Planning for Marriage

Brides, don’t just plan your wedding. Plan your marriage.

An engagement ring is a beautiful thing. It represents squeals of excitement, friends and family constantly grabbing your left hand to catch a closeup view, and the transition of the one you love from plain old boyfriend to that word I never got tired of saying… fiancé.

But an engagement ring can also be a scary thing. I think at some point in every woman’s journey from one ring to two, she comes to the startling and terrifying realization that while she’s been thinking about dresses and flowers and beautiful venues, her life as a single women is coming to an end… permanently. She’s planning to attach herself to a man from whom she will never depart, and she wonders if she’s making the right choice.

The right choice. Applicable in a sense, but beyond obvious questions like, would he/has he ever been abusive? does he sacrifice for me? has he ever been unfaithful? …there’s not much to ask. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you also should ask questions like, Is Christ first in his life? will he lead our household spiritually and teach our children to follow the Lord? But beyond that… marriage is a commitment made by two imperfect people, not a guessing game to choose the one perfect person. The problem with the guessing game mentality is that 1) people change over time, and 2) it leaves the door open to divorce.

The world’s view of marriage has plummeted over the past several years, and divorce rates have skyrocketed. Almost everyone I know has been touched somehow by divorce and that breaks my heart. I don’t want to alienate or offend those who have gotten a divorce in the past, or who have had to deal with an abusive spouse or other similar situation. What’s done is done, and the past is the past. It’s not in my wheelhouse or my right to judge you and your circumstances. My purpose in writing this is to beg brides who are about to enter a marriage covenant to plan for your marriage, not just your wedding.

Go to pre-marital counseling. Have someone in the room who will guide you through conversations you’ve probably never had with your significant other, but will be vital in learning where that person comes from and what they will expect in your marriage. Brides, did you know that if your finance’s mom was the one to cook dinner every night, he will subconsciously expect that from you even if you can’t cook? It’s true!

Get to know yourself. Try to watch yourself from a third-party view. What annoys or frustrates you? What makes you happy? What are some areas you excel in, but also some areas that you tend to be lazy? What makes you anxious? What allows you to relax? Knowing the answers to these questions about yourself will help you explain yourself when your husband can’t figure out why you’re curled up crying on the couch, or just cut your hand on a glass you were washing because you slammed it down just a little too hard. When you can clearly communicate your emotions and expectations to your spouse, it’s a lot easier to navigate and resolve any disagreement.

Expect marriage to be hard sometimes. “Making it” in a marriage requires humble and giving hearts on both sides. Nothing will teach you how selfish you are more quickly than being married a few months. I promise that good things are worth fighting for. Marriage is worth fighting for. But don’t wait until after your vows to start planning, because by that point, you’re already starting behind. So in between linen colors and DJ playlists and cake tastings… remember that the wedding isn’t the most important thing. Your marriage is the most important thing.

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