By: John and Corrie Mannion
Whether you’re soon to be engaged, in a dating relationship, or just thinking about the future years in which you hope to meet the one you’ll marry, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. Marriage is multifaceted, to say the least, but there are some important points about marriage that we think aren’t brought up enough.
Marriage is not about getting the points and facts down, in the perfect order. It’s much more like a beautiful piece of artwork that takes on different shapes and changes different colors over time. But having now been married for almost five years, we can safely tell you that considering and understanding these points before you move into marriage will help you out a lot down the road.
1. Understanding your personality will help you maintain good communication with your spouse.
A lot of people never really consider what personality type they might have, much less how it affects their everyday life. But knowing this will actually help you better think through how you interact with others and why.
It goes without saying that good communication is essential in marriage, but the way two different personalities communicate will look different every time. Take a quick online quiz (like the one at 16personalities.com). You’ll learn a ton about yourself and (if applicable) your significant other, which will be important to the foundation for a future marriage.
Example from us: We learned that I (John) am introverted by nature and need alone time but am more secure in meeting new people. Corrie is more extroverted by nature and needs more time than I do with friends, but she is more shy around new people.
2. Marriage relies on fun and friendship.
If you took a poll of all the married couples who would say they are happy compared to all the married couples who would say they are not, it’s safe to assume that the happy couples would say that they have fun in marriage and that they are best friends.
Fun can look a lot of ways. And while there will be seasons that require less fun because of busyness or even a time of mourning, it’s important for married couples to always get back to ways to have fun together and further strengthen their friendship. For now, you can start to take note of the ways that you really like to have fun. If you’re in a relationship, take note of the ways that you like to have fun together. These will be key players in marriage and shouldn’t be abandoned.
Example from us: We found out that we like to have fun together by Corrie laughing at me (John) for how I am and me laughing at her for how she makes fun of me. While this might seem unhealthy from an outside perspective, it’s actually something that strengthens the bond of our friendship and allows us to be more vulnerable and free together.
3. Marriage will not break negative patterns in your own life.
Whether lust or addiction or apathy or little bad habits, marriage is not the cure-all for the issues you have before you get married. This isn’t to say marriage can’t help; having another person to illuminate your flaws and walk through the healing process with you goes a long way. But you can’t assume getting married will fix everything. Destructive patterns are often deeply rooted and require a lot of prayer, accountability, and sometimes counseling.
Before you get married, invest in your own heart and mind so that you can reap the reward of a stronger marriage later on. The more you are free to enjoy life personally, the more you and your spouse will be free to enjoy life together.
Example from us: Before marriage, I (John) had a tendency to take on too much responsibility, thinking I was helping other people. In reality, I was exhausted and not really able to invest in the things I was doing. This pattern followed me into marriage, as I tried too many little things to make money. Corrie had to have patience with me until I learned that focus and consolidation in work actually benefits me, us, and others more than trying to do everything at once.
4. A great sex life will take time + communication.
It’s easy to think some things in marriage will be hard (living together, sharing finances, family drama), but that sex will be the easy, fun part. Whether you valued purity before marriage, had issues with lust and pornography, or had to heal from past sexual experiences, your sex life with your spouse will take time and communication.
Talk to each other before you get married about sex. What are your expectations? What are your fears or insecurities? Be honest about your past; it’s much easier to go through these things and heal from them before marriage. Don’t assume this aspect of your relationship will just fall into place magically. Just like an emotional connection, it will take time to love each other physically. Don’t be disappointed if it seems difficult or uncomfortable to connect in this way at first. Give it time and attention.
After you’re into marriage, the discussion should continue. Of course there will be seasons of less physical intimacy (pregnancy, healing from childbirth, stressful days, temporarily opposite schedules), but enjoyable sex in your marriage should be the rule, not the exception.
Example from us: Before we got married, we went through a Song of Solomon teaching series on DVD. It was outdated, and we got some good laughs from the fashion of that day, but the content was a great way to start talking about what sex would look like once we were married. I (Corrie) needed to heal from a lot of shame and guilt from my past. We prayed together and individually a lot on this topic so that we could go into marriage with freedom and excitement to enjoy intimacy together.
5. You are now your own little family.
Even before you have kids, you and your spouse are now your own family unit. You make decisions together. You build a home together. As a team, you can be strong in the face of the difficulties of life. It’s time to define who you are as a family. What do you value? What legacy do you want to build together? You have left your parents, and you have become one.
Not only do you get to now choose to do things differently than you have experienced or seen before, but you also get to leave behind family drama (on either side) and generational issues.
Example from us: Mental illness and dysfunction have run in my (Corrie’s) family throughout the generations. Because of this, John and I took a lot of time to pray together and break any bondage or generational curses that might follow us into marriage. God spoke very clearly to us that the family we were starting would be a place of freedom and joy, so we wanted to be obedient in prayer and in action against our past. We believe that we have power through prayer and through making a decision to move forward — as far as it depends on us — in victory.