Questions You Should Know the Answer to Before Walking Down the Aisle

mr & mrsBefore you walk down the aisle and make a commitment to your spouse, spend some time asking and answering these questions.  While there is no guarantee that your marriage will survive the 50% divorce ratio, knowing your spouse’s perception on a few life issues can go a long way in identifying potential problem areas in your marriage.

Background Questions:

  1. What kind of childhood did you have?
  2. Who was your best friend and why?
  3. What did you dream about as a child?
  4. Who do you want to please? Whose opinion counts?
  5. How did you spend your time as a child?
  6. When do you say, “If only…”? What are your regrets?

Life Questions:

  1. What do you want in life?
  2. What are you passionate about?  What drives you?  What do you crave?
  3. What makes you tick? What really matters to you?
  4. What do you hope will last in your life? What can’t you live without?
  5. What do you pray for?
  6. What beliefs do you hold about life, God, yourself, others?

Goal Questions:

  1. Where do you hope for? What are you working towards?
  2. What are your expectations and goals? What are you working for?
  3. What are you trying to accomplish?
  4. Who are your role models? Who are the people you respect?
  5. How do you define success or failure in any particular situation? What makes you feel rich?
  6. How do you spend your time? What are your priorities?

Emotion Questions:

  1. What do you fear? If fear is the flip side of desire then when I desire your acceptance I also fear your rejection.
  2. What gets you angry?
  3. Where do you find refuge, safety and comfort? How do you escape when things get rough
  4. What do you see as your rights? What do you feel entitled to?
  5. What are your fantasies? What do you daydream about?
  6. What instinctively feels right to you?

Future Spouse Questions:

  1. What do you need from a spouse?
  2. Who do you trust?
  3. Does your performance matter to you? If so, how?  What about your spouse’s performance?
  4. What would bring you the greatest pleasure and the greatest distress?
  5. What do you talk about? What subjects do you tend to discuss with your friends?
  6. How do you envision your marriage?  How will you spend your time?

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Two Becoming One in Marriage

There are many definitions of marriage today with different states and churches adding their own definitions to the mix.  You, like I, are each free to follow our own definition of marriage within the laws of our state.  But as for me, I choose to follow the Biblical model of marriage which is a man and a woman united together in a covenant from God (Genesis 2:24).  This unity is the beginning of a family unit to which children may be added in the future but it is also a departure from your family of origin.  It is in its’ very nature a formation of a new relationship, a new bond, and a new unit.  To better understand a Biblical marriage, some ground work needs to be laid.

In His Image.  Ever wonder why God created man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27)?  Could it be that He created man and woman in His image because we are to model Him here on earth?  Several times Jesus tells us that we are “a light” to the world (Matthew 5:14).  Our light does not come from us, rather it comes from reflecting God’s light which is never extinguished.  We were created in His image to reflect His light.  Why you ask?  So that even in our relationships, in our most important relationship such as marriage, His image and His light can be seen.

Intentionally Created.  Looking back over Genesis 2, we see that man was created out of dust and woman was created out of the rib of man.  Men and woman are literally created differently.  God could have created them the same way but He did not.  This is not just a physical difference, but a difference in purpose and design as well.  Why you ask?  Each of us has a different role in life.  When we look at the trinity of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each part of the trinity has a different role to play.  One of the many roles is the Father as the Creator, the Son Jesus as the sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit as a guide.  You do not see the Holy Spirit called the sacrifice because the Holy Spirit knows the role it plays in the trinity.  A husband and a wife are intentionally created with different roles yet they are part of one unit.

Separation from family.  In order for two to truly be united as one, they need to leave behind their family of origin.  Just as there are no additional roles in the trinity, there are no additional roles in the new family unit.  The new family unit consists of a husband and a wife (Genesis 2:24).  Leaving parents can be a difficult task but it is an essential element for the formation of a new bond.  Why you ask?  As long as a parent is there to cling to in times of need, a spouse will never learn to cling to one another and the bond will not be properly formed.

Two into one.  This is a great mystery which is difficult to understand until you experience it.  Once we accept that our purpose in life is to reflect God’s image, that we are intentionally created for a reason, that we are to leave our family of origin, then we can begin the process of becoming one with one another.  Why you ask?  The new bond properly reflects the relationship between God the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to one another.  When the marriage unit adds children, it is a perfect reflection of the trinity.

The bond of two becoming one is tightly woven and is not easily broken if formed correctly.  Many of the marriage problems are centered on an improper unity of a marriage and often going back to the basics of what a marriage is can elevate some of the most difficult challenges.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Love Conquers All – Or Does It?

Newly engaged couples are so much fun to watch.  They are very tender with each other, they smile when they speak to each other, they care about the other person’s opinion, and they are optimistic about life in general.  Best of all, they believe the other person is perfect and their love will last forever, that somehow they have the ideal type of love and their love will conquer all problems life tossed their way.  This is what is meant by having rose-colored glasses when looking at your partner, seeing only the good and none of the bad.

However something happens when these engaged couples walk down the aisle and say, “I do”.  The same rose-colored glasses seem to shatter resulting in the good becoming minimized while the bad becomes exaggerated.  One of the many reasons premarital counseling is recommended is to help to highlight via an indifferent experienced third-party, the potential areas of contention.  While God’s love is capable of conquering everyone and everything, man’s love falls far short.  Here are some of the major areas that man’s love cannot conquer.

Addiction.  There are many forms of addictions a person can have: alcohol, gambling, pornography, drugs (illegal and prescription), and sex just to name a few.  These addictions consume time, money and energy from your relationship and in the long run, can even destroy it.  Your finance may even say that their addiction tendencies are less because of your presence and while this may be true for the time being, it will not be true in the future.   The reason the addiction is less during the engagement is because of the excitement of the upcoming marriage and the hope and promise it brings.  As soon as difficulties surface, this hope will quickly turn into despair and the addiction will return sometimes with a vengeance.

Abuse.  There are also many forms of abuse such as physical, emotional, sexual and verbal.  Physical abuse involves any physical contact that is unwelcome or threatening.  Emotional abuse is neglecting your partner’s basic needs for security, love and attachment.  Sexual abuse includes rape or any type of forced sexual encounter.  Verbal abuse is the use of foul language, demeaning statements, biting sarcasm or hurtful remarks.  Loving someone will not stop the abuse.  Often the abuse is very subtle in the beginning and often in frequent during the engagement process with your finance being very apologetic afterwards.  These are warning signs that should not be ignored because the abuse is very likely to increase after the wedding.

Alarm.  There are many ways your partner can alarm you, perhaps they engage in self-harming behavior (such as cutting), threaten to commit suicide, threaten to cause you physical harm, or have irrational fears (such as paranoia or extreme jealously).  These behaviors need to be addressed with a professional who has experience in helping individuals to overcome their alarming behavior rather than a well-meaning finance who is unsure of how to handle the situation.  Getting married will not eliminate any of these behaviors no matter what your finance says, in fact it will worsen.

Addiction, abuse and alarm are three good reasons to end an engagement.  Yes, your finance can get better with professional help, a willingness to overcome the challenges, and by the grace of God but even these ingredients separate from each other do not guarantee success.  Just for a moment, take off your rose-colored glasses and look at your partner objectively to see if there is any trace of these behaviors.   After all, your love does have limits.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Dealing with the In-Laws-to-be

Preparing for a wedding is fun, after all this is a party, a celebration of two lives coming together.  Preparing for a marriage is entirely another event; it is not fun, rather it is work.  Any time you take two different view points, two different personalities, and two different backgrounds and merge them together, there is bound to be tension.  One of the often overlooked areas of preparing for a marriage is dealing with the in-laws to be.  They are likely to be involved in your lives going forward so setting the parameters now before marriage decreases the potential conflict.

The new “we”.  Before you walk down the aisle or go to the courthouse, you should begin the practice of changing your perspective from “me” to “we”.  More importantly, the “we” means you and your spouse to be, not “we” meaning you and your parents.  For some this a hard adjustment as even the most simple of decisions were discussed with your parents, for others this is a no-brainer.  Nevertheless, if you begin this process now, before the wedding, your parents are more likely to adjust to the new perspective as well.  This is not a perspective that you want your in-laws to adjust to after the wedding as it may cause frustration and resentment.  Rather, practice it now.  When you say “we”, it is only you and your spouse; no parents allowed.

Mine are mine, yours are yours.  As a rule of thumb, communication is best received from you to your parents.  Parents are more likely to receive good or bad information if given directly from you to them without any interference.  You talking to your in-laws can create a question of whether or not their child, your spouse, really agrees with the decision.  This question then lives in the minds of your in-laws for the duration of your marriage and will likely be brought up an inopportune time.  When the two of you finally agree on an issue, you tell your parents and your spouse tells his/her parents.

Mark your calendars.  One of the most common disagreements that an engaged couple find themselves addressing is where to spend the holidays.  This may not have been an issue while dating, but when engaged each set of parents are basically staking out their claim on a particular holiday.  They know that the plan you set the first year is going to be very close to the one you will follow every year including when you have their precious grandchildren.  So plan carefully.  Keep one holiday for yourselves, at your house, to begin your own tradition and then divide out the rest amongst everyone else.   You don’t have to communicate your plan ahead of time but if both of you agree now, there will be less tension later.

Keeping these tips in mind will reduce the in-law tension in your home.  Remember, future decisions should involve you and your spouse; not you, your spouse, your parents, and your in-laws.  The more people involved in a decision, the more difficult it is to come to an agreement, just look at congress.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Joining of Your Money in Marriage

One of the hardest areas for most couples to agree is in the area of money and finances.  In fact, most divorces are the result of disagreements over money that date back to the beginning of their marriage.  Failing to plan for your finances to be joined together is a recipe for disaster.  There are many financial courses available to you such as Financial Peace University and Crown Ministries both of which lay a solid financial base and should be considered within the first year of your marriage.  Until then, here are a couple of potential differences in your financial perspective to discuss and compare notes.  By spending time now understanding each other’s perspective, some of the tension involving money can be minimized.

Different socioeconomic backgrounds.  You may not have grown up in the same zip code or come from the same financial background.  Some families tend to be savers and some tend to be spenders, your family’s financial background has already influenced your finances.  And while your family’s perspective on money may be different from you, imagine the tension that can be created if your spouse to be has an entirely different background experience.  The discussion topic to have is what is your family’s experience with money and how has that experience affected your financial decisions.

Different financial goals.  Having financial goals like how much money do you want saved, when and where would you like to retire, and what annual salary are you striving to achieve are just a small sample of goals that you should be discussing.  After all, each of you already has a financial goal which should become a shared goal between the two of you.  Some financial goals may be more defined and specific than others; one of you is likely to be a bit more detailed.  But if your spouse to be says that they don’t have a financial goal then their goal is really to allow others, including the financial markets, to dictate their life.  This is not a healthy goal upon which two people should be joined.

Different spending habits.  More than likely, one of you will be a spender and the other a saver.  Determine now who is which and who is going to be in charge of managing your finances.  The saver is the best choice for managing the money as they are better at long-term planning then the spender.  Both of you should begin now to put together a budget that you can agree on that is consistent with your financial goals.  Discuss and agree now on how money will be spent from each paycheck and how much money will be saved.  There are many guidelines out there for budgeting but the best one is the one that works for you and is easy to stick with every month.

Different checking accounts.  Right now you have different checking accounts and different monthly expenses.  Soon you will need to decide how and if the accounts will be joined together into one account or several different accounts.  Whether or not the accounts are jointly held, both of you needs to have access to the accounts including the balances at all times.  If not, one person may believe that the other is hiding money from them.  This breeds distrust and disunity.  Discuss now what accounts you will keep at which banks and how to give both of you access to the balances on a monthly if not daily basis.

While there are many more issues to address with joining your finances together, this list is a good place to start as you begin the merging process.  It is likely that the above topics will cause some disagreement already but that is precisely what it is designed to do because if you agree on these topics now, it will greatly reduce the tension later.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.