This is the second in a two-part series exploring a few basic “dos and don’ts” of marriage. In my previous article, I started with some of the essential “dos” of preparing for marriage— these ideas ranged from identifying your core values to straightening out your finances. In this article, I will continue this list of practical advice to couples, turning my attention to the fundamental don’ts of marriage. Marriage is always a challenging relationship, but preparing yourself can make all the difference for your life together.
Don’t Assume Issues Will Disappear After the Wedding
You may be an exceptional match for your partner, but neither of you is perfect. If problems and resistance to compromise present themselves before marriage, these same issues will only escalate after marriage.
Don’t Wait To Talk About the Important Issues
It is never a good idea to wait until you are about to walk down the church isle to find out your partner does not want children, doesn’t like your family, or has a totally different belief system. Talk about these things long before the big day.
Don’t Try to Change Your Partner
Many people will try to change their partner into an imaginary “perfect spouse.” This just doesn’t work. People change because they want to, not because there is a ‘chokehold’ on them. This kind of change is fleeting at best and dangerous on so many levels.
Don’t Ignore Your Intuition
Figure out why your stomach turns every time you think of living with this person for the rest of your life. Yes, your biological clock may be ticking, but you will also experience migraines, depression, anxiety and ulcers if you marry for the sake of marrying.
Don’t Marry Someone Whose Behavior is Unacceptable
If you find yourself excusing poor or abusive behavior before the marriage, consider this a huge red flag. The cruel and controlling behavior will only increase after marriage.
Don’t Start Off With Co-Dependency
When one partner feels that he or she has to “rescue” the other from situations in life, this is called co-dependency. Such attitudes result in pain and disappointment because partners should always be a team first and foremost.
Don’t Settle For “Mr. Right Now”
Marrying someone just because you feel he or she is the best option at the current time is never a good idea. Hold out for the right person. I really don’t need say anything else about this one.
Don’t Expect Your Partner To Stay The Same
Stuff happens and things change. Weight will fluctuate up or down. Hair will eventually fall out or not. The career goals one may have now may change over time. In a lifetime, you must be prepared to experience the joy and the pain of transition.
Don’t Pursue Pre-Marital Counseling as an Obligated Task
Pre-marital counseling is not a “check off the box” activity. Seek out a counselor that will challenge your thought processes about marriage and commitment. Often couples find out more information about each other in the counseling process that would not have materialized without therapy.
Don’t Believe the Myth that Someone Else ‘Completes’ You
When God made you, He made you complete, whole and one of a kind. That doesn’t mean you are perfect. Growth is a daily process, one moral and emotional encounter at a time. The bigger question is how does your partner encourage, challenge and support the various areas in your life that need maturing?
One of the hardest challenges of a counselor is to watch a couple who denies the “elephant in the room”. That elephant usually looks like manipulation perpetrating as love and domineering and control behavior masked as doing the best for the relationship. Take, for example, Valerie and Greg. They spent 6 months planning the wedding, and then their Pastor required premarital counseling before he will conduct the wedding. Six weeks before the marriage they entered counseling as a “check off the box” process. During the third session two crucial things were discovered. First, Greg owned over $150,000 in school debt that was never discussed. And second, Valerie was on her second marriage and had no intention of having another baby. In the six years of dating these topics of finances and children were not discussed. The silence in the room could have been cut with a knife. My heart truly went out to them. In this particular case, the couple postponed the wedding, spent three months in counseling and later followed their ultimate dream, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, till death do they part. The wedding was beautiful.
Stop: Take Time in Pre-Marital Counseling
Stop trying to convince someone that you are worth marrying. This is the biggest red flag of all. God designed you before the foundation of the earth. You are a unique, one of a kind individual who desires to be treated with love and respect. Take some time to define your own self-worth before asking someone else to boost it for you.
Stop and get counseling before you say “I Do” and take the time to ask
premarital counseling questions
Your biological clock may be ticking. Your parents may be harassing you to have grandchildren. But in reality, you must enter marriage with your eyes wide open. God designed marriage to be a divine union and partnership that encourage us to yoke up with those who love the Lord as much as we love him.
Ribbon image courtesy of Shirley Lytle, “Love” by Dynamite Imagery on freedigitalphotos.net