FAMILY FUSION: Fiddling with family foundation (3)
“What work and effort is put forth ahead of time to prepare for the marriage that’s about to begin after the wedding celebration? We contend that the most important aspect of all that the wedding represents is too often neglected ahead of time.” – Cindy Wright
LITTLE OR NO preparation for the lifelong journey of marriage is a sure way to fiddle with your family foundation. There is a misconception among individuals that two or three pep talksmwith their minister of religion prior to the,wedding day is adequate preparation for,a sustained and successful marriage. Such a delusion is a potential recipe for “marital suicide”.
I shake hands with eminent psychologist Dr James Dobson who said: “Our society can be no more stable than the foundation of individual family units upon which it rests. Our government, our institutions, our schools . . . indeed, our way of life are dependent on healthy marriages and loyalty to the vulnerable little children around our feet.”
Last week I identified four solid pillars that God, the engineer of marriage, constructed on His eternal family life foundation, all on which any marriage can stoutly stand. They were: understanding that marriage is for the stability of society, respecting the sacredness of marriage, the couple psychologically separating from parents and an unreserved commitment to the marriage covenant. No alternative to the Creator’s ideal has ever come close to these unbending pillars that were designed to withstand any hostile shocks that come against the marriage structure.
Today, I am continuing to examine the preparation process with a glance at some fundamental issues for those of you looking forward to a marvellous marriage. Ignoring such may not be a wise idea, because it would be like an engineer disregarding the necessity for placing reinforced steel in the foundation of a potential concrete structure to guarantee that the underpinning is rock solid. The fundamentals of which I will share over the next few weeks are crucial but not limited in their scope for a productive future with your spouse.
1. Develop wholeness before beginning the marriage.
Trying to rush into marriage too young with little or no serious concrete goals to develop your mental, social, emotional, physical and spiritual capabilities may not work out to your advantage. Stretching your mind to acquire mental value-added strengths, building healthy and wholesome friendships, cultivating an unselfish love for yourself and others, taking good care of your physical health and fostering a rich relationship with the true and living God are assets that are indispensable. You should never develop the feeling that you need to lean on a man or woman to bring wholeness to your life. With God’s help, develop your own wholeness and watch your security level rise.
2. Understand what true love is all about.
Everybody is born with a natural love that causes him/her to respond spontaneously to a crisis that may occur with his/her offspring. For example, a mother or father may hear the scream of their child coming from an adjacent room and instinctively rush to that room to investigate. A dog may do the same to its pups, or even a lioness to its cubs.
It is obvious that this kind of love cannot sustain a marriage but it is important to have. There must be something greater. Genuine friends are great to have around. As humans, we were designed as social beings. Having someone with whom you can share your dreams and aspirations, joys and sorrows can be a wonderful experience. The friendship type of love is powerful.
In fact, a study done on marriages showed that over 90 per cent of couples that build a great friendship before they marry remained together. Though excellent for marriage, can the friendship type of love alone hold the marriage together for life? I doubt it. What about sexual love. Sexual love can be selfish or full of lust or it can be selfless. It is a very strong emotion and several people have told me that they got married to satisfy their sexual desires.
That kind of reasoning for entering marriage certainly cannot maintain a healthy marriage. When health issues and other unavoidable challenge arise, not even the selfless kind of sexual intimacy, important as it is within the marriage, can by itself retain a marriage. What about the kind of love that is offered by God, the designer of marriage? He gives the quality that the other three have to salute.
Accepting unconditional love from the Creator puts those of you going into marriage at an advantage, because this love never fails. Although all the other types of love I identified are important for marriage, the absence of the Creator’s superior love will restrict your marriage from operating at its optimum. Not acquiring God’s unconditional love for your marriage is like fiddling with your family foundation.
3. Deal with past hurts.
Unresolved childhood and other painful events in your life can be like thorns in the sides of your marriage. Confront them with the goal of freeing up yourself emotionally before committing to marriage. If, for example, you may have been at the bitter end of any form of abuse, or over time may have developed negative emotions such as anger, hatred and unforgiveness, such experiences may seriously affect your relationship with your partner. Also, uncomfortable flashbacks from past broken relationships have a way of creating obstacles for the smooth running of your union.
I have come face to face with individuals who were planning for marriage but were carrying unsettled past painful experiences which were seriously affecting their courtship and threatening the health of their future marriage. As a result of counselling, some individuals were able to confront their pain and begin the process of healing.
Others were carrying such protracted deep-seated emotional scars that it was wise for them to put their wedding day on hold until they were able to deal very deliberately and assertively with such gaping wounds. Not addressing past hurts and deciding to carry them into your marriage is like fiddling with your family foundation. You may be in for a very bumpy future ride.
Jerry Hardin and Dianne Sloan in their book, Getting Ready for Marriage, hit the nail on the head when they said to aspiring married couples: “You’ll never know everything about the person you’ve chosen to marry. But the more information you have before entering into this commitment, the less chance you will be confronted with unfulfillable expectations.” Never fiddle with your family foundation; make it sturdy with proper preparation.
• Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email [email protected]