When we were engaged, we would dream together about how much fun we would have in marriage. We would talk about movie nights in bed, all the trips we would go on, and the life we would build.
Now that we're married, all of those things are certainly true, but we realized that marriage isn’t a fairytale. Marriage is two imperfect people partnering together to live life. As a result, there are some things that creep into our marriage that can prevent us from having the marriage we dreamed of.
All of these things have happened to us (more than once), and they will probably happen to you as well. But we wanted to share a few barriers to a healthy marriage so you can be aware of them and do your best to overcome these barriers once you’re actually married.
At our wedding, our pastor said, “Marriage is two selfish me’s, who start learning to live like one, unified us.” The keyword there is learning. We are selfish by nature, and that doesn’t go away when we get married. One of the biggest barriers to a healthy marriage is selfishness. We overlook the needs of our partner for our own comfort and desires.
On the other hand, selflessness is a practical pillar on which you can build your marriage. The best advice we were given heading into marriage is to try to see who can out-serve the other person. Make it a competition to see who can do more thoughtful, kind, and selfless things for the other person.
Selfishness doesn't just mean not serving or doing kind things for each other. In marriage, we can also be selfish with our feelings (not telling our partner how we feel), selfish with our communication (not being open and honest with each other), and selfish with our time (not giving our partner our undivided attention).
Friends, hear us for a second: selfishness will destroy your marriage. Marriage requires you to sacrifice your own comfort... It forces you to care, deeply, about someone other than yourself.
Imagine sitting back to back with your fiancé. Someone shows you a picture and it’s your job to explain the picture to your future spouse. But here’s the catch, you aren’t allowed to say anything. That’s pretty much impossible, right?
Quick tip: if you have a hard time staying engaged and conflict, it's possible you're an internal processor and you need some time to process the conversation. It's okay to take a timeout!
Practice communicating during your engagement. Share your feelings with your partner, tell them when they do something that upsets you, let them know your expectations about a situation ahead of time. All of these things help build a healthy foundation and will allow you to overcome communication barriers in marriage.
We never fought while we were dating. Seriously it was kind of incredible, and we thought our engagement and marriage would be the exact same way. Just rainbows and butterflies all the time. That couldn’t be further from the truth.You WILL have disagreements, arguments, and fights when you’re married. The problems you experience while you’re dating and engaged don’t just magically go away when you get married. In fact, they usually get worse. One of the quickest ways to have an unhealthy marriage is to not engage in conflict in a healthy and appropriate way.
Quick tip: our online premarital course has an entire section devoted to communication and conflict. In the course, we give you a 5 step process for fighting in a healthy way.
Where do you and your fiancé stand on these barriers? Have these been barriers to a healthy dating relationship? Have you noticed a pattern of selfishness in yourself during engagement and wedding planning? Do you have strong communication habits? Learning about these barriers now, and setting a plan in place to overcome them, will allow you to have a marriage or you love.