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Look Before You LeapA Close Look Before the Marital Relationship Marriage is a life-long commitment. Couples must prepare for marriage in a way that will set a foundation for the rest of their lives. This preparation includes a serious examination by both partners of the positives and negatives of their relationship. Both partners need to be fully aware of what they are getting into. Most preparation for getting married is for the actual wedding itself. Couples do not see that there is so much more to their commitment than just the actual ceremony. To better understand why some people get married it is sometimes helpful to look at their motives. It is reasonable to assume that every relationship will contain a variety of healthy and unhealthy motives for getting married. The couple needs to examine all of their motives and hopefully the positives will outweigh the negatives. The couple then needs to work at eliminating the unhealthy motives. If the unhealthy motives outweigh the positives the situation can be very bad. The couple should seriously think about reconsidering their decision to get married, until they reevaluate their relationship. The way that a person thinks about issues will play a critical role in the quality of the marriage relationship. Correct thinking is precise and realistic, while faulty thinking is too narrow or too general. Partners in a relationship that think correctly can avoid many serious problems. On the other hand, partners who have faulty thinking are definitely going to face some serious problems down the road. Some examples of faulty thinking are; that marriage will make me happy, people must accept me for who I am, and as long as we love each other, things will be fine. Couples who feel these ways are seriously not prepared for the reality of their future. It is so important to evaluate the way that the partners in the relationship are thinking beforehand. That way any faulty thinking can be dealt with before the wedding day. Courtship is the perfect time to see the best and the worst of each other. While dating the couple should get a true perception of themselves. They can get a true look at themselves individually and a true look at each other. Problems can arise if these discoveries are made after marriage and the couple may feel that the whole foundation of their marriage is based on a false reality. If a love relationship is purely based on romance, rather than a friendship it is bound for disaster. A couple’s relationship needs to be based on an intimate friendship. It needs to be more than a sexual attraction or physical lust. Love that is continually growing is based on a genuine respect, both for yourself and for your partner. Respect is extremely important in both courtship and marriage because it is, with trust, the cornerstone of any relationship. Genuine respect for yourself and your partner can only be earned over periods of time. Parents can also play an important role in the decision of a couple to get married. Couples should not automatically abide by their parents’ feelings, nor should they automatically reject them. It is important to respect the views of the parents, but parents are not always correct in their assessment of the couple. Respecting their views does not necessarily mean agreeing with them. If the couple respects their parents they will seriously evaluate their opinions, before they write them off or disregard them. Just like parents, friends can play a major role in a relationship. Friends can be an important source of feedback. Of course the reliability of the friends’ opinions depends upon how honest and trustworthy they are. If they are good friends and have known the individual for a good while, they may see things more clearly than both partners involved. Close friends can sometimes see things more objectionable. They may be scared to share their observations for fear of causing problems. They might be scared that the couple would become mad at them or at each other. There are ways that a couple can find to invite friends to share concerns or questions in a non-threatening atmosphere. Communication is always severely important. It is helpful to understand communication skills, obstacles, and conflict resolution. Communication is both an art and a science. It requires a number of skills that can be developed and practiced throughout life. Some people think that just by talking they are good communicators, which is not the case at all.

Effective communication is actually very simple. It only requires the right elements. Timing, location, and attitude are a few of these elements needed to be effective in trying to get your ideas across. It is always helpful to aim communication to be constructive. Motivation behind the issues makes a difference between constructive and destructive reasons. Couples should also be open and honest about their ideas about sex. They should share with each other their past experiences with the opposite sex. Couples that have had sexual relations before marriage will find that marital sexuality is often extremely different from their premarital experiences. The quality of sexual relations is greatly influenced by several factors that are related to each other. Sexual relations reflect the relationship as a whole. Therefore, a good understanding of the sexual relations in marriage includes an intense look at the personal and relational dimensions of the couple. The personal dimension of a relationship deals with what each partner does to increase or decrease the degree of intimacy of the relationship. The relational aspect has to deal with how the partners perceive each other. The bottom line is that sex is a big part of marriage. Every couple must eventually deal with this issue. When a clear understanding is brought about and any difficulties are removed, the way is cleared for a mutually fulfilling experience. However, when these issues are not addressed properly, they can interfere with mutual fulfillment. A person’s attitudes toward sex can also be a great influence on how well the couple will get along. If a person has a positive outlook on sex, they might view it as a way to communicate feelings for which words are inadequate, or as a way of showing trust and giving. Negative attitudes toward sex are thinking that sex is basically dirty, that it is a marital duty, or that it is a lower order behavior. These negative attitudes are often caused by unconscious fears of sexuality. Maybe the fear of getting hurt physically, the fear of being sexually inadequate or other fears. Instead of dismissing these fears as being silly or ridiculous it is more helpful to explore the underlying reasons and address them with compassion and reason. Negative attitudes are sometimes the result of brainwashing early on in life. If this is the case then getting rid of them might be extremely difficult. In either case, negative attitudes toward sex should definitely be explored before marriage. For a lot of people the decision to become a parent is the most important one that they will ever make. Of course it is even more important than the decision to marry itself. Marriage is a lot easier to undo than parenthood. Parents cannot divorce their children. Once a couple has a child, they will be parents forever. The responsibility of having children is often underestimated. Parents have the awesome responsibility of forming an infant into an all around healthy human being. It is a twenty-four hour a day job, with very few resting periods. Parents must truly be able to love their children and to sacrifice a great deal for them. People who have trouble demonstrating love will most likely experience problems in parenthood. No one can really know before becoming a parent how much it actually entails. The best thing that couples can do before they decide to have children is to make sure that their relationship is stable. The marriage needs to be healthy and deeply rooted before a couple chooses parenthood. Parenthood can be a true joy, if the couple is ready.Marriage truly is a huge commitment not to be taken lightly. A couple needs to examine their relationship thoroughly before even considering such a big step. If a couple does not take this seriously, they are not likely to make it in the long run. Especially, if these partners are not truly friends throughout the relationship, gaining mutual respect for each other. The bottom line is mutual respect and friendship.

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