Five things to know before you say “I do.”

The more you know going in, the better the chances of your marriage succeeding.

One half of all marriages don’t make it, Christian or not.

Confessing God doesn’t give you relational skills, they must be learned, and fought for.

Knowing God, without self discovery does not insure success.

You can confess God, and live in denial, not taking responsibility for who you are.

There’s nothing like getting married to find this out.

Linda and I have been married 32 years. This is neither of our first marriages.

1. Know who you are

Know yourself, before saying yes. They won’t complete you, only God can. They can enhance you, not complete you. We grow in identity our entire life, but an insecure, or undefined one, brings in unrealistic expectations about completion.

2. Know who they are

Get to know the real them. Not just the romantic them. Know them through the fire, or you don’t know them. The responsible, reliable, trustworthy, respectful, them. If they don’t honor your feelings and needs before “I do,” they won’t honor you after. What you see is what you get. You can grow together, but you will be unable to change each other.

3. Know your expectations

We all carry expectations into relationships. Unfortunately we don’t discover them until we experience the pain and conflict of them not being met. We increase our chances of success, when we develop patterns of honest, open communication about what we expect. We talk about how we feel, and what it would look like, if what we expect, was being met. Learn to negotiate in the relationship, developing give & take dynamics. You will use this over and over.

4. Know your needs, and how you will meet them

Discover your three biggest needs, and discuss how you will meet them in each other. Our needs are tied to our “love languages.” If my need is “words of affirmation,” I will feel loved by expressions of appreciation, validation, and honor. Don’t think ego, think, not taken for granted. Think, affirmation vs. invalidation, or denigration. A woman can build her man up or tear him down. A man can do the same to her. Her need could be security, or feeling protected. Her feelings around this need could involve understanding, and validation of what that looks like. Discovering and meeting needs is the life blood of intimacy. Exploring and validating keep things cooking.

5. Learn to fight fair

Learning to communicate and fight fair are the most important tools to succeed in relationship. Being secure in yourself, also helps in not being defensive, or threatened by the differing opinion of another. Compatibility is over rated in relationship. Immaturity, insecurity, and inability to communicate and handle differences, is more the problem. Take some classes, read books, and process them together. Your chances at success will skyrocket. “Happily ever after,” is not a Disney swirl, it’s the result of hard work, and learning to truly love. XO

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