WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO HAVE A GOOD MARRIAGE?
A TALE OF TWO LICENSES
The day I got my driver’s license is a day that will forever be seared in my brain. Partly, because I was a nervous wreck. I had practiced driving for HOURS, and hours, and hours. I took classes, studied my drivers manual, and gave my parents plenty of near heart-attacks along the way.
I walked into the DMV, permit in hand, ready to take my driver’s test. My instructor was wearing a Harley Davidson leather jacket, which went very well with his long gray ponytail and handlebar mustache. His lips were sealed tight as if he had promised someone that he would never smile all the days of his life. He was rather intimidating, to say the least. But here we were.
Here I was, ready to take this next step of independence.
It was a long, tense 30 minutes on the road. I tried to crack a few jokes here and there, but nothing was working on this guy. I made a few slight mistakes along the way, but in the end, I proved to him that my 4,000 hours of training had officially made me a good (or at least decent) driver.
After we parked the car, he signed my paperwork, stamped my permit, and ushered me into the lobby where I could go and get my official driver’s license. I was finally a driver. ____
A MARRIAGE LICENSE
The day I got my marriage license, will also forever be seared in my brain, but for a far different reason.
John and I had been engaged for 9 months, and it was finally time to go get our marriage license in preparation for the big wedding day.
We pulled up to the courthouse, with our paperwork in hand. We walked into the office, and were greeted by a little old lady, who took our papers, signed a couple things, and then handed us a piece of paper with a big grin. We could now be officially married.
No training. No hours, upon hours, upon hours of practice. No education. No class. No preparation. Nada.
Just a pen, and a piece of paper, and two people who may or may not have had any clue what they were doing. We could now be officially married.
I don’t know about you, but looking back, that seems absolutely absurd to me!!
Why is it that we as a society put so much training, pour so many hours of education and preparation to almost every single license we acquire – but marriage?
The most important relationship you’ll ever have? The relationship that can shape you, make you, or break you…we just hand you a piece of paper, and wish you the best of luck.
Good luck with that.
In my many years as a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationships, one thing has become predominantly clear: the more you know about marriage going into it, the better you will do.
But even more sobering, the opposite fact also true: The less you know about marriage going into it, the worse you will do.
And frankly, most people honestly have no clue what they’re doing.
If you look around, you’ll quickly see that marriage has gotten such a bad rep over the years. Millennials today have seen so much wreckage in marriage, that many of them are questioning if they even want to choose marriage.
Why should we choose marriage?! They wonder. What good is marriage anyway? The odds are that it won’t even last.
I think a huge part of the problem is that for so many years, and even today, everyone just assumes that because you are: CHRISTIAN, or IN LOVE, or SUCCESSFUL at other things in life, you’re automatically going to be good at marriage.
No training. No education. No preparation.
But I’m here to tell you: that is so very far from the truth.
THANK GOD we don’t apply that mentality to other important things.
I would NEVER assume my role as a professional counselor without having gone through years of training to get my clinical license.
My husband would never be allowed to do eye surgery if he hadn’t completed thousands, and thousands of hours of education and training to get his medical license.
But marriage – we just sit back, and hope for the best. We learn so very little about conflict, communication, sex, intimacy, confession, vulnerability, selflessness, oneness, and all the other moving parts that make a marriage thrive.
It’s clear that our best is not working. It’s clear that marriages are crumbling all around us. It’s clear that the institution of marriage is in need of help. Of training. Of education. Of preparation.
And thanks to the modern world, we have education, training, and preparation at our fingertips!! With a blink of an eye, we can take courses, enroll in professional counseling, and read books and articles that will reset our expectations and give us the tools, the knowledge and the understanding that goes well above and beyond what we have on our own.
The problem is that so few people see their need for it, until it’s too late.
But enough is enough. It’s time for a change. I propose that our generation begins to do things differently.
We’re a generation that’s hungry to learn, and to grow. We’re a generation that’s equipped and able to DO BETTER than what we’ve seen, and to STRIVE FOR MORE than we’ve been handed. The generations before us may not have “known better”, but we have no excuse today.
It’s time we take the marriage license as seriously as we do the all the others.
It’s time we prepare for this unique relationship upon which entire families and entire generations are built upon.
It’s time we take responsibility for the future of our life and relationship and learn everything we can about what it takes to make a good marriage from conflict, to communication, intimacy, confession, attraction, and sex – and learn how all those things play out within the walls of marriage.
No matter what your relationship status, it’s never too early to begin learning about what it takes to have a good marriage. It’s never too soon to begin growing.
Because the more you know, the better you’ll do.
That’s the theme behind the message of my new book, Choosing Marriage, and I’m SO EXCITED to share it with you!!
Whether you’re single, engaged, or married, I believe this is a book that is going to change lives, marriages, and FUTURE marriages. One page at a time. (Pre-order your copy today and get $50 of extra bonuses to help your relationships thrive)!
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, and Choosing Marriage: Why It Has To Start With We > Me where she writes candidly about love, sex, dating, relationships, and marriage. You may also recognize her voice from her 200+ articles at Relevant Magazine, Crosswalk.com, and all over the web! She’s the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!