September 24, 2011

Marriage 101

Marriage has been described to me in so many different ways; its wonderful, its worth waiting to find the one you're supposed to be with....but one phrase in particular keeps coming up: "Best thing I've ever done, but the hardest thing I've ever done."

I'm not even married yet and I already know that's the truth. There are so much things to learn about yourself, your partner, and marriage before you even start that step down the aisle, that sometimes I feel like I'm treading water just to stay afloat. The happiness and excitement of an engagement - while amazing and awesome and totally worth getting giggly over - can sometimes be lost in the mess of  wedding planning (don't get me started on guest lists!) and just the day-to-day things that happen between the ring and the ceremony (life doesn't stop acting crazy after you're engaged, did you know that?).

To help us prepare for the big day, we decided to sign up for pre-marital counseling. Some people laughed at us (me) when we (I) mentioned to others that we were going to do pre-marital counseling. "Counseling before you're even married? You're not even married and you already need help? You must have some real bad problems..."

Problems? Maybe. Things we need to work on/work through to help us better respect, communicate, and love each other? YES.

Here's what we learned about ourselves and each other through pre-marital counseling:

1. We learned our "couple profile" and learned the strengths and weaknesses of couples like us. This helped us celebrate our compatibility, while also keeping us aware of areas of improvement. It helped us recognize the different strengths we each bring to our relationship. It also helped us learn where we can help each other in our areas of improvement. We are, after all, helpers designed for each other. How helpful could we be if we didn't know how the other felt/acted/reacted?

2. We learned how to talk about our biggest disagreement area: finances. I hate talking about money. The fiance hates talking about money. I see money as a luxury and spend it because I know I can't take it with me when I die. The fiance sees money as security and holds onto it like he holds onto handlebars on a roller coaster - very, very tightly. Once we discovered that the area of finances was our biggest  "needs improvement" item, we actually spent an entire session talking through it and brainstorming ways for us to start getting on the same page. Another thing we ended up loving about pre-marital counseling: we were given homework assignments to talk about our finances, show each other our bank accounts (eek!), and even made a mock-up budget to help prepare us for our life together. Pre-marital helped us set up a comfortable and respectful space to open up and share with each other things that we had previously kept to ourselves. It also encouraged me to start being more responsible for my money!

3. Having a Christ-centered relationship and having the opportunity to be led by a Christ-follower in our preparations for our wedding was such a blessing! We had the awesome opportunity to work on staff with Karen for a year, and when we had the chance to do pre-marital with her, we jumped at it. It was such a blessing to know that someone cared about us individually and for us as a couple, and was joining us in praying for our future. Marriage is a big step in life and it can seem scary at times, but having Karen there to help us see the Biblical beauty behind marriage and the blessings of a Christ-centered marriage made us excited once again about our upcoming nuptials.

I could go on all day about the blessings and the fruits of pre-marital counseling that we are still reaping, but I think you get the idea. If you have the chance and the time, find a minister and/or a ministry and go through pre-marital counseling. Worst thing that could happen is that you learn nothing....or did you?

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