Marriage changes everything. This is true for better and worse. There are always some very welcomed and exciting changes when a couple moves from dating to engaged to married. Likewise, there are some not-so-welcomed changes that happen to couples. In my experience preparing hundreds of couples for marriage, there are 6 things that need to change once you get married. Be sure to check back and catch part 2 of this blog.
1. Intentionality must replace excitement.
Dating and engagement can be so exciting and fulfilling that you find yourself doing the right things effortlessly. It’s like you can’t help but be funny, charming, attractive and romantic. As the relationship moves from the thrill of dating into the routine of marriage, those effortless wins take intentional work. Positive interactions don’t happen automatically anymore. However, the couple that embraces the intentional effort to invest in their marriage usually feels the highest levels of satisfaction over time.
2. Vulnerability must replace vanity.
When you were dating you gave attention to such vanities as your appearance and extravagant dating experiences. However, true intimacy longs for vulnerability. If you really want a richly intimate relationship you must be vulnerable. Sharing weaknesses, fears and doubts and allowing your true self to come out is an invitation for your spouse to love the imperfect you. Love in the face of imperfection is the truest measure of love; it is the most similar to the love God has given us.
3. The decision to love must replace the feelings of love.
Love is a choice. This may be the most popular catch-phrase among marriage proponents today and for good reason. The feelings you have when you "fall in love” are wonderful but you must call them what they are...feelings. Feelings and emotions are terribly unsustainable. We must give our feelings of love the proper infrastructure of the decision to love. Think of a tree. A tree, green and full of leaves, appears healthy and vibrant. However, autumn comes followed by winter and the same tree may be absent of leaves but strength and life is still there, albeit different in appearance. Emotions and feelings are like leaves. They can fill you marriage with beauty and vibrancy, but winter comes to marriages too. The feelings of love can fall to the ground, yet the decision to love is stronger, like the trunk and branches that survive winter until spring returns. Feelings of love will come and go, the decision to love is a constant source of strength always within your control to supply.
Consider if these changes need to happen in your marriage. Tune in on Thursday for Part 2 of this.