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How did you meet?

Common interests and common hangouts draw people together. The places where you met or frequented while dating could be choices for a lifetime. Are you comfortable with where this could take you?

How long have you know one another?

Hopefully you have been dating or engaged longer than one year. It is not essential, but it is a good start. Getting to know each other should allow for many settings, which should include time with each of the families.

What do each of you value?

You both grew up in different homes. You will likely have different thoughts on what is most important. Soon you will consider the purchase of furniture for your home. Inevitably, this is an area of great delight, different tastes, and sometimes strong opinions. In addition to the style of furniture, it becomes necessary to discuss how much you will spend on what type of items. Be ready for this to take time. It is normal! Be patient with one another and listen. It may be helpful to learn the art of compromise. This is just one example of how your values will impact your marriage.

Have you been sexually active prior to your getting married?

It is more than just a good idea to abstain from sexual activities until married. God says so! God wants the best for us in marriage. After all, God created us for each other. God directs us to refrain from sexual relationships outside of marriage before and after we marry.

Why question God’s authority? Why push the envelope again and again only to find out that God’s way was the best way. Of course, God is right. He is God!

Dr. Wayne Oates with the Baptist Theological School presented at the Kentucky Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in 1987. He was in his eighties at the time. Dr. Oates had written over 50 books at the time. He stood before the group of almost 500 therapists sharing about things that people had difficulty figuring out. Dr. Oates said, “Why have people not discovered that when they go to bed before marriage that they put to sleep the senses necessary to make good decisions about the future of their relationships?”

Have both of you spent plenty of time with both of your families?

It is a good idea to be well acquainted with your future in-laws. Also, it is a good notion to pay attention to how your family relates to the special someone. Certainly, it is a plus if you get along. It is even more important to learn how to get along when conflicts exist. It is a worthwhile process to learn how to get along.

Have you had time to have conflicts and resolve them?

Blending two separate identities into one is a process. It is inevitable that you will experience conflict. This does not indicate that you have major problems. However, it does indicate that you think and feel differently at different times. This is normal. The work now begins as you explore your differences in values. It is essential to learn how to solve conflicts. By the way this is a never ending fine tuning process.

Do you have a common faith?

This is an important issue, but commonly overlooked. First, having a similar faith can be defined as believing in Jesus Christ as the son of God, who was born of a virgin, died when he was 33 years old, lay in the grave for three days before his resurrection, and now lives seated at the right hand of God. Most who call themselves Christians have this belief in common.

Secondly, and this is where the difficulty seems to arise, there may be conflict on the how and where this belief system is to be practiced. This can become a major source of contention.

I suggest that you pray and continue to study to develop a common faith practice. This is what the people did following the baptisms on the day of Pentecost. This is not an area that tends to get better by ignoring or avoiding it.

What are your odds of marital success if you are both teens and if your parents have had multiple divorces?

Many young couples do not think to ask about matters such as this. Time is on your side. Teen marriages have a high rate of marital conflicts as well as divorce. You have matured to this point, which brings on deeper reasoning; however these same social and emotional abilities will take a major growth spurt over the next four years. In this time frame you will likely develop new ways of understanding and communicating. Your values are likely to experience equal growth.

You will have displayed a rare form of wisdom and maturity if you choose to wait. It is equaled by my hope for you to be able to be patient, while you experience this future growth. Reassess your growth in one year. Keep a journal abut how you think and feel. Read all of your entries in six months and twelve months. I just bet you see growth in what you read.

If you still plan to marry anyway, I do suggest that you plan to receive per-marital counseling. This process is usually more successful if done six months prior to your marriage.

May God help you to find strength to do His will His way to receive His blessings as you ponder marriage which He created.


Warmer temperatures, blooming flowers, and baseball. It must be spring time. For many people it is time to get rid of the junk that accumulated over the winter months. It is time to get in the garden and do some weeding.

This could also be a good time to do some tidying up with marital relationships. Pull out some of those weeds in your marriage that are preventing you from having a beautiful relationship with your spouse.

Two common “weeds” in marriages are arguing and busyness.

Many couples let conflict  lead to arguing. Unhealthy communication skills can be a major contributor to this. Many spouses may become defensive of their actions when the other is trying to express how their behavior is affecting them. Sometimes the spouse puts the other in the position to do this as they are blaming them. However, if the spouse is able to express how they feel and the other spouse is able to listen–without becoming defensive–often a resolution to the problem can be agreed upon without yelling, screaming, etc.

It is important to remember than a person is never wrong for feeling the way they do, so do not try to explain why they should not feel that way. For the person who is upset, it is important to remember that they may not have necessarily tried to make you feel the way you do.

Cleaning out busyness seems like a good idea, but schedules fill up pretty quickly and time slips away. So, instead of trying to squeeze in time with your spouse in the cracks, schedule them in. Make sacred time with a spouse that is unbreakable. This shows your spouse you are serious about spending time with them.

These are just a few “weeds” that could be pulled up out of the garden this spring. I hope you and your spouse are able to do pull up the “weeds” of arguing and busyness this spring so the flowers of your relationships can blossom.

Based on the new data now available, the authors of “Why Marriage Matters” offer three conclusions regarding marriage and families in America today:

(1)    The intact, biological, married family remains the gold standard for family life in the United States. Children are most likely to thrive – economically, socially and psychologically – in this family form.

(2)    Marriage is an important public good, associated with a range of economic, health, educational and safety benefits that help local, state and federal governments serve the common good.

(3)    The benefits of marriage extend to poor, working-class and minority communities, despite the fact that marriage has weakened in these communities in the last four decades.

This is the beginning of an in-depth series of articles of things to consider before marrying. These are found on focus on the family website and are written by Glenn Lutjens

So, you’re in a relationship. It’s a pretty exciting time of life, huh?

Perhaps you recently met someone who caught your interest, and you’re hoping that with time you’ll be able to discern if the relationship should move toward marriage.

Or maybe you’ve been dating for quite some time now. You’ve identified the other person’s strengths, but have also discovered some traits that leave you scratching your head.

In either case, you have probably found that many forces push you forward in your relationship.

Time can seem more like an enemy than an ally. You may fear that you’re not getting any younger. Well-meaning friends and relatives might be inquiring about your love life, wondering when you plan on taking “the plunge.” Your own sense of loneliness and that God-given desire for connection can nudge you further in a relationship until the steps toward the altar just seem to get easier and easier. Let’s say you’re already in love. Talk about an influence that changes behavior! Few factors have more horse power than romance. Even books on the subject of dating and marriage can convey a subtle expectation to keep moving forward: “Trust God,” “differences are good,” and “hey, nobody’s perfect.”

All of that’s true. The forces that compel you to move forward are not out to destroy you. But with so many of them urging you toward marriage, it’s wise to pause and ask yourself some questions that might prevent heartache down the road. You need to decide what to do with this relationship; no other person can make that decision for you. As a counselor, I’ve spoken with people who didn’t take the time to think through their relationship. They acted solely on their feelings and tied the knot. Once married, they wanted to be faithful to that covenant, but they experienced difficulties that could have been avoided.

I’m grateful for their commitment to marriage and the desire to be faithful “till death us do part.” Once a couple has committed at the altar – short of a few biblical exceptions – that is indeed the true path of faithfulness. But how would their lives have turned out had they taken the time to explore the red flags that were at least partially visible? Facing pain can certainly refine us, but we don’t get extra credit for walking into it, especially when it can be avoided.

Marriage is great; it’s a fantastic gift from God. My hope is that many of you do move forward and make that promise for life. But I’ve heard it said: “I’d rather be single and wish I were married, than married and wish I were single.” It’s one thing to be lonely alone, it’s an even more distressing experience to be with someone and still be lonely. Now is the time to look carefully at who you will marry – not after rings are exchanged! Even if you’re in a great relationship, asking yourself the tough questions now will only create a greater level of confidence and appreciation if you do decide to marry.

Every potential mate has a deficiency. It’s called sin. Romans 3:10 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Every single romantic relationship has been impacted by the foolishness of two rebellious hearts! If you’re looking for the perfect mate, stop. You won’t find him. She doesn’t exist.

Some will say, “Since no one’s perfect, it really doesn’t matter who I chose to marry. We’re all flawed.” Some will even take it a step further and say, “It’s about being the right person, not finding the right person.” Yes, there’s some truth there, but the Bible makes distinctions between the foolish and the wise. Though we all are a mixture of both, there are some qualitative differences between people. It does matter who you marry!

When we’re excited about a relationship, it’s easy to overlook the red flags that at least need to be explored. We want to be married; this special person makes us feel wonderful (at least most of the time). We know some things about this person, but we sometimes fill in the gaps with what we want him or her to be like. Yet we often don’t fill them in accurately. As you continue to read, please do so with an open mind. You just might find that some of the red flags actually relate to you, not your significant other.

Blessed are the husband and wife who continue to be affectionate, considerate, and loving through all the days of their life together.

Blessed are the husband and wife who are as polite and courteous to one another as they are to their friends.

Blessed are the husband and wife who have a sense of humor, for this will be a handy shock absorber.

Blessed are they who love each other more than any other person in the world, and who joyfully fulfill their marriage vow of a lifetime of fidelity as husband and wife.

Blessed are they who thank God for their blessings, and who set aside some time each day for the reading of the Bible and prayer.

Blessed are they who never speak harshly to each other and who make their home a place of mutual encouragement and love.

Blessed are the husband and wife who can work out their problems without interference from relatives.

Blessed are the husband and wife who dedicate their lives and home to the advancement of Christ and his Kingdom.

Spring is a time for review, rebirth, refreshing, and renewal. Our relationships should be no exception to the healthy rituals people undertake in Spring – assessing the state of the union, so-to-speak, to determine areas that need refining and improvement.

Here are some tips based on the couples’ research about what works and what doesn’t between couples and for really moving your relationship forward, to prevent distress and divorce in your marriage. You can find more about this topic in John Gottman’s book, “Why Marriages Succeed or Fail.”

1.) Calm down & take space (to prevent escalating fights) – research says you will not have a productive conversation if you are physically aroused.
2.) Talk, not Text – people are getting in to trouble in their relationships by emailing and texting about important issues. Its like they’ve forgotten how to talk!
3.) Validate & Apologize – Empathy must be expressed and felt on both ends.
4.) Plan for prevention – Brainstorm and develop a plan to prevent spinning your wheels – going through the same fight, another day, by trying out various solutions to the part you got stuck with.

7. Always Nag. Men should nag about how dirty the house is, how awful dinner was, and why there is always a shortage of clean socks. Women should nag about the lawn needing mowing, the car needing waxing, and the garage needing a thorough cleaning.

8. Constantly compare your partner unfavorably to other persons. “Why don’t you make as much money as Harry Green?” or, “Loretta looks gorgeous when George gets home from work. Why do you always have your hair in curlers?” Any snide remarks such as these will do.

9. Never worry about your appearance. The person married you for better or worse and this happens to be your worst. So what? It’s your right not to shower and shave for a couple of days. So what if you wear curlers and night cream to bed?

10. Never pray for each other or pray together. Who needs the help?

4. Ignore each other. This is particularly effective and mealtimes. What could you possibly have interesting to say to each other anyway?

5. Never go out together–just the two of you. What would you do anyway? Take along friends to talk to and be entertained by.

6. Never remember special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. Cards are too mushy and gifts are too expensive.

1. Stop being appreciative of each other. Never say thank you or please for anything your partner does for you. Consider appreciation unnecessary.

2. Don’t even try to keep the romance alive. It will fizzle out eventually anyway, so why bother? Creating or encouraging romance is a lot of work.

3. Do everything together. That way you can keep close watch on each other so one cannot grow on their own.

by Carol Livingstine

Following are ten ways guarenteed, with practice, to ruin any marriage, no matter how good it is. Read them carefully. Are you practicing any of these mistakes right now? Maybe it is not too late to mend your ways.

The following ways will be talked about more in depth over the next few days:

Stop being appreciate of each other.

Do not even try to keep the romance alive.

Do everything together.

Ignore each other

Never go out together–just the two of you.

Never remember special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries.

Always nag.

Constantly compare your partner unfavorably to other persons.

Never worry about your appearance.

Never pray for each other or pray together.

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