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Marriage Life

Enriching marriages moment by moment

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Courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

It’s that time of year…Its warming up outside, flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and people are walking down the aisle and saying “I Do” which is why it is the perfect time to talk about the things that every couple needs in order to build their relationship on the proper foundation.

Marriage is beautiful and marvelous…and hard work. Intimacy and relationship isn’t built up without purpose. If we don’t know what we’re doing we will too easily careen towards regret and isolation. Unfortunately, this is happening to too many couples these days. We believe it is because couples are walking into marriage too casually and making some very specific errors along the way.

1) Forgoing quality pre-marital counseling. Since we started this blog, Clint and I have stated over and over that one of the biggest things that impedes the health and longevity of a marriage is sub par pre-marital counseling or worse yet no pre-marital counseling at all.

Taking the time to sit down with your pastor or a professional counselor before tying the knot and going through a litany of things that you most assuredly aren’t thinking about when you are googly-eyed, tongue tied and super duper in love is so important. Its one of the most important things you can do. You need to talk over things like budget and child rearing and expectations with an impartial third party. And too many people aren’t getting good counseling. Many people are bowing out of it altogether.  Unfortunately, its coming back to bite them down the road.

2) Mistaking Love for Commitment. When Clint and I were getting ready to get married we had someone ask us to list the reasons we wanted to get married. At the top for both of us was “ I love him/her.” This counselor told us straight up, “That’s not good enough.” And he was right. The emotional state that you are in as you prepare for a wedding is so surreal that its hard to wrap your brain around the fact that a few years down the road your “love” is going to look and feel very different. Being “in love” with someone is completely different than being able to look someone in the eye and tell them that no matter what life throws at you, you are willing to stick with them and work on it together…for life. It’s important to be able to be objective about the person you have feelings for and make sure that they are someone you can also commit to. Because there will be days when you aren’t really feelin’ the love. Those are the days (weeks, months, seasons) when you’ll need to be able to rest in your commitment.

3) Not heeding advice. I know, some people are far too quick to throw advice at engaged couples, newly married couples, couples who are pregnant…the list goes on and on. People can be a little too free with the info (aka personal opinions) at times. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that some people really do know what they are talking about. I think the biggest reason why we fail to take the advice of couples who have gone before us is because we fail to realize that we aren’t the exception to the rule.

4) Thinking marriage will be the cure-all. We know too many couples who thought getting married was going to be this magic potion that would automatically change their spouse or change their circumstances. They mistakenly believed that those vows and that little piece of paper would give them what they wanted. The truth is, that if while you are dating, your spouse told you they didn’t want kids and you told them (or yourself) that as soon as you got married their heart would soften and their mind would change…you’re in for a world of hurt. The truth is, if your husband treats you like a jerk before you’re married he more than likely will after as well. The truth is, if your wife treats you more like a child than a husband she will continue to do that after you get married.

Marriage doesn’t change people. It just changes perspective. It opens the door on reality. Sometimes we rely so much on our feelings that the reality of our situation lags behind and doesn’t catch up until its too late. That initial stage of love (the honeymoon stage) that clouds our judgment doesn’t last that long. (For more on this, see #2). You will never change your spouse. You will never have control over your spouse and their choices. You will only ever have control over your choices and your response to theirs. That’s a lesson best learned before walking down the aisle.

5) Planning for the wedding and not the marriage. This one is a bit cliché but it is true none the less. We wrote more about this here and here. The average couple spends a little over $25,000 on their wedding. They want it to be everything they dreamed of. They want it to be the biggest party ever. They want it to be the best day of their lives. They get the perfect caterer, photographer, location, dress… Obviously you can do it for less (we did) and you can have a beautiful wedding on a budget. But it’s not just about the budget. It’s about the fantasy. The day. Too many couples put so much emphasis on this ONE day that they forget about the fact that they are about to embark on a lifetime of days with this other person. They walk into this thing called marriage with the mentality that “I have the rest of my life to get to know my spouse.” Ummm…yes. But, no. You have the rest of your life to live life together. And things will change. And you will discover new things about each other as you go along. But to spend that much time and money on ONE day and failing to spend any time or money on the really important stuff (see #1 for more) is a scary proposition.

If you are getting married, take a look at this list and make sure you’re putting your priorities in the right order. Your marriage will thank you.

If you’re already married and you made some of these mistakes…hey, it happens…you can still have a wonderful marriage if you’re willing to be honest about what it takes.

 

Your thoughts? What is the biggest mistake you think couples make when they’re getting married?

 

We are linking up with some great marriage and relationship sites throughout the week. Please check them out!

28 comments
alittlernr1
alittlernr1

Excellent advice!!  This post should be sent to all newly engaged couples. 

LGodlivesinmeB
LGodlivesinmeB

Not attending marriage counseling or marriage enrichment (communication) classes prior to marriage.  Seeking guidance in understanding each others "love language" differences in views on important or at least constant subjects such as kids, bills, expenses, spending habits, credit scores, pet peeves, etc.  Learning how to listen and hear but most importantly how to understand what the spouse is saying or when they are sharing how they feel.  Learning how to serve the other spouse WITHOUT expecting anything in return but gaining everything in it's proper time.  God is good.  Be blessed.

wifethenmama
wifethenmama

My husband and I didn't do pre-marital counseling, but we did not mistake love for commitment either.  I think that it is important to know that there is pretty much nothing in the world that would cause you to divorce the person you are marrying, or you shouldn't get married.  For instance, even if I was miserable in my marriage, I find the vows I made before God to be more important than my personal happiness. 

kendrastamy
kendrastamy

#5 Oh my... That's a lot!

We spent maybe 3k on every-thing, and we had what many would consider a large wedding.

One thing that I would encourage young girls to do is this. Instead of dreaming about a wedding, dream about being a wife and pleasing your husband.

To many of the girls I knew growing up spent crazy amounts of time planning each others' weddings.

EliseDalyParker
EliseDalyParker

Great stuff! Agree with all you've said. I know this sounds dramatic...but I believe people shouldn't be allowed to get married without pre-marital counseling or a marriage prep weekend. My church requires it and I strongly agree with them. Love Is a Decision is one of the truths that sounds so unromantic, but is necessary for staying married!!

marriagecoach1
marriagecoach1

Sadly the biggest problem is that no one anywhere teaches couples good conflict resolution skills which are not natural to most people.  The churches don't, the schools don't and amazingly even traditional marriage counselors don't..  I have a great article that I would love to share with your readers on how to good conflict resolution skills in your marriage, the lack of which is the leading cause of divorce

marriagelife
marriagelife moderator

 @wifethenmama Yes! Reminds me of a quote, "Lord let my commitment to you be so great that my commitment to my spouse does not waver."

marriagecoach1
marriagecoach1

 @kendrastamy Hey Kendra, sadly too many women grew up with the fantasy of "happily ever after" without ever giving a thought as to what "happily ever after" looks like for the man or how she should be catering to his fantasy as well or that romance should be a "two way street".  For the record, most men see happily ever after is a wife who is adventurous and gives him sex willingly and lovinglyand when he needs it or wants it.  Sadly according to Kinsey stats a WHOPPING 72% of ALL MARRIED WOMEN OVER THIRTY have their husbands on a starvation diet of sex once a week or less.  Most men need sexual relief 3-4 times a week.

John Wilder

marriagelife
marriagelife moderator

 @kendrastamy I know! Agreed! There are so much better, lasting, important things to be putting our time and efforts into than the wedding day itself.

wifethenmama
wifethenmama

 @EliseDalyParker We didn't have pre-marital counseling because we kind of got married in a hurry.  We got engaged in July and in August we got married.  We had to if we were going to move in with my MIL, and since we planned on it anyway we just had a private ceremony.  I agree that pre-marital counseling can be a great help, but not sure it should be a requirement in all circumstances.

marriagelife
marriagelife moderator

 @EliseDalyParker Not dramatic at all. We completely agree. That is fantastic that your church makes it a requirement. More churches and pastors need to do that. Anyone who has a license to marry.

marriagelife
marriagelife moderator

 @marriagecoach1 Absolutely. Conflict resolution skills do not come naturally and feel awkward and forced at first when you're not used to them but they make a huge difference in the outcome of your disagreements when you know how to use them.

marriagelife
marriagelife moderator

@marriagecoach1 @kendrastamy not sure that had anything to do with Kendra's comment or the post in general but interesting comments none the less. I would take issue with a couple things however. I don't believe anyone should be "catering" to someone else's fantasy of what they thought marriage would be like. I think the ultimate goal is to communicate and express our expectations going in and learn how to find compromises. Also, I think the stat that you gave is taken out of context. While the average married couple is having sex around 1 to 2 times a week It is not necessarily because the woman he has a man on a starvation diet. There are multiple reasons for the carying degrees of sex married couples have, Many of which are completely legitimate and agreed upon between the couple.

marriagelife
marriagelife moderator

 @wifethenmama  @EliseDalyParker I only say that because we've noticed a trend. Couples who don't have pre-marital counseling tend to have bigger issues down the road. That's not true for everyone, of course, but as you said, pre-marital counseling is a great help in alleviating some of those disagreements and missed expectations that do come up. I'll agree with you in the sense that not all pre-marital counseling is helpful. The pastor who just throws out a required personality test, shares the results and then moves on to discussing the wedding ceremony hasn't done much to help the couple out. Clint and I truly do believe that too many pastors aren't trained in this area well enough and aren't equipping the couples they are marrying to handle everything they're going to come up against in marriage.

marriagecoach1
marriagecoach1

Well we have a difference of opinion on this.  Your topic was mistakes couple make before getting married.  That is a pretty broad topic and thus I felt that my remarks were right on.  People don't talk enough about things before they get married and values as well as sexual appetites  which certainly comes under that in my view but is your blog and I will try to cooperate.  I don't know because I did not check the link but my stats are less than a year old or at least I checked them less than a year ago.  It certainly fits the OVERWHELMING NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS THAT I GET FROM MEN.  I am working with two clients right now whose wives have very negative attitutudes about sex and are starving their husbands, so my reality is different than yours.  This does not negate my reality.  As a Christian I could cite all the sex positive messages from the Bible about sex among which are that neither the husbnad nor the wife has the right to say no to their partner's request for sex.  But again my apologies, I meant no offense and I am not trying to hijack your blog.  Do you not tolerate views different from your own on your blog?

marriagelife
marriagelife moderator

 @marriagecoach1 I get that. Just feel as though you're going about it the wrong way. Believe me, we understand the importance of talking about the tough subjects. I just need the comments on my posts to remain on topic please. 

marriagelife
marriagelife moderator

 @marriagecoach1 I understand that and can appreciate the information on its own merits and some of what you bring up is important for discussion. However, your information had nothing to do with her original comment or the post itself. Not to mention that it was taken out of context. I am feeling as though you are hijacking my post/site to share your own personal information and agenda. This post is about the mistakes that people make when getting ready to get married. Let's keep the comments centered around that from here forward please.

 

Just as an FYI, The latest Kinsey report shows that 77% of married women in their 30's and 40's report having sex at least once a week or MORE. Over 21% have sex 2-3 times a week or more. We're getting and giving at, as far as I can tell, a wonderful rate. So, again, I really think that the statistic you were sharing was not completely accurate and was shared more for shock value than anything else. 

 

http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/resources/FAQ.html

marriagecoach1
marriagecoach1

Okayl, well my apolgies, I am trying to help as well and just take a differnt turn because there is so littlle being done in this field and no one wants to talk about it.  In Europe it is a completely different culture from our very puritannical one.  Sex remains one of the big 3 that couples fight about and when they don't have any outside help it is highly corrosive to the marriage.

 

John

marriagecoach1
marriagecoach1

I am referring to the stats published by the Kinsey Institute which is all things sexual.  I am referring to couples in their thirties.  I do know that as couples age sex does slow down but I am talking about the prime demographic of  couples gettting divorced and leaving kids in a single parent family, the consequences for which are staggering.  If you doubt this read Judith Walersteins landmark study on the negative effects of kids living in a single parent family.  Most of our societal problems are directly attributable to this.  Most of the school shooters were from a single parent family.  The prisons are filled mostly with blacks, not because our courts and cops are racist but these guys grew up in a single parent family and had not father to sit on them.  I did a Bible study in a jail a few years ago and out of the 30 guys in attendance, ALL BUT ONE OF THEM WERE FROM SINGLE PARENT HOMES.  Sex is one of the big 3 that couples fight about and it is mostly men complaining about not enough sex. 

So my commentw were nto meant to be personal, just some information that I am trying to pass along to keep people from divorcing and creating more kids living in a single parent family

 

 

marriagelife
marriagelife moderator

 @marriagecoach1 I don't mean to speak for Kendra, but I think this is what she was talking about. A simple, "my apologies" would have sufficed. But you went on to give specific advice for specific ailments, none of which she even mentioned. Her original comment, and the post itself, had NOTHING to do with sex. And yet, this comment thread has turned into a less than positive discussion on sex starvation. 

 

My blog is up primarily to aid in the conversation on ways to make marriages healthier and to keep them from the tragedy of adultery, which we sadly experienced. Not to discuss all the ways why men might have low libido or why women are keeping their husbands on starvations diets for sex. I appreciate the blogs that positively address the issue of sex in their writing but I don't primarily do that and most probably never will. My blog has a completely different purpose. 

marriagelife
marriagelife moderator

 @kendrastamy  @marriagecoach1 you didn't Kendra and I'm sorry its gone on this long. It's definitely off topic. However, I felt it was important to address the inaccurate things that were said in the other comment. I don't think it was directed at you personally and I'm sorry if it came across that way. You just happened to get notifications every time something was said because it was happening under your original comment. 

 

You are absolutely right. Every couple is different. I have appreciated your insight and your comments and hope you'll continue coming to MLM and making your voice heard.

marriagecoach1
marriagecoach1

Hey Kendra

You are clearly an exception to the rule, that does not negate the overwheling majority of women who do turn down their husbands sexual overtures just becsause they can.

 

I can tell you that men are at their most emotionally vulnerable when they approach their wives for sex and rejection really hurts.

 

Now as to your husband's low libido, often it is due to  a drop in testosterone production which is not uncommon in men.  Luckily this can be remedied with testosterone supplements or gels or injections.  BTW ED is an early precursor for heart disease and heart attack.  It is best not to ignore these symptoms because to do so risks an early hearrt attack often fatal.  BTW according to numerous clinical lab studies and cardiologists sex at least twice a week lowers the risk for heart attack by 50%

 

Since you have a blog up to inform people, I don't know why you would not want them to know these things.

 

John  Wilder

kendrastamy
kendrastamy

 @marriagelife  @marriagecoach1

Alright. I'm not really sure what I said that brought sex into the equation, but let's drop it ok?

 

Every couple is completely different.  In our case, we are the lower statistic where he has a lower libido. Regardless, every couple is different and has different things to deal with in their marriage or sex life. And until some-one asks for advice, you would do well not to offer it. Especially in this area.

It is very annoying to be told to give my man more sex when he doesn't even want it.

 

marriagelife
marriagelife moderator

 @marriagecoach1  @kendrastamy From what I've read, it seems that most of those studies and surveys follow the same pattern. Younger couples have sex 'on average' 3-4 times a week, middle aged 1-2 times a week, and older to elderly couples once a week or less. To me, while there are varying degrees of libidos and other things that come into play, a lot of it has to do with age and the stages of life. That's not to say that couples who are in their 30's and 40's who have children and are busy shouldn't be making sex a priority but some of it comes down to the stage of life that you are in. My intentions in my comment above were to call out on the specificity of your stat. 72% of WOMEN have their MEN on a starvation diet? No. You may have come across a study that showed that 72% of marriages have sex on average once a week. That is, honestly, a little low compared to the majority of studies out there. And you aren't taking age and stage of life into account. But it is certainly not about WOMEN keeping sex from their MEN. That was a very upsetting and dare I say sexist comment to make. Again, as I said, the varying reasons for the varying stats on how often couples have sex are most often "legitimate and agreed upon between the couple." They aren't about one person starving the other. And in the rare cases where someone does feel starved then that's an issue of expectation that needs to be addressed. When the couple chooses to communicate and put it all out on the table then compromises can be reached. We have to consider our spouse's and their needs too. If we like sex more often than our spouse or vice versa its important to come to a place of understanding and find a way to meet in the middle. 

marriagecoach1
marriagecoach1

 @marriagelife  @marriagecoach1  @kendrastamy Of course there are exceptions to every rule but 72% is clearly an overwhelming majority and I get tons of complaints from men who are sexually starved.  I also get some complaints from women who have high libidos who are sexually starved and are just as angry and hurt as the men.

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