Before the Ring: Preparing for Marriage
Two years ago today, the boy I love asked me to marry him and slipped a ring on my finger. While the proposal was a surprise, we had spent the past two years preparing for marriage.
I wrote a little bit about how we prepared for marriage in my previous blog post, "Why Marriage is Easier than Dating." But mostly I expressed that we feel marriage is easier than dating because we worked really hard to prepare for what was to come.
Today, I want to go into more detail and give specific examples of how we worked toward becoming husband & wife.
So here are a few ways we "prepared" for marriage:
1. Read books
After our first date, Wes bought my favorite books and read them. It is one of the many reasons why I fell in love with him. We established a book club that consisted of just the two of us and read each other's favorite books.
When we finished reading each other's favorite books, we started reading books about healthy relationships and marriage. We planned a time each week to sit at a coffee shop and discuss what we liked or didn't like about each chapter. It always sparked meaningful conversations, and it was fun to see which parts we highlighted or which quotes reminded us of the other person!
We loved going to the book store together and deciding on our next book to read! Some books we read were better than others, but we do have a few favorites: 5 Love Languages - Gary Chapman Things I Wish I Had Known Before Getting Married - Gary Chapman What Happened to Happily Ever After - David E. Clarke 7 Levels of Intimacy - Matthew Kelly
2. Talked to Married Mentors
My husband and I have wonderful marriage role models.
While dating, we made it a priority to learn from those with healthy, happy marriages. (Shout outs to Justin & Megan, Brian & Rachel, and Adam & Liz for being our #marriagegoals).
It was (and still is) important to me to look up to strong woman/wife role models. I knew there was no better way of learning how to be a supportive, loving wife than surrounding myself with awesome married women.
A few months into dating, I became active in a women's bible study and treated my married friends to coffee to hear their stories, mistakes, challenges - and learn from them. They are women I can trust and ask for prayers when relationships (or life in general) get tough.
3. Set Physical Boundaries
Let's be honest, it's difficult to set physical boundaries (and stick to them) when you love someone.
While dating, we saw a lot of our friends regret being sexually intimate too soon and then have a tougher breakup because of it. Because of this, we made a decision to just wait.
Obviously, every couple is different - and that's something to celebrate. Boundaries are different for every dating couple, and most times it won't be a black-and-white decision.
The most important thing is to have an open conversation with your boyfriend/girlfriend about what each of you are comfortable with in your relationship. We live in this hookup/casual dating culture, and miscommunication can lead to serious heartbreak. If you and your partner want to wait until marriage, it's totally possible! We are thankful we did.
4. Asked "Road Trip" Questions
We loved playing those "get-to-know-you" games, which I call "road trip questions" because they can lead to long discussions that are perfect for road trips.
Whenever we had a lot of time to kill, we printed off a list of questions/discussion topics. They included silly questions, "What super power would you like to have?" as well as more serious ones: "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
There are couples who don't share as much as they probably should before marriage. But being vulnerable and honest is so necessary for a lasting, meaningful relationship.
Here is an example of road trip questions.
5. Attended Premarital Counseling
When we finally got engaged, we thought we had read all the books and talked to all the "experts" ... we thought, "what else could we possibly need to know in order for our marriage to be strong?"
I was stunned by how much we learned about each other (as well as ourselves) through premarital counseling. We took a variety of fun tests and learned how to argue/disagree with each other in a healthy way. We loved our counseling sessions, and our marriage mentors have recommended visiting every so often, which we believe is a great idea.
Planning for marriage and being intentional about dating goes a long way. Making the decisions to be together and pursue each other comes way before a ring. Here's to many more years of "yes," as we live our happily ever after.