8 Tips for a Great Marriage
January 1, 1970By Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway
Getting married is huge step in the life of any bride and groom. The journey to the altar is a sacred time of truly getting ready for a long term, loving relationship. Too often, couples get lost in the hoopla around getting hitched, instead of focusing on the steps of preparing for married life.
My advice: Don’t just plan a fabulous wedding ... prepare for an awesome marriage.
As romantic as it is to get engaged, and plan a wedding, there is so much more to be explored as you head toward your wedding day. I find that as weddings become more creative and self-expressive, more and more couples want to by-pass deep reflection and mindful preparation and go straight to the party planning and the wedding dramas. They tend to avoid taking time out to talk about what their married life will be like.
Even a great relationship must be nurtured and built into a great marriage. Here are eight tips to give your marraige a head start!
1. Be aware that getting married can stir up a lot of emotions. The process itself sets forth period of growth and change that can be very nerve -wracking. Once you decide to marry you will begin the process of getting ready for marriage … and unresolved emotions may come to the surface to be explored. Be prepared to do some inner work along with all the external preparations. Honor and address the emotions and fears that arise. Trust they are natural. Don't sweep things under the rug.
2. Ask yourselves, and each other, A LOT of questions. Don't assume that married life will be the same as single life. And don't be afraid to get to know each other's truest feelings. It is important that you delve into everything from how you'll raise your kids, to what kind of color scheme you want in your home, to how you will spend free nights at home once the wedding is over. Brides and grooms tend to want to avoid the deep talks, and dwell on the surface aspects of getting married. Your married life will be a lot smoother if you communicate with and listen to one another. Be willing to hear things you may not like and agree with. Find ways to compromise and learn to give in to one another when appropriate.
3. Picture Your Future. Begin to think about and visualize the life you want to share. What will it look like? What will your new roles be like? What kind of home and family life do you want to have? Although it is fun to day dream, it is very practical to give thought and vision to the life you want to create. You might even want to create a treasure map (see below) or a book of choices (where you list the aspects of the life you choose), to guide you.
4. Use visual language - it is powerful. Cut photos from magazines that illustrate the essence of your ideal life together and paste them in a special journal book or on poster board. Superimposed photos of yourself in a picture of that fabulous vacation spot, or cut out a happy family picture that represents how you'd like it to be, with the number of kids you’d like to have. Visual cues give strong messages to the subconscious. Working together to find the images, and gluing them into place together, will begin to expand your picture of life together. Studies have shown images can be like visual prayers.
5. Create your new home together. Find, it buy it or rent it, and begin to get it in order before the big day! If you already live together, do some marital remodeling, updating or upgrading. Your home will be the safe harbor for you two and your marriage. What ever your budget, make your home beautiful, sacred and truly compatible with you both. Start merging your stuff as soon as you can so that you don't spend the first months of marriage arguing about furniture and belongings. Use Feng Shui, and the many advances in emotionally uplifting decorating, to help you merge into married life with less stress. It can guide you on everything from where to place your bed to best place for your couch, TV and plants. It can also help you place holy icons in just the right areas.
6. Create a Mission Statement For Your Marriage. You may not be able to write your own vows for your wedding, but you can put some personal thoughts on paper. The first step of any new enterprise is to create a mission statement. This applies to your marriage, as well. Brainstorm, discuss, process and bat around ideas until you come up with a Marriage Mission Statement. This is your mutual intention for marriage; it is what you want to be and build together. It can have one sentence or reflect a number of ideas. For example:
Our union gives us strength, power and fortitude to deal with all of life’s ups and downs, and it empowers us to contribute to others and the world. We are best friends, confidantes and partners, and we have many close relationships with people we consider "spiritual family." We are a couple who inspire others with our love and who model what it is to be in a great relationship.
7. Do pre-wedding vows. You can put forth your commitment, before your wedding day, in a very simple and loving way. It can be as simple as reading a poem to each other, to declaring your love in one or two affirming sentences. This excerpt from Song of Solomon is a beautiful example of selecting words that are simple, yet powerfully honor and express your love. You can just look each other in the eyes, hold hands and say: "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." Every time you experience a ritual that declares your love, it’s like giving each other a special boost of love and will bring you even closer for your wedding day.
8. Establish rituals that will make you both feel loved and happily married. In his book, Soul Mates, Thomas Moore talks of those little life rituals that make the soul feel content. These are usually mundane yet sacred elements of living that keep the two of you connected, keep your dreams alive and accentuate your togetherness. It's these things – a call from the office every day, a romantic dinner at home on Fridays, going to your favorite restaurant or Inn once a year – that keep you both aligned with the goals you set forth. When you establish loving rituals to look forward to, they will never become boring. They become a part of who you are, together. They will be experiences you can share to reawaken your love at any stage of marriage.
© 2007, Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway
Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway is a leading NYC interfaith and non-denominational wedding officiant. She creates unique ceremonies for couples of all backgrounds and faiths, and is also widely recognized as a relationship coach, bridal stress expert and columnist. She is author of WEDDING GODDESS: A Divine Guide To Transforming Wedding Stress into Wedding Bliss (Perigee Books, May 2005). Visit Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway at: www.WeddingGoddess.com, www.WeddingGoddessWisdom.com and www.SoulmateFengShui.com.