10 Great Dates Before You Say "I Do" - Article from FirstThings.org
David and Claudia Arp and Curt and Natelle Brown found that many seriously dating and engaged couples had questions. Turns out, many couples wonder the same thing.
“In many of our seminars, couples told us they were in love and wanted to feel confident that they could make their relationship work,” say David and Claudia Arp, co-authors of the marriage preparation book, 10 Great Dates Before You Say “I Do.”
“While there are no total guarantees, there are certain areas couples can look at ahead of time that will give them a good indication about the potential longevity of their relationship. We wrote this book with seriously dating couples and engaged couples in mind. For seriously dating couples, the dates give them specific focus areas to help them determine if they should take the next step in their relationship. For engaged couples, it is great preparation for marriage.”
When you are in love it is hard to imagine that any differences in opinion could really cause a rift in your relationship. After the Arps married, the honeymoon was over and their hormones settled, they discovered something. Marriage didn't quite meet their expectations, and little things irritated them.
Surprisingly, after going through the 10 Dates, couples discovered a number of things they had not discussed that could be cause for irritation. For example, one couple discovered they didn’t agree on how to decorate their house. Another couple didn’t believe it was important to talk about how they will handle their combined income.
“We looked for fun and creative ways to cover topics such as sharing hopes, dreams and expectations and appreciating your differences to managing your money and celebrating intimacy in your relationship,” the Arps say. “It was important to us to help couples talk about things they might not otherwise discuss.”
Marriage preparation can help couples better decide whether or not they are ready to marry each other at this time. The 10 Great Dates give couples a road map to help them get to know each other better.
What are your expectations for your marriage? Couples contemplating marriage shared a few of their expectations with the Arps:
I expect my partner to always understand and encourage me.
Our marriage will always make us happy.
We will talk about everything, and therefore we will avoid serious disputes.
With two incomes, we will be financially secure – especially since two can live almost as cheaply as one.
Our love life will always be exciting and satisfying.
I expect my mate to meet my needs—to be a lot like me.
“Obviously, these people were shocked when their mates were unable to live up to their expectations,” David Arp says. “It is hard enough to meet expectations when we know what they are, but it is impossible when we don’t.”
Even in the best of relationships, these expectations would be hard to live up to. Marriage is a choice.
If you want to get your marriage off to a great start, do yourself a favor - get 10 Great Dates and go through it and/or participate in marriage education classes. Hopefully, these activities will help you understand each other better. Then, you can make wise relationship choices now and in your marriage in the future.