The old adage that opposites attract is often said in regard to marriage, and it is true most times.
Tom and I couldn’t be more opposite in areas that aren’t important, e.g. how we like our eggs, hot beverage of choice in the morning, whether we feel cold or hot, etc. But what if the areas you face are important? Or worse, what if you disagree on what we call Non-negotiables? Is it possible to learn to change at best, or agree to disagree at worst? Yes! But it’s not easy.
We are strong supporters of pre-marital counseling for this reason. When you are dating and all you can see in your future spouse is how perfect they are for you, it’s hard to be objective. Tom and I were that way to a degree. We didn’t have the benefit of pre-marital counseling back in 1979. It wasn’t a thing except for our pastor to ask us if we loved each other and what birth-control we were planning to use. That was it! Much of the conflict we faced in our early years could have been worked out before we were married if we had only had someone to mentor us and ask good questions.
For example, it’s good to know the following before you say “I do”…
- How many children do you want, if you want them at all?
- What if we find out we are unable to have children?
- When children come, how do you see disciplining them as right and necessary?
- What is your view on money? Are you a saver or a spender? Do you use credit cards or have large debts?
- What would it take for you to leave the marriage? Is there an unspoken clause that gives you an exit strategy should you need it?
- What if we disagree on an important decision, how do you see us working it out?
- How involved are you expecting our in-laws to be in our daily lives?
- What are your priorities in order of importance?
- Do you have anything hidden that I should know about? Children? Previous marriage? Sin patterns that could effect our marriage?
- How do you see us spending our free time? Vacations? Holidays?
- If you could change one thing about me what would it be?
- What is one thing you respect about your parent’s marriage?
- What is one thing you don’t like about your parent’s marriage?
As you can see these are important things to know before making the serious commitment to marry someone.
When we got married I was only 19. Tom was 24. We were in love and so happy together. But I was scared to death because I wasn’t prepared on many levels. These questions would have put important unknowns on the table to make them known and would have set us up with the tools needed to make it through the rapids ahead. I am grateful that our marriage has lasted the test of time, but it wasn’t easy in our early years
I used to think that once we got to the place where we are now in marriage (over 40 years), that it would be smooth waters. Nope! Marriage is hard work just like anything worth doing. As Tom often says, if you quit working on your marriage you’re drifting and without direction. Sooner or later you’ll realize you’ve drifted apart and you don’t know each other anymore.
If you find yourself in this place it’s not too late to pick up the oars and start paddling together in the right direction. Yeah, you might bump into low hanging branches that scratch and hurt. But together you can pull through if you’re willing to make the effort. It will most likely take the help of someone you both know and trust: a pastor, friend or counselor. They know the river of disagreement well, and how quickly it can escalate to white-water rapids without warning.
It’s time to gear up and move forward. Any place worth seeing usually takes hard work to get there. A successful marriage is worth seeing and living. It provides stability in an uncertain world for you, your children and their children.
Date Night Prompt: What areas in our marriage do you see as successful in that we walk in agreement? What about areas of opposition? Let’s talk about how to resolve these issues now before they grow in intensity.