Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, Gary Chapman
One of the things my husband and I love about our ministry is helping couples to prepare for marriage. We are in an age where it’s all about the big wedding day, yet little thought goes into preparing both partners for life together (or being two sinful people living side by side).
As part of that, I like to keep up to date with books not only for those who are already married but those who are preparing for marriage.
There are many of these books around and a wander through any Christian bookstore will get you a bag of them. This offering by Gary Chapman (author of the well-known The Five Love Languages, etc) is a good addition to the collection.
Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married deals with all those misconceptions that we enter into at the beginning of a marriage, which if we are not prepared for or willing to talk about can quickly pop the ‘in love bubble’ and require some serious attention.
With chapters dealing with the following, I’m sure some will ring bells for the marrieds among us who have had to deal with these things:
- That being ‘in love’ is not enough to build a marriage
- That ‘like mother, like daughter’ and ‘like father, like son’ is not a myth
- That toilets are not self-cleaning
- That apologising is a sign of strength
- The forgiveness is not a feeling
- That finances must be discussed & managed
- That mutual sexual fulfilment is not automatic
- That you are marrying into a family
- That different levels of faith /matters of belief impact you deeply
- That personality profoundly influences behaviour.
Every chapter was short, anecdotal and dealt with a very recognisable and common issue. He presented the issues and gave couples ways to talk things through together.
Two things I got out of it from a marriage preparation perspective:
1. We have never suggested couples talk about their roles/jobs in marriage in our preparation time. We talk about Christian roles in marriage and what that might look like. But that is completely different from who will do the finances, wash the car, clean the house, do the washing, cooking, etc. A conversation about who thinks who will do what (at least at the beginning) is a practical and worthwhile conversation to have before you return from your honeymoon and both of you realise neither of you ever planned on cleaning the bathroom!
2. I did not fully agree with his chapter on how personality influences behaviour. These were often comparisons between night owl/early riser, introvert/extrovert, clean/slob, etc. All accurate and helpful points with the exception of the suggestion that you cannot change your/the other person’s personality but you both have to learn to live with it. I completely disagree. You can change these tendencies, and marriage is a continual compromise where we each learn to give a little as we live together and love and serve the other. But, all in all, a minor point.
This is a useful resource for those who are engaged or in a serious relationship and want to think through some of the issues of being together more seriously. The two people I know in these situations who recommended it to me agree!