Preparation for Marriage

A Beautiful Illusion

The last few posts I’ve written have dealt with some of the challenges many couples face in marriage.  It struck me however, as I perused one of my sorority sister’s blogs (msmiawrites.blogspot.com) that many people get into trouble in marriage because their dating experience is not properly grounded.  In fact, this is the reason that my previous relationships didn’t go very well.  It’s not that the guys I dated were not nice people, they just had different expectations for the direction of the relationship, and we were not equally yoked spiritually.  So, how do you know?  Ask questions.  Honest questions.  Don’t be afraid, or be afraid but ask questions. 

My sorority sister Jamia discusses discerning our desire for wanting someone,in her blog post titled “Flattered By Attention…Why Do You Want Him?”. So, the first question you should ask is to yourself; “Am I ready to date, and what am I expecting from a relationship?”  My sister used to call me a serial dater.  I went from relationship to relationship.  I was uncomfortable being alone.  By the time I graduated college and moved to North Carolina, I was emotionally exhausted.  I had been in a number of relationships, shifting my values with each one.  I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted anymore.  “The One” could have strolled right up to me and I would not have been ready.  Second question, why do you want to be with this person?  As a Christian woman navigating the dating world, Jamia acknowledges the need to break the initial illusion of perfection early if you desire a real chance for a future with a person.  In doing this, she asks herself, “Why do I want him?”  Is it because he’s sexy?  Did he pay me a compliment as I strolled by?  Discerning the reason for the initial attraction is important for placing your emotions in context. 
The next part might be the hardest part.  She lists five questions:
1) Does he know and love the Lord?
2) Is there evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in his life?
3) Is he a leader? Can I trust his decision making?
4) How does he act around other men? Can he hold his own?
5) Am I attracted to him?  Why?
The reason I feel like this part is most difficult is because it requires you to ask yourself questions three and four.  “Am I ignoring the honest answer that he has given me because I think I can change him/he will change once we get married?” and “Am I being honest with myself in answering these questions?”

These are some of the hardest questions because sometimes we want what we want so badly that we justify away the reality.  Whenever my husband and I talk about relationships he always says that he was guided by two principles. 1) You can’t expect someone to act differently than they typically do.  A surprise is great, but don’t expect it. 2) You can’t MAKE anyone change.  S/he has to change because s/he wants to.
If you are a Christian woman, it is a cop out to tell yourself that you can date someone who is not a Christian.  So many women say, well he doesn’t go to church but he’s spiritual.  I’m sorry, but that’s just not enough.  Your husband is to be the spiritual leader of your household.  How can he lead if he is unaware of the direction?  Don’t fool yourself.  Asking the right questions early is important, but acknowledging the honest answer is more important. (opticalillusioncollection.com)

I debated whether I should say this or not, but I’m gonna put it out there and pray that you hear my heart.  A recent conversation with my friend Rayya gave me confirmation that yes, I should share this. 
**We have grown up in a culture that pushes fairy tale images.  Many of us, me included, go from watching Disney movies as a child, to movies like The Notebook as adults.  Now, I love a good Disney movie.  One of my wedding songs came from The Princess and the Frog, but we have to understand that these are stories meant to inspire and capture the best of a situation.  With that said, many fairy tales do not continue after the guy gets the girl, the two marry, and they live happily ever after.  Many romance movies capture the swell of the courtship, a problem that is solved because of true love, and the wedding.  There is nothing wrong with dreaming happy, but this is not going to sustain you in marriage.  To achieve the true essence of the dream you have to put in the effort.  My friend Rayya and I discussed how so many women and men are caught up in the fairy tale that when it comes time to deal with their real life, human being spouse, the bubble bursts.  I believe that if people are willing to burst the bubble a little sooner, ask the tough questions, and be honest with themselves, first time marriages might stand a chance.


The key is to understand as quickly as possible that the person you love has flaws just like everybody else.  I’m sorry but his breathe will stink in the morning, she passes gas, and sometimes….wait for it… you’re gonna get annoyed with each other and need a minute apart.  I love my husband and son, but there is nothing like a good quality girls’ night! Woo!  In turn, my husband needs to just be with the boys sometimes.  It’s ok.  Also, one more bubble to burst – every argument is not going to end peaceably.  There may be things that you argue about over and over and over again in different forms as different things happen in your life.  On top of this, you and your spouse may have different argument styles.  Jonathon and I have very different argument styles.  This is a factor of our upbringing and our personalities.  I have always been more of a yeller.  If you’re not yelling, you’re not arguing, right?  (LOL)  Jonathon on the other hand, is more steady and quiet.  He wants to talk things out.  He takes his time to think carefully about what he says before he says it.  He believes strongly that you can forgive, but you won’t forget.  For us to argue more effectively, I have had to work on my yelling and my patience.  I have to understand that if I yell, Jon is not going to hear what I’m saying because he shuts down.  I also have to understand that he need time to process and then respond.  Very difficult for me.  I always want an answer now.  I’m a work in progress for sure.   

Argument Action Activity:

Learning to argue and resolve arguments is one of the most challenging, yet important things to learn.  I encourage you to do the following:
COUPLES-
1) DISCUSS what type of arguing you saw in your household. Whether the arguing was between parents, grandparents, a parent and their boy/girlfriend, it was arguing and you witnessed it. HOW did you feel witnessing these arguments? Was there resolution?
IF your parents didn’t argue in front of you, discuss that also.
2) NOW discuss your own argument history. Do you yell, avoid, ignore, insult, etc.? Does your spouse respond to this? What changes need to be made so you argue more effectively?

SINGLES- 
1) THINK about what type of arguing you saw in your household. Whether the arguing was between parents, grandparents, a parent and their boy/girlfriend, it was arguing and you witnessed it. HOW did you feel witnessing these arguments? Was there resolution?
IF your parents didn’t argue in front of you, think on that also.  I encourage you to write these thoughts down in a journal.
2)NOW think about your own argument history. Do you yell, avoid, ignore, insult, etc.? Have previous boy friends or girlfriends responded to this? What changes need to be made so you argue more effectively?

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