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A Quick Overview
There is no doubt about it when you look at the facts – families are under stress. That, in turn, is reflected not only in how people look at such an institution but also until what point they decide to take family seriously.
Judging by some facts, more and more people look at family as something secondary, of significantly less importance than other areas of life, and, therefore, are also more willing to “dispose of” or quit on their families.
For example, in the U.K. there was a surge in the number of single-parent families in the last years. (Office For National Statistics of the U.K.) Additionally, throughout the entire world, the divorce rate has significantly increased in the last decades.
Do you know cases like this? Does that make you question if marriage is for you or if it is still a good option? If your answer to any of such questions is “yes,” fear not, that doesn’t mean it will happen to you.
Especially if you take to heart the key points addressed in this article on how to start a good marriage.
Preparing for a Successful Marriage
Many of us are led to think that a good marriage starts… in marriage. However, a good, happy marriage can be compared to a beautiful house, yes, to the house of your dreams. Nonetheless, don’t let your imagination run wild yet.
Remember that a house – yes, even the house of your dreams – needs to be constructed. The same is true of marriage. Before you “move in” (that is, get married), you need to “construct” your future marriage. What does that mean?
Constructing a building requires careful preparation. Such preparation starts with looking for and acquiring some good land. Then, plans must be drawn up.
The foundation must be laid and work must be undertaken for a period until you can move in. All these are logical steps. However, what is true of constructing a building also applies to constructing a successful marriage.
Here, the words once written by a doctor named Luke are fitting. Writing about constructing a building he wrote the following question:
“Who of you that wants to build a tower does not sit down and calculate the expense [involved in doing so], to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28) Therefore, instead of just saying “I want to get married”, in order to prepare for and build a good marriage it is vital to stop and consider some very important steps (and readjust, where appropriate).
Have a Realistic Point of View
Here is a trap: unrealistic expectations. According to some marriage therapists, unrealistic expectations about marriage are one of the biggest causes of dissatisfaction in marriage. Therefore, those contemplating marriage (one day) need to have a realistic view of marriage.
Remember: unrealistic expectations can deprive you of happiness (this is true for those not yet married and for those already married).
Just to help you understand this, have you ever wanted something so much that when you finally got it you were somehow (or really) disappointed because it was not what you expected? Many times, that negative impression is caused when you expect too much from something or someone.
In those cases, even things (or people) that you could find great in different circumstances will not be good enough. Not really because they are bad or not good enough, but because you build up such high [unreal] expectations that nothing could ever be that good.
Therefore, something that can indeed be good is not perceived as such anymore.
What was the real cause behind such a feeling and experience? Unrealistic expectations. Therefore, it is critical to have a realistic view of marriage – both the good things as well as the costs associated with it.
An Example of Unrealistic Expectations
The following is an example of what is stated above and how reality is different from unrealistic expectations:
Dream/Unrealistic Expectation: “We’ll be a perfect match as a married couple because we see eye to eye on everything—we never disagree!”
Reality: If you never disagree, it’s probably because you have carefully managed to avoid issues that might spark a conflict. But marriage will not afford you that luxury! The reality is that considering that there are no perfect people, no two imperfect humans are perfectly matched.
Thus, a measure of disagreement is and will be inevitable, at times. You must expect that since that is the reality! You know that you don’t agree on everything, not even with the people you love and care about the most.
Is that not the truth? Expecting a different marriage will lead to unnecessary disappointment, frustration, and sadness. That doesn’t mean to disagree all the time either. That would be a worrying sign. However, not agreeing on everything is both natural and to be expected.
You need, therefore, to consider how well you agree, but also what happens when you disagree. A strong union is made up of two people who can openly acknowledge a difference and then work to settle the matter maturely and amicably.
Is that what happens in your case? Whether your answer is “yes” or “no” the following step will help you to lay a good foundation for your marriage.
Know and Evaluate Yourself Honestly
Do you find it easy to list the qualities that you want in a mate? Most people have no problem or difficulty in suggesting how others should be.
Nonetheless, what about yourself, your own qualities? That is, what traits do you have that will help you contribute to a successful marriage?
Yes, remember that success in marriage does depend on both of you – which includes you! Consequently, it is very important to take an honest look at yourself and think “what type of husband or wife will I be?” How can you find that out? Remember this key point: marriage will not change your personality. That is an unrealistic expectation.
The truth is that if you are proud, oversensitive, or overly pessimistic when single, you will be the same when married. Therefore, ask yourself honest questions and then compare them with the attitudes you display when dealing with others (co-workers, friends, parents, family, etc.).
Questions like these: “do I freely admit my mistakes and accept advice, or am I always defensive and ready to correct other people while never accepting to be corrected?” or “Am I generally cheerful and optimistic or do I tend to be gloomy, frequently complaining?”
Since it can be hard to see ourselves as others see us, why not ask a parent or a trusted friend for their frank comments about those things? If you realize or are told of changes that can be made, don’t get offended or gloomy, but work to improve those things as that will surely contribute to a good start and continuation of a good marriage.
What Type of Mate do You Want to Be?
|Kind||A domineering attitude|
Which of these qualities attracts you the most?
Considering that mentioned above, here are two examples that can be applied whether you are a man or a woman:
- Look great! Yes, taking care of your physical appearance is good, can elevate your self-esteem, and provides you with a level of self-confidence. But never allow that to make you think you are better than others nor to make you conceited.
Those characteristics do not attract good people. They may attract those who want to use you and put you aside, but not those who are honorable and would treat you in such a manner.
Therefore, although the physical appearance is important, it is the type of person you are that will determine if your marriage will be successful. Additionally, although having value, your physical appearance does not solve problems.
For example, have you ever heard or seen a couple that was fighting and one of them stops all of a sudden and says: “what am I doing arguing with you? Ooh, you are so pretty/handsome! I should never argue with you because you are so pretty/handsome!” It doesn’t happen!
And that proves that, although it has its importance, you should concentrate on cultivating good qualities inside (like patience, joy, positive attitude, self-control, kindness, etc.) as those are what really make a difference in overcoming hardships – or avoiding them altogether! – Galatians 5:22, 23.
Avoid a domineering attitude as that will lead to trouble in a marriage. Is it not true that most problems arise because everyone wants to dominate others? Therefore, avoid acting or speaking in a way that is offensive, aggressive, or dominating.
Learn to be responsible in your actions and in your decision-making, but don’t embarrass others when things don’t go well for them.
Lastly, if you are a man, learn to treat women in a kind and respectful manner. The way you treat women says a lot about yourself. The same is true for women towards men.
Be different and learn to be committed! Learn to view your relationship with your spouse as not like a job that you can quit or an apartment that you can escape from by simply breaking the lease and moving out. Rather, learn to have a long-term view of your marriage even before getting married!
A Vital Factor for Success
Constructing a building may be expensive, but caring for its long-term maintenance is costly as well. It is somewhat similar to marriage. Getting married can seem challenging enough, but maintaining the marital relationship year after year must also be considered.
What, then, maintains such a relationship in the long term? A vital factor is a wholehearted commitment. The idea of commitment to one person seems to frighten many.
They see commitment as an obstacle, something bad, or some sort of confinement. Nonetheless, commitment is not hard if you work on being a committed person in general. In fact, commitment is a result, a consequence of other things.
Therefore, working on these other things and being committed will not only come naturally to you, but it will also make you feel joyful and good. What are the things that result in commitment?
Commitment could be likened to the mortar that binds the bricks of a sturdy house. Mortar is made from a combination of ingredients, including sand, cement, and water.
Similarly, commitment is formed from a combination of such factors as duty, trust, and friendship. If you learn to be a responsible person, an honest and loyal one, you will see that, in time, commitment will be a natural and joyful thing for you! Nevertheless, you need to learn to display those things to the right people.
In this regard, a wise, famous, lawyer from the past once wrote: “Make sure of the more important things”. (Philippians 1:10) Yes, remember that your mate is and should be more important to you than others, including your friends.
Otherwise, if your friends are more important to you than him or her, how would you convince them that you love him/her more than your friends?
Remember: if you really love the person you intend to marry (or have married) commitment will not seem like a burden.
Instead, it will be viewed as a source of security and an enjoyable characteristic for you to display. If you do that, together with the other two aforementioned steps, you will be laying a good foundation to start and have a good marriage.