Before You Say “I Do”

Summer is finally here and you know what that means. At least for our friends and family, summer means lots of swimming, grill outs, graduations, and yes, weddings. Merrill and I were married on a sweltering July day back in 1987; we will be married 32 years on July 24. If you’re married and reading this, maybe you had a summer wedding too. I don’t know about you, but we were such young pups when we got married without a clue of what we were doing when we said, “I Do”. I’m not sure where we would be today without God’s unmerited favor.  I thank God every day for His grace and the blessing of Merrill, our five children, two amazing daughter in laws and 2 ⅓ adorable grandchildren (Yep, another one is on the way). Each one of them is a blessing in my life I do not deserve.

I say all this not just to reminisce but to attack some myths Merrill and I have seen young couples fall for over the past 25 years. Over and over again, couples have fallen into the same traps creating trouble for them years down the road. None of these are easy topics. There are as many opinions as there are words in a dictionary. We could spend days unpacking each one, but in this season of weddings and engagements, I feel like it’s time to do some myth busting about marriage and relationships.


Photo Credit: Olivia Strohm Photography

Photo Credit: Olivia Strohm Photography

  1. “Love is All We Need”-That’s a great title for a movie or love song, but that’s not real life. Without investing in each other and nurturing that relationship through good communication and conflict resolution skills...that infatuation quickly begins to fade away. Why do you think only 2% of new marriages started as high school sweethearts? Love is not a feeling, but instead a conscious decision that must be fed and nurtured. A healthy marriage takes each partner giving 100% to the relationship. Besides healthy relationship skills, the greatest tool in our marriage toolbox is God Himself.  Without the Lord at the center of their relationship, couples are building on sinking sand.

  2. “Time Will Resolve Our Problems”- Sometimes it’s the little things over time that destroy trust and slowly eat away at a relationship. If you and your partner have things that have never been addressed or resolved and they are causing bitterness and anger to build up, it’s time to get some help. Work toward compromise and resolution BEFORE you say “I do”.  Time does not heal all wounds. Over time, it can be the little things that hardened your heart toward your partner. Don’t let things go unresolved thinking they are “no big deal”. If you keep brushing things under the rug without ever dealing with eventually start tripping over the rug!

  3. “My Partner is My Everything”- Putting your partner on a pedestal and declaring him/her to be your world is setting your partner up for horrible failure. God never intended your partner to be your savior...your everything. Your partner IS going to disappoint you. He/She IS going to let you down over and over again. That’s called being human, and that’s why we all need to extend this thing called grace. Look in the mirror. You’re not perfect either and you’re going to need your partner to extend grace to you. We all do.  We’re going to disappoint and let others down. We see couples all the time enter into a relationship with rose colored glasses assuming their partner can meet all their needs. Good luck with that one! That’s not how God designed marriage. There is still a need for outside friendships. There is still a need for alone time, and there is still a HUGE need for God. I tell couples all the time. God is a jealous God, and he won’t settle for second place even in your marriage.

  4. “Living Together Helps Prepare Us For Marriage”-This one depends on what you’re preparing for. If you want to know if your partner snores or is a good cook, maybe that’s true, but if you are looking for a forever commitment, not so much. When a couple chooses to live together before marriage, it can infuse doubt and mistrust into the very core of the relationship. It’s hard to trust someone completely when they have an easy exit strategy. The message living together often sends to a partner is “I’m not sure you’re the one for me”. I want to “test drive” the relationship. Well, test driving is great for cars you want to buy, but we’re not dealing with cars here. We’re dealing with people’s emotions and when we start intertwining sexual intimacy and financial bank accounts together without a forever commitment-things get really messy.  It’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle. I’m not here to say that couples who live together before marriage won’t last, but I am saying it definitely starts the building process on shaky ground. Regardless of what people may say, Cohabitation is NOT the best way to prepare for marriage.

A healthy marriage is not about what we selfishly GET from the relationship, but what we selflessly GIVE. It’s more about BEING the one than finding “the one”. When we look at our partner and say “I’m ALL IN” and approach marriage as a lifetime commitment through the good times and the bad, that’s when we create a relationship of love and trust.  That’s when you begin to build on a rock solid foundation for your new life together. The best way to prepare for marriage is to pursue God as a couple and get wise premarital counsel.

Many couples spend years saving and planning for their wedding day. Did you know that the average cost of a wedding in the United States last year was over $33,000? That is crazy! Couples spend a ton of money and time picking out dresses, flowers and venues. What if couples would take that same kind of time and attention in seeking God as the center of their relationship? Take the time to pray for your relationship, for each other, and for your future family. Statistics show that over 99% of married couples who pray together on a regular basis stay together. I don’t know of anything else that compares to that success rate. Research also shows that 80% of couples that get quality premarital counseling stay married.

So before you say “I do”, take the time to pursue God together. Talk to your priest or pastor. Invest in premarital counseling. Find a Christian mentor couple to walk alongside you. Slow down and do this right. After all, it’s not about one special day on the calendar, but a very special relationship you want to last a lifetime.