A Word About Marriage
There is an old saying that a man marries a woman hoping she won’t change, but a woman marries a man expecting to change him. Although meant to be humorous, there is also a great truth in that saying. We have all known people that dated for years and seemed to get along great. They got married with high
expectations for a wonderful future, but ended up divorced after only a short time. Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce and sadly this statistic is nearly the same even in Christian marriages. What is happening and how can we fix it? People can have the same values and beliefs, but how we perceive that these values and beliefs are being fulfilled is constantly being filtered through our own past experiences. A man and woman might love each other very much; however, in the home he grew up in they may have demonstrated love by always “arguing” through disagreements; however, in her home they may have demonstrated love by “not fighting”. The first time they come across a disagreement as a married couple there is a problem. He (in this example) tries to show his love by wanting to argue it out till they come to an agreement, but she perceives that as not demonstrating love. She wants to demonstrate love by not fighting. They both love each other and are trying to demonstrate it, but end up frustrated and questioning if the other really loves them.
Another example of how our different filters can cause problems if we aren’t aware of them is that most people have a preferred method of how they relate to their world. Good teachers recognize that people relate to their world (and learning) better in either an auditory, visual, or tactile method; e.g., some people prefer to learn by hearing, some prefer to see, and some prefer “hands on”. Most people operate to a degree in all three, but generally tend to be stronger in one or two of the areas. Many men tend to be more visual and tactile. Many women tend to be more auditory. The man wants to “see how it will work”. He wants to “get a handle on it”. The woman wants to hear “how it sounds to her”. A more visual person will try “showing” their love. A more auditory person wants to “hear” and “say” that they love someone. If people have different filters and don’t recognize it, although they both love each other, they’ll soon both feel frustrated and unloved, because what “triggers” their feelings of love aren’t being met. When dating, we tend to “do everything” to show our love, so those triggers are getting hit, but when we settle into marriage we (unconsciously) tend to slip into our primary methods of showing love.
In order to prevent these and other common potential conflicts from being a problem in a marriage, we are going to take the following course of action:
Couple's Discussion Plan
(Note: Each session to begin and end with prayer and not exceed 50 minutes.)
Week One – How do we communicate/handle conflict? Especially love? How was love shown (or not shown) in our families? How will we celebrate holidays (In-laws)?
Week Two – Sex: How often? The different emotional needs between men and women. Do we want children? How many? How do we handle discipline? Has either of us ever been abused?
Week Three – Money: How do we handle money? Tithing? Saving? Debt? Work a budget together. Discuss education/work/life goals.
I’d like to share a brief story about my wife and me. When I went to ask my wife to marry me, before I asked, I told her that I had been very upfront and honest about myself. I hadn’t hidden anything or played any games. If there was something she didn’t like she needed to ask herself if she could live with it before saying yes. Well, sure enough, shortly after we were married there was something she would rather that I did. I like sitting down on Saturday mornings with a book and cup of coffee. Her father was always up at the crack of dawn heading out “to do” something (“hurry up, we’re wasting daylight”). That was what she perceived a man “should do” on Saturday mornings. I reminded her of the question I asked her before asking her to marry me. Now we’ve agreed that if we’ve planned something I’ll be ready to do it, but if not, she’ll let me enjoy my coffee and book. Likewise, I’d love for her to sit and read with me, but I knew before I married her that she was a “we’re wasting daylight” type of person. I don’t expect her now to just sit with me, although she does from time to time as her way of saying she loves me.