You’re probably getting married. Maybe not immediately and perhaps not to the significant other in your life presently, but at some point, statistics indicate you will be married.
Granted, scholarly articles in journals of sociology, psychology, behavioral sciences, marriage and family therapy, and religious publications note the significant plight of the family unit within American culture. But rather than pushing people away from marriage, University of Virginia’s State of our Unions shows “the desire of both boys and girls for a good marriage and family life has increased slightly over the last few decades” (112). In fact, between 85-90% of Americans will get married at some point in their life.
So in all likelihood you will get married and you can prepare now (perhaps invest is a better word) for a wonderful marriage when that day comes.
Reflect On Previous Relationships
Chances are you’ve had various relationships from casual dates to at least one relationship that was emotionally and romantically significant. Whatever levels of commitment were entailed, you probably have had enough positive and negative experiences to give you an idea of what you desire in a healthy relationship, which means you don’t have to waste time repeating past failures. Sometimes opposites attract, but you should be able to identify some essential characteristics a person must possess for you to consider spending a lifetime together. Identify your “non negotiables” so you can date with a clear sense of purpose and potential.
Work On Healing
In a massive study of young adults, renowned sociologist Christian Smith stresses that “a significant number of emerging adults appear to have suffered hurtful if not devastating breakups involving romantic partners with whom they thought they were very seriously involved, and often, they assumed, on the road to marriage” (154). It has certainly been my pastoral experience that many people carry emotional trauma from previous relationships into new relationships.
Friends, it is simply a proven fact that pain and heartache don’t end just because you broke-up and unresolved pain can linger and potentially disrupt future relationships. Spend some time healing so that you can be in a healthier state before entering into a new relationship. For a deeper look at recovering from hurts and heartaches, click on the podcast here.
Invest In Character Formation
Be honest. If I asked why your previous relationships didn’t work, would you immediately blame the flaws of the other party? It’s human nature that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. However, you are not perfect and in most cases, relational struggles and breakups are a two way street. What are your character flaws? What are the personality struggles you bring to relationships? As you wait for Mr. or Mrs. Right, invest in strengthening those areas of your life.
Spend Time With Married Couples
We tend to socialize with people just like us, so your circle of friends might not include a lot of middle-aged or older couples. However, find ways to interact with happily married people. Ask them questions, observe their actions, listen to their dialogue. Rather than entering marriage as a rookie, use this time to learn from others. The first year of marriage is often much more difficult than people realize and all marriages face a variety of adjustments and ups and downs within the first 5 years. Find out what strong couples have learned and trust in the collective wisdom available.
As I mentioned, you will probably be married at some point, and the preceding will help you not only be better prepared for marriage, but help you stay married once you find the person of your dreams!