In a world where we have become dependent on quick fixes and instant solutions, its understandable that almost half of marriages end in divorce. It’s as though we have become accustomed to everything being easy, that as soon as we hit an emotional environment that we’re not satisfied with, we simply have to make a change. Its not entirely the individual’s fault, we can click our mouse button and access a vast amount of knowledge, without having to go out to a library and exerting much effort, we can buy our groceries over the phone and cook “home cooked” meals in 5 minutes. Nothing is a struggle anymore, and so it’s almost understandable that a person finds it difficult to face the emotional challenges that are necessary to create a healthy and lasting marriage and that the energy and time and sacrifice just doesn’t seem to justify the result.

For the weeks, even months, that lead up to your wedding day, the topic of conversation will often fall around the planning and worries of the anticipated date, talks about the dress, the cake, seating arrangements, flowers, whose been paid deposits…. But for the couple, it’s important to remember that the two individuals involved still need to keep in touch with one another emotionally. If only for this reason, taking a pre marriage course/programme, force the bride and groom to be, to talk about the lasting effects of tying the knot, about the factors that will influence their daily lives and not only the wedding date.

There are many stressors when planning your wedding day and there are many issues that could lead to arguments. The mother’s on either side who want to be involved and then having to play the perfect son or daughter-in-law role of taking advice. The obvious factors that diminish the couple’s stress are aspects like being clear on who handles what and who is responsible for what. Not only the couple themselves, but exactly which mom, which family member will be dong which task. Make the lists and hand them out to the designated responsible ones. Don’t try and do it all yourself!

Other factor to consider on the wedding day are things like when getting ready, don’t have a crowd of people around you. Get someone else to answer your phone and handle last minute crisis.

If you have a home full of guests, rather book yourself into a hotel than going to bed very late, because you are trying to be a perfect hostess.
I feel that we spend so much time on planning the one day, and almost no attention gets given to “until death do us part.” The part that prepares you for the marriage and not the wedding. Engaged couples should have discussions about family of origin, role relationships, children… does it really matter whether the serviettes are peach or pink, surely its more important to know your partners values and the principles they live by.

Engaged couples talk for hours about colour schemes and which family members have to be there, which friends, who will be the MC… they need to take atleast as much time before and after the wedding day to get to know one another’s expectations, needs, hopes, fears and dreams. We often find it easier to keep our emotions and deepest hurts to ourselves, to focus on the tangible aspects, those we can see and touch, and then we don’t have to face the difficulties of dealing with the issues that are true and real and actually important. Those thoughts that define you as a person, the actions, habits and beliefs that will be with you when you leave the confetti on the floor and hang the wedding dress up in a distant cupboard. These are the building blocks that a marriage is made of. The tough part is that its only through the freedom of being able to bare your soul that a couple can create true intimacy… into-me-you-see…

Don’t assume you and your partner expect the same thing from marriage. You are two individuals, with unique families of origin and specific ideas. We grow up with different parents, different role models and examples. There are unspoken expectations and silent rules that we take for granted in our personal lives but once we choose to share our lives with someone else, it becomes necessary to share those pictures we have created. Some unspoken roles may be “don’t ask for help unless you are desperate,” “downplay your success,” “don’t work too hard or for too long,” “never raise your voice,” “pay bills as soon as they arrive,” “the credit card is for emergencies only,” “pets are important…” You might silently live by these unexpressed rules, but when you get married, your partner cannot be expected to have the same ideas as you and only through voicing your expectations, can your partner understand your behavior.

We construct a picture of roles from our family of origin. We assume assigned roles, but that doesn’t mean each others’ is the same. If we are aware of the roles we take, we can write scripts of our own.

The Planner, comedian, navigator, cook, money manager…

If in your family of origin, the father was the strong provider and money manager, you cannot assume that your partner will naturally take over that role, he/she isn’t even aware that you have an expectation like that. You are bound to be disappointed if your expectations aren’t known.

We don’t all agree on what love is, we have different definitions and we should share them with our partner. For some, love means security and safety and for others it means adventure and having a friend to have fun with. Some people believe true love is shown in their consistency and in being responsible and others believe that you show love by buying gifts and through tenderness. What do you mean when you say “I love you.” Its all about getting to know one another, to trust someone so much that you are willing to let them know you as well as you know yourself. Its that intimacy, that togetherness and one-ness that’s what we should spend every day leading up to our wedding day, and every day thereafter, pursuing.

Love without intimacy is an illusion. We all want someone who knows us and still accepts us. Someone who trusts us with their deepest secrets. One has to take the emotional risk of letting your partner know you, if you do not let your partner know you, you will live alone even though you are under the same roof. We have so many external stimuli, emotions and inputs from the world that influence how we feel, then how we behave and react. If you had a difficult time at the office and lash out at your partner because he/she forgot to do something, you owe it to your partner to explain what you are experiencing. In sharing your deepest feelings and emotions, even though you might not always get the welcome reaction, you take the plunge in creating a marriage that is intimate and close. It’s a life long journey that some couples give up on even within the first two years of marriage, never experiencing the incredible gift that a marriage is meant to be.

“…God’s hands gently touched Adam’s body with a deep and beautiful purpose. The man was now to have a companion formed of his own flesh and blood, bone of his bone-so close woman was to be to man, and man to woman, each part of each to be ever kin, like two notes of music for ever yearning to be one note again, and even that whole note incomplete in an unresolved chord.”

Nothing that’s worth the time to accomplish or create, is ever easy.

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