Marriage Preparation Archives - Engaged Marriage

Category Archives for "Marriage Preparation"

4 Key Areas to Focus On as an Engaged Couple

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

4 Key Areas to Focus On as an Engaged Couple - Dustin Riechmann.001Relationships, like life, are complex.

What works for one couple may not work particularly well for you.

Everyone’s relationship is unique and to be quite honest, that’s what makes them special.

Though there is no one-size-fits-all solution to preparing for a successful marriage, there are core elements that help to create a foundation for love and prosperity.

If marriage is in your immediate future, you’ll want to learn these key elements to building a better relationship.

Core Values and Beliefs

Your core values and beliefs help to create the very person that you are today. Without them, it can be especially easy to lose yourself in a relationship, crippling your ability to flourish.

Before stepping into the commitment of forever with someone else you should totally have a sense of self, know who you are, what you believe in and what you stand for.

Resources like therapy and faith organizations can be instrumental in helping you further understand and define those beliefs.

Christian counseling, for instance, can help you to learn to cope with your relationship in a manner closely related to your core values and beliefs as a Christian. Attending religious gatherings allows you to connect with others who share values and beliefs which can ultimately help you to have a better sense of self.

Effective Communication

Everyone can talk by the time they’re just a few years old. However, talking is not the same as communicating effectively.

If you enter into a relationship with someone and all you do is talk, your relationship will not flourish and ultimately may not last.

Communication is just as much about listening as it is about talking.

You must learn how to effectively listen to your partner, understand where they’re coming from, and respond from a place of love. In doing so, you’ll avoid a lot of arguments, and more importantly, show your spouse to be that their voice does matter in the relationship.

Learning how to be an effective communicator can take some practice, and you’ll need to learn how your partner gives and receives information, be comfortable expressing yourself (and provide a comfortable atmosphere for your partner to express themselves, and much more.

Games, how-to guides, and even just asking questions can help you to learn the best methods for communicating with your spouse to be.

Strong Sense of Self

One of the biggest issues in a relationship is insecurity.

When one or both partners don’t have a strong sense of self and lack confidence, it can begin to weigh on the other. It is ultimately your uniqueness that your partner loves.

When you feel less than about yourself, you rely on your partner for validation, happiness, and everything in between which can be a lot for them to bare.

Before walking down that aisle, get up close and personal with the man or woman in the mirror. Find out what makes you tick, your likes and dislikes, your goals and ambitions.

The more you learn to love yourself, the easier it is for you to fall in love with your partner.


As much as you might read about marital and relationship problems, they’re not as bad as some make it out to be.

A marriage isn’t supposed to be about all the things you can’t do anymore, but more about the things you can.

You and your spouse to be will be bonded for life and should enjoy this new life together. Find ways to have fun outside of the normal routine.

A couple who plays together stays together. Try to keep things fun and exciting in your relationship. Go to karaoke, take trips, have a game night at home, whatever you do, just smile and have a good time.

As you get ready to get married to the love of your life, keep these relationship elements in mind.

Sure, any relationship will take work and marriage only multiples the amount of work required. However, if you both have strong core values and beliefs, a strong sense of self, the ability to effectively communicate, and the willingness to let your hair down every once in awhile, your relationship and marriage will last a lot longer.

How College Students Can Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

What happens when sweethearts have to split up to attend different colleges hundreds of miles apart?

Can they deal with the strain of being apart while keeping the relationship fresh? Many students boldly give it a try because they’re convinced they’ve found their true love, the person they’re destined to marry.

What can these folks do to make things work? Let’s take a look at some long distance relationship tips endorsed by relationship experts. By the way, married couples in long distance relationships can also benefit from these tips!

  • Be thoughtful: Every couple of weeks, send a hand written love note the old fashioned way, via the postal service. Hand written letters feel more personal than emails or text messages. If you’re the super romantic type, write and send a love poem every once in a while. Flowers, chocolates, balloons, or gift baskets also make thoughtful gifts that your partner will enjoy. And as always, homemade gifts are always appreciated.
  • Focus on the positive: Gregory Guldner, M.D. is the author of Long Distance Relationships: The Complete Guide. According to him, “Couples who appreciate the positive aspects of their separation are more likely to stay together.” Some of the positive aspects of a long distance relationship are the ability to take advantage of educational opportunities, the exhilaration of reunions, and the extra time to focus on personal growth.
  • Stay busy: Don’t spend time waiting for an email or a text message from your partner. You’ll get frustrated and concerned about the relationship. Stay busy by joining clubs, volunteering, or hanging out with friends. Guldner believes that “Companionship with friends helps strengthen your relationship and reduces the loneliness and depression reported by people in long distance relationships.” With certain schools with accelerated learning programs like Cardinal Stritch University, staying busy shouldn’t be that hard to accomplish.
  • Keep dates: Keep all the telephone and online dates you’ve scheduled. Being prompt let’s your sweetheart know that you’re still reliable and eager to spend time together. Setting up the dates in advance builds excitement.
  • Confrontations via email: Caroline Tiger, author of The Long Distance Relationship, believes that fighting over email is a bad idea. “It’s too easy to misread meanings,” she says. She also mentioned that if you’re concerned about ruining an in-person visit, wait until the middle of your time together to address a contentious issue. “That way, you’ve been able to reconnect, and there’s enough time left to make up.”
  • Share something in common: Some long distance partners like to rent the same movie and have a long distance movie date via the telephone.
  • Webcam: Talking on the telephone is great, but take advantage of modern technology and have a conversation via webcam. Use a free service such as Skype. To spice things up, dress up for your webcam dates! Try to schedule webcam chats every other night or so at specific times.
  • Plan visits: Get together as much as possible. Looking forward to the visits makes the time apart easier to deal with. Plan some romantic and fun activities.
  • Space to grow: Dr. Sue, a life and relationship coach based in Los Angeles, wrote, “the best long distance relationship advice for scholastic couples is to give each other space to grow as individuals.” She added, “growth and learning are what college is all about, and these are the years where a lot of your tastes, personality, and interests are going to change. Be open to change, and don’t let your relationship limit you.”

In order for long distance relationships to work, both parties have to be equally dedicated to the relationship. Enjoy the relationship, but try not to sacrifice too much.

You can do it!

What advice do you have to share for long distance relationships? Let’s talk in the comments below!

Brian Jenkins, a staff writer, contributes feature articles about careers in marriage and family therapy, among other career fields.

(photo source)

How To Deal With A New City, A New Spouse And A New Life

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

New City, New Spouse, New LifeYour long distance engagement has led to a decision to move to a new city for your new spouse.

While it’s certainly exciting, it’s also a little scary because you’re diving head first into the unknown.

Yes, you’re doing it with an open mind and an open heart, but you’re also leaving behind your family, friends, and hometown conveniences, routines, and comforts.

Only too often people fear the unknown without pausing to consider that with risk come rewards, and moving to a new place where you only know one person is an opportunity for personal growth.

7 Opportunities for Personal Growth

Here are at least 7 wonderful discoveries awaiting you:

1. You’ll make new friends.

In a new city, you’ll meet people refreshingly different from the people you now know. They’ll have different ideas, perspectives, and experiences from your own, and by meeting them you’ll enrich your own view of life.

2. You’ll be free of your family’s expectations.

The new people you’ll meet will know nothing about you, and it will be like starting over with a clean slate. If you’re normally shy, for example, you can practice being extroverted. Can you change your personality?

Yes and no. You may not be able to change everything, but you have some leeway when it comes to changing your self-beliefs and your habits.

3. You’ll be exposed to different social patterns.

With new places to go and new people to meet, you’ll find new way to stretch and stimulate you.

4. You’ll have a chance to try out a new lifestyle.

If the city is in a different state or you’re a country person exposed to life in the big city, you’ll find new adventures, new perspectives, and new ways of having fun.

5. You’ll have a chance to reinvent your work.

If you have to work, you may find a new field to interest you, or to go back to school to learn new work skills. You might even be able to try things that you were not able to do before, like start an Internet Marketing business working from home because now you won’t be the only income earner in the household.

When trying to reinvent yourself, value investor Guy Spiers suggest that you should learn from the best, associate with all the right people, and stay honest with yourself and others. Although he was mainly talking about business success, these rules apply to almost everything in life.

In your new environment, you may come across all three of these opportunities.

6. You’ll learn new things.

Your new spouse will probably want to interest you in things that you’ve never tried before—new sports, new hobbies, and new books and courses.

7. You’ll have a chance to drop things that didn’t work.

You’ll have an opportunity to leave behind those aspects of your life that didn’t work too well—cranky friends who complained about everything, dominant bosses who expected too much from you, and even bad habits encouraged by your circle of friends that no longer serve you.

You can bring out hidden or repressed parts of yourself, contemplate your ideals self, and work to become the person that you always wanted to be. This can include improving how you handle relationships, finances, and a lot of other things.

7 Practical Steps to Take

While your new spouse may be able to help you with settling in, you’ll probably have to take many practical steps to make the move.

Here are some things that you will probably want to consider:

1. Get rid of years of clutter.

Deciding what you want to take, leave behind with family, put in storage, sell at a garage sale, post for sale on eBay, donate to a local thrift store, or simply throw away.

Now is a good time for purging old things that you have let clutter your life—from old clothes to things that you haven’t used in years.

2. Sort out your financial affairs.

They may be many things to reconsider and new decisions to make—ranging from loans and leases to banking and insurance.

3. Review your organizational activities.

Close out memberships or transfer memberships in groups or organizations that you’re now participating in.

4. Get help with packing and shipping.

Arrange for long distance movers to help you get all your stuff to your new home.

5. Depart gracefully and cordially.

Start saying goodbye to family and friends early so that you don’t hurt anybody’s feelings by simply packing your bags and disappearing.

6. Learn new skills.

If you’ve lived at home, you may need to learn new domestic skills like how to do laundry, cook meals, or sew.

7. Organize change of address.

You will have to direct all your current mail to your new address.


You’re in for a complete change in your life—a new city, a new spouse, and a new way of living. It can be both exciting and terrifying.

If you take this as an opportunity to grow, adapt, and learn, as well as take care of things before you leave, it will be a wonderful opportunity for you to create a whole new life for yourself.

Moving is stressful as is getting married, and when you combine the two together, expect radical change.

This post was contributed by guest writer Christine Michaels.

The Real Secret to a Happy Marriage…and 2 More Marriage Myths Debunked

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

The Real Secret to a Happy Marriage…and 2 More - Dustin Riechmann.001From the minute a couple gets engaged (and sometimes before), they start hearing marriage myths.

Well-meaning or not, people often give advice that simply isn’t true — whether because of their own experience or because of what others have said to them.

But for couples that are trying to make sense of it all, the conflicting counsel can be confusing.

So with that in mind, here’s a look at three false marriage clichés.

If someone tells you one of these things is true, think twice before you believe it.

Myth #1 – To Have a Happy Marriage, Live Together First

Conventional wisdom these days says cohabitation is a good idea.

By setting up house before the commitment of marriage, the theory goes, couples have a chance to take a test run on what married life could be like. But research shows that living together could actually be a poor choice in terms of finding ultimate marriage success.

“Living together actually gets in the way of the kind of deliberative and conscious decision-making that the commitment of marriage requires,” according to findings cited at Psychology Today. “Previously cohabitating couples ‘slide’ into marriage in largely unexamined ways, accounting for their greater probability of divorce and weaker communication skills.”

An article at TIME Magazine, on the other hand, suggests it’s not living together that is the problem, but living together too soon and too young. “Economist Evelyn Lehrer (University of Illinois at Chicago) says the longer people wait past 23, the more likely a marriage is to stick.”

In either case, the secret to a happy marriage isn’t cohabitation — so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Myth #2 – Women Are the Ones Who Want Romance

It’s a long-held misconception that women are the only ones who want romance, but research shows 33% more men than women around the world say it bothers them that their significant other isn’t more romantic, according to Reader’s Digest.

This finding came as the result of more than 80,000 people around the world being interviewed on love, sex, trust and more.

What does this mean for your marriage?

Never assume only one of you cares about being close — just because society portrays men a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s true in your relationship.

[PSST…If you want an easy way to be romantic to your wife – or your husband!grab our free Perfect Love Letter Checklist and put it to good use]

Myth #3 – The Secret to a Good Marriage is Luck

A lot of people will say things like marital success is a roll of the dice — you have no way of moving toward or away from a good marriage, but you just take the hand you’re dealt.

In reality though, this isn’t true. Most couples that experience long-term marital bliss will cite commitment and companionship as the crucial factors that keep their marriages working.

They understand that building a solid relationship takes hard work, determination and loyalty.

According to writer David Popenoe at, “the happiest couples are friends who share lives and are compatible in interests and values.”

Do the three myths listed above sound familiar to you?

Have you heard conventional advice like this and wondered if it were true?

When it comes to marriage, remember not to believe everything you’re told. Every couple is unique, so what’s true for one couple may not be true for another.

But more importantly, just because people are saying something, that doesn’t mean it’s worth taking to heart.

BONUS TIP from Dustin – There’s a Myth #4 that we hear way too often, too.  It’s the idea that “good couples don’t fight” and I can only laugh at that idea.

All couples have disagreements, but the happiest know how to “fight” constructively and stop the escalation of tempers before someone gets hurt emotionally.

I highly recommend you grab this free resource from our friends at ONE Extraordinary Marriage to stop your next argument in its tracks.

It’s so simple and so effective.

John and WendyJohn and Wendy who both have Masters degrees in Clinical Counseling run a crisis marriage counseling practice, Marriage Rescue Associates, and have years of experience dealing with married couples.

They offer everything from counseling to marriage retreats, which attributes to their 90% success rate.


5 Marriage Preparation Questions to Ask About Children

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

Marriage Preparation Questions to Ask About ChildrenI have to believe that most engaged couples think of children the same way my (now) wife and I did way back when before we tied the knot.

It’s a pretty standard process, right?

We’ll get married, party like rock stars for a few years, then we’ll have a boy, then a girl and after that we’ll probably get that whole fertility thing taken care of so it doesn’t interfere with our incessant and unwavering sex drives.

Man, marriage will be awesome, sex will be constant, and when the time is right we’ll go ahead and knock out a few little ones so we have someone to play catch and dress-up with.

Unfortunately, the introduction of children to your marriage basically never goes like this.  Life will happen to you along the way, and you will quickly come to appreciate the important role of Spirituality in your marriage as you cope with some diversions to your own master plan.

My wife and I have been very blessed and have almost nailed the main points of our script so far.  We (think we) enjoyed four years of marriage without children, though we honestly can’t remember anything that we did with all of the free time we had at the time (partying like rock stars doesn’t come to mind).

We had a healthy baby boy followed by a beautiful little girl two years later.   In the meantime, our thoughts on fertility and family planning have matured a lot, and we now hope and pray for a third healthy playmate.

Questions To Discuss Regarding Future Children

That said, we’ve had plenty of our own struggles over the years of marriage related to the issue of children and marriage.

In order to help engaged couples think through potential issues before they are faced with them in marriage, we developed a few questions that we present in our marriage preparation course.

We ask them to think these over and discuss them openly with their partner on the drive home.  Obviously, this is only a starting point but it seems to be a real eye-opener for the young couples still blinded by idealism on the topic.

So, give some thought to the five questions below.  If you are engaged, talk to your fiance about the if-then’s presented here.

If you are married, use these to spark a deep discussion with your spouse or share them with someone else who you think may be a bit blinded by their innocent expectations of children-on-demand in the land of Beaver Cleaver.

  1. What are your current attitudes about children and do you expect those to change over time (and why)?
  2. What have you decided about having your own children and why?
  3. Are you concerned that the inclusion of children will impact your relationship?
  4. If you are infertile, how will you deal that? (this is a biggie)
  5. Have you thought about the practicalities of raising children: child care, education, career choices, finances, etc. and how do your thoughts match up?

What other questions should engaged couples be discussing on the topic of raising children?

Photo courtesy of lou & magoo

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