by Marla Satterfield
Once when I was driving into work, Tom Joyner and his morning show crew were discussing the importance of a woman receiving the “right” engagement ring. It was not surprising that the women were arguing how important it was because they have to wear the ring “every day of their lives!” While Tom and J. Anthony Brown commented that at some point a woman should just be appreciative that the man she loves has asked to spend his life with her.
I’m sure many of you have participated in such an argument before and I know I have argued the importance of the ring being a reflection of his love for his woman. However, my question today is, “Who cares what the ring looks like if your marriage doesn’t last?”
As we have seen on reality television and possibly with friends or even in your own marriage, far too much time and importance is placed on the dress, the rings, the colors, the right food, etc. I have known people to get married and file for divorce before they had even finished paying for the wedding.
For those that are married or engaged, how much time did you spend preparing for your marriage versus your wedding day? Did you have any premarital counseling? If so, did you have activities or assignments to complete with your future spouse between counseling sessions?
How many of you skipped the homework or even a counseling session or two so that you could meet with the florist or caterer? I like a great party as much as the next person, but there is nothing in planning “the day” that will prepare you for a lasting marriage. My wedding was beautiful, and although we did complete a workbook to help with marriage preparation and attended several pre-marital counseling sessions, I was not prepared for the amount of patience, work, and frankly prayer that would be needed to not only be married, but stay married.
Marriages, both Christian marriages and non-Christian marriages, are under attack. Our society promotes quick living and instant gratification and that is not always going to be found in your marriage. There will be times in your marriage that you are unhappy, there will be times that you may wish you were on your own, there will be times when your spouse stomps on your very last nerve.
I assure you at some point you are going to be displeased or unsatisfied with something, but that doesn’t mean you married the wrong person or that you have the worst spouse on the planet. It may just mean that you have some more growing to do. It may mean that you need to take the focus off of you and place it on God. It may mean that you are placing too much responsibility on your spouse to fulfill you instead of asking God to fill your life. Only God can truly fulfill all your needs. Philippians 4:19 reads, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Your spouse cannot do what God is clearly promising for you.
I am still a person that believes that anything God puts together is worth saving and can be saved. Despite the train wreck shown in the media of marriages lasting less than a few months, you must realize that marriage requires patience, compromise, hard work, and prayer. If couples are willing to do some of those things, they can grow stronger together.
In marriage we must work on becoming a team and being unified in our household goals and purpose. Scripture teaches us that “man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Taking two successful individuals with their own thoughts, values, goals, and desires, and making them into one is a difficult task. It is not something that is done overnight and I don’t believe that it is something that can be done without God.
If you want to better prepare for marriage (I say better because you are never fully prepared), I recommended you get in-depth pre-marital counseling from a trained pastor or licensed therapist or counselor. I would also recommend that you and your future spouse spend time focusing on life after the wedding (household responsibilities, expectations, finances, roles, etc.) and not just focusing on the rings and cake.
In other words, you should begin investing in your marriage even before the wedding. That means spending time praying, being in the word, and reading materials that will strengthen your relationship. My husband and I enjoyed Gary Chapman’s books such as 5 Love Languages, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, and The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. Also during our engagement we completed Preparing for Marriage by David Boehi. It helped us begin the discussion of our family histories, role expectations, building better communication skills, and more.
Lastly, continue to read and seek information from websites like BMWK and www.crosswalk.com. It may lead to discussions that you did not think were important.
So if you are serious about a lasting marriage and not just a beautiful wedding, then it is time to put in the work! A beautiful wedding day guarantees nothing, but great pictures.
Marla Satterfield received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After working in various fields, she returned to school to earn her Master of Arts in Clinical-Counseling Psychology at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Since completing her graduate education and moving to North Carolina, Marla has worked as an Intensive In-Home Therapist, Multisystemic Therapist, as well as Outpatient Therapy in a private setting. Marla has extensive experience working with couples, families, and adolescents with behavioral disorders and depression. In 2007, she became a Licensed Professional Counselor and also a National Certified Counselor. Currently, she lives and works in Charlotte, NC.