More than 2 million marriages take place annually in America.
“Almost all couples anticipate ‘living happily ever after,’” according to Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married. “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.”
When you consider the fact that most people spend more time planning and training for their vocation than they do for their wedding, is it any surprise that the divorce rate is so high?
“What is ironic is that we recognize the need for education in all other pursuits of life and fail to recognize that need when it comes to marriage,” Chapman says. “It should not be surprising that they are more successful in their vocational pursuits than they are in reaching the goal of marital happiness.”
Chapman’s book provides a marriage blueprint for people. It's also useful for engaged couples or those preparing for marriage.
“As I look back over the early years of my marriage, I wish someone had told me what I am about to tell you,” Chapman says.
The book addresses 12 areas of potential stress for couples, including money, in-laws and personality. Here are a few of the 12.
I wish I had known…
- Being in love is not an adequate foundation for building a successful marriage. Research indicates that the average life span of the “in love” obsession is two years. Then differences become apparent and people start to question if they married the right person.
- 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 in order to keep emotional love alive.
- The saying, “like mother, like daughter” and “like father, like son” is not a myth. While Chapman does not suggest that the person you marry will become exactly like their mother or father, parents do greatly influence children.
- How to solve disagreements without arguing. It never crossed Chapman's mind that he and his wife would have any major disagreements. No one ever told them that conflicts are a normal part of marriage.
- That apologizing is a sign of strength. Apologizing is often something people find difficult to do. Some people perceive admitting wrong as a sign of weakness. In reality, it takes a strong person to say “I was wrong, please forgive me.”
- Mutual sexual fulfillment is not automatic. Many couples never anticipate that this would be a problem area. Dr. Chapman shares that while men focus on sex, women focus on relationship. In a fractured relationship, the wife will have less, and more difficult, interest in sex.
When not discussed beforehand, these issues (and more) can create a marriage filled with conflict, misunderstandings and frustration. Investing time and effort to learn these things in advance could save you a lot of heartache and pain in the long run.