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By Brandi Givens for LIFELines

 

She has the jitters.

He has cold feet.

They're taking the plunge.

These sayings poke fun at the way people sometimes feel before their wedding day, but some engaged couples may seriously worry that their feelings are more than just a case of the butterflies. Though choosing whether to marry is ultimately a very private decision, there are people who can help guide you as you make your way down the aisle.

Pre-marriage Seminars
Statistics show that marriage is much more successful and enjoyable when couples go through counseling prior to saying, "I do." Many Navy chaplains have organized pre-marriage seminars that teach skills to help couples prepare for a lifetime together. Lieutenant Commander Kim House, chaplain at Naval Hospital Bremerton, Wash., and Lieutenant Steve Barstow, chaplain with Chaplains Religious Enrichment Development Operation (
CREDO) Pacific Northwest, have combined efforts to create such a program in their area.

Chaplain House points out that perhaps the most important skill learned in their seminar is how to communicate during conflict. "We teach the speaker-listener technique. Listen to what your partner has to say without interjecting. Then, using your own words, repeat the point your partner has just made." This technique shows respect for your partner and minimizes misunderstandings.

Chaplain House also advises that couples should find common interests. "You'd be surprised how many couples come to our seminar and can't think of one thing that they enjoy doing together. Commit to leisure time together and find common interests. You have to be best friends."

To find out about pre-marriage seminars available in your area, including Prevention Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) courses, check with your base chaplain.

Questions to Ask Before the Big Day
In their seminar, Chaplains House and Barstow teach that there are several important issues couples should discuss openly, well before their wedding day.

  • Motivations for marriage: Are our motivations negative (infatuation instead of love, for financial reasons, etc.) or positive (equal expectations, commitment to love, etc.)?
  • Know your partner: How are we similar and different? Do these similarities and differences complement our marriage?
  • Infidelity: How can we prevent infidelity and build a lasting, committed relationship?
  • Need fulfillment: Have we communicated our emotional, physical, spiritual, social, and intellectual needs?
  • Roles: How do we feel about our roles regarding housework, shopping, yard work, etiquette, income earning, etc.?
  • Children: Do we want children? How many? When? Will one parent stay home with the children? Do we have a financial plan?
  • In-laws: How well do we relate to our in-laws? What expectations do our families place on us? What do we do with a demanding family member?
  • Independence: Is it okay to have nights out without each other? Is it okay to have close friends of the opposite gender? Where should we draw the line?
  • Finances: Who will handle the finances? Does the non-military partner know how to read a leave and earnings statement (LES)? How will finances be handled when the military partner is deployed?
  • Military life: How can we prepare our marriage for military separations? Does the non-military spouse know about support systems?

 

Chaplain House encourages couples to "Keep communicating, and keep enhancing your relationship.” By taking the time to learn necessary tools for building a healthy relationship, you can help avoid that ball-and-chain feeling and, instead, hold hands down a path toward marital bliss.

 


 

Related Articles:

MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: So you are getting married?

 

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