Thursday, November 12, 2009

Moving Deeper

I know my posts tend to focus on the wedding and usually not as much on the marriage. Sometimes thinking about our actual marriage is a little overwhelming. With the divorce rate as high as it is and the frequent stories about people we know giving up on their marriages, it can be a little scary.

We both understand that our marriage will not be easy. We've watched the marriages of the people closest to us struggle, and in some cases fall apart. I think a lot of people that don't know us as well think we're only making it harder on ourselves by getting married young. While I don't think it magically gets easier with age, I do acknowledge that many young couples end up divorced. David and I agree that it's important to learn from those with the life experience we're lacking to prepare ourselves as best we can for our future.

Over the weekend, we met with our friend's dad who is also a pastor at the church we're getting married at. The church requires that you meet with one of their pastors on staff even if he isn't officiating the ceremony. I had no idea how much knowledge we'd get in the hour we talked with him! He was totally open and honest with us about his own marriage and how hard it's been. He showed us two different diagram type things that he uses for the "nearly newlyweds" class he teaches, and I just loved one of them.

  • The first function of a relationship is close proximity. As social beings, we long for a connection with another person. This is established through spending time together. A marriage functions as a way to form that connection and to be able to experience life together. 
  • A relationship also functions as a safe haven. A marriage provides you with someone who will be there for you and is just as committed to you as you are to them. Pastor D said he likes to use the word covenant, which literally means a binding or sealed agreement. To establish a safe haven, however, you have to have trust, availability, love and commitment, responsiveness, and repair of disconnects. He talked about two kinds of trust - trusting your spouse's heart and trusting his/her character. Trusting his/her heart means you're able to be fully confident that he/she will be completely faithful to you emotionally and physically. Trusting his/her character means you're able to trust that his/her word means what it says. He gave the example that he'll tell his wife he'll be home by a certain time, but then gets caught up doing something. It's a little thing, but it makes it hard to trust his word. The other part that we focused on was the ability to repair disconnects. Pastor D brought up John Gottman, who wrote The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, which I read over the summer. Dr. Gottman says he's able to predict (with over 90% accuracy) whether a couple will last after 5 minutes of observing them interacting. One of the main things he looks for is whether couples are able to repair their relationship after disconnects.
  • Another function of a marriage is as a secure base. Your spouse is the person that you'll always be able to go back to and find love. You can fail at work, in a friendship, whatever - Your spouse will still be on your side. Your spouse also provides a foundation for decision making and choosing a plan of action. 
  • The fourth main function of a relationship is an alarm system. Your spouse will say, "Something's wrong here," even though that may mean he/she is met with denial or anger from you. Your spouse is the person who loves you enough to fix a problem, struggle, whatever even if fixing it is harder than ignoring/accepting it. 
I don't think any of that was something I'd never heard before, but the way it was laid out resonated with me for some reason. While I know it will be hard to be/provide all of those things, I know it'll be so rewarding! It made me even more excited for marriage and for the adventure it will be. I love that David enjoys "counseling" as much as I do - We love talking to people who have been in our situation and have had incredibly successful marriages. I can think of three different couples (all of which I've blogged about, actually! Pastor D and his wife, our officiant and his wife, and the couple I blogged about here - Hi Kathryn, if you're reading!) that we've met with that started out just like us - high school sweethearts, married right out of college - and are happier than ever! I know it's possible, and I know David and I can and will be just like them.

Have you taken a step back from wedding planning to focus on your marriage? Have you ever looked at a relationship the way the diagram does?

PS - He gave us 2 books to read, so I'll be posting them as soon as we find some time to read them! One of them is This Momentary Marriage by John Piper and the other is When Sinners Say 'I Do' by John Harvey. Have any of you heard of either of them?


  1. Thanks so much for this post. It didn't occur to me until reading this the lack of "marriage" posts that I see on wedding blogs. It's really important to remember what's going to happen AFTER you wear the white dress. =)

  2. This is a really interesting post! I haven't given that much thought to our marriage, I have a feeling that not much will change for us, since we've been living together longer than we've been dating. But it's definitely food for thought...

  3. Very nice post! I enjoyed reading this! My fiance and I are looking forward to taking a 13 week marriage preparation course in January!

  4. Ahhh! Thanks for the shout out! :)

    Another great book I just recently read was "Love and Respect". It mentions the importance of the man feeling respected and the importance of the woman feeling loved. . . and how neither should have to EARN that love/respect. God mandates that we give it to our spouses no matter what.
    I love what the pastor shared about being later in coming home than what he originally said. That is something that is small to Ryan and HUGE to me. It's funny that it's the same way in their marriage. Men see the small detail, and women see the implications of the character (and ok, we can blow things out of proportion pretty easily too!).
    You are very lucky to have had such candid pastors sharing what they have learned.

  5. I'm glad you guys enjoyed it! I'll have to post 'marriage stuff' more often! :)

    @ Kathryn - I've heard that's a good book! I'll have to look into it. I wish I had time to read ANYTHING right now (besides textbooks). We'll have to get together again soon, we talked about so much good stuff with both pastors (Mr. Holt and Mr. Mann)! It's nice to have you and Ryan, too! :)

  6. Laura,

    Christin brought this post to my attention, and it is with great joy that I read back over what Doug shared with not only you and David, but countless other couples. He really had a desire to help couples grow in their love for one another. I am so glad you took such great notes!!! I'm so glad you and David are in our lives. Thanks for being such a steadfast friend for Lynsie.



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