Hello, friends of Elizabeth! My name is A.J. and, like Elizabeth, I like to write. I enjoy writing about things that are important to me, like coffee, beer, my wife, faith, and community. Today, Elizabeth and I are blog swapping! Head on over to my blog to read what she's writing about today!
One of my favorite things I get to do is pre-marital counseling. Don't get me wrong…I enjoy officiating the ceremony of a wedding, but I won't do the ceremony part if I can't do the pre-marital part.
After doing wedding photography with my wife for the past six and a half years I've learned a lot of things about weddings. Things like; moms are usually the cause of stress at a wedding…not the bride (though there are exceptions to every rule), the groom is usually the more traditional one as opposed to the bride (which really caught me off guard), and last, but not least, most weddings are not what the bride and groom hoped for, but more often than not, one of their parents are to blame (especially when they are paying for it).
Anyway, the reason I require any couple whose wedding I'm going to officiate to walk through some pre-marital counseling with my wife and I is because of this simple fact: the vast majority of people who get married spend more time, money, energy and resources on the wedding ceremony, as opposed to the marriage.
This reality is something that I will drive home over and over again: the wedding is just an event, it's important to be sure, but it is simply an event. It's an event to celebrate what comes next; the relationship. And if you've worked more on the event as opposed to the relationship then there's a good chance it's going to get rocky.
One example of the sort of things we talk about during these sessions is dating. Things like, how often will they date, what does a date look like, etc… What I find incredibly interesting during questions like these is how men and women usually respond differently.
Most of the time they are saying the same thing, but they just word it differently. Which, automatically makes them assume that they answered differently, but really it's just a verbiage issue.
Dating is a really big deal when it comes to a relationship. If you don't actually focus on dating each other you will eventually just turn into really cool roommates. Dating is what keeps the relationship focused on what's important…each other.
A common misconception in dating while married is that it has to be extravagant. False. Some of the most fun and meaningful dates that Cynthia and I have had involved Ramen noodles and a movie we've seen 4 billion times (I may be exaggerating).
When it comes to marital dating remember this: it's not about the what…it's about the why.
Are you dating your spouse to check it off a list? Are you going out because you just don't feel like making dinner and you like the Pad Thai that place serves?
Do you want to take time for what's important to you? Do you really want to spend time with the person you love in order to continue getting to know them better? Do you truly desire to keep your relationship the most important thing in your life, so you're willing to make time for it?
Dating in marriage isn't so much about what you do, where you go, how much you spend, or even how long the date lasts, rather, it's about investing more time in the relationship as opposed to anything else in your life. It's about the why.
That's what successful marriages are made of and that's one of the things I hope to see in the couples I get to marry.