When boy meets girl, both seem to be in a hurry to make commitments to each other. Their emotions run wild before either ‘lover’ realizes they have been vulnerable to a stranger. The first thing on our minds isn’t about developing a great friendship; it’s about exploring intimacy under the sheets. The thoughts of raising godly children and pursuing God’s purpose as individuals or as a couple are never top on our priorities.
Many married couples were never best friends. Indeed, they were never even friends before they got married. They never shared common interests, nor did they enjoy engaging and constructive conversations. So, after marriage, such couples suddenly realize that they are strange bedfellows. They’ve got different expectations and agendas. Don’t get married to someone who isn’t your best friend. Staying married to that person will soon become boring and frustrating.
“Don’t agree to be part of a relationship where your opinions are neither considered nor valued. If you fail to plan, you may be planning to fail.”
It’s absurd to have barely met someone and they are already asking for your hand in marriage. They want you to meet their family and friends and commit to a wedding date in a hurry. Many of these people are usually just excited about the thought of escaping from their dysfunctional homes to begin a new chapter with someone else with little or no counsel for the journey ahead.
We hire an events planner if we can afford one; we spend hours in traffic moving from one end of town to another inspecting event halls. We are exhausted every day from hectic schedules of meetings with caterers, decorators, make-up artists, just to name a few. We are online until the wee hours of the morning browsing for the gown or tuxedo we hope will be the talk of the town. We want the most expensive diamond rings. We are so excited to tell everyone we’ve met someone who makes our heart beats skip, but scheduling pre-marital counselling sessions is the last thing on our minds.
The frantic preparation for a fairy tale wedding overshadows the investment in time to build a friendship that will last a lifetime. When couples fast track or truncate the process of building friendship, they lose a part of their lives that may never exist again. So, the marriage is built on practically nothing. It’s like having a tree that is supposed to stand for so many years, yet that tree has very shallow roots. And since the roots are not deep enough, the tree will fall at the slightest gust of wind.
When you tell your pastor, that you think you may have met someone special, he begins to pray and prophesy that your ‘meeting’ will be ‘tangible’ and lead to a wedding celebration. You call your mum who lives miles away and mention how your day went and how you sat beside a gorgeous lady on the train and had a great conversation. Your mum reminds you about the year you were born and how you should do whatever you can to agree on a wedding date asap because she’s anxiously waiting to cuddle her grandkids.
You chat online with an old friend telling her about a guy you just met and she says she’s happy you’ve finally met someone and now you can ‘settle’ down. Everyone interprets the ‘meeting’ of any two people of the opposite gender as the making of a marriage. Sadly, many find out too late that not everyone you meet is a potential spouse and not everyone you get attracted to is for you.
“Great marriages don’t fall from the sky; they are often the result of two imperfect people who are committed to make their relationship work.”
God told Habakkuk, ‘Write the vision…’ If you don’t have a plan for your marriage, you would go about in life wondering what must happen next. To effectively plan for our marriages, we must understand and also align our plans with God’s purpose for marriage. Here are a few questions, couples should consider before they make a commitment:
After the wedding is over and we return from our honeymoon, what assignment(s) will we wake up to pursue as a couple? How will we continue to keep God as the centre of our marriage? What will we do when things don’t go as planned? Why are we getting married? (Purpose)
What’s our plan to invest in our marriage so we can continue to add value to each other? How can we keep our marriage upbeat and exciting? How will we be intentional and consistent about building a friendship that lasts a lifetime? How can we avoid becoming housemates but stay connected as soulmates? (Partnership)
What’s our plan to raise godly children? How many children will we have? Whose role will it be to do what and when? What parenting style will we adopt? Will we still stay committed to our marriage even when we are unable to conceive or if any of the children have special developmental and behavioral needs? (Procreation)
We must also realize that we all have a spirit, and we have a soul, which lives in a body. Couples can only have a great marriage when they are committed to staying connected to the other person’s spirit, soul and body. Anything short of this commitment is a condition I would like to refer to as being divorcedly-married. Sadly, many couples – even though they are still known to be married – are not any different from those who are divorced.
Every married couple who desires a great marriage must connect daily spiritually, physically and emotionally:
Spiritually (Couples must connect through prayer, worship and the study of God’s word regularly and together);
Physically (Couples must enjoy each other’s company, share common interests and regularly have quality time under the sheets);
Emotionally (Couples must have a soul connection, having regular and deep conversations and plan towards a great future together).
So many couples had a great wedding celebration, but their marriages have quickly become a humdrum because they had no plan to stay connected. And even though they share the same last name, they live under the same roof and even wear clothes with matching patterns, there is nothing more to their relationship as they might as well be separated and divorced.
Your plan for your marriage doesn’t have to be a perfect and complete plan. But it must be one that is jointly drafted with your prospective spouse and can be reviewed as life happens. Don’t agree to be part of a relationship where your opinions are neither considered nor valued. Jesus said, ‘If two of you shall agree…’ and the expectation is that couples will have series of discussion, negotiate, make compromises and come to an agreement on the different aspects of their marriage.
Every marriage will go through different phases and stages over the course of a lifetime. We can’t just sit around and wait for life to happen, we must have a plan, from short-term, medium-term and long-term.
Short-term plan (This includes having joint accounts, celebrating anniversaries, saving for kid’s tuition, insurance, vacation, what church to attend, hobbies, etc.);
Medium-term plan (This includes preparing kids to move to college, buying a house, investments, going back to school, giving back, emergency funds, etc.);
Long-term plan (Including planning for retirement, drafting a will, estate planning, etc.).
If you don’t have a plan for your marriage or the person who is interested in getting married to you has none, you really can’t blame anyone for how your marriage will turn out. Many marriages are struggling because there was never a plan. And without a map and directions, couples will surely get lost on this risky and windy journey.
So, are you planning for just a wedding that will be completed in only a few hours or are you planning for a marriage that will last for a lifetime? If you can afford a lavish wedding celebration and a memorable honeymoon, by all means go ahead and please yourself. But don’t forget the marriage doesn’t begin till you return from your honeymoon to the reality of living with a stranger you assumed you knew. If you fail to plan, you are only planning to fail.
Great marriages don’t fall from the sky; they happen because of the perspectives of two people who acknowledged that the risky venture called marriage required planning and are committed to make that plan work. Once you agree to get married to someone who has no plan, you have already set yourself on a downward spiral.
Many spouses have woken up to discover that neither them nor their partners had any plan for the marriage. Just because you are a helpmate doesn’t mean you should also adopt a do-nothing approach. Don’t spend all the period of your courtship eating out, watching movies and posting pictures online. Now is the time to draft a vision for your marriage. What are your plans for the next five years? What will your marriage have achieved in ten years or more?
There was a time Jesus visited his hometown and the Bible says he couldn’t do any mighty works because of their unbelief. They looked down on Jesus and referred to Him as the carpenter’s son. Had their eyes been opened to see that He was the Son of God, would their faith had been stirred up to believe God for more?
You can only receive from God as much as you believe He can do for you. If you’re praying for a great wedding celebration, your prayers would be answered. If you desire a great marriage, God would answer that, too. It all depends on what you want to believe God for. God won’t force His will on us. It’s according to your faith.
But imagine you had an idea of how much God was prepared to accomplish through your marriage and the assignment He has entrusted to you as a couple. Would you believe God for much more? Would you write the vision and run with it?