Have you ever noticed that when your life is permeated by the vitalityand vibrancy of love, you seem to cope more easily with change? The desire for ‘oneness’ within your relationship overcomes your individual tendency to become resistant to change. Preparing for marriage is an undertaking that involves awareness of and acceptance of change – lots of change, because you are moving essentially from individual thinking to joint thinking. You are moving to a life of sharing that incorporates many joys, but also a life that will sometimes present difficult challenges.
The first difficulty many couples preparing for marriage arrive at is jointdecision making. Heretofore you may have been accustomed to unilateral decision-making and this could potentially follow you into the marital relationship. It’s important that decisions are mutually agreed upon with input from both partners. This promotes a greater sense of unity within relationship and eliminates the possibility that one of you will become aggrieved because the other appears to be making all the decisions. If you do not discuss how decisions are made within your relationship, you might arrive at a situation where exclusion, alienation, resentment or a culture of blaming exists.
“It’s not my fault we’re in this situation, you make all the decisions.”
“Yes, you discuss the issue with me but you then go on and make the decision you want anyway.”
Coping with change is sometimes difficult because couples like to be in control of how they plan and live their lives. Events occur within marriage that are sometimes outside your control and this may trigger resistance to change, some which emanate from childhood experiences, perhaps affecting your deepest sense of self and security. Couples preparing for marriage need to discuss eventualities that may affect their planned future together:
“What if one or other of us becomes ill, how will we cope?”
“What happens if one of the children become sick, who will take the time off work?”
“What happens if we cannot pay the mortgage because of ill-health or redundancy?”
“What happens if one of us has to work abroad for a time?”
“What happens if we are presented with an unplanned pregnancy?”
There are no quick fixes when dealing with transformation or change. But by reflecting on the world around you, change can be witnessed on a daily basis: you perhaps see your parents growing older; you see the neighbourhood children getting older and moving into adolescence; you observe changes take place within your own relationship; you see the seasons change as the year unfolds. Change is an ever-present reality in your life. If in coping with change you encounter levels of stress and anxiety, then perhaps you need to openly share this experience with your partner and attempt to understand what is happening. Couples preparing for marriage constantly need to engage with one another and share what is happening for them around coping with change. You may need to explore with your partner what is going on for you!
“Why am I feeling hesitant about this issue?”
“ Why am I feeling resistance here?”
“Why is this issue really upsetting me and making me nervous?”
Discuss with your partner how each of you respond to change within your lives! How do you feel you might respond to the unforeseen changes that may arise within marriage? Discuss together how you might find an agreed formula that will facilitate joint discussion and joint decision-making when change arises within marriage!
The Accord marriage preparation course, “Marriage – A Journey Not a Destination” offers an extensive series of activities around issues relating to the preparation for marriage. For further information visit:www.accord.ie