There are many things that I have learned while on this marriage journey. Many of them I wish were shared with me before I started the journey…
I am going to share a few with you (they are specific to my experience, but general enough for someone to relate)
1. Just because he or she is a great Christian does not guarantee they will make a great spouse
So often we as Christians make the mistake of only asking one question to singles about to be married – Is he/she a Christian? Does he/she love the Lord?
Now, while this is a VERY important question, many people stop right there and never inquire about any other qualities paramount to the success of the union. Believe it or not, not every great Christian will make a great spouse. Christians are human beings too. Christians cheat, Christians abuse, Christians are bad with money, etc etc etc
Make sure you find out about all the quality traits/issues that important to you BEFORE you say I do.
2. Not showing affection to your spouse in public DOES NOT constitute ‘modest behavior’
Showing affection is a very important part of marriage. It is one of the five love languages (physical touch). I don’t recall seeing too many (if any at all) couples showing their love for each (while in church) growing up. Let me pause and state what should be the obvious…we are not talking about actions inappropriate for a public setting…save that for the house. I am referring to holding hands, a kiss, etc. The flipside is that everything else around us – movies, television, music, school friends, etc, were doing the EXACT opposite of not showing affection. As a result of all the ‘outside stimulation’, the youth were ‘champing at the bit’ to get our hands on a member of the opposite sex…if for nothing else than to satisfy our curiosity!
I won’t go as far as saying it never happened, but it surely did not happen enough to make an impact on me, or the way I viewed marriage. So much so that I carried my warped views right into my own marriage. In the beginning, we felt the need to ‘change’ from a fun-loving, affectionate, sex hungry couple to a ‘serious’ married couple. It took us a little while to break out of that…(still working at it to be honest)
3. Sex is great, should be engaged in often and is not just for the purpose of procreation
This is self-explanatory! Sex is a beautiful thing, designed by the Creator himself! I cannot recall one instance where sex was discussed in church when I was growing up, (and as a young adult for that matter) except to drive home the fact it should be abstained from. Although we saw it happening all around us, no one addressed it, or helped us put it in context. As a result, we just applied the faulty learning we received elsewhere and started having sex. Fast forward and there are married couples everywhere dealing with sex-related issues…porn and perversion on one extreme, and consistency/quality issue on the other. There are married folk who have sex but would have a panic attack if you asked them to speak about it. Or even worse, married folk who stopped having sex after the kids were born.
It is being discussed a lot more nowadays, but we still have some work to do. We have a responsibility to advise singles in all ALL areas pertinent to marriage success…including matters of sexuality.
4. ‘Head of Household’ is way more than just a title
Not sure if I am alone in this but…
The responsibility of providing, protecting, teaching, nurturing, praying, leading, and creating an environment that fosters growth (among many other things), coupled with going through the process of ‘growing up’ myself can be extremely overwhelming. Add to that any what I call ‘side effects’ to the equation i.e. kid issues, money issues, etc, and I sometimes feel like my knees are about to buckle. My Dad never seemed to be phased by ‘life’ (maybe he hid it well).
It is very important to equip men with the right coping skills so that when they are hit with these responsibilities/issues they do not opt to bolt, or pacify themselves with vices.
5. Reality will be very different than fantasy
You may be saying to yourself “well, duh!’…but at 17, I had a vision of what life would be like in the future. I had everything mapped out in my head I played out scenarios and situations that would take place when I’m married with kids. I quickly realized after I got married (and even before for that matter) that all my dreams would not be a reality. There are pieces of that vision that have not (and may not) materialize.
So what now? What do you do when things don’t happen the way you planned? How do you as a married man handle disappointment? How does one adjust? How do you ‘spin’ plan b in your favor? These are questions that need to addressed well before we find ourselves in the situation.
I believe that so many marriage journeys would different had we been ‘schooled’ ahead of time…
It is now our duty to help prepare those who are contemplating marriage, to equip them with valuable [positive] tools for the journey ahead.
Oliver & Denise Marcelle are the founders of Denoli, LLC (speaking, facilitating, and mentoring/coaching). They have been married for 20 years and have 3 children.
Through seminars, a podcast, videos and social media posts, they offer a candid look into their own marriage, with the goal being to encourage couples and help them explore, grow and learn together.
It is their belief that all relationships stand a chance, if given the right tools.
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