Have you ever noticed how an intimate relationship becomes different as soon as the couple (and usually the bride with her family) start planning the wedding? In many cases, the groom can look a little shell-shocked by the time he says, "I do." Given that this is a very common phenomenon, I reached out to Jerome and Tracey Carter, authors of How To Make Your Marriage Last Longer Than The Wedding and asked them about this:
Why is it that as soon as a couple says I do; at the first sign of adversity, they really don't?
- Unrealistic expectations going into the marriage. Based upon how you were raised or how much TV you watched, you may have a totally different view of how marriage should be than your spouse. Communicate and discuss your expectations of marriage before the wedding and definitely during the marriage.
- Lack of pre-marital coaching/counseling/ education. Marriage isn't anything to be entered into lightly. You must seek out wise counsel to be sure that you understand the many dynamics and the magnitude of a marriage relationship.
Why is it that we can say the vows during the wedding ceremony but we can't live the vows during the marriage journey?
- Lack of understanding of what marriage really is. Not having the courage or maturity to understand that marriage is a marathon and not a sprint will have you forget your vows on your wedding night.
- Poor models and examples of what marriage really is. If the only model you and I have of marriage are the poor examples in our family, where will we get an idea or picture of what a healthy, successful marriage looks like?
Why is it, a spouse can get along with everyone on the job, at the gym, at the school, at the church, in the community, in the office; but they can't get along with their spouse at home?
- Because it is easy to wear a mask around others who don't really know the real you. Most people wear a mask and put up a front to uphold their reputation every day. They never really display the real them because they don't know who they really are. It's a frightening marriage when one or both spouses don't know who they really are within and outside of the marriage.
- Because we make everybody else and every place a priority other than our spouse and our family. Our family must be our #1 priority. I've counseled countless men that have lost the very thing they said they were going to work to provide for; how sad is that!
- Because it takes work to maintain a successful marriage relationship. The wedding is fun the marriage is work (but it can be fun too)!
What can couples do so they won't experience marriage regret after the wedding?
- Date at least 1-2 years before getting married. You must spend time with your spouse so you can get to know them before marriage. I believe you must see all the seasons of a year while dating. There could be a change and difference from summer, fall, winter and spring but you will never know that if you rush into marriage. Be patient and see the four seasons while dating.
- Always be honest with each other during the courting process. Make sure the real you is being presented during the dating and courting process, so the data won't be skewed.
- Don't ignore the warning signs. The first time he/she shows you who they really are, believe them. What you see is what you get. They probably won't change and you probably won't change them. Don't get married if you see "deal breakers" during the dating and courting process.
What are the three most common surprises after the wedding?
- Lack of honesty. Always be honest about your feelings and who you really are; don't pretend to be something just to impress your spouse. That will get tired really fast!
- Not making the marriage a priority. Once you are married, your spouse and marriage must be your top priority in life.
- Competing with instead of complementing each other. You and your spouse are on the same team. You can accomplish so much by working together; however you can quickly destroy your marriage by working apart.
What are the four best tips for extending the Honeymoon so it is never over?
- Date night once a week. You must make your marriage a priority and date at least once a week; even if it is just investing in a 2 dollar ice-cream or coffee and walking in the park!
- Quarterly weekend get a ways without the kids. At least four times a year, you and your spouse should take mini trips to get away from kids, family and friends; so the two of you can reflect on your marriage and spend time with each other.
- Couples retreats at least once a year. Attend a couples conference or retreat with other like minded couples so you can learn how to build, invest in and strengthen your marriage!
- Laughter and plenty of it daily. Please take your marriage seriously; but you don't have to take yourself that seriously. Find time to laugh and find the humor in the mistakes and difference that you and your spouse will encounter over the course of your marriage journey.
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