Prep For What? The Conclusion

Posted on January 27, 2012 by

Well folks, it’s part 3 of the “Prep For What?” series and I hope parts one and two were helpful.

I said before, marriage is like the Body of the Church. There is the skeleton, the muscles, and last but not least, the mind. Our intellect and understanding of each other can greatly determine the success (or failure) of a marriage. You often hear about how men don’t understand women, or how women don’t understand men. While generalized sex differences can help us interact with each other, when it comes to marriage it is necessary to understand that ONE person. The generalizations will still apply, but once you are prepared to spend the rest of your life with that individual it’s time to start considering the details of what makes that person “tick.”

8. Women should be taught that we cannot expect men to communicate like us, i.e., become us. Same for men. Women should be taught the little nuances of how to bond with their future husband. Ever notice the way boys bond during childhood? They don’t sit around talking about how cute this girl and that girl is. They engage in activities or sometimes they just sit around and do nothing. Sounds boring to a lot of women, but try this– during a sports game on t.v., sit with your husband on the couch. You don’t even have to watch the game, but just sit there and tend to your meal planning, knitting, fold some laundry, etc. Try it a few times and you will notice a difference. It might be something else instead of sports. Whatever it is, find out about it in terms of him. Some men like to go hiking, some men like to go fishing, and some men like to go hunting. You’re a vegetarian? Well get over it, so was I.

A lot of women make the mistake of thinking that we can share and emote with husband in the same way we emote and share with girlfriends. Men don’t care for this and find it effeminate. Or, it’s absolutely annoying. One thing I have learned is while women tend to find appreciations of their facial beauty or body, men appreciate admiration. You can tell a guy that he’s hot and has nice big muscles all the time but when it comes down to it, respect counts for more.

9. Husbands-to-be would benefit from knowledge about the intricacies and even craziness of female hormones and emotions. Women go through emotional changes throughout their lives that play a role in their behavior—whether it’s typical PMS, menopause, or more severe health issues. As I’ve been told before, in the short-term a guy is screwed because he can’t really fix the situation, but if he can let his wife know that he is there for her, things will be fine in the long-term. Obviously hormones and emotions are not an excuse for poor behavior or for thinking a wife can call the shots, but it can help a man understand what to expect in the short-term versus long-term. I’ve heard of men going batty because they couldn’t fix whatever problem it was that caused their wife to burst into torrents of tears. In reality, nothing can be fixed. What a husband can do is be there and let her know that he is there. Fixing is a man’s natural tendency and in many contexts, is greatly appreciated. Ride through the wave and consult WebMD every now and then.

10. Last, but not least, delving into Family Of Origin (FOO) issues and utilizing other resources such as psychometric testing can open the eyes of a couple and even as individuals. When it comes down to it, this is a good opportunity to address past sins. Many couples enter marriage with OOW pregnancies, promiscuous pasts, or come from broken families where they had a part to play in it. One thing everything should remember is that you do not exist within a vacuum, and everyone has been shaped by their families in some form whether we like it or not. When parents have children, they are essentially rearing people who are extensions of them selves in some way. Not clones, but extensions and there are many tendencies which exist.

Couples get married thinking that they are starting “fresh” or with a “clean slate,” creating a new family. That is not true and how that myth was perpetuated, I’ll never know. Upon marriage, both people bring into their marriage the perspectives of both their families. That’s why couples often bicker about disliking the other’s family, or why the in-laws don’t like them, etc. Blending traditions and trying to accommodate the styles of two different families is a lot of work! But couples often don’t realize that because they forget that they are extensions of their own families. Your wife can’t cook? Don’t like it? Well, find out why she can’t cook. It might be because she never learned because her mother wouldn’t teach her. Or, it was because she doesn’t want to cook because she was the youngest child and was catered to most of her life. If a woman was reared by a father and did not have a lot of exposure to women growing up, that could be a reason, too. Once you start exploring the “why’s” and “how’s” of your future husband or wife, it’s amazing what you can learn. In fact, many couples tell me that even after 30+ years of marriage, they are still learning about their spouse.

I wrote this series because the current state of marriage within Christendom isn’t looking so hot. We as members of our churches must hold some part of this blame but the majority of it, I’m afraid, has to fall upon the Church. We look to our leaders to guide us properly when making such an important decision as marriage and if we cannot even be instructed properly on how to start taking the steps to that life journey, how else can we expect to have successful marriages?

If the Church will not take a strong stand on marriage preparation, how can we expect the Church to take a strong stand on defending the sanctity of marriage? I find it most ironic that marriage intervention programs, such as Retrouvaille, are offered in a series of weeks for struggling couples when the same tools and teachings could be presented before the problems take root.

Marriage is not a decision that one should take lightly and if we are going to be given a resource on how to start it, the teachings should be functional and sound. Every couple that is instilled with the right knowledge and scriptural principles can withstand the effects of poor church-rearing.

In the end, don’t try to spare our feelings; tell us what we need to know, and not what we want to hear.