Marriage 101 — A Basic You Don’t Want to Miss

weddingband.jpgMy wedding ring used to be gold.  Now it is silver.  It looks just like the ring in this picture.  The gold band?  Well, that somehow disappeared on a softball field years ago.  We looked and looked for it.  I think the earth swallowed it.  Anyway, this is a ring like the one I wear every day.  

When we married, Charlotte had the words "Forever Yours" and then the date of our wedding engraved inside the ring:


I am glad she included both the "Forever Yours" line and then the date.  One has encouraged me.  The other has been useful.  (Yes, she had the newer ring engraved with the same words.)

I was twenty-five years old when we got married.  I knew that I had found a wonderful young woman.  I had already finished college at the University of North Texas.  I met Charlotte in Alabama shortly after moving there, about a year after college.  She wasn’t quite finished with college yet.  She had one more year left.

I knew very little about marriage.  In fact, I actually knew far less than I thought I knew.  In those days, premarital counseling really was not available where we lived.  In fact, I had never heard of anyone getting married who had experienced something like this.  Besides, I don’t think it ever occurred to me then that such an experience might be helpful. 

My preparation for marriage?  Not much.  As I recall, I may have read a book that Charlotte had used a few years earlier when she took Dr. Carl Breechen’s "Christian Family" course at Abilene Christian University.  I looked through her notes several times.  I may have had a few conversations with Charlotte’s parents about marriage.  I do not recall ever talking with any older male about the transition from being single to being married.  I was getting married and my preparation for such a thing was very, very minimal.

We got married and first lived in a small apartment near the University of North Alabama.  We had been married maybe a month when one day I decided to go to the store to buy something for my car.  I had been working on the car and needed some sort of cleaner.  So, I did what I had always done as a single person.  I just got in my car and left.  I was gone about an hour.  When I got back to our small upstairs apartment, Charlotte met me at the door.  "Where have you been?" 

"Where have I been?  Uhhhh—well, I went to the store."

"Well I had no idea where you were.  You were in the kitchen one moment and then the next thing I knew you were driving down the street and you were gone.  You didn’t say anything.  You were just gone.  I didn’t know where you were going or when you would be back."

Being the immature person I was, I immediately began to defend myself and justify.  Yet, I knew she was right.  We couldn’t be married and then one of us just drop out of sight for awhile, not communicating, etc.

For me this was the beginning of "Marriage 101" — You’ve got to learn to communicate.

Some of you are married.  Some of you are not.  For those of you who are married, I am wondering what it is that you wish you had learned early on. 

What would you have liked to have known from the beginning of your marriage?  Did you have anyone (a parent, a friend, a minister, or a counselor) who helped mentor you through those early years?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “Marriage 101 — A Basic You Don’t Want to Miss

  1. First let me just say that I also wear a “marriage” ring…The wedding ring fell off while letting go of a rope-swing over a river, the replacement ring (purchased on the way home) is hidden on a softball field outside Chicago, #3 is somewhere in Austria in a pair of pants I tried on in a department store that were too tight because of my confusion over European sizes (and refusal to deal/pride with a changing waist size) and #4 is the one on my finger. I now give metal detectors as wedding gifts.

    Twenty years ago I wish I had been more than just in mental agreement with the reality that marriage is dynamic, not static. Understanding that a marriage is dynamic opens the door for patience, hope and humility in the relationship between a husband and wife but also with extended family.

  2. As you know, Janice and I grew up in Florence / Sheffield area as well. Pre-marital counseling was unheard of in our experience. We did all the counseling after the fact. Go figure!? I didn’t wear my ring for years because I simply can’t stand wearing a ring, but have “endured” it the past 12-15 years because I want to honor Janice. One of the first lessons I learned was that it was “our” money and not my money or her money. For the most part, we dated and were engaged so long we’d worked through many issues we now cover during pre-marital counseling. Giving one another room was also important for us. DOn’t always comment, but I love your blog, Jim.

  3. “Pam to Darryl” 8-4-78 – lost in the drainage trough in the milk barn (I think). #2 bought in Pigeon Forge (can’t remember the year), torn half in two (with a piece of my finger) when I pushed a refrigerator out of the back of the pickup. #3 bought last year on our 30th in Gatlinburg in the top dresser drawer (it turns my finger green). I wish someone would have told me to stay at home with her and do things with her. I was out fishing or hunting or playing ball or helping my farming buddies. The Law of Moses said it; I just didn’t pay attention.

  4. Darryl,

    I’m smiling after reading your ring stories, Darryl. Oh my! You can’t make these up!

    Seriously, I do appreciate what you said regarding the need to stay at home more and just do things together. Thanks very much. Good point.

  5. Matt,

    Your account of the four rings is great! (Again–you can’t make these up! These are great.) Probably my favorite is #3–losing it in Austria in a pair of pants. 🙂

    I love what you said about wishing you had understood that marriage is dynamic not static. Me too!

  6. Greg– Very good words. Love what you said regarding giving one another room as well as what you said regarding money.

    Thanks for your kind words regarding the blog, Greg. That means a lot to me.

  7. I guess getting married last september qualifies me to say I am still in the early stages, I guess I have learnt something I suspected before marriage, that its currency is selflessness and forgiveness. Problems only arise when I favour myself over my wife.

  8. We were more blessed than most when we got married in ’66, before most of you were even born I think, lol! My parent’s marriage was not the greatest model. However, my uncle and his wife, also my pastor couple in youth, were a vibrant, dynamic model. We had a huge youth group – way over 100. This pastor and his wife would have separate teaching sessions with the girls and with the guys, about life, about sexuality, about marriage, about raising children, about all relationships. There was no subject taboo and the youth asked questions; no one wanted to leave. Lots of fun and laughter, blushing faces, but awesome learning! Attendance was always high because this couple actually cared about each one of us, even though they had 5 children of their own!!! We sensed we were loved and prayed for!

    Hubby and I were each other’s first at everything and we learned together – something I treasure highly! We have always had a deep respect and appreciation for one another. One thing that I wish I had known was that there may come a time when illness changes the couple dynamic and the man you married is no longer who he used to be. Oh, it’s not that bad yet, but it is going in that direction. This, too, is allowed by the Lord and He has a purpose for it. There’s just no preparing one’s heart ahead of time. But I trust the Lord to be enough even if friends and family don’t quite understand.

    May God continue to bless marriages and families to live not just for themselves but so that God would be glorified through the modeling of their love and faith!