The big question has been asked and you’re on cloud 9. Nothing can bring you down and you are now in the mode of everything wedding. Planning, preparing, planning, choosing, planning buying… Planning is the key word there!
You plan so much for your wedding for the ONE day you will celebrate your love and commitment to each other, but did you think about planning your marriage?
I know when we were planning our wedding over 20 years ago, thinking about our long-term marriage was the last thing on my mind. I had short term vision and that vision was wedding day. No one really talked to me about the future planning of my marriage and how would we work together when things got tough. The only pre-marriage help we had was from the church we were getting married at, and that was only because it was a requirement of that church. To me, then, it was something I had to do to get married in that church, or we wouldn’t have a church to get married in. I know, probably not right thinking, but we were 21 when we got married. I didn’t do too much intelligent thinking then.
Now you’re wondering, how in the world do you plan for a marriage? You don’t need to write a book of every single plan (unless you’re super detailed), but have you at least made a plan on how you will get along after the 2-year honeymoon period is over?
If you are like I was, you don’t need a plan, you’re in love and it will last forever. I hate to burst your bubble (I wish someone would’ve mine) but that honeymoon period will end and you need a plan for what you will do to get through the next 2 years and beyond.
When I was first married I thought the same thing. We have this all figured out and we’ll be the ones that show everyone else how it’s done. In reality, I didn’t know how we would show them, but I did know I never wanted to divorce. That I wanted to do anything I could to make it work and last.
After our 2-year-honeymoon period was over we had already had our first child and I went back to college to attend medical school. I was focused on so many other things than our marriage and family and it surely showed. I found out the divorce rate was extremely high for those that attended medical school. We were already having a lot of trouble getting along, agreeing, affording our family and so on.
I knew our chances were pretty slim on making it for another 2 years. The sad thing was, I wasn’t extremely upset about it, it just seemed to be the natural progression of marriage. Sad! Thankfully a friend introduced me to help and books. She seemed to be still happy in her marriage, it seemed logical to take advice from her. I am thankful for God putting the right people in my life at just the right time!
Twenty-years later, I am so thankful for my friend and the wisdom and guidance she gave me, and the willingness to share and teach me. Over the years of being married I wondered why wasn’t I taught this information before I got married? It would have saved some serious heart-ache and some loud arguments.
To get you off on the right foot, here are a few steps to get you started in planning for your marriage, not just your wedding.
- Read Books: Wired That Way and The Five Love Languages (These books changed everything when we both read them. If only we would have had them 5 years earlier!)
- Identify who you are (Personality and Love Language)
- Figure out who your fiancé is
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of you both (what they are now, they could change as your married life progresses)
- Talk about who you are, your differences, weaknesses, strengths and what you have in common
- Write out a list of those weaknesses and what you will do to overcome them and work on them within your relationship
- Keep those accessible and somewhere that you can review them often.
- When things start to get hard and you’re not getting along, look at the list, check to see where you need to work, the areas that you have forgotten about. Also consider if you are still filling each other’s Love Tank
- Agree when it starts to get hard, review the list of weaknesses together and make at least one change each week until things are smoothed back out and your relationship is moving in the right direction.
- Agree when there is a problem to talk about it. Remember to communicate in each other’s personality and love language
- Respect each other’s differences, embrace them. You were put together to work together. Where he is weak you are strong, where you are weak he is strong, and that’s ok!
If divorce is not your goal, then having a plan for marriage is essential to be successful and married for many, many years.