I think that this post is relevant to people who are considering whether to get married, for instance people who are engaged
Strands and building blocks
Here is an idea: that there are two distinct but related aspects to the decision to get married. One is what I will call “strands”: these are the things that pull people together to eventually persuade them/convince them to get married to one another, or the reasons why a couple decide to get married. The other is “Building Blocks”: these are the things which a marriage needs to survive, to thrive, to be healthy.
In the “strands” that pull people together, these “building blocks” are not necessarily present. Before marriage, these building blocks might not advertise their absence. A couple might not notice that these factors are missing at all before marriage. The couple might not notice that these building blocks are absent precisely because they might not understand that these building blocks are essential factors for marriage and they might not understand why these building blocks are essential factors for marriage. The strands can pull with so much force that a couple might feel tightly and inextricably bound together before marriage. And yet the “Building Blocks” can make their absence felt within the marriage itself, which I believe is often why marriages can run into serious problems, and those supposedly inextricable strands might start unravelling. So practically speaking the point of this post is to encourage couples to look beyond the strands that might be pulling them together, to focus on establishing and developing those “building blocks”, even from before marriage.
These might be some of the strands:
Genuine care and consideration for one another
Compatibility in life goals and dreams
Deep admiration for spouse’s character, personality
Commitment to one another
Feeling deeply in love with one another.
Physical/ Sexual Attraction to one another
Desire to get married – for various reasons: for stability, greater financial security, starting a family, general progress in life
These are some of the building blocks:
Determined pursuit of Christ
Determined pursuit of Christ-like character: especially cooperation, patience, putting your spouse’s needs first
Determined pursuit of an amazing marriage
A question I am asking myself: if the building blocks are in place, does it matter what the strands might be? If a couple have decided to get married, is it ever justified to look at their “strands” and say “these are bad reasons for getting married”? Are there things that might typically leave human beings feeling unfulfilled if ignored before marriage? I have met some couples who do not appear to be madly in love with one another. However, they clearly have genuine care and consideration for one another, and they are deeply committed to one another. Because of this, their relationships are very successful, and represent “true love” far more than many marriages which were supposedly founded on irresistible passion between the spouses.
Of the building blocks, the ones in highlighted text are the ones which are dependent on each spouse’s personal character. Perhaps another way of considering this issue is this; beside basic compatibility, no matter what strands may pull you tightly together to make you decide to get married, the success of your marriage will ultimately depend on the building blocks. The highlighted building blocks are things that you can actually look into your would-be spouse’s life to identify before marriage. Communication and friendship are two building blocks that you will have to work on together, but even they depend on each spouse’s willingness to invest time and effort into their marriage, to be vulnerable, to be cooperative.
Ultimately, I think that as long as the essential strands are in place, and as long as the building blocks are in place, then that would promise positive things for the marriage. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the strands that work to pull a couple together will include all the essential items, and just because a strand is not essential does not mean that it pulls with any less force than a truly essential strand. A further complication is that these things don’t fall neatly and cleanly into place, one after the other in the correct order. Rather the likelihood is that first you will feel attracted to this individual (strand), then you will try to look into their character to see what they are truly like (checking for building blocks), while trying to make sure that the attraction you feel for them does not cloud your judgement. Then you will discover that they have great character (strand), which causes deep admiration for them (strand), which also contributes to genuine care for their lives and goals(strand). And so on and so forth, possibly going back and forth while you are carefully watching their character, endlessly praying, and constantly soul-searching about what they reveal about themselves, patiently waiting for 2 years to elapse! I think that once you get to a place where all the essential strands and building block components are in place for a great relationship, when you have known them for long enough to be confident that your evaluations are reliable, then once you have agreed between yourselves to move forward in this relationship, then you can work to build that foundation of friendship and communication and in other ways establish those building blocks for your marriage.
The wise woman builds her house…
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