“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.” ~Robert C. Dodds
It’s fair to say that not all problems in marriage can be avoided, but there are many issues that can be anticipated and circumvented. In my experience, many couples divorce because of unrealistic expectations, lack of flexibility, an unwillingness to forgive, and plain old stubbornness. There are bound to be challenges whenever two people from two different households, educational backgrounds, emotional backgrounds and communication styles join together in holy matrimony with the expectation of instantly becoming “one”. I believe that oneness is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight…or in a few weeks…or a few months. Oneness is intentional–not automatic. It takes lots of time, patience, effort, communication, love, flexibility, and forgiveness.
If you’re considering marriage, here are 4 things you absolutely MUST do before you walk down that aisle…
Must-Do #1: Check Your Expectations
We all enter marriage with our own individual sets of expectations and ideas about what marriage should look like. Many of us expect a Lifetime Movie romance with no arguments, constant happiness, amazing sex, family dinners cooked to perfection, perfect in-laws, a perfect house, a perfect car, perfect children, and plenty of money in the bank. If you expect happiness and bliss without hard work, sacrifice, compromise and communication, I urge you to check your expectations. Are you being realistic?
Must-Do #2: Learn to be Flexible
Even the Constitution was written in such a way that allowed for a changing world. If you lose your ability to change and adjust to the needs of your spouse and your growing relationship, then you will not survive marriage. Many couples destroy their entire relationship simply because they’re unwilling to address new needs that may come to light. Know that your partner will grow and change. What he/she needs today may not be what he/she needs 5, 10, or 20 years from now. Before you get married, learn to be open to change and correction. There will be many times in marriage when you may need to reassess and reevaluate what’s still working well and what needs to be adjusted. There’s no place for rigidity in marriage.
Must-Do #3: Be Willing to Forgive
Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. While it’s natural to feel angry at someone that wrongs or disrespects us, there is a notable difference between healthy anger and bitterness. Given the opportunity, bitterness can spread through marriage like cancer–attacking healthy cells and organs at rapid speed. In marriage, forgiveness is the medicine and the cure. When you offer the forgiveness you wish to receive, it increases your chances of having a healthy marriage that is free from the disease of bitterness.
In order to survive marriage, you must have realistic expectations, be flexible to the needs of your partner, and be willing to forgive mistakes. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what it takes to create a lasting marriage. Feel free to comment below!
Cheers to a disease-free marriage,