Contributed by Thomas B. Holman and Abby Viveiros
Whether you train to get fit for a marathon or for a great marriage, you need a vision of what you want the end result to look like and who you need to be to achieve that end
Creating a Vision of Your Marriage
The Bible tell us “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). Let’s get started creating a vision of your marriage, as a word picture of what you want your marriage to be. It is your definition of what a great marriage is.
Take a moment to get comfortable, sit back in your chair, close your eyes and picture a marital relationship you admire. Your parents may come to mind or a sibling’s marriage or a close friend’s. What do you picture this couple doing together what is it that you admire so much.
Now envision yourself married. Sit with the thought for a moment. What feeling do you have? What do yo see yourself doing together?
What did you learn from this exercise? Was it difficult to imagine or think of things to write? Was it hard to think of specific details you want in a marriage? Or did a lot of specifics come to mind? (For example, “I see lots of love and laughter.”)
Now that you have the beginnings of a vision, let’s look at it more closely. To help, we want you to envision your ideal marriage in each of the following important areas. Some of these questions may discuss topics that are very personal and private for you. That’s okay. But remember that you need to know how you feel about them in order to know how ready you are for marriage. This will help you figure out what those feelings are.
You may wonder how we chose the topics below that we want you to think and write about. Research done on marital quality and divorce, as well as clinical experience, suggest these are important issues to think about and eventually discuss with your boy-friend/girl-friend or fiancé BEFORE marriage since they affect marital success.
So, here are the topics. We suggest you record your thoughts. Use pencil and paper or a text editor/word processor so that you can save your thinking and refer back to it.
Showing Love and Loyalty. How do you envision love (not sex; we’ll get to that below) and loyalty being experienced in your marriage? What will you need to feel emotionally safe in your marriage? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Time Spent Together. How much time do you think husbands and wives should or need to spend together? How do you envision spending your couple time? That is, what sort of things would you envision doing together?
Communication and Conflict. How important is it to talk openly about everything; what things are better ignored than discussed? Is it okay to disagree, even loudly, as a means to getting things out in the open and resolved, or is it better to let things go and solve themselves? When difference and conflict arise, how should they be addressed and resolved?
Money, Financial Management. How important is it to you to have the finer things of life? How important is it to have savings? How will your opinions about these last two things affect who works, how many hours a week, and if/when both spouses should be employed outside the home? Who should manage the finances for the family?
Daily Tasks and Gender Roles. Who should have primary responsibility for the “big” things like rearing children, managing finances, and where to live? How much should things “belong” to one sex, or should all things be open to negotiation? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Sexuality and Intimacy. What will a good sexual relationship look like to you? How would you envision dealing with differences in desires for sexual interactions? What is intimacy? Is it different than sex or is sex just a part of intimacy? If so how? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Dealing with Major Stressors and Unforeseen Events. Every marriage will have to deal with unplanned stressors and events whether they be natural disasters, chronic diseases not present or seen before marriage, financial catastrophe, death of a child, adolescents who turn from family values, or a myriad of other possibilities. How can you prepare to cope with the challenges and adversities that may arise in marriage and family life? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Now that you have a vision firmly in mind, go on to “Achieving My Vision for Marriage” to learn how to put that vision into practice and learn where your vision may be unrealistic (especially from your partner’s perspective!) and where one or both of you may need to back off, change, or compromise.
This article is one of a series. For others in the series, see: