Here’s a video blog (in three parts) for newlyweds on some areas to watch for as you start married life. I’ve included a written summary below (not a transcription).
It was fun to make this but hard to organize.
I might make this a blog series to say more in depth about each area.
“You get what you create and you get what you allow.” – Henry Cloud
Here are a few areas that are worth paying attention to early on in marriage, being aware of them and dealing with them proactively can help you create the marriage and family you’ve dreamed about and prevent unhealthy and destructive behaviors, attitudes and patterns from damaging your marriage. Marriage can be the absolute greatest thing, it can also be the hardest, scariest, stressful thing. Getting off to a good start can be extremely helpful.
Talking about, exploring and working on these areas will help you flesh out what your marriage will look and sound like on the surface and on a deeper level, help you define what it will be at its core, its heart.
1) Practical matters. Deciding and sorting out what your marriage and home will look like. Where will everything go? Where will you live? Who will pay the bills? Who will take out the trash? There are dozens or hundreds of little, mundane, everyday choices to sort out. This is also related to the issue of…
How will you spend your time? Together and alone. How will you balance it? This is something to work through day-to-day, week-to-week. Pulling back, there is also the question of what will the rhythm of your year look? How will you spend the holidays? How will you balance work and leisure and vacations? And an even bigger picture question, what will you give your lives to? How will you invest your life, in terms of work and career? That touches on the bigger question of…
What will all this mean? What will getting married mean to you? Individually and as a couple? Often, little issues become big issues because there are underlying issues as stake in conflict and in the process of sorting things out at the start of marriage. Tim Keller in the book The Meaning of Marriage describes a dynamic that a lot of couples face today: a deep disillusionment about marriage, on one hand, and a deep hope or expectation about marriage at the same time. We can bring a lot of unspoken, deep rooted fears, hurts and hopes to marriage and a few weeks of pre-marital counseling often just touches the surface of them. Having doubts, second thoughts, anxiety about marriage can be really For Christians, marriage is a symbol of the relationship of Christ and the church; what will that look like for us?
Who am I now as a married person? What will be different now? What will our marriage be? Even couples that have been together for years can be shaken by the new realities and identity of being married. Where do I end? and where do we begin? What issues are mine? What issues are ours? What does the role of being your husband, or wife look like? Who will I be to you? Will it be what we saw modeled and defined by our parents or will we create something different?
5) Communication and conflict resolution.
Listening well, expressing empathy, giving honest feedback. Make it a habit to give honest feedback, even if it’s hard and risks conflict. The pain of feedback early on is much less than the pain of going along and being less than honest and the whole truth coming out later. Develop language or a ritual of apology, making amends, forgiving and reconciling. Learn how to support each other during stress and struggle vs. fixing them. Learn how to ask for help and what you want. Be assertive and don’t just give in and comply in order to collaborate and create agreements and solutions that work for both of you.
Sexual intimacy ideally is a natural expression of the emotional and spiritual intimacy you experience. It is also something that develops and grows. Address early on (get help if necessary) struggles, in order to get off to a good start. Whether you wait for marriage to be sexually intimate or have been prior to marriage, the transition in to marriage and all the changes mentioned above can make this area difficult. It can be hard to talk about, something that ought to help you feel closer becoming something that pushes you apart. Hurt, rejection, “failure”, anxiety, tension, avoidance, frustration, impatience, feeling used can all quickly enter in to derail this vital area of marital happiness and satisfaction.
Related to #5. As a couple, it will help to communicate about health and unhealthy ways to cope and manage stress (and busyness). Stress often impairs or kills empathy. Be vigilant at deal with it and other gremlins, like unfair fighting, selfishness, dishonesty. One of the couples I worked with said it well in describing their struggles: “We had lost our ability to console each other.” Protect that, it’s one of the best things about being married, having someone who can console and support and be there for you. If not, the person who you turned to for support and comfort can easily become the one who causes hurt and stress.
What do you think? Is there another area that you would add for newly married couples to pay attention to?