Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Planning a life, not a wedding

On the night of my engagement, Ben and I were bombarded with congratulations, well wishes, and questions of the date and details about the wedding…all in the first few hours! We were running all over campus showing off the ring and calling friends and family to tell them the good news, and everyone kept asking about the planning when we had barely had a chance to think about such things. Now that the excitement has worn off a little and we’ve had time to think about details, it gets overwhelming very quickly. Just the other day I printed of a checklist…a 13 page checklist! Some of the things on the list are small, like envisioning the style of dress and shoes I want, to major decisions like invitations and reception halls. We went out and bought an accordion folder to store all the lists and paperwork, and this thing is already filling up! Planning is a lot of work! I think back to Kim Kardashian’s wedding, all the planning and money wasted on a marriage that never stood a chance and it makes me want to take a step back from all the details and planning of the wedding, and really focus on what’s happening. Ben and I aren’t planning for a wedding; we’re planning for a marriage. We’re planning a life together that is far more valuable than flowers that will wither, music notes that will fade away, cake that will dry up, and a dress that will be preserved and put away to admire down the road. I think this is the reason so many marriages don’t stand a chance these days-no one plans for the marriage!

To try to avoid this from happening, Ben and I have been reading through this book called “Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married” by Gary Chapman. This author is a marriage counselor is known for his Five Love Languages. In the book he talks about the things he wished he and his wife knew when they were newlyweds that would have saved a lot of heartaches and prevented many fights from happening. (We started reading this book a few weeks before we were even engaged…I think I’m going to keep Ben foreverJ) I read through it once by myself, and knew this would be a great thing for us. When you’re young and in love, it’s hard to think about major disagreements and fights, but I refuse to go into this thinking it’s going to be happily ever after. Marriage is good and it’s going to be a great thing, but I know it’s not always going to make me feel warm and fuzzy. There will be days when I won’t want to roll over and say, “I’m sorry, you were right and I was wrong.” Right now I’m excited to throw our clothes together in the washer and dryer just because it will make us feel like a real family…I’m excited to fold his socks and underwear. (Sorry if that makes you feel weird hun J )But a few years down the road when I have cranky babies and toddlers running wild in the house, folding socks and underwear will probably begin to feel a whole lot less romantic. When we’re up late talking about our future, we talk excitedly about learning to cook together, and being content living in a tiny apartment without any frills. But I know too that sooner or later, cooking dinner and living without frills will lose the sparkle and thrill it holds now. Sooner or later we will stop feeling like newlyweds, and this will be hard.

Not trying to be depressing or anything, I just want to be prepared. I want to work through these scenarios now so that when it happens, I won’t be crushed. I don’t want to have the feelings of marrying the wrong person just because it doesn’t feel magical anymore. I refuse to be one of those na├»ve young brides who think marriage will solve all my problems, that Ben will be perfect 100% of the time, and that we will never fight. I want to face these issues head on and be able to deal with them appropriately when they arise, instead of feeling crushed by disappointment. I will always love Ben, but I know the warm fuzzy feelings might not always be there. I know that we will both make mistakes and say things we don’t mean. We will both be angry with one another at some point, but we are choosing now how we will handle these issues. Instead of taking everything personally and responding out of anger, we want to be able to openly discuss our feelings and find solutions together. This is only one of the many things we have been talking through, and to be honest, talking through these things and planning for our marriage is more fun than choosing colors, flowers, food, and wedding attire. It means more, and it will certainly last much longer.

I’ll give you a taste of what we have been discussing, and what we’ll be discussing in the coming months as we continue reading through the book. Here’s a list of the chapters. They begin with “I Wish I had Known…”

1.    That being in love is not an adequate foundation for building a successful marriage

2.    That romantic love has two stages

3.    That the saying “Like mother, like daughter” and “Like father like son” is not a myth

4.    How to solve disagreements without arguing

5.    That apologizing is a sign of strength

6.    That forgiveness is not a feeling

7.    That toilets are not self-cleaning

8.    That we needed a plan for handling our money

9.    That mutual sexual fulfillment is not automatic

10. That I was marrying into a family

11. That spirituality is not to be equated with “going to church”

12. That personality profoundly influences behavior

It has truly been a joy discussing these things together. I love the fact that we are figuring out some of this stuff now in order to avoid some heartbreak. We’ve always been good at openly discussing our feelings when we disagree. We’ve already been practicing not letting the sun go down on our anger…which has caused some very late nights as we talk through issues together. This is not a fun experience, admitting you’re wrong and apologizing, but I’m glad we can do it. We always consult one another on major decisions; we want to be a team, united. In order for this, we need God. He is the glue that holds us together, the basis for everything we believe in. One of my favorite verses is Ecclesiastes 4: 9- “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” The picture is awesome- two people working together and conquering the world. But the most important part is God-he makes a couple a triple braided cord, not easily broken. With God, it will be hard to be separate. It’s comforting to know that when we face issues and heartache, we will be held together by the power of God.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Sara,
    I am so pleased to see you using My Word to help you go the extra mile in this fantastic journey we are on together. I am proud of both you and Ben for seeking out wisdom that will guide and direct your life together. You are right, love and feelings are not enough to hold it all together. The attack of the enemy will be brutal at times, so it is good that you are planning strategy now to be prepared. I am so thoroughly enjoying your excitement and seeing your bond grow as you study together. Keep up the good work!

    The Dreamgiver