So, you've found someone you love, have similar values, and like each other's family. Seemingly, you hit a trifecta. Is that enough for a healthy marriage? Maybe. Let's dig deeper.
What are your goals as a couple? What expectations do you bring to the relationship? What are you willing to sacrifice for a healthy marriage? Who will lead issues regarding parenting, in-laws, household chores, social events, volunteer endeavors, fertility, finances, spiritual growth, or address unmet needs? What are you willing to sacrifice for each other? What are you willing to give to each other? Are you familiar with the Laren Hill song, Ex-Factor? Words from that song struck a chord with me. So often in relationships, individuals will exhort how they would die for their partner, but are you willing to live for them? What does that look like? If you are unfamiliar, it is worth listening to on your favorite streaming channel.
care for me, care for me (care) you said you care for me
there for me there for me (there)
said you'd be there for me
Cry for me cry for me (cry)
you said you'd die for me
give to me give to me (give)
why won't you live for me.
These are some of the questions every couple should consider before they become engaged. While you cannot prepare for every situation, you can give yourself an advantage by covering big and small topics many couples avoid or omit.
Personally, I don't think love is enough to sustain a healthy marriage. Marriage is hard, even when you love each other. Maintaining a healthy relationship requires an investment of your time, talent, and treasure. Additionally, it requires a level of trust and commitment that some people aren't ready or able to give.
While during ‘The Woo’, you are willing to make extraordinary exceptions for each other, over time, that fades. It is easy to pretend you don’t pick your nose, have poor health habits, or constantly overdraft your accounts on dates that last a few hours. Even when you are newly married, you may want your partner to see the version of yourself you want to be, not the version you are now.
This person will see you when your hard work is acknowledged with a promotion and when your new boss is draining the life out of you. This person will be there when you are in physical pain, can’t move, and your debt keeps you up at night. This person will stand up for you against others who try to harm you regardless of the relationship. Is this the person who sleeps soundly while you soothe your sick child or who takes turns keeping watch so you can get a few hours of sleep, no matter how much you insist you can push through? Is this the person who carries you when you cannot walk, prays with and for you when you have lost faith, and encourages you to follow your dreams, even if it means more effort from them?
Some erroneously think adding a child to a relationship will fix what’s broken in your marriage; it is more likely to do the opposite. Raising a child is A LOT of work. Parenting is demanding and stressful and can potentially pull strong couples apart, let alone those on a rocky foundation. Just as you should work on yourself first rather than expecting marriage to solve your problems, couples should work on their marriage rather than expecting children to resolve their issues.
Have you noticed a tiny chip in your windshield and plan to get around to it one day? Before you know it (a few years later), that chip turns into a hairline fracture, then moves across your entire windshield, requiring a total replacement. That chip could have been filled at a fraction of the price had you made time to address it. Often, we ignore the little problems until they expand so large, they burst. It is easy to use that approach in marriage as well. Have you noticed a few areas that need attention? Now is the time to address the issue.
How are you living for your partner? Are you practicing radical generosity in your relationship?
Here are a few activities designed to strengthen your marriage this month. Join the conversation on Thriving Marriages by John & Claire Yzaguirre at the book club TBD. We'll discuss the Fair Play Documentary on Sunday, September 18th, and have a date night at the Peacock Room on September 22nd. We hope to see you around this month!