Marriage and engagement are two different levels of commitment in a long-term relationship. Men and women marry for love, for financial security, for children and for companionship. Arranged marriages remain popular in many parts of the world, including the United States, as a way of providing a secure relationship to shepherd future generations. Love, in an arranged marriage, grows through companionship and shared lives.
Love is an essential component to marriage and engagement. The poets write about love and declare it to be the most powerful of emotions. It’s important to recognize that love felt at the beginning of a relationship will not mirror the love felt a year, two, or three years into the marriage (and beyond). Love grows, matures and evolves. What is felt in the first stages of infatuation, that fascination, can be revisited in a more mature relationship, but the power and depth of emotion felt 10 years down the line is worth its exchange rate in gold.
Wedding planning during the engagement is a great way to work on the communication skills you will need during marriage. Too often disagreements and arguments occur due to miscommunication versus a tangible problem. Men and women communicate in different ways, and each couple communicates in different ways. There is a rhythm and pattern to the exchanges. The best tip for improving communication skills as you go through your engagement and into marriage is to always assume the other’s good intentions. If there could be either a negative or a positive connotation to what a spouse or fiancé says, then assume it’s the positive.
Romantic relationships need friendship in order to get through the hard times. Relationships that develop from friendship are far more likely to weather turbulent emotional upheavals than those that are based on romantic affection only. Romance and sexual attraction are like sparks in the fire–they flame up hotly when stirred up and extinguish if not properly fed. Friendship, on the other hand, is the hot bed of coals that keeps the fire going. So work on being friends first and foremost.
A marriage thrives when the partners are friends and can work together as a team. Blame has no place in a team. There is no “I” in team, either. One partner should not sacrifice everything to make the other happy. In fact, too much sacrifice leads to both partners being unhappy. Spouses need to cooperate with each other, help each other to achieve their dreams, celebrate achievements and be the best they can be. Beware of being in direct competition with each other, but sometimes playful competition can have a positive effect.
Every couple experiences doubt. Every couple struggles with issues from sex to children to family to housework and finances. These are normal, everyday problems that every couple copes with. From engagement to marriage to parenthood, the successful couple copes with these problems by being honest about them. Don’t keep secrets from each other. Talk out what is going on honestly, and remember that problems are often resolved if given a fresh perspective.
Teamwork, friendship, honesty, love and communication are the tools of a successful marriage. Trust is what binds these tools together, and a spouse can prove his trustworthiness. A spouse can show her caring and her character, but trust itself is a leap of faith. Saying “I trust you” does not come with a written guarantee. Trust means believing in someone in the absence of proof or evidence.