Andrew Hamilton | 98five blogger
On the day I got married I woke at 8am and was ready by 9am for a 10am wedding. I love being a bloke.
It was a Saturday so I opened the newspaper as I usually did and as I was thumbing through, I read the quote for the day:
With an hour to go I had that thought to ponder.
Now, I help other folks get ready for marriage and every time I sit down to do some marriage counselling with a young couple about to get hitched for life we do the ‘Prepare‘ course, a comprehensive questionnaire that looks at how the two individuals think in various areas of life. It asks questions about communication, conflict resolution, finance, sex and several other important aspects of a successful relationship. It’s comprehensive and very worthwhile so if you’re newly engaged make sure you get a marriage counsellor who can do it with you.
It also does an assessment of how realistically the couple are viewing their future marriage relationship and provides a score for ‘idealistic distortion’. In other words, to what extent the future is being viewed through rose-coloured glasses and to what extent it is being viewed with a healthy dose of realism.
Almost without fail (among those who have never been previously married), everyone approaches it with a strong sense of idealism and the expectation that because we are so in love nothing could ever go wrong. I am yet to find a couple who approach marriage with a strong sense of realism.
What’s with that?
Well it’s obvious isn’t it — they haven’t had to live with the same person day-in/day-out for years on end, so they haven’t yet encountered the challenges that come with that kind of relationship.
Everything looks wonderful from the front end. What could possibly come unstuck for two young people so wildly in love?
Part of my role in preparing people for marriage is bursting that bubble to some degree. I don’t want to engender cynicism, but I do want to ask:
What if one of you gets really sick?
What if one of you farts in bed?
What if one of you stops feeling attracted to the other?
What if one of you develops an addiction — alcohol, porn, drugs?
What if you decide to work shifts and FIFO rosters and end up hardly seeing one another…and then you find someone else who lights your fire?
What if you just get really busy and bored with one another?
What if one of you goes off sex?
The list goes on. So much can ‘go wrong’ in marriage if you are unprepared, and idealism is a sure way to walk in blindfolded. So one of my key questions in marriage prep is to ask ‘what don’t you like about your partner?’ or ‘what annoys you about your future spouse?’ If you can give me an answer to those questions then chances are you’re seeing a bit more clearly.
If not then give it time.
Part of a maturing love is knowing what irritates you about the person you love but accepting them anyway and loving them so they can become the best version of themselves.
Marriage is an adventure, but it doesn’t have to be like going to war.
Andrew is a part-time pastor, part-time retic bloke, full-time husband, dad and coffee snob (he’s also one of 98five’s 3 Minute Message pastors). He describes his blogs as unrefined, theological musings, random personal reflections and occasional naughtiness. backyardmissionary.com | Follow Andrew on Instagram