Summary: Between the day of the proposal and the wedding day, there’s a tremendous opportunity for a man to prepare for a life together with his new bride.
Falling in Love Is the Beginning, Not the End
Between the day of the proposal and the wedding day, there’s a tremendous opportunity for a man to prepare for a life together with his new bride. While a lot of time, energy, and money will be spent on the wedding event, marriage is much more than a single event in time; it is a lifetime of commitment that requires preparation. Many new husbands never take time for sober reflection on what their fiancé will be like—not only as a friend they love but a spouse they will live with. Life will be hectic during the engagement, and it will be tempting to spend most of it just trying to get to and beyond the wedding event. But as a man who will soon bear a new title, “husband,” you need to plan for what’s beyond the wedding. And for the next few weeks and months, you are given a unique opportunity to prepare for your upcoming marriage. The engagement period is a time to lay the foundation for what that life together will look like relationally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. If you pay attention to these areas, you will launch your new marriage into a healthy future.
Four Preparation Areas
One | Relational oneness
In the first blush of a love relationship, it is common for men to think exclusively about how much they have in common with their beloved and how similar the two of them are. It’s almost predictable that shortly into the marriage you will be thinking, “Wow, we are different from one another. Now how do I negotiate with this woman?” Often, we are attracted to people who have different qualities than us only to discover after we are married that those very differences will make a relationship with each other challenging. In any marriage, understanding those differences and learning how to negotiate them is crucial.
Your engagement is a great time to observe your wife-to-be, discovering her moods, her pattern of navigating conflict, her highest values, her aspirations for the future, and the nuances of her personality that stem from her family of origin. You may want to reflect, journal, and discuss these observations with someone who has traveled the road ahead of you (and premarital counseling should facilitate this to some extent). The sooner you discover how to navigate these relational nuances effectively and how to address the inevitable conflict, the stronger your marriage will be. Remember, the goal is oneness, and in marriage, your commitment to relational unity is going to require effort. You cannot run from these issues in a lifelong commitment; you must run to them.
Two | Spiritual vitality
As a Christ follower, there are three people linked in marriage. You, your wife, and God. A spiritual connection is by far the most critical factor in a healthy, enduring, and happy marriage. And while most Christian couples assume this, living this out can be cumbersome. Many newlyweds soon discover that establishing spiritual connectedness through spiritual practices in the family means first discovering that two families of origin have different understandings about how this should look. Sometimes this will lead to conflict, which is counterproductive. But the best way to begin a marriage is to establish new spiritual traditions that are meaningful to you and your wife.
One non-negotiable should be taking the time to pray in person or by phone daily. Establishing simple spiritual practices like these are essential for spiritual oneness. Often, we overthink and overcomplicate spiritual connectedness. But practices like daily prayer, spiritual discussion, weekly church attendance, and service together create valuable spiritual connections; these help develop further discussion and spiritual focus in marriage. These simple activities are spiritual and don’t require a lot of you—just a little discipline. You need to take the initiative as the man, but also let your wife lead these efforts as well.
Another non-negotiable should be practicing biblical growth in your relationship. For example, texts like Ephesians 4:26—“Do not let the sun go down on your anger”—need to be committed to memory and practiced. This verse teaches a husband and wife that relational issues are a spiritual problem and should be addressed in a timely fashion. Developing a spiritual connection by being a husband of character is vital. While to this point you have been able to go home to “get away from people” and “let down,” when you go home today your wife wants the best of you, not the worst of you. She is looking for a man and husband who is all in and lives out godly character in your relationship with her. You won’t be able to hide from your new wife, so plan on your character being forged in a way you have never experienced. This is where marriage is hard, but it is a valuable tool in shaping a man—and a woman.