Deciding to Marry
By Derek Boylen
It took me a while to pop the question. Looking back, I wonder why those four little words took so long. But I don’t regret taking the time. “Will you marry me?” They may be four simple words but what they represent is a life-long commitment. Possibly, the biggest commitment any person can make and one that will forever bond them to another. For some people, these words slip off the tongue easily and for others the commitment seems so big, they struggle to get them out.
Marriage isn’t a small undertaking and preparation is a normal part of all human endeavour. As the adage goes, “those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” Think about how much effort you put into preparing for your first car, drivers licence or choosing your career path, and then, oncechosen, training for it. Let’s hope that a strong marriage will outlast and out reward both of those.
So if you’re at that stage in your relationship and you’re thinking this person may be “theone,” or you are recently engaged, here are some important steps to help guide your decision:
When you stand at that altar, you declare your intention to be with this person “till death do us part.” You also ask God to bless and watch over your union. Make God a part of it from the very beginning. Ask him to help you make wise decisions and ask his guidance in helping you to become the kind of person who will be a good spouse.
Take your time to make sure marriage is right for you: “Not now” doesn’t mean “not ever”
Don’t be in a rush to get married. Looking back you won’t regret that you took the time to consider if marriage was right for you, or if marriage to this person was right for you. Sometimes it’s easy to feel pressured to make the decision to marry. However, hopefully those around you will come to appreciate that you cared enough about this person to take the time and effort to ensure you were making the right decision. “Not now” doesn’t necessarily mean “not ever.” It just means not yet.
It’s important to take plenty of time before deciding to get married. You won’t regret your courtship. It’s an important time to get to know your potential future spouse. To meet their family and friends and for them to meet yours. You’re not just marrying your partner you’re marrying into their family too. You also need time to see the way they treat others, how they deal with difficult emotions and handle conflict; not just when they’re in love with you but on a bad day too. Are you able to be emotionally vulnerable with each other?
The research is clear, couples who rush into marriage or who marry very young (earlier than 25) have higher divorce rates. Take your time. This isn’t the kind of decision you want to rush.
Talk about the important things
In recent research undertaken by Catholic Marriage and Fertility Services a participant couldn’t have said it more clearly “you don’t know what you don’t know.” You might feel like the two of you are completely compatible, share the same hopes, dreams and goals for your life together and have so many matching and complimentary personality traits but how can you actually be sure, you don’t know what you don’t know. There are some excellent resources and books for couples thinking about marriage which will help you discuss some of the important issues. To get you started you can download “Deciding to Marry” from the CYM website or by contacting Catholic Marriage and Fertility Services. This document has lots of questions for couples to discuss before making the decision to marry that cover a range of areas.
Heed the advice of loved ones and those who know you well
Seek, and listen to, the advice of those who knowyou well. These people have typically known you for a long time, care about your best interests and, when things don’t go well, are generally the ones who pick up the pieces. They usually want you to make a good decision that will bring you lasting happiness. Talk to them. Also, consider that you may need to give more weight to their opinion than your heart may want.
Before you get married
In the Judeo-Christian tradition once you became engaged you became betrothed. You committed to being married to someone and you entered into a phase of preparation for marriage, not just for your wedding day. With all the busyness of preparing for a wedding, make sure that you allow plenty of time to prepare adequately for marriage during this phase. Two important aspects of marriage preparation include:
Do pre-marriage education approximately six months prior to your wedding day. Conclusive research demonstrates the efficacy of pre marriage education in both reducing the divorce rate and improving couple relationships. Let’s face it we weren’t born with the knowledge of how to build a lasting loving marriage. While I’m sure you’ve worked out a few things there is still plenty of both age old wisdom and cutting edge research that we can glean from others to improve our relationships. Why not make pre-marriage education the beginning of a life-long journey of marriage and relationship improvement.
Allow plenty of time to learn NFP
If the two of you plan to use Natural Family Planning (NFP) allow plenty of time. Couples should typically allow a few months to learn and become confident in the use of NFP prior to their wedding. Make sure you learn as a couple. There are plenty of good reasons to learn NFP but here’s just a few:
• It’s approved by the Church
• It’s all natural
• It’s effective
• It can be used for both achieving and avoiding pregnancy
• It’s holistic and supports the whole couple relationship
• It’s sex the way God planned it.
Plenty of people rush into marriage without adequate preparation and we can see the effects of relationship breakdown throughout our community. The above may seem like a lot when you just want to be with the one you love. However, consider that this relationship, if properly prepared for will hopefully bring you 50, 60 or even 70 years of married joy. If you’d like to talk with someone about the decision to marry you are welcome to contact Catholic Marriage and Fertility Services on (08) 9241 5000 or via our website www.cmfs.org.au.
Deciding to Marry – A resource to support couples considering the vocation of marriage