You're going to have problems...

Posted by  | Monday, February 6, 2012  at 7:56 PM  
When I asked Ed what advice he thought I should share about preparing for marriage, the first words out of his mouth were "Well, you're going to have problems..."! Oh, boy, I thought, this is going to be interesting!

When Ed and I were going through our premarital counseling, our pastor told us that the three main areas of conflict a married couple will face are Sex, Money & In-laws. We may have balked at the time, but over the past 8 years of marriage, I can agree that those are probably the three main sources of conflict that we have faced.

To a couple that is considering marriage, the idea that Sex would be a source of conflict is just laughable. I guarantee that every couple has said there's no way that sex would be a problem. But I can also guarantee that each of those couples has at one point or another experienced conflict about sex.

Money becomes a source of conflict because often times two people come into a marriage with differing opinions on saving, spending, giving, etc. A wife may have grown up in a household where money was handled differently than in the husband's house. Maybe one lived on hand-me-downs and the other always had new things. Maybe your parents shared a checking account and his had separate. All of this can often times lead to a third source of conflict, in-laws...

The way you were raised and how you relate to your parents has a huge impact on the way you live out your marriage. And that goes for whether you loved your childhood or hated it; whether you are really close with your parents or have a rocky relationship. All of your growing-up experiences influence your idea of the culture of marriage and can cause many speed bumps in your own marriage.

So as you consider the prospect of marriage, you and your partner definitely need to be aware of these areas of conflict. The more you get to know your potential mate, the more you will learn about their spending habits, their saving habits, their relationship with their parents, etc. BUT, and I mean that in all capital letters, B-U-T, no matter how much you discover and discuss ahead of time, just as my husband said, "you're going to have problems." The time you spend getting to know each other before marriage is just as much about how you and your partner deal with conflict as it is with what the specific conflict is.

Ed and I were friends for 5 years before we started dating. But we were married within a year of starting a dating relationship (with the first 6 months long distance). When we reflect on our shared history, we agree that perhaps we were married too soon. Even though we had a good foundation of friendship, our courting period wasn't long enough to allow us to experience conflict and work through it. We swept what conflict we had under the rug and pushed through to our wedding day. So when the conflict came in marriage, we were often disillusioned. We felt we had been duped by the other person ("he was so sweet when we were dating"; "she didn't have this kind of temper before we were married"). Had we allowed ourselves time to process through some of the conflict ahead of time, we could have been better equipped to deal with it within marriage.

We will both say that we have definitely had our ups and downs over the past eight years - and a lot of rocky ground in between. We have learned better how to face the big 3 (sex, money & in-laws) through lots of trial and error and many mistakes. Those were hard fought battles that have ultimately brought us closer as we've arrived on the same page.

My encouragement would be to go ahead and have a few fights! :) No, seriously, don't be afraid to face conflict within your courting period. It will allow you each to see how you handle the conflict and allow you time to process through how you can, as a couple, work through a problem.

5 comments:

Leah F said...

Thank you SO MUCH for this, Leah! I especially liked this line: "BUT, and I mean that in all capital letters, B-U-T, no matter how much you discover and discuss ahead of time, just as my husband said, "you're going to have problems." The time you spend getting to know each other before marriage is just as much about how you and your partner deal with conflict as it is with what the specific conflict is."

Nathan and I have walked with couples through the courtship/engagement process, and often they want to be sure they ask ALL the questions they can possibly ask. And though I think it is important to try to cover as much 'material' as possible, conflict is still going to come once you are married to and living with another person. You can give the right answers now but find that your response might change under the pressure of sharing a bathroom with someone :-) Thank you for your honesty in this--I completely agree!

TVR said...

Wow!! Thanks Leah...

Courtney said...

Spence and I do premarital mentoring and love it. One of my fave stories to tell in order to show that there will be conflict is our first fight. The day after we got back from our honeymoon we went to target for groceries. Everything was fine until we got to the orange juice. He wanted minute maid and I wanted tropicana. We didn't have a huge blow up but certainly had a difference of opinion. Literally 9 days into our marriage the honeymoon was very over ;) We share this bc it's a funny story but also just to show that it's ok to argue and that you are going to even if you are God fearing, walking with the Lord, Jesus loving people.
(btw we bought both kinds that first time, but now we only buy tropicana. So I won that first one haha JK)

Leah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tenjuices said...

for the record, I think I said other things as well about finding a good ministry partner as well.

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