:
Roles will vary issue by issue and family by family, but should be as clear as possible to avoid problems. Sometimes clarity only comes after a disagreement or conflict.
“I think the best wedding day is when the people you care about most feel loved, heard and valued,” Thomas says. “Every wedding checklist item is ultimately about your values, communicating those values with your spouse and about, well, married life!
“Weddings, like marriage, involve hundreds of routine decisions, big and small. They involve small and large sums of money, and require a lot of work. The outcome of the planning and wedding day itself will stay with you and your loved ones forever. It can change your relationships for better or worse and set the stage for how you go through life in the future.”
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/hannah-busing-WG6iLHfMY9Y-unsplash.jpg8501280Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-07-05 00:00:002022-04-22 13:00:41How to Plan a Great Wedding Experience
Some of the findings make perfect sense to Olson, such as:
Couples who date three years or more before their engagement are 39 percent less likely to divorce.
The more money you and your spouse make, the less likely you are to ultimately file for divorce.
Couples who never go assemble for religious reason are two times more likely to divorce than regular attenders.
Other findings, however, took Olson by surprise.
“I was pretty shocked to see that the number of people who attend your wedding actually has a huge impact on long-term marital stability,” Olson says. “Couples who elope are 12.5 times more likely to divorce than couples who get married at a wedding with 200 plus people. The more I thought about this, the more it actually made sense. Having a large group of family and friends who are supportive of your marriage is vitally important to the long-term stability of your marriage.”
These findings surprised Olson, too:
There is a relationship between how much people spent on their wedding and their likelihood of divorcing. The findings suggest that perhaps the financial burden incurred by a lavish wedding leads to financial stress for the couple. Women who spent $20,000 or more on their wedding were 3.5 times more likely to divorce than their counterparts who spent less than half that.
The honeymoon matters! Couples who went on a honeymoon were 41 percent less likely to divorce.
A big difference in educational levels could lead to a higher hazard of divorce.
If looks and wealth are an important factor in your decision to marry a person, you are more likely to divorce down the road.
“Some of my friends read these findings and commented that they were in the bad categories. They asked me if their marriage was doomed,” Olson says. “The answer to that is no, but according to this research, statistically they are more likely to run into challenges. I believe the biggest takeaway for someone considering marriage like myself, is this isn’t a list of do’s and don’ts. However, this was a very large study and the findings are worthy of consideration to help couples have a more stable marriage.”
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/analise-benevides-gWedi4SWsHQ-unsplash-2.jpg8531280Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-07-02 00:00:002020-11-03 15:54:18Wedding Expenses and Marriage Stability
See what one focus group revealed about living together.
“I do” feels complicated. What can you learn from a focus group of millennial women who live with their boyfriends? You can really find out about their relationships, their thoughts about marriage and how they think cohabitation differs from marriage.
Only one of the six women had ever married. Some had children with their current boyfriend. Others brought children into the relationship. They discussed the following questions, and more.
Most of the women agreed that living together and marriage were practically the same thing. They said it really boiled down to commitment to the relationship. And, they wondered why someone needs a piece of paper to prove their commitment to each other.
They also wondered if they could make a marriage work. For instance, only one of the women came from an intact family. She said everyone in her family had been successful at marriage so far except her.
Regarding the differences in cohabitation and marriage, they discussed missing benefits because they weren’t legally married, even though they thought of themselves as married. They also said people treated them differently when they discovered they were unmarried.
The National Center for Family and Marriage Research indicates that 41 percent of cohabitors express pessimism about marriage. More than half (64 percent) of Gen-Xers and millennials agree that living together before marriage may help prevent divorce.
Interestingly, only about 35 percent of individuals who married first believe that cohabitation may help prevent breakups.
If your boyfriend asked you to marry him, would you?
Surprisingly, all but one woman enthusiastically said yes, despite saying they believed there was really no difference in cohabitation and marriage.
While these women and many like them believe living together and marriage are basically the same, consider these statistics:
The overall rate of violence for cohabiting couples is twice as high as for married couples. Plus, the overall rate for “severe” violence is nearly five times as high, according to the Family Violence Research Program at the University of New Hampshire, the nation’s leading institution studying domestic violence.
Studies conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health found that women in cohabiting relationships had depression rates nearly five times higher than married women. Those rates second only to women who twice-divorced.
Children living in households with unrelated adults are nearly 50 times more likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents, according to a study of Missouri data published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Most of the women in the focus group said they want to avoid the pain of divorce. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that relationship dynamics without relationship structure increase that risk.
If you’re in a serious relationship and wonder if you should take your relationship to the next level, think carefully. Instead of moving in together, consider taking a class that will help you know if you have learned all of the different skills that can help your relationship last a lifetime.
Your mom was probably your first teacher, encourager and biggest cheerleader. And chances are, she’s one of the first people you’ve gone to for advice since… well, as long as you can remember.
But now things are different, and while your mom is still there for you, your wife takes the top spot.
Think of it this way: You’ve added an all-star player to your team who wants to be there for you in every way possible, and she is at the top of your priority list.
Adapting to marriage and navigating the changing road with Mom will take skill and finesse, especially since you don’t want to hurt Mom’s feelings, but these tips can help.
Do your best to speak positively to your mom about your wife. If your mom starts to criticize her, honor your wife in the conversation. And let Mom know that although you value her opinion, you don’t want to hear her speak badly of your bride.
When you and your wife make decisions together, present your decisions as a united front. You should be the one to tell your mother about the choice you made. Don’t make it sound like it you only went along with it to avoid rocking the boat–that will only create problems.
Check with your wife before making plans with your mom. Never, EVER commit to something with your mother (like bringing her to live with you) without completely talking it over as a couple first.
Got problems in your marriage? DO NOT talk about them with Mom unless your bride says she’s ok with it. (Hint: Make sure she’s REALLY ok with it!)
Remember, you’re no longer single. Turning to your parents for emotional support is not a bad thing, but turning to them BEFORE you reach out to your wife is not the best idea for your marriage. Your wife is now your number one support system – make sure she knows that.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/woman-sitting-beside-man-3407978.jpg8531280Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-06-19 00:00:002021-08-04 10:01:15For the Guys: Tips for Putting Your Wife First (Without Hurting Mom’s Feelings)
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.
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.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/foto-pettine-IfjHaIoAoqE-unsplash-e1584033598782.jpg4091280Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-06-14 00:00:002022-04-28 09:28:40Getting Your Marriage Off to a Great Start
Have you ever thought or said these words after you said the vows “til death do us part”?
I just can’t take it anymore… We’ve grown apart… I love you as a friend, but I’m not in love with you anymore… You aren’t the person I married… Things change.
The crazy thing is, many happily married people also experience some of these feelings. It’s true. Sometimes you feel like you can’t take it anymore. Other times you may feel distant to your spouse. Over time, mates do change.
But do all these things have to shake the very foundation of your marriage? The answer is NO.
What makes it possible for first-time marriages to survive?
Marriage experts have found that couples who make their marriage work decide upfront that divorce is not an option. Although many couples who choose to divorce have challenges, their marriage probably could have been saved and in the long run been a happy one. Their fatal error in the relationship was leaving their options open. If the going got too tough, in their mind, divorce was always a way out.
You might be surprised to find this out, but research shows that divorce does not make you happier.
Unhappily married adults who divorced or separated were no happier, on average, than unhappily married adults who stayed married.
Unhappy marriages were less common than unhappy spouses.
Staying married did not typically trap unhappy spouses in violent relationships.
2 out of 3 unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation ended up happily married five years later.
The bottom line is, you have to make a decision to stay at the table and be committed to making the marriage work. Here are some things to help you keep the vow: “til death do us part.”
Learn skills to help keep your marriage on track. Research continues to show that couples who learn how to talk to each other, resolve conflict, manage their money, have appropriate expectations of the marriage, and build intimacy are significantly more likely to keep their marriage on track over time.
Understand that the grass may look greener on the other side, but you still have to mow it. On the surface, someone may look better than the one you are with, but in truth, even beautiful sod eventually has onions, crabgrass, and clover if you don’t properly care for it. In most cases, people who have jumped the fence will testify that the grass is not greener, just different.
Learn how to resolve conflict without threatening to leave the marriage. All couples have spats. Some yell; others talk things through. The common denominator for couples who keep their marriage on track is learning how to disagree with the best of them, but leaving the marriage is never an option.
Stop using divorce as a crutch. Instead of throwing in the towel when the going gets tough, consider it a challenge to learn as much as you can about your mate and how you can effectively deal with adversity. Intentionally choose to love the one you’re with.
Keep the big picture perspective. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. One woman described her 65-year marriage to a group of young people. She shared about seven years throughout the 65-year span that were really bad due to work conditions, children, lack of time together, the husband’s out of town job for a couple of years, etc. In the end, she asked herself, “Would I really want to trade 58 good years for seven bad years?” The answer was a resounding “No!” All marriages experience trials and tough moments. Don’t trade years of history for a couple of bad months or tough years.
Make a plan for your marriage. Going into marriage without a plan is like playing a football game without memorizing the playbook. If you want to win, you’ll have team meetings, set goals, learn and relearn skills, learn how to lead and follow, and share responsibilities. And, you both need a copy of the playbook.
If you want a “til death do us part” marriage, you must learn the plays so you can execute them correctly and prepare to adapt in different situations. That takes time. When you understanding that there will be occasional setbacks, you can move toward the goal line and even score a few touchdowns. Teammates block for each other, throw the ball to one another, help each other up, and encourage perseverance when the going gets tough.
It has been said that individuals win games, but teamwork wins championships. So, make it your goal to have a championship marriage.
***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.***
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/benjamin-le-roux-Dt5NZgX8R3I-unsplash-scaled.jpg20481366Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-10-31 00:00:002021-09-01 13:48:136 Tips for a “Til Death Do Us Part” Marriage