Right after getting engaged, my first order of business was to find someone to help to make sure that we were on the same page. While many that I come across are focused on activities that create a wedding, I am far more concerned with ensuring that we are embarking upon a successful marriage. About a year ago, when Eric and I first started the task to consider taking our relationship to the next level, we went to about 6 different book stores in search of a few books to add to our collection in order to prepare for marriage consideration. We were sorely disappointed that all of the stores had shelves and shelves that discussed all of the fallout from a divorce - what to do with your dog if you divorce, how many days you should allow the kids to mourn, how to start dating again after a divorce, how to keep your spouse if they decide to ask for a divorce, how to get along with your parents when they knew that your divorced spouse was not the one and you married them anyway, the list could go on and on. But none of the stores had much of anything in-house to share with us any wisdom that would prepare for a successful marriage. When I realized this error, a lady in a certain place that has the initials B&N was CERTAIN that I could not be correct, so she pointed out the marriage preparation books to me - umm... Ma'am... that is WEDDING PREPARATION. We're talking about the relationship, not the day here. Oh... Well, you have to pre-order those books.
Pre-order. Could that be a part of the problem of where so many of us are in the situation that we are in now? We are deciding to pre-order the marriage, but getting the wedding off of the shelf. Let me explain. If you have no idea if your intended future spouse has goals that are directly in line with yours, you are pre-ordering. You have no idea what that is going to look like once you have committed to take it to have and to hold, for richer or poorer... from this day forth. Yes, you certainly will have a lifetime to get to know one another. But, would it not be such a sweeter lifetime if you both have an assurance other than the fact that you like the way that they comb their hair that you'd like to spend your lifetime together?
So, what do you do in those cases? We were able to find a few (and I mean a few) books that talked about relationships that we combed through together. 5 Love Languages, Boundaries, Before you Say I Do, a few books of random questions to answer. After we were actually engaged, we started going to couples counseling with a Christian Counselor. She did a personality profile that scared the heck out of both of us. We've gotten pretty set in some of our ways over our time of singleness and have a lot of adjustment to make to allow room for someone else in our lives. Then, we started going to a group counseling session at our church that has opened up even more doors. Whereas we felt like we were the only nuts in our couples counseling, we are able to see that we are not alone when we get around a group. Not one day is ever dull in peeling back more and more layers.
I've never been married before, so I really do not know how this whole thing goes. I've seen very few successful marriages in living color, so I am starting out even a little more behind the 8 ball. But, the effort that I put forth to make this successful will not be short-changed by my lack of effort. Short of determining that I believe in God, it is one of the few other things in my life that is my very own decision that is irreversible. When we got engaged, I was not proposed to have a wedding with someone, but I was asked to marry someone. So, excuse me if every single plan that is leading up to this wedding is not perfectly in line and organized on someone else's time schedule, but I'm preparing for a marriage of a lifetime, not just a wedding for a day...