I know of there are a few women who are engaged and even courting, so I wanted to share as an “older” woman (snort), something that has helped our marriage immeasurably. Maybe it will help you who are married but have had a bumpy ride. Regardless, my desire is to serve marriages.
I am so thankful for my marriage. And I am so thankful for how our marriage began. I credit it to God’s grace and mercy toward us, and for grace in the form of wisdom He dispensed to my husband regarding relationships. I think he’s a very wise man.
We know many, many couples who had a very difficult first year of marriage. I think there are a few reasons:
1. Let’s face it: when we’re courting and engaged there is some degree of infatuation going on (some relationships have more than others).
2. Because of this infatuation, it’s easy to gloss over real life issues that would behoove us to discuss.
3. Because we don’t discuss important issues, when we get married we discover things (surprises), experience hurt from uncommunicated expectations, etc…
I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun. Engagement is blissful, for the most part. Quite the contrary—I want your marriage to be more fun, exciting, wonderful that it would be should these issues be swept under the rug.
When we were engaged and to be married, Blane told me that he wanted us each to write out every single expectation of each other, our marriage, etc…Every. Single. One.
So, I started on my list. Honestly, I had a hard time coming up with too many. So when we got together to share our lists, I was astounded by how many he had (I can’t remember, but my list was a fraction the size of his). I think he had me read mine first. Then, he read his.
My jaw dropped at some of them. “That you never smoke.” That was one of Blane’s. What? I would never smoke! Why in the world would he put that? And I communicated as such. He put it because it was an expectation. One that he would otherwise never state, because it’s one of those that is usually just assumed.
Aha! It’s just assumed. How often does it happen that I have an expectation that I assume Blane knows. I don’t know about your man, but mine doesn’t read my mind. And he made it pretty clear to me a long time ago that I’m his helper and that part of helping him is communicating with him. (I’ve also been blessed by one awesome communicating husband).
I actually revised my list to include many of the expectations that he wrote on his, because as he read them, I realized that they too were expectations of mine. This was a great time for us to learn more about what was important to each other. It was also a time of remembering and realizing the seriousness of a marriage covenant.
I was unaware at the time of how much this helped build a very strong foundation for our marriage, but we have looked back many times with thankfulness. We seek to go over our list of expectations (which have changed with each season of life) to see how we’re doing. That has been great for us, too.
Talk About Your Expectations!
I’m not suggesting you take the reigns in the relationship. I want to encourage you to gently suggest that you’ve read that it’s HIGHLY recommended to take some time thinking about ALL of your expectations about each other and marriage and ask what he thinks. Then, let him do with it what he will. If he never does anything with it, you can still write down your own expectations and hold onto them. You could also communicate to him that it would help you better serve him if you know what his expectations of you and your marriage are.
I promise that if you deal with these things before marriage, life after marriage will run much, much more smoothly. You do not have to fear unexpected surprises after marriage if you talk about things beforehand. We (Blane and I) believe that nothing should be left untouched during engagement except the discussion of sex, which we’d recommend having about a week or two before your wedding (more on that later).
In other words, you should know if your fiancé has an issue with pornography. Marriage is not the time to learn this. In fact, we have counseled others that if there is a pornography issue, it should be dealt with before marriage. This is deserving of another post, so I’ll leave it at that. Just think about how much better and freer your future marriage could be if you knew you could trust your husband.
Go ahead and chuckle. That’s what our “talk” was called in which we discussed our expectations about sex. Essentially, we formulated a plan for our wedding night and discussed any fears or expectations. I would highly encourage this, but again, I’m not suggesting that you lead this conversation. You can gently mention it, and chances are high that because he loves you and wants to make you happy, he’ll willingly oblige.
A book that really helped us is called “Intended for Pleasure” by Ed Wheat. Blane read it first, close to our wedding and then marked certain chapters he thought would be beneficial for me to read. I read it within a month of our marriage, so that we could discuss our “sexpectations” having both read the book. I didn’t read the entire thing, I trusted his judgment and leadership by pointing out only specific chapters.
We Aren’t Perfect
Please don’t hear me say that we have a perfect marriage. We certainly don’t! We have our arguments and sin against one another. What we do have is a peaceful, pleasant relationship. And we’ve had that since day one, thanks to the mercy and grace of God. Our first year of marriage was a blessing for both of us.
Your marriage can be wonderful and beautiful…if you put a lot of effort into it before you get there.