Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Getting Married? Start at the Beginning!

How do you make a marriage that will last? You must start at the beginning. From the jitters to cold feet, to the burning questions you should ask each other and come to terms with before you walk down the aisle, we have listed some of the most obvious questions for you to consider before you say, “I do!”

“Will you marry me,” is not the only question couples should ask!

Are you really ready to take the plunge? Before getting married, it’s important for a person to determine if they’re really ready for the commitment. Opps! There’s that “C” word again! Are you looking forward to your wedding day? Of course you are, but that is a one day celebration. Marriage is for the rest of your life.

Make sure that all issues and queries are resolved before marriage, so that life after marriage does not get complicated arguing and fighting over trivial issues. A lot of arguments and fights can be averted by sitting down and discussing these issues. Let’s face it. Staying together is challenging.

Every couple marrying today is at risk. First the bad news. More than 200,000 new marriages each year end prior to the couple’s second anniversary. Are you well prepared for marriage? You better be. The truth is that less than a fifth of all marriages in America are preceded by some kind of formal marriage preparation. Far too long, the trend has been to fall in love, marry, and hope for the best.

Discuss these things and never fall into the trap of making assumptions about your partner’s preferences.

Remember: dating shows you the ‘best’ behavior. Don’t count on making changes in him/her down the road.” – Lori & Bob Hollander

First things first. Register for a couples seminar or relationship education classes or for relationship coaching. This will be your most important task when preparing for marriage. The choices you make now – before you wed – will determine the success of your marriage and relationship. Couples should begin by being more responsible when they begin a relationship. Unless you have been well trained and educated in relationships or marriage, you must be realistic in that you may need some guidance before the big day arrives.

It only makes sense to be prepared with skills and education, so that when you experience rough spots in your relationship you are prepared as a couple to weather the storm.

Don’t let the upcoming event and responsibilities stress you and your future mate. Wedding planning alone can play a major part in creating stressful situations, disagreements and grudges. Don’t get caught up in all of this. The most important thing to remember is the two of you need to stick together, compromise when necessary and stay focused on the reasons for it all. Love!

Some family members are sure to be involved in the planning and decisions. Before you get their input make a promise to each other to consider each others family and traditions and to compromise so that no feelings are hurt in the process. However, you must remember the it is “your” wedding, not your family’s wedding. They already had their wedding. This one is yours. You get to say what happens.

First, ignore the myths. Dr. Leslie Parrott of RealRelationships.com says that the number one marriage myth is that a spouse should make us whole. This myth gives engaged couples unrealistic expectations.

In other words, forget the whole Jerry Maguire “you complete me” thing! Both partners in a relationship should work on personal wholeness first, not perfection, to achieve a self-awareness that brings individual satisfaction.

Communication, along with a willingness to grow closer together, is one of the keys to a successful marriage. Unhappy, contentious marriages can lead to health problems in the spouses and life problems in the children.

These questions – ranging from playful to provocative – are designed to get you and your partner talking frankly and communicating effectively “before” you walk down the aisle.

• Why are we getting married? Pregnancy, financial security, loneliness or wanting to get out of the family home are not valid reasons to get married.

• What do we as a couple want out of life?

• What do you think we’ll be doing in thirty or forty years?

• How often do you drink?

• Have you ever hit someone?

• Do you think it is important to be faithful to one another?

• Do you have a criminal record?

• Are you willing to replace the toilet tissue roll?

• Do we like and respect each other’s friends?” I would add this question as well, “Do we like and respect each other AS friends?”

• Do we need a pre-nuptual agreement??

• Should we have a joint checking account or separate accounts or both? Money is the issue that is hardest to talk about, and it’s the one that seems to create the most conflict as a relationship progresses. How much money is there between you? It’s not an appropriate first-date conversation, but if you’re in it for the long haul, finding out each others net worth is only fair.

• Do we want to have children? What religion will we raise our children? Do we share a religion? Do we belong to a church, synagogue, mosque or temple? More than one? If not, would our relationship benefit from such an affiliation?

• Does religion play an important part in your life?

• Do you think faith and spirituality are important in a marriage?

• Are you comfortable discussing your sexual likes and dislikes? Be specific with each other and discuss what you can and cannot tolerate, and be clear on what your bottom-line expectations are around sex.

• Do you think we have problems in our relationship that we need to deal with before our wedding?

• Are we both willing to work on our communication skills and to share intimately with each other?

• How are we going to divide up the household chores?

“Always date for one year before you make a proposal before marriage,” says Louanne Cole Weston, PhD, a marriage and family therapist. “You need to see how the other person behaves 365 days of the year – birthdays, deaths, Thanksgiving, etc. You learn how they treat these events and treat you before, during, and after they occur. Give relationship a full four seasons before you think about marriage.”

I know. It’s old fashion, however a long engagement can help you adjust to the good, bad and the ugly before you take the plunge.

Taking the time to understand marriage issues is like investing in an insurance policy against divorce. Although married life will always have its difficulties, you will steadily and dramatically improve your relationship by mastering some relationship skills.

Many couples wrongly blame in-laws, money and sex for break-ups and marital dissatisfaction. However, the hot points in marriage usually result from poor communication, gender issues, sex, in-laws, and lack of spiritual health, just to name a few.

The human expectation is that love remains the same. It doesn’t. It won’t. It can’t. Things change. Time together changes things. You may want to have an agreement to occasionally review some of these questions to be sure you are both still on track.

When you ask sensitive relationship questions, give your partner time to process what they are feeling. Listen without finishing their sentences, judging, or attempting to interpret what you think they’re trying to say. Express your love and appreciation with sincerity and passion – say “I love you” every day. Magnify the intense sensation of pleasure by looking deeply into your partner’s eyes, and say it again! – Steven Connor

Need more questions? Read, “276 Questions to Ask Before You Marry.”

Relationship coaching and some serious one-on-one time with your spouse-to-be are both smart choices; sifting through your thoughts and concerns is the only way to make it to the altar in one piece. But if still doesn’t feel right, calling it off can be the right decision, even if it’s last-minute.

Dr. Gail Saltz and Dr. Drew Pinsky talk with TODAY host Matt Lauer about questions couples should or shouldn’t consider before getting married. To view the video, click here.

I believe it is better to ask too many questions as opposed to not enough.

Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 445 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles, “LoveNotes” and wedding tips listed in this Wedding BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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