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Getting Married the First Time
Build a Strong Foundation for Your Marriage
Table of Contents
Getting Married the First Time:
Building a Strong Foundation for your Marriage……………..…Page 1
Table of Contents …………………………………………………..Page 2
Getting to Know Your Future Spouse ……………………….…..Page 3
Importance of Friendship in Growing a Marriage ………………Page 5
Setting Goals for Both of You …………………………………….Page 8
Cultivating Lifestyle Compatibility …………………………….…Page 10
Blending Culture and Religion ………………………….………..Page 12
Blending Argument Styles ……………………………….……….Page 14
Accepting Disagreement ………………………………..……..…Page 16
Learning to Forgive ……………………………….………………..Page 18
Feeling Secure in Your Relationship ……………………………..Page 20
Who IS This Person?
Getting to Know Your Future Spouse
So you’re finally engaged. Whether or not a ring was exchanged, and whether you’re planning a ceremony in a church, on a beach, or at the courthouse down the street, if you’re preparing to be married you are, for all intents and purposes, engaged.
Being engaged is an exciting time, both for you and your significant other but also for the people around you. Planning a wedding is exciting in and of itself, but planning your future together is even better than that.
As you think and hope and dream, consider more than where you will live, what kind of cars you will drive, and what your kids would be like. As you plan to get married, plan also to sustain that marriage. Even though you’re not married yet, you can cultivate your relationship in such a way that it will grow and mature through the years.
Marriage Changes Things
Getting married is unlike anything else in the world. In fact, it’s the only time in your life that you’re asked to make a commitment to someone until or unless one of you dies. Granted, divorce is always a possibility, but most people want to do their best to stay away from that.
Because it’s such a big commitment, marriage changes things. Even if you’ve been living together for quite a while, taking the plunge into marriage solidifies the commitment between you and your spouse in ways that you may not be able to predict until you experience it.
With this increase in commitment comes an increase in pressure, and that pressure can become a pressure cooker if you’re not prepared for it. Things that used to bother you a little about your significant other will become major annoyances, and things you didn’t notice at all will start to stand out. Thus, it’s important that you have discussed some of the major issues that can come in marriage and that you know how to talk to one another honestly and easily.
Have Some Long Talks
Working these things out is going to take some talking. Plan out times for you and your future spouse to sit down, maybe over a cup of coffee or some leisurely lunches, to talk over some of the topics discussed in this book. However you do it, make sure you have enough time to complete the discussions without hurrying.
If it appeals to you or you find that there are some major issues between you and your future spouse, you might want to continue your discussions with the aid of a premarital counselor. Making the decision to attend counseling does not mean that you should not continue with your plans for your marriage. In fact, it means that you and your future spouse have the maturity to know when and how to ask for help.
However you choose to have your conversations, make sure you are intentional about setting aside time to talk through these issues. These are not things that you will just talk about on your own, so it’s important to deliberately lay aside the time. The future of your relationship is worth this investment now.
The Importance of Friendship in Growing a Marriage
If you’re planning to be married, it’s probably pretty safe to assume that you are in love with your significant other. Even if it’s not the dreamy kind of love that little girls find in princess movies, you’ve found a person you think you could spend the rest of your life with.
Love is incredibly important in a marriage. What most people don’t know, though, is that friendship is equally, if not more, important in creating a marriage that lasts. This friendship involves love, but goes beyond the positive feelings you have toward your future spouse.
Love vs. Like
Developing a friendship means that not only do you love someone, but you like spending time with them. Being “in like” with your significant other (as opposed to only “in love”) means that you truly enjoy being around them. The more extensively you enjoy your time with them, the more likely your marriage is to last past the fluttering, lovey-dovey stage.
Being “in like” also means that you have a profound respect and admiration for the person you’re planning to marry. It means that you value the ways they are different from you, even when these things are foreign to you or even annoy you. Because you enjoy this other person so much, you can see what their differences add to your relationship instead of only being frustrated that these differences exist at all.
Friendship is important in developing the foundation of a marriage because it gives you more to go on that how you feel. When most marriages start out, both partners are excited about being together and about the life they’re building.
As time passes, however, these feelings can change. In fact, no feeling is sustainable forever. Whether it takes hours, days, weeks, or months, eventually your future spouse will hurt you or do something that drives you crazy, and those happy, helter-skelter feelings will suddenly disappear.
It is during these moments that the friendship between a couple is most important. Friendship provides a foundation for you to respect your spouse even when you’re not actively enjoying being with them. This respect can help you resolve differences and tide you over until you are happy together again.
Developing the Friendship Between You
Working on the friendship between you and your future spouse is one of the most important things you can do as you’re planning to be married. The most important factor is spending time together. You can talk, do an activity that you both enjoy, or even plan your wedding.
Beyond that, you can be more intentional about developing a deeply-rooted friendship that will last. Start by working through some of the topics in this book. While you probably won’t resolve everything before you’re married, talking through these topics will not only give you insight into how these issues might work out in your marriage, but will also allow you a deeper access to how your significant other works on the inside, which will strengthen your friendship.
Should We Buy It? Spending Money Together
One of the items that most couples are encouraged to discuss before they get married is the topic of money. It’s not a popular topic without reason. When “my money” becomes “our money,” the sparks can really fly.
When you’re having this conversation, it’s important to remember that it’s your underlying philosophy about money that’s truly important and that you will need to talk about, not what to do with individual purchases. Generally, you’ll know what to do about a purchase when you’ve agreed about how to approach money in general.
What are Your Spending Styles?
One of the most important aspects of your financial philosophy that you should discuss and analyze are your different spending styles. Do you make purchases without thinking, or do you tend to ponder every aspect of the purchase and do a bunch of research before you buy anything? Do you like spending money on little things, like fast food and movies, or do you prefer to be frugal in these areas?
Sometimes, it just helps to know where the other person is coming from. If, for instance, you don’t understand why your future spouse likes to spend money on clothes every week, you might be able to accept the habit when you come to understand that he or she rarely got to wear new clothes growing up because their family didn’t have the money. In disagreements like this, understanding is half the battle.
How Much Money do You Need to be Happy?
Another important question to discuss with the person you intend to marry is how much money you both need to be happy. For many people, money signifies safety and security, which are important attributes of happiness. If you want your future spouse to be happy, it’s important to know what their expectations are in this area.
How do You Deal With Financial Setbacks?
Most marriages will, at some point, deal with one or more financial setbacks. The chances that one of you will lose a job, get fired, or have significant, unexpected expenses are pretty high. When anticipating these situations, it can be helpful to talk with your future spouse about how you have both dealt with situations like these in the past and how you would like to deal with them together in the future.
No one likes anticipating negative circumstances. In this case, however, having a plan (no matter how general) will help you both relax into your marriage.
Are You Willing to Negotiate or Change?
For each of the topics above, it’s also important to decide whether or not you are willing to negotiate and come up with a common plan or change your thoughts and habits to reflect those of your spouse. If neither of you are open to one of these paths, mutual respect is going to be extremely important in your relationship. You will need to remind yourself that your spouse’s desires, spending habits, and philosophy of money are different, but not any less valid than your own.
What Does It Take to Build a Life Together?
Setting Goals for Both of You
We all have goals. It’s a good thing, at least according to your guidance counselor from 11th grade. When you’re looking at marriage, though, it’s important that you and your future spouse have compatible goals. That way, you will better be able to support each other as life takes its twists and turns.
What is a Compatible Goal?
It’s important to note that compatible goals are not necessarily identical. In fact, if you and your significant other are going after exactly the same things, it might foster some unhealthy competition between you. But it is important that your goals are compatible.
Compatible goals are ones that are not mutually exclusive. If you want to do something that, for instance, requires you to live in the Arctic Circle for a period of time, and your future spouse’s goals center on a tropical climate, you are not going to be able to do both of those things.
While that example is extreme, it gives you a good picture of incompatible goals. More common incompatible goals include one spouse wanting to postpone having children and another wanting to have them right away, or one spouse wanting to stay home with children while the other wants a yearly income they cannot make themselves.
Setting Compatible Goals
When you find yourselves at an impasse over a certain set of incompatible goals, it can feel like things are falling apart. However, keep in mind that you and your significant other love each other and can make even this difficulty work out.
Once you realize you’ve hit an incompatible place, it’s important that you both take some time to think about the goals that are causing the problem. See if you can determine why they are so important to you. Ponder where they goal comes from, and decide if it is absolutely necessary for you.
Sometimes, this process of thinking things through goes rather rapidly. Other times, it can be difficult to find answers to all of these questions and you may need to spend quite a lot of time with it.
Once you’re ready to talk, sit down with your future spouse. Let him or her explain the reasoning behind their goals, then explain yours.
A solution to the problem may jump out right away. On the other hand, you may remain at an impasse for quite a while. This place of not knowing exactly how things are going to work out between you can be a scary one, but there’s no need for alarm. Many couples live with incompatible goals for a long time until they either find a solution or realize that, somehow, the incompatibility has disappeared.
The most important thing about this process is that you will find out which of your future spouse’s goals are most important to him or her, and will have the chance to share your own. That way, you can better respect and encourage each other, and celebrate when you reach a goal.
Will You Love Me if I Still Go Out?
Cultivating Lifestyle Compatibility
Many couples find that they disagree on basic lifestyle issues. These encompass everything from how you spend your free time to how you sleep, eat, exercise, clean, watch television, and many other topics.
Sometimes, these lifestyle issues are only annoyances while you are dating, but become much more frustrating when you get married. Talking about your thoughts, habits, and expectations ahead of time can help mitigate some of those difficult feelings.
Decide Where You Stand
Before you sit down to have a conversation about lifestyle with your future spouse, think about your own answers to the questions listed below. While this is not a comprehensive list of lifestyle issues that come up between couples, it does contain some of the ones most likely to cause conflict between spouses.
Important issues under the category of “lifestyle” are:
– Are you a night owl or a morning person? A light sleeper or a heavy one? How do you feel about the snooze button?
– Would you rather spend a weekend evening at home with your family or out on the town?
– Is the television white noise for you, or do you only turn it on to watch specific programs?
– How do you feel about your significant other continuing to spend time alone with their friends, without you?
– Do you plan to continue relationships with people who might be threatening to your future spouse? Do you care if they continue such relationships?
– Do you like to eat healthy and exercise, or are you a couch potato and a junk food junkie?
– Is maintaining a certain appearance important to you?
– Do you like to keep your living space neat and organized or do you prefer clutter?
– In your mind, which of you will perform certain tasks, like cooking and cleaning?
– Do you intend to have children and, if so, how many?
When you ponder your answers to these questions, make sure that you are honest about where you really are right now, not where you want to be or where you think you should be. You won’t do either you or your significant other any good if you tell them that you live any other way than you actually do.
While it might feel uncomfortable to be honest in some of these areas, honesty is the only thing that will allow you and your future spouse to truly talk about these issues and come to some sort of agreement.
Agree to Disagree
It is common for couples to decide to agree to disagree on lifestyle issues, and to make compromises as necessary along the way. For instance, if you are a neat freak and your future spouse a clutterbug, you may decide to let him or her be as cluttered as they want within a certain area, like the office, as long as they clean up the clutter in other areas, like the main living room. These solutions allow each person to be as they honestly are without showing disrespect to either party.
Where Do You Come From?
Unless you and your future spouse grew up with nearly identical religious and cultural backgrounds, these areas are likely to cause some conflict in your relationship. Thus, it is important to do your best to determine where the most difficult points of conflict will be for you and how you might go about solving them.
Many times, these issues come up during a dating relationship, so you may have already talked about some of them. However, living with someone else’s cultural and religious differences day in and day out is different than dealing with them once in a while. Even if you have lived together, these problems take on a deeper significance to both of you when you are married.
Before you start talking about religious and cultural issues, it’s important that both of you take time to remind yourselves that you will be discussing some of the issues and beliefs that are the deepest for any person. Even if you don’t understand or don’t agree with everything your future spouse believes, be sensitive when you ask questions or propose an alternative plan.
The last thing you want to do is hurt and alienate someone you love. For this reason, you should only discuss these potentially volatile issues when you are both rested and feeling emotionally secure. Some couples even refuse to ponder these topics after a certain time at night.
Decide What is Essential
Even if you and your future spouse were raised in nearly identical situations, there will be differences between you. Holiday traditions, for instance, almost always have some differences. It’s going to be important, as you discuss these things, that you choose which pieces are the most important to you and which you’re willing to compromise on.
The aspects of your culture and religion that are important are going to vary from person to person. Don’t be surprised if something that seems unimportant to you is extremely important to your significant other.
Find Ways to Compromise
Sometimes, compromise on cultural and religious issues will be easy. One aspect may be important to you and another to your future spouse and you may find that you can accommodate both very easily.
Other discussions will be ongoing. If you and your spouse are deeply involved in different religions, deciding which religion you want to raise your children in or whether you will attend services together might be difficult. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open on these topics, and always let your significant other know that you respect his or her opinions, even when you disagree.
Often, compromises on difficult topics will require creative thinking on both of your parts. Maybe you can raise your children so they are involved in both religions, or you can attend one service one week and another the next. While these sorts of solutions aren’t perfect, they preserve your relationship with your spouse and allow you maintain your relationship while keeping the things that are most important to you.
Why Are You Yelling at Me?
Blending Argument Styles
You and your future spouse are going to argue. If you haven’t had this experience yet or don’t have it until you’re married, just store this in your memory bank. It’s going to happen, sometime.
In fact, it’s actually a healthy thing for couples to disagree sometimes. Even though you care a lot about each other, you are both individual people with individual backgrounds, stories, and experiences. You don’t see the world from the same pair of eyes, or even from the same perspective, and so you’re going to disagree about the way things work.
It actually shows that you and your partner trust each other when you can argue. It means that you know your significant other well enough to trust them with how you really feel, instead of taking on an opinion that will please them in order to keep the peace.
However, these disagreements can become difficult when you have different ways of dealing with them. What seems hurtful for you may be healthy for your partner and vice versa.
Different people approach arguing differently. Usually, this has a lot to do with how a person was raised and how they grew up seeing differences of opinion get handled.
In general, there are three ways to handle disagreement. Some people shy away from it entirely. They may state their case, but they don’t want to hang around and talk about it. Sometimes, these people will need some time alone after a disagreement, but even after that don’t want to bring it up again.
Other people handle disagreement calmly and rationally. These arguers will state their position, let you state yours, and have a logical conversation about what is going on.
Finally, some people argue passionately. They may yell and scream because they care so much about what they believe. Sometimes, they will aggressively pursue an argument even if the other person doesn’t want to continue.
Which is Best?
To most people, the middle way of handling an argument seems best. It allows both parties to have their say and to defend themselves, but doesn’t involve hurtful comments or raised voices on the one hand, and avoiding the issue entirely on the other.
However, happiness in marriage doesn’t depend on how you argue. In fact, there are happy couples who fall into each of the three categories of arguing styles.
What does matter is that you both approach arguing the same way. If one of you wants to yell while the other wants to have a rational conversation, neither of you are going to be satisfied with the result. Thus, it’s important to discuss these things with your future spouse.
Knowing each other’s arguing styles is half the battle. Even if you can’t agree on a way to argue, it helps to know that the other person isn’t being difficult intentionally. And it’s even better if you find your styles are the same or can agree to try to argue one way or another.
What if We Can’t Work it Out?
It comes as a surprise to most newly married couples or couples on their way toward marriage that there will be some disagreements you just can’t work out. You may have the best of intentions, carry on good conversations, respect each other as individuals and understand each others’ opinions, but there will still be places where you will not be able to agree.
If you think about it, this probably shouldn’t come as a newsflash. After all, you and the person you’re planning to marry are two different people with two different perspectives on the world. It makes sense that, most of the time, you’ll be able to meld these two points of view into one. Sometimes, though, you will both hold different believes so deeply that choosing one point of view will be impossible.
When you’re faced with a disagreement that you can’t resolve, it’s easy to get afraid and wonder if marriage is the right decision after all. If you feel the panic start to rise, take a deep breath. Acknowledge your feelings, but make sure you’re thinking rationally before you make any major decisions.
In these moments, it can help to remember that you’re not going to get along perfectly with anyone. No matter who you marry, you will face issues that you cannot resolve. While you may be more naturally compatible with some people than others, there is no one in the world exactly like you. If you want to be married, at some point you’re going to have to learn to live with someone who disagrees with you about certain things.
Change Your Perspective
Instead of worrying about what it means that you and your partner can’t resolve all of your disagreements, decide to find the good side of this. For instance, the fact that you can disagree on something that’s important to both of you and still stay together is an indicator that your commitment to each other and your marriage is real and is something you both value.
Value Your Partner’s Differences
In addition, you can even come to value the aspects of your partner that are different from you. Even though these are often the biggest points of conflict in a marriage, it is good to have a different perspective on things. Sometimes, a point of view that’s different can help you learn to see things differently, too.
While you probably won’t ever change entirely, being able to understand and respect a point of view that’s different from your own will make you a more flexible person in general. You will be able to talk to more people and help them, if you so desire, because you will be able to understand what it is like to be in their shoes.
This does not mean that you need to change your mind. Instead, it means that you open your mind so your range of experience is larger and your heart is bigger.
Are You Still Mad at Me?
Learning to Forgive
It’s inevitable that you and your future spouse will eventually hurt each other. Even if you don’t do any of the large acts that are commonly held to be hurtful in a marriage, like have an affair or flirt regularly with members of the opposite sex, one of you will say something or do something that causes the other pain.
Unless you’re especially lucky, this sort of thing will probably happen many times over the course of your relationship. Thus, it’s especially important to learn to forgive each other as early as possible, because you’re probably have to do it over and over and over again.
Feel Your Feelings
If you are angry with or upset by your future spouse, take some time to feel those feelings. If at all possible, do this somewhere where you will not risk hurting your spouse and making things worse between you. Take a walk, get together with some friends, or write in a journal to express yourself.
Whatever you do, don’t deny what you feel. Telling yourself that you’re really not that hurt or that there’s no point in getting angry will only make things worse. The feeling won’t go away, but will be stuffed down inside of you where you risk having it pop up at any moment.
Understand What Happened
One of the first steps toward forgiveness is understanding what happened. Many times, when you understand where your partner is coming from, their hurtful actions towards you will begin to make sense. Even if this doesn’t take away the pain your feel, it can help to know that your significant other was trying to act out of love, concern, or self-protection and didn’t intend to lash out.
Remember Your Love
Once you understand your future spouse’s hurtful actions, take some time to remember that you love your significant other. Even though that person sometimes hurts you, you care deeply about what happens for them and you want the best for them.
These feelings can be hard to find when you’re feeling a lot of strong emotions, so take the time you need to find them. They are definitely there, even if they are buried under hurt, frustration, anger, or sadness.
Speak Your Forgiveness
When you remember your love for your partner, you will open the door to be able to forgive him or her. This doesn’t mean that you automatically trust your partner again, or that the hurt is erased. What it does mean is that you give up your right to hold this particular act against them. When you reach that point, let your future spouse know how you feel.
Don’t Bring it Up
After you’ve found the space in yourself to forgive your partner, resolve to never bring that particular issue up again, even in the heat of another argument. You may need to forgive them over and over again inside yourself, but opening the issue up to discussion again will only indicate to them that your forgiveness was a sham.
Will You Still Love Me in Ten Years?
Feeling Secure in Your Relationship
Feeling secure in your relationship with your future spouse is one of the best feelings in the world. You’ll know you’re there when you feel like you can be yourself around your partner and not have to pretend to be anything or anyone other than who you really are.
Some couples get to this point quite naturally, while it takes others some time. This doesn’t only have to do with your relationship, but with both of your experiences in past relationships and your personality in general. If you both are more trusting people, this security will come easier than it will if either of you is skeptical or anxious.
However, regardless of your personality, it’s possible to develop a relationship where you both feel deeply loved, valued, and respected. The friendship that you build between you will go far towards helping you reach these goals.
Friendship & Security
Friendship builds the security in your relationship by helping you both feel like your relationship is solid. When you are not only lovers but also friends, there will be a sturdiness and passion in your relationship that you won’t find other places.
Hopefully, the conversations encouraged in this book will help you enhance the friendship that already exists between you. Different conversations will be difficult for different couples for different reasons, but talking through all of them will lead you both to a place where you will have more in common and will respect each other more.
Conflict & Sturdiness
Carrying out these difficult conversations will also let you know that your relationship can survive difficulty. This will help you in the future, when other conflicts arise between you, because you will be able to remember what you have gone through before.
Coming out of a difficult conversation still loving, valuing, and respecting the other person makes you more sturdy as an individual as well. As you learn to tolerate and even enjoy the ways your partner is different from you, you will be able to tolerate and enjoy the differences you encounter in other people, too. This will make you a better friend, colleague, family member, and in general a better human being.
Hopefully, walking through the process of developing the friendship between you and your partner through a series of conversations about what your future lives together might look like will leave you with a solid foundation for the rest of your marriage. Don’t forget to enjoy the easy conversations and celebrate the good moments you have together. You are, after all, building for a lifetime. read more at love advice