Before You Say “I Do”

Dear Lovestruck Ladies,

Alright, let’s hit the ground running. You know that list of ‘100 Things You Need In a Mate’? Girl, throw that thang out the window. You’ll never find anyone who possess all those qualities and you know good and well you don’t possess alllllllll that stuff yourself. Ok, now that we got that out the way, let’s take a look at what really matters in matrimony. Love, trust, respect… I know you got all that covered. I’m talking about the stuff that is- more often than not- overlooked. Marriage is designed to be a wonderful life-long commitment (not a death sentence!) and it should never be entered into lightly. Walk down the aisle with your eyes wide open, not blinded by love. Focus on addressing these questions and you’ll be off to a great start!

6 QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR BOO… BEFORE YOU SAY “I DO”

1. WHO’s your Daddy?  Every now and then, we all need a spiritual paternity test to determine if our spiritual DNA supports who we claim our Heavenly Father to be. This is more than just saying you’re a Christian. It’s about whether or not your relationship with God is a genuine priority in your life. Anyone can say they put God first, but not everyone is living it. Where someone puts their faith and trust is a good indication of whether or not you two will be equally yoked. Who are each of you spiritually committed and accountable to? (See my last post for more insight).  It’s easier to submit to a man who is fully submitted to God. You won’t mind following his lead when you know he is following the Lord. For best results, make sure you’re both submitted to Him now, and not just hoping things will change once you say “I do.” Does Daddy agree with your concept of “marriage material?”

2. WHAT’s your problem? Everybody has something wrong with them. Everybody. Anger issues, addictions (drugs/alcohol, food, shopping, sex and love, gambling, etc.), insecurities, poor financial management, pride, fear, unresolved trauma, low self-esteem, mental/medical disorders, criminal behavior… what vice do you struggle to gain victory over? Being saved, sanctified, fire baptized, and Holy Ghost filled doesn’t mean you’re perfect or incapable of grappling to do what’s right. What’s the worst, most frustrating/annoying thing about your future spouse? Now multiply that by 100. ‘Cause once you’ve been married for a little while, all those problems and pet peeves will intensify. It’s been said that “marriage puts a magnifying glass on one’s character flaws [not just his but yours, too].” True that! Those cute little quirks will likely turn ugly and unbearable. What is that one thing you wish you could change? (PSA: You can’t change anyone but yourself). Will you remain committed even if it never changes? FYI: Never is a long time. Can you handle it?

3. WHERE are you from? If you want to know where your relationship is headed, take a look at where you and your fiance are from. Childhood experiences within our family of origin will absolutely affect how we communicate and relate to our significant other. Family values, financial stability, and emotional competence (just to name a few) are usually rooted in what we learned as children.  And don’t neglect to discuss the patterns in each of your past romantic relationships. While accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior means that you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), it doesn’t necessary turn off the power switch to your past. It’ll be much easier for the two of you to become one if you each fully accept where the other is coming from.

4. WHEN’s the wedding? Seriously, what’s the date? Are you two rushing down the aisle? If so, why? Or will you get married at some open-ended point in the future, with no timeframe in sight? Girlfriend, if he really wants to marry you, he will set a date! Don’t allow a little bling bling to satisfy you into settling for a 10 year engagement. The longer you wait, the  lower your standards will likely become. Look, if he pops the question and you say “Yes!”, setting a date should just be a matter of planning… not procrastinating. Dahling, don’t fall for the okie doke!

5. WHY do you want to get married? Love is a many splendored thing. It’s also not the only reason to get married. Hey, if I married everyone I loved, I would have either been divorced or locked up several times by now! Love has great intentions but it doesn’t create a hassle-free life, pay the bills, or make problems, baby mamas, baby daddies, or STD’s disappear. It doesn’t cure depression, reverse loneliness, or improve sel-esteem. And being “in love” is a great excuse but not a good reason. Look, you may not always get goose bumps and butterflies when you think of your spouse. Emotions are fleeting, often irrational, and just not enough to base a lifelong commitment on. If you find yourself saying, “Our relationship is perfect. We have love and that’s enough for us” then you have lots of work to do!

6. HOW do we resolve our conflicts? First of all, do you have any conflicts? Here’s a hint: you do. You may not have recognized them yet. The absence of love isn’t why more than 50% of marriages end in divorce (Christian marriages included); it’s the presence of unresolved conflict. Your marriage will be as strong as your ability to communicate your cares and concerns, and reconcile your differences. How one handles havoc and times of turmoil will either give your relationship a glowing green for GO or a raging red for RUUUUUUUN! Don’t miss the crucial signs. Do you solve your problems biblically? Do either of you avoid conflict just to keep the peace or do you confront it head on?  If you and your boo have never been faced with a disheartening dilemma that you’ve successfully overcome, then you may not be equipped to create wedded bliss. Pre-marital counseling should help with that (assuming you both are honest and up-front ;-)). Just don’t start picking fights to test your resolve, mmmkay?

I’m not trying to scare you; just trying to empower you to take a good, hard look at the state of your relationship before you say “I do.” Think you know it all and I can’t possibly be talking to you? Then I’m talking to you. 😀

Of course, there are a million more areas to be addressed before walking down the aisle. Just don’t miss the forest for the trees.  Marriage isn’t about frequently getting your freak on (but that sure doesn’t hurt!), gaining a sugar daddy, putting someone on lock down, or any other such immaturity. Contrary to pop culture, holy matrimony is a covenant between you, your husband, and God. It’s not a breachable contract between two parties looking to have a good time until the good times roll out. Oh no, girlfriend! Marriage is beautifully blessed union between best friends- through thick and thin. With dedication and commitment to your marriage, your mate and your Mighty God, the two of you will walk as one, move mountains, and make a huge impact in the Kingdom.

In the meantime, become the woman of your dreams and you’re bound to attract the man of your dreams (if you haven’t already). Just make sure you focus more on doing what’s necessary to create and maintain the “happily ever after” than you do on having the fairytale wedding. 🙂

Practically Yours,

~The Practical Chick

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Let’s Stay Together: Missing Socks and Matrimony

The divorce rate among my socks is astonishing.”    ~Tommy Tenney

Truer words have never been spoken.

I had to laugh when I read that quote on Twitter this morning. Without fail, every time I wash my husband’s socks there is at least 1 pair that doesn’t make it out the dryer with its mate. Every. Single. Time. Why do my husband’s socks trek to Splitsville on a regular basis? There must be some sort of conspiracy going on. Maybe there’s a secret vacuum that sucks the mate out through the lint trap. Maybe aliens invade the dryer in the quiet of night and take his matching socks back to the Twilight Zone. Perhaps there’s a rumble in the tumble that causes the rift in their relationship. Or, worse yet, maybe the pair never even makes it out of the washer together. Truly, this divorce rate is unsettling. It’s the 8th Wonder of the World.

And so it is with some married folks. There’s a cloud of mystery hanging over their heads: “What happened to our marriage? Exactly where did it fall apart?” Instead of searching for solutions, they run from their problems. Some individuals run to divorce court faster than you can spell ‘divorce’!  They cite “irreconcilable differences” as the demise of their union. Now, I’m not talking about abusive relationships or marriages plagued by infidelity- those relationships can be reconciled but are often quite understandably irreconcilable. I’m talking about the marriages wherein one or both parties have given up their hope for a happily ever after. They say things like “we’ve just grown apart” or “he’s/she’s changed.” There’s no joy, no excitement, no intimacy, and nobody’s trying. Just a pair of stubborn socks attempting to live on their own, maybe even looking forward to the opportunity to mate with someone else- legally. Their only hope lies in what could potentially exist outside of the bleak meaninglessness of their seemingly unholy matrimony. If only they could change their mate things would be so much better. Or so they think.

Trouble is, none of us can change our mate. If so, just imagine alllllll the things your spouse would change about you! I’m sure my husband has a laundry list of things he would change about me if he could. God bless him! 😀

MISMATCHED MADNESS

In the U.S., roughly 50% of marriages are projected to end in divorce if current trends continue. The culprit is often cited as irreconcilable differences with regards to money and/or sex. Each year, immeasurable time, a boatload of energy, and billions of dollars are invested in wedding ceremonies and receptions. Not nearly enough time, energy, and resources are invested in marriage. At the first sign of trouble, too many folks are ready to head off to Splitsville. Many are unwilling to accept that although God created each of us as unique individuals, He supplies us with the love and grace to become one flesh with our mate.

Opposition occurs when we try to make our spouse into something they’re not. Just like a pair of toe socks, one is right and the other is left- but they’re still a pair. They complement one another. They each have a unique ability to adequately cover nakedness where the other person is lacking. Think about it: the right sock fits perfectly on the right foot and the left sock is a perfect fit for the left foot. Trying to make either sock fit onto the wrong foot will make for a rather uncomfortable walking experience.

Oh, and don’t bother trying to match up with someone else if you’re still married. Once you said “I do” to your mate, God sealed that deal. The two of you became a pair, part of the same fabric- committed to leave all others and cleave to one another. You can try to leave your mate to play footsie with someone else if you want to, but be advised: the divorce rate for 2nd and 3rd marriages is higher than 50%! If you’re not committed to your vows the first time, what makes you think it’s going to be any different the second (or third) time around? We must learn to work as a team and embrace our differences if we want our marriages to walk peacefully (on one accord, in spite of any opposition) into eternity. No matter how worn and torn, God designed marriage to last and He equipped us to live abundantly as one. Divorce rates will go down and successful marriages will soar when we place the institution of marriage above our individual wants. Teamwork makes the dream work, baybaaaay!

MENDING THE MESS

So, maybe you two have “fallen out of love” with one another. Maybe you’re just staying together for the sake of the baby booties (aka, the kids). Maybe you even have your heart set on someone else whom you feel is a much better match for you. Or maybe, just maybe, you haven’t managed to make it out of the spin cycle of life. Marriage has its ups and downs and it requires hard work and dedication. It goes through various cycles- each of which will benefit both partners if they dedicate the time, energy, and resources necessary to make it work. Are you giving it 100%? If not, you can’t blame anyone else for your results and your lack of commitment to your matrimony. Just sayin’. Identify how you’ve contributed to the chaos, fess up, and earnestly seek forgiveness from your mate.

There are no secret vacuums sucking the life out of your marriage, and there surely aren’t any aliens causing division between you and your spouse. But there is a conspiracy going on: the devil will do anything in his power to destroy your union. He hates Godly marriage as much as God hates divorce. Godly marriage produces Godly children and it brings glory to God. Don’t allow the enemy to wreck your wedlock; sock it to him instead! Fight for your marriage. Pray with your mate and for your mate. Pray until something changes in you. Pray that God’s love, grace, and mercy fills the holes in your socks. Tell God what’s torn and allow Him to mend it. Whatever you do, don’t stop being the best mate you can be and don’t stop praying (communicating with God). Prayer is your fabric softener when times get rough. Prayer is your static guard when there’s too much friction. When your heart is open and receptive to God’s voice, sincere prayer can iron out the deepest wrinkles and keep the power running on the dryer when your marriage feels like its been soaked in sorrow. And prayer reinforces the cord that holds your marriage together when it seems like you’ve drifted apart.

A POWER PACKED PAIR

For the glory of God, let’s stay together and make a positive impact in the Kingdom! Fight for your marriage harder than you’re fighting against it. Search for solutions like you’d search all over to find that missing sock. If you don’t change your ways, you may end up all alone with a bunch of mismatched socks in your drawers (pun intended ;-)). Make your mate and your marriage a priority. Invest in its growth and do those little things you used to do when you were both “in love”. Plant the seed for reconciliation. Get counseling if necessary. No one ever said it was easy, but it is so worth it… and so very attainable. Why settle for a miserable matrimony when you can have a life of wedded bliss? Allow the Lord to have His way in your marriage and the two of you will march your happy feet down the aisle of success… towards the tearing down of many strongholds.

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)