I really hate to be the bearer of bad news… but “till death do us part” isn’t working very well, at least in Arizona.
Arizona is one of 14 states where divorce rates are higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau report, which used data from the 2009 American Community Survey. The Census Bureau found that divorce declined noticeably around the country between 2008 and 2009, but not necessarily in Arizona and there was no explanation for it.
When I began performing wedding ceremonies in 2002 one of the first things I did was to take out the words, “till death do us part” from the wedding ceremony. Not because of divorce stats, but because I felt there was a much better way to say the same thing differently. Those words are usually in the wedding vows that the bride and groom repeat to each other. I substituted the words with, “I say these words because I love you and choose to live the rest of my life with you.” Many ceremonies do not have a place in the ceremony where the bride and groom say, “I love you” to each other unless they write those words in. The words I added accomplishes both things… “I love you” and “choose to live the rest of my life with you.” Talking about death in a celebration of Love just doesn’t seem right to me.
It’s sad that many couples have no idea what it really takes to have a healthy relationship that lasts. Although it is not required, I always suggest that it’s a good idea to get a premarital “tune-up” before they tie the knot by getting relationship coaching. I also encourage them to consider the “potential” of coaching especially if one of the partners isn’t really in favor of coaching.
I can tell them what they might accomplish if they work together, but they both have to look forward to and have a “belief” in the potential that comes from that accomplishment. When that happens, the often begin to feel a closer connection and think of reasons why the relationship will work. When a couple is deep in the mire of discomfort, it is often not easy to think about the potential of the relationship. If they can understand the how they might feel toward each other if that discomfort is gone, they often will begin to do the work necessary to get their act together.
I say all that to say this… forget about “till death do us part” and focus on the present moment – moment by moment, day by day, week by week, etc. Relationships – the ones that last – takes a mutual intention to the type of commitment that has couples do “whatever it takes” to make them work and last! In other words, a mutual focus on the relationship – making the relationship a top priority.
It’s not going into the marriage hoping it will work, but knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that both partners are ready for marriage and committed to settling down and dealing with the little things as well as the big things that often show up when two people get together. Remember, women and men are different. It’s important to learn about those differences “before” marriage, otherwise you are in for a few surprises. Adapt. That’s a word that hopefully will help.
Jumping into marriage hoping your partner will change after marriage is a plan destined to fail. Life doesn’t work that way.
It worries me when talking with couples about their wedding and I ask, “How long have you been together?” and they say 4 months or 6 months or even a year. STOP! Think! Is that really enough time to get to know each other? It’s doubtful.
Dr. Karen Sherman, MFT, NCC, PhD, offers a few questions that you should discuss before the wedding. Honestly communicating the answers to these questions will assist you in getting to know each other better.
• Will you have kids and, if so, how will you raise them?
• Will they be raised under one religion?
• How do you expect to discipline them?
• How will you manage your finances?
• What individual assets and debts will you bring to the marriage?
• Who will pay the bills?
• Will you have a savings plan?
• How will you save?
• How will you spend free time?
• How do you expect to spend it – together or individually?
• Will you still have time with friends that doesn’t include each other?
• Do you have expectations about sex?
• How often will you have sex?
• When is a good time?
• How will you keep your sex life from getting boring?
• How will you share sexual fantasies and desires?
• Do you have any boundaries when it comes to intimacy?
• How will you divvy up chores?
• If your spouse cooks dinner, are you expected to clean the dishes, pots and pans?
• Who will keep up with the maintenance around the house?
• Who will mow the lawn or take out the trash?
• What can you do to openly communicate?
• How can you make sure that you keep your communication as good as it is now?
• How will you make sure to handle your conflicts appropriately?
• Will you check in with each other at the end of the day or once a week?
• What can you do as an individual to make sure that you keep the health of your marriage a priority?
• Do you have any annoyances?
• What annoys you?
• What annoys your spouse-to-be?
• How will you let each other know when certain habits or behaviors bother you?
• How is it best to tell the other person about things regarding family that are upsetting?
• If the relationship is needing help, will you be brave enough to ask for help?
• and the list goes on!
One question I would add is, “Ask yourself why. Why this person, why right now?”
You cannot be a commitment-phobe. Acceptance. Another important word. Learn to accept the little annoyances.
A relationship is something that must be worked on all the time, not only when it’s broken and needs to be fixed. It’s making darn sure each partner is doing what it takes to be committed to making it work. It’s not easy. But then nothing worth while is seldom easy.
AND… if you are having issues, never be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is not a weakness. Asking for help demonstrates a need to make the relationship one you can be proud to be in.
Larry’s NOTE: Every bride and groom I marry receives a “Relationship Coaching Certificate” ($120 Value) good for one hour of free coaching anytime after the wedding ceremony.
Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. Larry James is an award winning, non-denominational wedding officiant 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 Cell: 480-205-3694. Pre-maritial relationship coaching is available and not required. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (96 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.
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