I’ve had a few people ask if I plan to write a book about married life. My answer is always the same: “At this point I don’t think I’m qualified.”
Let me clarify: Mare Cris and I have been married for four months as of today. I believe we have gotten off to a great start, and we do offer advice to both singles and married people who seek our help.
But we are still newlyweds, and How to Stay Married for Four Months probably wouldn’t be a very impressive book title.
Having said all this, I would like to offer some advice to engaged couples:
Talk About the “Big Three”: Money, Sex, and Family
These three issues probably cause more conflict (and separation/divorce) than anything else, so be sure you discuss them ahead of time. Please don’t assume they’ll just work themselves out without a plan.
Remember that marriage is two people becoming one. You’ll need to erase the terms “my money” or “your money” from your vocabulary: it’s our money once you are married. Who makes it (or makes more of it) is completely irrelevant.
You and your future spouse will need to discuss how you will spend your money. Once you are married (not before) you should to combine your assets and work as a team. Each month you’ll need to decide what you’ll spend, save, and give. The husband and wife should each have a “vote” in the plan. Once you agree to the budget you stick to it—any emergency changes in spending have to be discussed and agreed upon.
I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey, and his The Total Money Makeover book was very helpful for us in handling money.
You need to be 100% honest in discussing any “baggage” you may be bringing into the marriage. You don’t have to go into graphic details about your past, but you should disclose enough to give your fiancé a general understanding of what you’ve been through (past experiences, sexual abuse, etc.).
I’d highly recommend you read Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage together as way of preparing yourselves for sexual intimacy.
Marriage is also a merging of two families, so it’s important to talk about in-laws.
Start with this principle: your spouse will be your #1 family priority. Men, that means your wife (not momma) will be the most important woman in your life.
Here’s what the Bible says:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
It’s important (and biblical) to honor your parents and family members. But you also need to keep healthy boundaries and put your spouse’s welfare before anyone else’s.
So those are the “Big Three.” Be sure you talk about these issues extensively before you get married. Mare Cris and I did, and I believe it’s one of the reasons we’ve had a smooth transition from single life to married life.
Now on to other advice:
Get Advice from Happily Married, Christian Couples
Seek godly wisdom from those who have been there. This can include family members, church leaders, friends, or anyone else who qualifies.
Just be sure you are getting your advice from happily married couples that follow biblical principles. Others might just offer their advice, but be careful—they may speak from worldly wisdom or their own marital frustration (neither of which are helpful).
At this point I’ll bring up premarital counseling. Mare Cris and I never did this, but I believe most people should. Try to meet a few times with your pastor if at all possible.
This is closely related to the previous point: learn from pastors and Christian authors who have been there.
Most of us spent countless hours studying for exams or earning degrees—shouldn’t you invest some of your time studying how to be a good spouse?
We have read several books over the past few months. Here are a few we recommend in order of priority:
1. Love and Respect
2. The Five Love Languages
3. His Needs, Her Needs
4. When Sinners Say “I Do”
5. Sheet Music
Note: You can go to my Amazon.com store if you’d like to order these books online (for those in the States).
I hope this post has helped those of you who are engaged or in a serious relationship.
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