Continuing the series on what you learn in premarital education, this month’s column focuses on faith and values.
We’re not just talking about religion, although that is an important factor. Faith and values includes morals, ethics, spirituality, what’s important to you, and how you incorporate all those factors in your life and relationship.
Because most premarital counseling is conducted by ministers or lay church leaders, church doctrine on marriage will be a focal point of the education.
With so many engagements occurring between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, the wedding planning season is in full force.
If you’ve been reading this column for any length of time, you probably know my view that couples should spend as much time planning for their marriage as for their wedding.
According to wedding-industry statistics, it takes 250 hours to plan a wedding. At best, couples who receive premarital counseling spend a couple of hours a week for six weeks planning for their marriage.
In last month’s column we discussed the factors that influence a successful marriage. While some of them are not in our control, many are.
And one factor in our control can compensate for all the other negative factors combined. That’s premarital counseling.
Good premarital counseling/education is a sort of insurance policy against divorce and can reduce the risk of divorce by up to thirty percent.
It’s probably safe to say that there will be more wedding engagements between now and February 14 than at any other time in the year.
Once the decision is made and the date is set, a lot of planning will kick into gear – the church, rehearsal dinner, reception, gowns, tuxedos, cake, bridesmaids and groomsmen, flowers, and dozens of other details. It will be a whirlwind.
But in the quiet before the storm, let me remind soon-to-be engaged couples of the value of planning not only for the wedding but for the marriage.
Every marriage has ebbs and flows, highs and lows, “for better or worse.” It’s how we handle both the good times and the bad which influence a marriage’s success.
In her book, The 7 Stages of Marriage, Rita DeMaria, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist, discusses the seven stages (Passion, Realization, Rebellion, Cooperation, Reunion, Completion and Explosion) and how each stage influences the risk of divorce and the long-term success of the marriage.
In her recent blog about the book, Dr. DeMaria summarizes each stage:
Every once in a while I’ll read a letter to an advice columnist that says something like “My husband/wife is a wonderful partner in every way, except he/she constantly puts me down even though I have asked him/her to stop.”
In the movie, A Christmas Story, every dinner scene the family was eating meatloaf and mashed potatoes and Mom was cooking red cabbage for the next night’s meal.
Of course Ralphie, Randy and the Old Man did not eat meatloaf and mashed potatoes one night and red cabbage the next. But that’s the memory of the adult Ralphie who tells the story.
Our children would probably say that we had Manwich, corn and french fries every night during the winter and in the summer, every meal was served with fresh, sliced tomatoes and corn on the cob.
In a first marriage when both the man and woman come to the marriage without children there is often time to take care of each other. The couple finds time to date, see friends and spend time alone together. But once the first child enters the relationship this dynamic often changes.
Anyone who’s been married any length of time can tell you that there is a cycle to every marriage.
First, there’s the spark of attraction.
Then there’s the “love can conquer all” (or “happily ever after”) phase where you believe that whatever issues you’re faced with can be solved simply because you love each other (professionals call this stage “limerance”).
A few days ago, I saw an article in the paper reporting on a research study that concluded that men and women perceive colors differently. Women are better at identifying more shades in color spectrums than men.
My first thought was, “This is news?”
My second was, “Somebody got paid to do this? Just about every couple who has shopped for paint could tell you that for free!”
The differences between men and women have been the basis of hundreds of movies, books, poems, songs and comedy routines.