People are so obsessed with preparation. In the Christian community it’s all about ‘the process’. I just think at some point there’s only so much you can learn about something you have yet to experience. All these marriage trainings and conferences, things are getting out of hand. This is more so in relation to singles who run to every marriage prep event they can find. Honestly, how much can you learn about your future marriage from a married couple? I just believe there is a fine line between wisdom and unnecessary information. In reality, listening to a couple share their story just makes you an expert on THEIR relationship. If you are not in a relationship when you attend these workshops, how do you expect to apply some of these techniques if you don’t even know your spouse yet? Some things you just have to learn when they happen. I am not bashing couples who do ministry based on their love story because some of them truly do teach on the ultimate life process which is becoming more like Jesus. But when it comes to relationships and marriage, you just don’t know what you’re going to face until you’re looking them square in the face. Once you’re courting, engaged or married, I absolutely support gleaning from a married couple because at that point you actually have a relationship to apply the information to and you can receive specialized advice for your relationship specifically.
My concern is that many will go to every workshop and conference and have all these notes and get in their marriage and still be lost. You’ll think you have mastered how to be married and how to be a proper wife, when in reality you haven’t mastered how to be a selfless person in any other relationship, which is the key to marriage. Marriage is not about techniques, it’s about love and patience. It’s about caring for a person and doing what you can to authentically support them while they also become a better person. It’s about sticking it out, being honest, learning to forgive faster, being supportive.
The major issue here is that we have adopted this mindset that we need to prepare to ‘wear another hat’ so to speak. So when we want to be married we try to get all this advice that we think will help us find a spouse and stay married. Or if we want children, we read all these books and listen to all these parenting stories thinking that it will help us have a problem free child rearing experience. As simple as it sounds, just live. Engage in every moment you find yourself in because those are the moments that shape you into a better, more selfless you.
At one point in my life, I didn’t believe that platonic same gender friendships could be preparation for marriage. But in one particular friendship, I learned that through all the friends I’ve ever had, I had never let anyone this close before. I had never let anyone know me so intimately and I realized then, I needed some work. There comes a point where you evaluate all your interactions and altercations and recognize parts that need to grow in you. I wanted to think that friendship with a girl was different than a relationship with a guy, and it may have been in the shallow relationships I had been in in the past, but now that I know more about marriage and long term friendships, I can say that this friendship has truly changed my life and that is the change that prepares you for marriage. I’ve learned to accept people for who they are, not trying to change them, but really be the change I want to see in them, I’ve learned to take initiative and most of all learned to forgive and not hold grudges.
I repeat JUST LIVE. Engage in every aspect of your life, whether it be at your job, in your family, at church or a grocery store encounter. Let life interactions change you and you’ll be prepared for any major life event.