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.
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?