In 1964, when we were first married, there was very little information on marriage or premarital counseling. My soon-to-be wife and I received a tiny little book on how to be married after meeting with our parish priest.
No one really knows how to be married. Our parents, aunts and uncles and neighbors helped us to formulate our ideas on marriage and some of the relationships we saw growing up, shall we say, had a lot to be desired. Our neighbor who lived next door to my family called his wife “an old lady”. As well, my wife’s father died when her parents were only married after 12 years. As a result her mother grew to be a very strong-willed woman who passed this message to her daughters — “you don’t need men”.
Many of us have heard of theses marriage sayings…..
- Marriage is a three-ring circus engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering
- Marriage is an institution, but who wants to live in an institution
- Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution
- It’s not as great a day for the bride as she thinks. She’s not marrying the best man
Although these sayings are funny they paint a negative picture of marriage.
Let’s move on to something positive!!! A good marriage does not just happen. Couples who have good marriages have excellent communication skills and they have worked very hard at incorporating that into their relationship. In the same way that you plan your vacations, we have found that it is just as necessary to plan on how you will enrich your marriage.
Marriage Encounter Weekends
Our first recommendation would be to look into attending a Marriage Encounter weekend. You can find a weekend in your area that will fit your timetable. You can also find different denominations on this website. Don’t walk to this weekend, RUN to this weekend.
The Marriage Encounter weekend is for couples with relatively healthy relationships. All of us have those areas that are considered touchy subjects in our marriage and some of us have difficulty in trusting, loving each other unconditionally and some of us live a married singles lifestyle — married, but not really spending much time together because of TV, kids, jobs, family, Tupperware parties and even church activities.
The Marriage Encounter weekend will help you re-prioritize many things in your relationship and you will learn a technique of communication that will be with you forever. When we went to our first Marriage Encounter weekend in 1976, we both went with the expectation of that our spouse would change, however little did we expect how much we would change.
From that point, we intentionally started planning on attending other marriage enrichment seminars on a regular basis. We realized that good marriages just don’t happen, they take time, effort and planning. These marriage enrichment seminars provided the needed format and guidance that spoke hope into our relationship.
Visit the Family Life website — Bringing Timeless Principles Home. This is a wonderful resource.
Also, check out The Center for Relationship Development — Nurturing Healthy Relationships. Find out more about Soul Mate Seminars.
If you really want to enhance your relationship — begin a marriage preparation program in your church. Start a program called Couple to Couple, whereby couples who have been married for a while mentor the younger married couples of your church. Anything that you do as a couple for other couples will enhance your own relationships.