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I want to be a heart surgeon. On the day that I pick up the scalpel, I will also crack open Heart Surgery for Dummies.
“C’mon Leon, shhh…close your eyes. It says here the patient will appear to be sleeping. Yeah, do that, just start counting sheep. Oh, wait, unbutton your shirt first….Ok so, if I was lying face up on a table my heart would be on what side?…right…ok…got it. This is going to be so easy. Shhh Leon, just relax.”
I flew to Memphis this week, and spoke to a group of singles and college students about attending my parent’s marriage conference.
“I agree, attending something called A Marriage Conference makes us feel desperate” I said, sitting at the café style table that every large church seems to have. I started wondering where that stigma came from. Why do we have the idea that if we want to inform ourselves about relationships or marriage, (before we are “in” the relationship) it somehow screams needy or unromantic?
My example of not going to medical school before partaking in surgery gets at the core of what it means to prepare or become educated in a particular field. And while that is common for any career path one should decide to venture down, it’s different than preparation for marriage.
I believe it’s because of this…
When married people hear about a marriage conference, and don’t go; it’s generally because they say, “Oh we don’t need that, our marriage is great.”
Again, this points to the reality that most marriage material has been created as a solution to a problem, rather than preparation for success.
So, if one had hopes of being a doctor, or dabbling in the medical field from time to time, and going to 8+ years of schooling prior was not considered normal, then we probably would feel weird…for taking out school loans, working ungodly hours as a resident and wearing far-too-white tennis shoes with solid-color pastel PJ’s…voluntarily.
I am also going to go ahead and say we would have quite a few more “code blues” (I don’t even really know what that means, but we would have a lot of them) and “bleeders” on the operating table.
All around…people would be kickin’ the bucket.
And here we are, in 2009, where marriages are left bleeding to death and we are repeatedly walking into the operating room. We are a bunch of twenty and thirty-somethings that are ignorantly pulling out scalpels. “Shhhh, just relax…this is going to be so easy. Until death do us part.”
If you are married, do you feel like you had adequate preparation? If you are single, what are you doing to prepare?
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Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.
Married, and as much prep. as was reasonable to expect, without having been previously married. We owe a lot of that to L'Abri, and to acknowledging that conflict is inevitable regardless of how much you're in love.
That's what I'm saying now at 6 months. Don't know what hindsight will show in another six, necessarily.
Then again, we attended Love and Respect right after getting engaged, so maybe we hand a leg up on everyone else… 😉
Joy 🙂 I am so glad we are friends. But you are calling me ignorant and I have to defend myself. Full disclosure: I have never been to a marriage conference.
Do you think that you might be a tad biased toward marriage conferences? I agree that they are good preparation for marriage, but might there be other ways to prepare? Like dating, talking to other married couples about their marriages, observing married couples, teachings at church, etc.
You imply that I'm ignorantly floating along in life, thinking that someday I'll find Prince Charming and our marriage will be a cakewalk – come on. I'm not married, but I'm also not naive. I don't doubt that it will be tough and that I will find marriage conferences inspiring and refreshing – they might be just what I need when I'm married.
I'll admit, as I'm getting older, I'm becoming more realistic about marriage and watching it play out with friends and family has certainly been educational. But I don't think I need brain surgery training just yet.
Besides, right now, it's more important for me to concentrate on being the best possible me. And when Prince Charming comes along, we'll prepare for the big leap, together.
My heart may have been missed in this blog and if so, then I am so grateful for your writing.
The word ignorance probably has a negative connotation, but the definition is “uneducated, unaware or uninformed.” None of these are due to defiance or rebellion, but simply because there is little awareness or acceptance to the need for education.
I also stated “marriage material” which means any educational material on marriage. I was using the story of going to Memphis and the resistance to a marriage conference in particular, because that was the catalyst to my writing. I don’t think a conference is the end all to preparation by any means.
Dating and being around other couples is something I strongly advocate. I was just talking about that this morning at staff meeting. I know you, and I know you educate yourself on many things. You are the type of person that will never lack for preparation in anything you do. But you are not typical.
As you said, many people have the idea that a marriage conference would be “inspiring and refreshing.” This would be the case and awesome if everyone was already educated. My parents teach very basic male and female communication and when I hear repeatedly, “Why didn’t’ anyone tell us this? I wish we knew this before we were married!” It puts a sense of urgency in my spirit and a desire to urge education because of the long-term benefits.
Do you know how many stories I hear of people in our generation being married for less than two years and getting divorced or being unhappy? Obviously these people loved one another immensely but lacked tools to make it work. I understand there is always some extreme circumstance where divorce is inevitable, but for the amount we hear it happening, it makes me hope there could have been better preparation.
Many men and women don’t know what to expect and only have poor parental models or unrealistic movie roles to prepare them for marriage. Your sarcasm (I hope) with using the term “Prince Charming” could be perceived as an idealistic, naive girl. So too, my surgery example is extreme and sarcastic, but many people are far less prepared than you and not willing to look at research and statistics for how to live before marriage because of the stigma that learning about marriage is somehow being desperate and doesn’t feel as romantic or tangible as maybe dating.
You and “Prince Charming” will have a lot of fun things to leap into together, but it would benefit you both and society as a whole if you both independently prepared. (Until he comes, I’ll be the man in your life. (-: Love you. )
married for five years. i wish someone told me that a couple can pursue a satisfying marriage; it rarely or never comes about by happenstance. couples may accidently fall in love or in lust or out of love or out of attraction but the only way to have a healthy marriage is by choosing to communicate, to love, to serve and make time for one another.
i don’t think pursuing a good marriage is the only necessary component but I think it is an essential part.
I'm not sure that we did anything spectacular to 'prepare' for marriage, but our first seven years have been amazing beyond imagination. 🙂
We attended our first marriage conference last May and found it to be, well, kinda silly, frankly. It shocked us to hear what the speaker shared about how people treated their spouses. (They actually *say* things like that to each other? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?) At the end of the conference, we were glad for the time away from our kids 😉 , but we were also glad that we volunteered and thus didn't pay $230 to hear what we already knew.
However, we know a TON of other people that we want to send to the conference… I'm just not sure that they'd benefit from it. You see, making a marriage work doesn't take some special revelation that you can only find at a marriage conference, but it does take a willingness to change and grow. I have known a number of people who blow off wonderful training with a blasé "We know all that" attitude.
So training is only as valuable as the person who takes it to heart and puts it into practice; and imo, people who are earnestly seeking to grow in Grace will find themselves trained, with or without formal "training." The important thing is to be leading people toward passionate pursuit of Christ in whatever they do… any number of things solve themselves from that foundation.
single male here, 2 real relationships to date and plenty of casual dating… my past experiences have shown me that preparation is not an easy task and the less ignorant you are of the other sex and especially that person in particular is paramount.
i, fortuntately, have grown up in a loving family with two parents who still love one another and communicate regularly about their difficulties and their affection for one another. the communication of affection is encouraging but definitely a double edged sword that can be a bit gross at times…ill let you in on a little episode on my last voyage home…when my mom tells my dad that "shes all the titty bar he will every need" and my dad smiles and chuckles…well to say the least my brother micah and i definitely tasted a bit of puke in the back of our throats.
though overall, experiencing that has been a huge blessing in my life and most certainly helps in my preparation for marriage. their example definitely conveys a measure of humility and unselfishness that needs to happen when married. learning that and applying it in a single life is difficult to do especially when all of society pushes back with the opposite mindset of serving yourself and that we are our own gods and we should be proud of ourselves whatever we might look like or be. you also dont have someone that you can so actively serve and care for.
i have not gone to marriage conferences but am most certainly open to it. though the ones i have heard of, which is in no way extensive, seem to be for married people or soon to be married people so i have not pursued those forms of education in any serious capacity. the way i have prepared and am still preparing is surrounding myself with people who are committed to pursuing life and truth ina serious and committed manner. becoming friends with married couples and single people that are miindful of their position in life and are actively moving toward becoming people of a more honest and humble posture in life. this is of the utmost importance for preparation to me. i think the relational aspect of being friends with married and single people is twofold. on one level is helps me understand how to function in a loving manner toward other people and it also is helps create that accountability that a single person wouldnt otherwise have.
i could most definitely be doing more to prepare in just about every aspect of my life so iam always open for people to impinge on my life in a real and honest way to help me grow in my own faith and humility(two things i definitely lack).
holy large amounts of blogging batman! joy you have been quite the busy blogger! i look forward to reading the others but for now i need to sleep as i got me some sailing and racing to do this wkend! i look forward to hearing more though….your anonymous but not so anonymous responder—-zeph
Hey Joy, I loved reading this & I’m so glad you reposted it. After a slew of motivational “Don’t Wait, Work Hard, Go After Your Dreams” sermons that you tend to hear around New Year’s, I found myself struggling to figure out what that looks like for a single person who desires to be married. No amount of hard work and determination will get you a spouse any faster, you know? But God has been speaking to me a lot about what I can be doing now to set myself up for success in marriage.
I want to be as close to debt free, finished with school and in a steady job as I can be going into marriage. So practically, I’m working on becoming financially independent and finishing my college education.
I want my character to be as refined as possible when I enter my marriage. So I’m also intentional about fostering community around myself consisting of people who know me well & freely speak into my life. I want to know that when I’m making a decision about who to marry that I have solid counsel.
I want to look as much like Jesus as I can going into my marriage. I’m pursuing Christ and becoming more intimate with Him, asking Him to reveal to me my sin and to sanctify me. One thing I find particularly fruitful is memorizing & meditating on Scripture, since God’s word says we can hide it in our heart that we might not sin against Him.
I want to be equipped and experienced to communicate in a healthy and effective way with my spouse. So I read books on marriage, follow blogs like yours, listen to podcasts – and yes, I’ve even attended a marriage seminar! (My roommate & I were the only single people there.) And then I don’t just absorb the information but I try to apply it to my relationships now, with my family, friends, and anyone I date.
And finally, I want to be passionate and pursuing God’s vision for my life now, before I’m married. I am not letting singleness keep me from fulfilling the great commission and going after other dreams God has given me. So I travel, do missions work, work out and eat healthy, helped plant a church, disciple some young women, spend time with my family, and go on some sick adventures! I do things that make me happy and work with the gifts & opportunities God’s given me.
I want to live now like few others will (frugally, responsibly, passionately, in purity) so that later I can enjoy my marriage like few others will (not getting divorced, enjoying my relationship with my spouse, living on mission together).
Divorce is a trend in my family on both my mom’s & dad’s sides as far back as I am aware of, which is heartbreaking. I want that to end with me. I want better for my kids and their kids. So I’m doing what I can now so that my future marriage can be a testimony to the chain-breaking power of Christ. I believe it’s crucial to prepare for the blessings of marriage (Joshua 3:5) and it surely makes waiting a whole lot more bearable.
Don’t know if I linked to this post in the past already or not, but I’m sharing this post with the Future Marriage University (FMU) community at https://www.facebook.com/FMUniversity. This is why we do what we do, isn’t it, Joy?!?
As my wife’s ex-boyfriend from high school told me at a reunion: True love doesn’t just wait. It PREPARES! I share that story in this post from our FMU blog: http://f-m-u.com/Blog/true-love-doesnt-just-wait/