Getting Ready for Marriage – Prepare for Lifetime Love *

By Greg and Priscilla Hunt

“Why didn’t someone tell me that before I married?!” It’s a common cry in a population where half of all marriages turn out badly.

David R. Mace, co-founder with his wife, Vera, of Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment – now known as Better Marriages – states, “The Boy Scout motto is ‘Be Prepared’. . . . the major area of life for which we are most poorly prepared is, unfortunately, marriage and family living. Preparation for marriage is preparation for the one experience in life on which our happiness most deeply depends.”

Imagine explorers setting off to make a journey through unknown territory with no food, map, or compass (preparation). How likely are they to survive, let alone make it to their hoped-for destination? If there was ever an unknown territory, it is the budding relationship between two unique individuals.

According to Mace and the principles of Better Marriages, the following are the steps to getting your marriage off to a great start:

  1. Your Past: Explore your personal history. Take a close look at yourself. Who are you? How did you come to be who and what you are? What do you want from life? What are the things that have shaped you to this point – your family background, interests, spiritual development, vocational development, sexual experiences and attitudes, physical and mental health? Now share your insights with your partner. Open up your inner self and reveal the kind of person you know yourself to be. Listen to your partner’s insights. Discuss what it might mean for the two of you to spend the rest of your lives together in marriage, the most intimate, and the most demanding, of all human relationships.
  2. Your Present: Take a look at your compatibility. What drew you to each other? How will you feel about these aspects after marriage? What are your temperamental and personality similarities and differences? What do you have in common – age, culture, habits, education, spirituality, personal tastes? Identify first the things you share in common. Then discuss the areas of difference and disagreement and explore how much acceptance and tolerance you can contribute to keeping the peace when tensions arise over these differences.
  3. Your Future: Examine your expectations for your relationship. Be realistic and specific. “Be happy” isn’t concrete – offer details about family, leisure time, finances, sex, and more. Building a marriage, like building a house, requires a blueprint and lots of decisions along the way so that the finished product matches what you envisioned. Based on your agreed-on expectations, set goals for your relationship. Begin to put into writing the details of how you plan to attain the marriage you desire.

There are, indeed, many practical matters to discuss. But, in addition to the practical matters, there are the less clearly defined and more important matters of your feelings and attitudes toward each other. The sharing of these feelings and attitudes can lead to your inner lives being in tune with one another. When you experience inner harmony and unity, you’ll be able to cope with all the twists and turns that life will throw your way.

Learn all you can about yourself and your partner before marriage. After the wedding you will then both continue to learn and adapt through the years. You have chosen your partner for life. In the words of the French writer, André Maurois, “I have chosen. From now on my aim will be, not to search for someone who will please me, but to please the one I have chosen.”

Whether you’re engaged, newly-married or have been married a long time, you can learn more about developing a strong, healthy, mutually-satisfying relationship at Better Marriages.

Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep growing!

* As featured in All-in-One Marriage Prep: 75 Experts Share Tips and Wisdom to Help You Get Ready Now, www.allinonemarriageprep.com


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