In the midst of all the expense of planning a wedding, marriage preparation classes can seem like another cost and something else to add to the already long to-do list. But in the end I found the course one of the most meaningful things we’ve done in all our preparations.
My faith shapes my entire life – all the births, deaths and marriages and everything in between. It’s part of my daily routine, my community, part of the joy in family celebrations and what sustains me in difficult times. To me, marriage is more than ‘just a bit of paper’ denoting legal status, it’s my partner and I sincerely declaring before God and all our family and friends that we are committing to one another for ever. And having a weekend to think honestly about our relationship and focus on the enormity of that commitment, without any distractions and with more than 20 other couples all at the same stage in their lives, was positive, emotional and informative. The topics covered are useful for anyone working to maintain a long-term relationship. Some of the topics covered include:
- Sharing where you’re coming from and knowing what attitudes you are bringing into your marriage
- Being able to raise an issue properly and being conscious of the language you use
- Knowing what subjects might be sensitive, showing appreciation and affection, offering support/encouragement
Ask yourself: Do you think that when you are married you can always decide to love – in good times and in bad? Can you always choose to act in a loving way, however you feel?
DEALING WITH CONFLICT AND DIFFICULTIES How you display anger
- Navigating tricky issues like family or money that might trigger anger or disagreement
- How to communicate constructively and resolve issues – because you both have equal responsibility to clear it up
- Helpful and unhelpful ways to express a complaint – the dangers of falling into criticism, contempt or silence
- Do not attack, be direct in saying how you feel, own your feelings – use ‘I’ statements, not ‘you’ statements
- Listen to each other, learn how to calm yourself, stop feeding yourself anger-provoking thoughts – try to focus on your partner’s good qualities instead
- Having calmed down, talk to each other, let go of anger, agree to forgive, try to renew warmth and tenderness
MARRIAGE AS A SACRAMENT
- What Christian marriage means to you
- Why you’ve chosen to be married in church
- Whether you’re both of the same religion/culture and, if not, what that might mean for you
- How you might plan for the future
- How your marriage might grow and develop
- How society views marriage – positive and negative attitudes
Ask each other: Name a time recently when your partner said or did something that you really experienced as an act of love. What does that mean to you?
SEX AND SEXUALITY
- The importance of physical intimacy
- Your attitudes to sex
- How other factors might have an impact on this side of your relationship such as fertility issues, family planning, the life-changing event that is starting a family, illness
Ask each other: In what way would I like to be more open with you in talking about our sexual relationship – for example, in voicing fears, hopes, attitudes, needs?
Read Ten lessons from ten years of marriage by Sarah Abell on LifeLabs