We are 27 and 28 and in that weird season of life where everything is “eventual.”
When we were in school- Eventually you’ll be great
When we got our first jobs – Eventually you’ll get promoted
The same thing occurred when we got engaged. Everything was hinged upon “eventually.” The eventual kids, joint accounts, home, love, etc. We decided not to treat our engagement season like it was an “eventual season” but a current season. You only will get out of your relationship what you make important.
Engagement is an absolutely beautiful season. Never in our wildest dreams would we imagine writing this blog on engagement, being engaged or let alone a sustainable relationship. God truly blows your mind if you let God. Engagement is like you are given a blank canvas to start your beautiful picture together. A trend many couples follow is putting the canvas to the side, concentrate on wedding planning and bring the canvas out on their wedding day. This only results in expert wedding planners and ill-prepared people for marriage.
With that, engagement for us was the beginning of our marriage. We shared finances, schedules and really anything else you can consider in marriage. It was in this true sharing we saw the work love needs. The next few weeks we want to share with you three things our intentional engagement season taught us. Ready?
Sitting in pre- martial counseling we asked a seemingly innocent question (or so we thought) “What is the key to a successful marriage?” And without a thought and even with a shoulder shrug Dr. Buchanan (15th Avenue Baptist Church) looked at us and said, “The key to a successful marriage is your ability to manage conflict”
...(*Record scratch*)... Manage Conflict?
Not love, support, and all the mushy stuff that they tell you in the books because we have all of that stuff down.
Marriage is not broken by action, it is broken by conflict. You are bringing two differing systems together that will not always match. Therefore…hello tension. Whatever happened as a child is brought to light. Whatever happened in college is on Front Street. Conflict. Happens. Conflict taught us that what you fight for and against shows what is most important to you. In our relationship, were we fighting individually or fighting for us? Our relationship is not about us as individuals, it's about us. Conflict taught us how to fight for us.
Over 50% of marriages end in divorce and it’s eye opening that many people had the inability to manage conflict in their relationship. How can we decrease that number? Got Conflict Management?
First – Recognize patterns. Recognize patterns that you applied in the
world, because those will come home.
How do you handle your co-workers when you’re angry?
How do you respond under stress?
What is your first instinct?
How did your parents handle stress at home?
Those will lead to what you do at home. Recognize those patterns and remember that God exists to rewrite scripts and patterns. The good news of the gospel is that when Jesus came, he started a new story. You are apart of that story. You are not the pattern that was; you are the story that has never been written. Don’t remind yourself of your past if Jesus isn’t! Remind yourself of the promise that comes with the person you are connected to.
Secondly - Talk. About. Everything.
Put everything on the table, even the things you think may hurt the other. Be mindful of what pushes you, but what also pushes them. Preface statements with understanding and love. Remember, you love this person, and everything you do ought to reflect that…even if it means having difficult conversations.
Fight. Love. Fight. Love. Fight. And keep loving!
Very rarely in life do we get an intentional season to prepare for a season that we know is coming with a confirmed date and everything. However we don’t adequately prepare for it like we should. Marriage is truly the merging of two different systems coming together as 1 system. That’s a lot to take in!
Everyone has an opinion for your life and its easy to get carried away by those opinions and bring them into the relationship of what others think its right. We promised each other a long time ago to not let other dictate that in our lives. We are the King and Queen in our relationship and not one person can throne the other or dethrone God in our relationship.
So what are you engaged in? It may not be marriage but are you truly preparing for a season that you know God will take you. Are you actions matching that season, if not conflict will rule and divide.
Got conflict management?
Side note, It amazes me the foolish traditionalism that is thrown on couples in their engagement season. Especially from churchy people. You aren’t supposed to have sex while your engaged…but the moment you tell the state you are married…have all the sex you want. You aren’t supposed to live together before your married…but as soon as you tell the state you have intentions to get married…buy a home. How does that make sense? I can understand how divorce rates are insanely high because you don’t get an opportunity before you tell the state you are married to actually get to know the truth of your significant other. Marriage doesn’t make rabid sex ok. Marriage doesn’t make living together ok. When you have the relationship you have that God ordained, none of that matters.
Don’t give me, or any one else you encounter that foolishness. If you quote biblical text, research it, get the context, understand what it meant then, apply it to today. And then talk to me. If one more person quotes Ephesians 5 as a reason why I need to waste money on rent to be “holy.” You forgot I studied Paul’s work for the past 5 years. Let people live!