Today we are blessed with another feature a post from E. Joy Coker. Joy is Chi-Town native working on the front line in her community for her community. As a writer, future author, and speaker, she has a passion for encouraging, motivating, and transforming the lives of young girls and women. She is a strong woman, beautiful wife, caring mother, and a graduate of Morgan Park High Schools 7th and 8th Grade program for Gifted Students (Joy also has a Masters in Social Work from Univ. of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign). Let’s welcome her BACK to The Block for Featured Friday!
“Meet me at the altar in your white dress
We ain’t getting no younger, we might as well do it
Been feeling you all the while girl I must confess
Girl let’s just get married, I just wanna get married”
-Jagged Edge ‘Let’s Get Married’
If this was the year 2000, then you would definitely catch me in my U of I dorm room (shout out to FAR) eating some pizza, Skittles, and Sprite from CHOMPS with my hands in the air while blasting Jagged Edge. For this song in particular, I had my own two step to accompany the hand waving and thoughts of my high school sweetheart singing this to me. ß——LAME (with many exclamation marks) Despite how lame it is, I can’t help but smile at my 18 year old naïve self and the perceptions that I had about love and marriage. I am definitely a hopeless romantic and sap, but there are times when life HITS and you feel like love isn’t enough. Love bucks don’t cash in when financial struggles begin or there is major conflict in your home for whatever reasons. What do you do then? Most people say, “We’re married now. We have to work this out.” and they figure things out along the way. That’s great. What if you could avoid a lot of potential problems by planning for them years ahead of time? In this three part series, I’m going to tell you fifteen issues and topics that a couple should address to help determine their readiness to get married.
The thirties seem to be a difficult time period for people. This is the time period that many evaluate and measure their life successes by what they’ve accomplished. Degrees, career, annual salary, stamps on passport, and a number of other measurable undertakings are often indicators of whatever success means to the individual. For many women, marriage is a big one. In your thirties at least one or a few of your friends may be married and have started families. Being the “single friend” can be tough. If marriage is something that you want, not being in a relationship or have any prospects for marriage can be disheartening. The strong desire to have companionship and be married can potentially lead to entering relationships prematurely or settling. This is not the case for all women. Many are okay with being the single friend and won’t settle for less because of what her friends have. Whether you are single, in a serious relationship, or engaged, this guide can help you determine if you’re “marriage ready”.
In some type of format, ponder and then discuss the following with your partner:
- Life Goals: What do you and your partner want to accomplish in life? This is a general goal-setting question. Do you have a desire to travel? Do you want to do full-time ministry work? Do you want to own businesses? Do you have a bucket list? Any and everything you think you may want to do with your life can be discussed here. Articulating life goals can help you determine the type of person that would make a great life partner for you. Even if they don’t share the same goals, will your goals interfere with building a healthy and sustainable relationship? This is a great opportunity to see potential conflict.
- Career Plans: What are your career ambitions? How do you feel about your partner’s career plans? Have you completed any necessary schooling that includes degrees, vocational training, or certifications? If you haven’t are there opportunities in your city to get credentialed? If not, will you have to move? How does your partner feel about that? What implications can that have on your relationship? Are you willing to be in a long distance relationship? How long will you and your partner be okay with that?
- Values: What beliefs do you have that governs your behavior? What opinions do you have about issues (i.e. religion, family, education, work, and politics) that impact your decision-making about life? Do you and your partner share the same values? Also, what do you and your partner believe is the value of marriage? Is it just a piece of paper, convenient for tax purposes because you live together anyway, or is it a covenant between you (as a couple) and God? It is very important to have a compatible value system.
- Relationship and Sexual History: How many relationships have you been in and what were your experiences? How many sexual partners have you had? What type of sexual encounters have you participated in (threesomes, swinging, and things of that nature)? Have you ever been infected with a STD? Does the person or anyone in their sexual history have HIV or AIDS? This issue can affect a marriage on so many levels. No matter how uncomfortable, it’s best to be completely honest up front. Many couples “talk” about this, but aren’t always forthcoming with all of their history. Everyone deserves the right to make an informed decision about who they are entering a sexual relationship with.
- Communication and ‘Love Language’: What are the individual communication styles of the couple? Is one person aggressive or passive? Does everyone say directly what they mean? Does anyone shut down when having difficulties in expressing thoughts? Taking the time to learn one another’s communication styles will be key to healthy communication. Remember that as long as it’s healthy, we have to accept the communication style of our partners and learn how to adapt to their needs. When addressing difficult issues, allow room for silence and/or space. Sometimes it’s best to collect your thoughts and get a handle of emotions to be able to communicate effectively and lovingly. An extension of communication is your ‘Love Language’, as discussed by Gary Chapman in ‘The 5 Love Languages’. How do you and your partner express love? How do you need love expressed to you? Learning how each person communicates love can provide much needed assurance during trying times.
What do you think about some of these topics? Have you addressed any of these with a partner? Were there any conflicts? Is there anything more that you will add to any one of these? Stay tuned for Part 2!