In our country, we spend a lot of time and money getting ready for a wedding. We spend much less time, getting ready for marriage. Preparing for marriage can provide you with the foundation to build and grow a healthy marriage.
You and your future spouse will have to make a lot of decisions about your life as a married couple. Where will you live? How will you handle finances? Do you want to have children? Premarital preparation can help you learn how to discuss these issues in more positive and effective ways. There is no recipe to guarantee a strong marriage but learning about the right ingredients can help you begin your life as husband and wife with mutual respect and confidence in your future.
Selecting a Partner
What do you want for your life and in a partner? It may sound obvious when stated plainly, but good, healthy relationships and marriages begin with the person you choose to share these things with. This process can begin many years before when you are just starting to date. A lot of times who we date can seem like a roll of the dice. We date people we are interested in or those who are interested in us, right? True. But we don’t have to leave it up to chance to bring us a good partner. Even if you are not ready to get married, there are factors you can think about to limit your chances of getting involved with someone who is not right for you, someone on a course that will not work with your course in life, or someone whose values do not mesh well with your own.
Selecting a good partner involves taking stock of a few things.
Below is a sample checklist. Research shows that on average, people who have more of each of these are more likely to have a healthy and successful marriage:
- Age (at least up to early-to-mid-20s).
- Education and income.
- Emotional health.
- Religious affiliation and religious practice.
- Similar characteristics as their partner (age, race, social and economic status).
- Similar attitudes, values, and beliefs.
- Acquaintance (that is, they have been together for more than a short time and know each other well).
- Family stability and health (that is, their parents did not divorce, had good mental health, and a reasonably happy family growing up) and partner’s family stability (when both spouses experienced the divorce of their parents growing up, they face a higher risk of divorce).2
- Support from family and friends for the marriage (as opposed to thinking the union isn’t a good idea).
- Social and interpersonal skills (especially positive communication and problem-solving skills).
Also, those who have had less premarital sexual experience and who have not lived together before marriage or engagement have more healthy and successful marriages. Individuals who have lived together with several partners face especially high risks. 3
Thinking about marriage
Once you have found that certain someone you might be thinking about getting married or you might be already engaged. There is a lot of material out there that suggests different questions to ask your partner before marriage. Questions are good. Questions let you get to know one another better. Questions also get you and your partner talking and communicating. Good communication is essential for a healthy marriage. Marriage education can teach you better communication skills and much more. Marriage education isn’t just for people who are already married. Learning skills early can help enhance your marriage during the great times and help sustain your marriage during the hard times. Has anyone told you yet that “A good marriage takes lots of hard work?” Learning solid skills early through marriage education can make it a whole lot easier.