The divorce rate today doesn’t seem to say much for marriage. Statistics still say that close to 50% of marriages will likely end in divorce. With such a bleak outlook, why bother? As it turns out there are still a lot of good reasons to take the plunge. Fox News cites studies going back to 1858 that indicate health benefits from marriage. There are also numerous financial benefits to setting up a home together. And lets face it, many people just don’t want to be alone as they face the uncertainty of the future. Whatever the reason, many people are planning a wedding in the next year. If you are one of them you might want to add a few things to your list before the wedding that can help you prepare for the marriage to follow.
Even with the challenges of avoiding divorce staring them in the face few people choose premarital counseling as an option. Some researchers indicate that, although premarital counseling could reduce divorce by up to 30%, only a fraction of those planning weddings in the next year will undergo some form of premarital counseling. Overwhelming work related responsibilities, financial limitations or a partner who won’t commit to the process can make it all but impossible even if there is a desire to try. The good news is, there are a number of things you can do to prepare for a long and fulfilling marriage and reap some of the benefits of premarital counseling.
1. Have realistic expectations. Your spouse will not fulfill every requirement of your dream partner! You can grow together and have a great life together, just don’t expect miracles. Remember that you will both bring all of your current problems and insecurities into the relationship. If you or your future spouse have low self-esteem, suffer from depression or are extraordinarily selfish, the excitement of the wedding and new relationship may give you a temporary reprieve but only for a short time. Before long the newness will wear off and the old issues you thought you had left behind will resurface. After the wedding those issues didn’t magically disappear! And what is worse, you will likely discover that the spouse of your dreams has a few rough edges you haven’t seen before. Be realistic, your new relationship will definitely have challenges, expect them, and be ready to work through them together. If you stand together seeking resolution, personal growth and growth in the relationship you can expect to win most battles you will face as a couple, including many personal battles you might have lost on your own. Two heads (and two hearts) are better than one!
2.Make it a priority to talk about important issues before the wedding. One of the best things that my wife and I did before getting married was to sit down and intentionally talk about things that were important to us. That included everything from how to educate our children (she was home-schooled, I went to a public school)to the best frequency for exercise (I said “daily,” she said “sometimes.”). For you, the list of key issues may be different. Ideally, you and your future spouse would each make a list of the top 5-10 most important issues/areas and talk through them. Share your expectations, thoughts, and dreams. The differences you find may surprise you! If you are having trouble thinking of things to discuss, try some of these ideas:
–Who is in charge of finances?
–What do you think about credit cards?
–Do you want to own your own home? In the city or country?
–Do you want to have kids? How many?
–In-laws! How will you deal with Christmas and holidays?
–Work, meal prep and housework – who does what?
–Vacations – what is ideal, what is your worst nightmare?
–How do you feel about having people to our home? (often,
never?). Is your home your sanctuary?
–Whose career takes priority if moving is an option?
Whatever issues come up, be prepared to compromise. In a marriage it can’t be me vs. you, but what will we do? If you each put the relationship ahead of personal goals, you will be amazed at what unique solutions present themselves to you, making your marriage stronger and life more interesting.
3. Learn how to disagree and even argue without fighting. It is a fact that you will disagree often. You may find it easier to give in than really discuss the problem, particularly in the beginning. Resist the temptation to think it will eventually get better on its own. The only way to improve is if you work at it. Here are a few tips to help you through disagreements:
* Be realistic. Some differences you will have to accept. If you can’t, it is better not to get married!
* Look for a compromise that has benefits for your partner. In a relationship, the stakes are higher than your personal wants. Help your spouse win, and you win, too!
* Lay down some ground rules for arguing before you need them. If you are not a morning person, ask your spouse to save his important discussions till later in the day. Make a commitment not to use name calling or personal attacks. Be willing to forgive.
* Talk openly and honestly about your feelings. Don’t hide hurts; if you try to bury them, they will eventually build up and explode into a massive, destructive blowout. Together, deal with each issue one at a time and then put it behind you.
4. Talk to people who have successful marriages. You will learn no secrets but will be encouraged to make the efforts that a good realtionship requires. A strong relationship is hard work. But it is rewarding to build a foundation that can withstand all of life’s trials.
A marriage is not something to rush into or take lightly. There are many forces in society that put pressure on a marriage that weren’t there in your grandparents’ day. But growing old together, facing life with your best friend by your side, is still one of life’s greatest treasures.
Author: Belinda Luscombe
Page Title: Are Marriage Statistics Divorced from Reality?
Author: Kathleen Blanchard
Page Title:Health & Marriage: Benefits for Men
Site Title:Fox News.com
Author: Shelly Phegley
Page Title:Premarital Counseling Site Title:National Directory of Marriage and Family Counseling