Often, this is how marriage is approached and, sadly, this is also how many marriages fail. As the saying goes, “Failure to plan is a plan for failure.” Couples need to have direction and vision for their marriage. It is not enough to say “We love each other and we will figure it out.” We also need to be able to say, “God has given us these gifts and talents to glorify Him together in these various ways.” Will new visions and talents emerge? Yes. Will you be doing the same ministry together in twenty years? Maybe or maybe not. But if a couple gets married with no goals, visions, passions, dreams, or plans, sooner or later they will grow restless. We all need goals. Without them we wither. Why get up in the morning if there is nothing to go after? Not everyone’s marriage will attract a lot of outside attention, but you will know if you are being faithful in serving God in your marriage or not.
Do we have the Same Goals for Our Relationship?
This is a big hairy question to ask and answer honestly. No matter how in love you are now, your future marriage will constantly be in turmoil if you have different visions for your life together. If she marries thinking she and her husband are going to devote their lives to foster care, and she has dreams of them running an orphanage together, she is going to be disillusioned and angry when he declares his intentions to go to law school and his desire to make partner at a law firm before his thirty-fifth birthday.
Chances are, you have not given much thought to where you want your marriage to go. Many of us do not think too far past the wedding day (ok, the wedding night… ~smile~) when we are in dating or wedding-planning mode. Maybe you are dreaming of your home, how many kids you will have, and how much money you will make, but are you also thinking about specific steps to reach those goals?
Basically, you will want your marriage to be about something – and not just another two people living together for companionship and sex. George and Mary have such a gift for ministering to the elderly in our church. Bob and Wanda are raising up quite a family of strapping lads! Jill and Jake have finally opened that bakery they have always wanted! James and Libby are… well… what do they do?
This is not to say that you and your future spouse have to be in the limelight all the time, but it is ill-advised to get married without knowing that you want similar endeavors out of life (or, at least, the significant ones do not conflict with each other). That is a super big show stopper. Some dreams can be released. We all have to give up something in our lives. But you cannot give up the core of who God created you to be and still live in peace. God made you who you are for a reason. If you marry someone who endeavors to pull you away from your core passion, you will fight constantly, rebel, or live in quiet resentment.
Where Do We Want to be in Five, Ten, and Twenty Years?
This plan will change repeatedly, but it is important to answer this question now before any strings are attached. “In five years, I want to be the mother of three children, earn a master’s degree in French literature, and start an in-home catering business.” What?!? This lady is going to be a busy bee. Can you imagine the shock in which her husband would be if he entered the marriage thinking they were going to take it easy for a few years, have kids eventually, and then slowly work towards owning their own pet grooming business? Perhaps these examples are a bit far-fetched, but hopefully you get what I am saying. ~smile~ You can learn a lot about each other, and each other’s expectations, by talking through the question, “Where do we want to be in five, ten, and twenty years?”
The Power of Focus
When we focus our attention on a particular task, we are much more likely to complete it in a timely fashion than if we try to accomplish several tasks at once. When I set out to write and then find myself doing laundry and dishes, I lose that precious focus I get when I turn off all distractions and just write. If you and your sweetie decide on goals and work towards accomplishing them together, you can benefit from each other’s focus. Think of all you can accomplish together if you are on the same page!
As you continue to prepare for engagement, answer the following questions thoroughly:
- What do we want out of marriage?
- How do we plan to use our marriage to glorify God?
- Do we have gifts and talents that complement each other?
- Do we believe God is leading our lives in the same direction or separate directions?
- Are we in agreement that we need to have a plan for our marriage before we get married?
We hope you have enjoyed this series and found it to be helpful as you prepare for engagement! ~smile~ As a small recap, we have covered six preparations couples should make before getting engaged: Pre-engagement counseling, creating a financial plan, letting go of the past, fighting effectively, defining marital roles, and having common goals and setting life direction. If you and your sweetie thoroughly cover these six areas, you will be further in preparing for engagement than most other couples in our culture! (And to do some in-depth preparation, check out our pre-engagement counseling program!)
Are you prepared for engagement?