This time last year, I just made my vows to the man God created for me. The days leading up to this moment, I won’t lie, I was nervous, but it was a different kind of nervousness. Being previously married, I had doubts about myself. Did I learn enough from past relationships not to mess this one up? Did I prepare myself enough for this journey? I thought about whether my future husband also learned enough. He also was in a previous marriage. Are we healed enough from hurts, disappointments, and pains? Questioning God if we were strong enough to leave the past behind us and not make repeated mistakes. Of course, I know God loves me, but I questioned if getting re-married was biblical. I often wondered if I was strong enough to walk through this, again, on public display. What would people say? How would people perceive me?
Were we ready for a Godly union? Since we met at our local church, of course, I thought I was ready. And his name is Obadiah. So if it wasn’t God, it was an extreme coincidence. Ha!
Years after my first marriage, I had to learn a few things the hard way. First lesson: Stop looking. No longer was I looking for love in all of the wrong places. Actually, I stopped looking. Second lesson: Focus on making myself a wife someone would want. I devoted myself to serving as often as I could, focusing on my career and taking care of myself. By that, I mean mentally, emotionally, and physically. If I wasn’t going to take care of myself, how could I expect someone else to? In doing this, I learned a critical third lesson. Third lesson: Realize what I wasn’t going to sacrifice in a relationship. If I treated myself and behaved like the child of God I know I am, my future spouse would have to be able to do the same.
I started reading scripture differently and found books on boundaries and what it meant to be in a Godly marriage. Isn’t it interesting how we can read and interpret scripture in a different way during different seasons of our lives?
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:25-28
Only through the help of wise counsel did we prepare appropriately.
I never thought I would be an advocate of marriage counseling. Having gone through marriage counseling before (but only during crisis moments), I wasn’t a fan. I have to be honest and tell you the Live the Life: Start Smart marriage course Obadiah and I took was life-changing. It is offered through our local church and was absolutely rewarding. Not only did we learn some basic concepts, but old concepts were reiterated. New approaches to situations were also taught to us.
The marriage counselors we were partnered with, we now call friends! It’s about doing life with other Godly couples who are willing to hold you accountable in life. Our counselors are incredible pillars for us. They have been from the moment we got engaged. We consider it a blessing that our church paired us together so well. They have truly kept us focused on what matters most.
We learned things about one another that we didn’t think to ask.
Some of these may sound silly to you, but if you are dating, engaged, or in a serious relationship, consider some of these questions. Are these things you and your partner have already discussed? Note: There are at least 100+ questions, and each of you answers without input from your partner. You may have some shock to see one another’s answers when it’s time for class.
Here are some examples of questions:
- Sometimes when we need to discuss something important, one or both of us withdraw?
- My future spouse and I have similar political views?
- I am comfortable with my future spouse’s past sexual activities? (You would be surprised at the number of couples who don’t discuss this and, later in their relationship, have insecurities about this.)
- One of us is an early riser, and the other a night owl? (You already know I skipped ahead to read his response because if you know me…)
- I am content with the way my future spouse expresses feelings of anger?
- If previously married, how will this marriage be different from your previous one?
- Will you have individual or joint bank accounts?
- Do we agree about how we will make financial decisions and manage our finances?
- The parenting roles and responsibilities in this relationship have been discussed and agreed to? (A lot of blended families struggle here. If you haven’t talked about it ahead of time, it will come up at the wrong time. Take the time to talk about it.)
- Do we agree about how to “share the load” when it comes to working around the house?
- While it is okay for both spouses to have a career, do you believe the husband should be the primary breadwinner?
- My future spouse and I are very committed to our faith?
There will be surprises about what you think you are great at. Your future spouse may think otherwise. Prepare yourself.
Those were just a few questions from the packet I could have fun with. Once you both come together, the counselor merges your answers for discussion. We both had a few surprises when our answers came together. But guess what? This gave us an opportunity to have a deep dialogue ahead of time.
Full transparency, I did not know my husband’s love language before the marriage. I got lucky on all of the financial questions because I love managing money, and my husband doesn’t. The controlling side of me was very thankful for that. Having come from a divorced home myself, I have an “independent woman” mentality. We didn’t agree, at first, on the roles of the household and sharing the load. Having an “I can do everything” mindset doesn’t work in a marriage. Where I thought it made me a weak person to relinquish responsibilities in the house and in the relationship, it can cause strife between two people. Having gone through physical, emotional, and mental abuse by my biological mother, I had some hidden insecurities that I was holding onto instead of expressing.
I can tell you that our class had a lot of eye-opening moments when reading the responses of their future spouse.
I know most of the questions I mentioned above may sound ridiculous, but there are some really deep questions when you get down into it. Have you had discussions about the government and politics? Don’t wait until election time to have this conversation. Lastly, in a society where women are leading in workplaces, discuss how you each feel about who (if anyone) should be the breadwinner. Or is everything equal and 50/50?
For those of you who know me and my personality, I pretty much asked these questions right upfront. Why waste time, right? I had things I wanted to know, so I asked, and we all know I’m not shy. And I didn’t wait very long to ask my questions either. I needed to know if he was an early riser because there were going to be issues right away…Ha!
In all honesty, situations ruin relationships when open conversations don’t occur. However, when those conversations are ahead of time, surprises are at a minimum. Of course, there will always be surprises and things we don’t learn ahead of time, but knowing what you can and loving one another through the rest, is the key.
Prepare yourself and surround yourself with wise counsel before marriage.
Who is in your life that models healthy relationships today? Name some couples in your life who you look up to and believe they are doing marriage God’s way. I never had friends in my life in years past who modeled healthy marriages, healthy relationships, or even a God-First life. I never realized the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are walking in the same manner as you are from a relationship standpoint. Now, most of my/our friends are leading healthy lives in their relationships, with their family, and with their friends.
Trust me; you are worth it!