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FAMILY FUSION: Fiddling with family foundation (Part 4)

Reverend Haynesley Griffith, [email protected]

FAMILY FUSION: Fiddling with family foundation (Part 4)

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“Marriage is something you create every day. Marriage will not erase your debt, make your cranky family member nicer, or get you a raise. Things work out because we work at them. Period.”  – Maggie Reyes

THE WEDDING industry in the United States alone is estimated to reach $54.3 billion this year according to market-research firm IBISWorld. However, despite the large amount of money spent on weddings, the New York Times publication of December 2014 stated that almost half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce.

Those divorce statistics are not confined to the United States alone because worldwide marital separations on a whole are not low. The Caribbean Institute for Family, for example, said in 2011 that “half of all children born to married parents this year will experience the divorce of their parents before they reach their 18th birthday.”

Although there may be several factors that may be contributing to many separations, we must ask a searching question: “Is inadequate preparation a major factor in the demise of marriage today?”

A study published in June 2006 edition of the Journal of Family Psychology and reported in US Today said that premarital education “is associated with higher levels of marital satisfaction, lower levels of destructive conflicts and higher levels of interpersonal commitment to spouses”.

Mayo Clinic in its November 2014 publication also stated: “Premarital counselling can help ensure that you and your partner have a strong, healthy relationship – giving you a better chance for a stable and satisfying marriage.” It went on to say that premarital preparation also helps partners “improve their ability to communicate, set realistic expectations for marriage and develop conflict-resolution skills”.

I cannot emphasise more the necessity for adequate premarital counselling, the absence of which may be a case of fiddling with your family foundation. Last week I highlighted three of many important fundamental issues that are necessary for a couple to examine when looking toward building a successful marriage and family life. They were: Developing wholeness as individuals before beginning the marriage, understanding what true love is all about, and dealing with past hurts. Today I shall bring some others to the forefront for aspiring married couples to ponder.

4. Building spiritual character

It is an error for those of you considering taking the step of marriage to ignore the one who made marriage possible in the first place. To do that is like ignoring the importance of egg in an omelette. In order to make your marriage meaningful and marvellous, the building of spiritual character through acceptance and development of some vital characteristics which come from God the creator of marriage, is imperative.

Nine of such characteristics are found in God’s manual, the Holy Bible in the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, Chapter 5, verses 22 and 23. These are: unconditional love, joy, peace, longsuffering or patient endurance, gentleness, goodness, faith or trust and reliance in God, meekness or humility and temperance or self-control. These graces are priceless treasures that offer invaluable currency to the wealth of your marriage.

In their book: Fit To Be Tied, Bill and Lynne Hybels reinforced my point when they said: “Most unmarried people have no idea what it takes to make a marriage work; they grossly underestimate the price people have to pay to build long-term, mutually satisfying relationships. And they fail to understand that the only people with the strength to pay that price are those who have plumbed the depths of their relationship with God, and have dealt with their own brokenness.”

5. Effectively communicating

Effective communication is considered one of the most important ingredients in marriage. It has a way of greatly influencing your marital interpersonal relationship. Embedded in communication is the element of trust and sensitivity to the needs of your partner. How to manage effectively the verbal and nonverbal aspects of communication is something that will put you and your partner at an advantage as you plan to bond in marriage. If meaningful communication breaks down, your marriage may be heading for catastrophe, so seriously consider its value and embrace it tightly prior to and after your wedding day.

Author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn captured the importance of communication correctly:“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.” Marriage is more than an important occasion, it was intended by its founder to be a lifelong exciting and adventurous experience, so practice your communication skills for such a journey and start before marriage. Not doing so is like fiddling with your family foundation.

6. Confronting conflict

Whenever two people come together in a marriage union there will be a measure of friction because there are no two people who are alike. Some people have the notion that as soon as a couple gets married they are going to “live happily ever after”, like those couples we read about in the fairy tale books. If those of you that are planning to get married go into your marriage union with that idea, you will be in for the shock of your life. Often the very things that bring both of you together may be responsible for initiating the conflict.

A skilful counsellor would be able to quickly spot such potential personality friction and guide you accordingly. Conflict can be used as a great opportunity for growth and development provided that the proper approach is taken. That is why premarital preparation is so important. It will greatly assist you in acquiring and applying the tools necessary to demonstrate how conflict can be utilized as a means to bond more meaningfully as partners.

Mitch Temple was correct when he remarked:“Resolving disagreements can also “un-stick” a couple, moving the two of you to new levels of intimacy and growth. Some of the closest moments a couple can experience often arrive after resolving conflicts. It’s like a lightning storm on a warm summer night; though the lightning itself may be scary it helps to clean the air. The same is true when you deal with disagreements in an appropriate way.”

Building spiritual character, effectively communicating and confronting conflict can help prevent you from fiddling with your family foundation, so start practicing them before marriage.

Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email [email protected]