Picking Your Battles

Recently I’ve had several conversations with friends who are dealing with faith differences between them and their fiancés—or spouses—and all of them were quite concerned. It’s funny how nitpicky we can get about such things.

One of you thinks that “post-trib” is correct; the other believes “pre-trib” is right. And the topic becomes a point of contention. So what do
you do when your beliefs clash?

Rarely do all of us believe exactly the same thing. One enjoys traditional hymns while the other likes the contemporary praise songs. One isn’t too sure about God’s healing power and the other thinks it stopped when Jesus died. And tongues? Well, that’s a can of worms!

As a couple, it’s wise to major on the majors, and give each other space to grow spiritually. If both of you have the same belief in Christ as Savior, God as Father, the Holy Spirit as your guide, and other fundamentals of the faith, than you’re on the right track.

Frankly, your faith walk is a lifelong journey, and through the years you may change some of your beliefs about some things as you grow in Him by learning biblical truths, hearing God’s Word in church, and gathering in small groups and other places where you can come to understand His ways better.

So unless one of you believes some off-the-wall heresy that goes against biblical truth, relax and learn together. Be careful not to judge one another or demand that the other align with what you think. But if there are issues you’re really concerned about, talk to your pastor, read the Scriptures, and see what God has to say—together.

What spiritual issues have been a challenge in your relationship? I’d love to know!

For more on preparing to marry, or to let someone you love know about a resource that can help them prepare for remarriage, check out The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage by Susan and Dale Mathis.

Prepare for ReMarriage

Almost three out of four remarriages fail, but statistics say that couples who participate in premarital education report a 30 percent higher level of overall marital satisfaction and better communication! That means you are greatly increasing your chances for success by preparing for the adventure of a second marriage before you head into it!

While we were dating, Dale and I had driven to Estes Park, Colorado. We sat overlooking the beautiful mountains, sharing our past pain and heartache and asking each other question after question. It was a great place to discuss the possibility of our future together, to explore whether we were ready for a redemptive marriage. We promised to reveal our thoughts, fears, goals, and needs to each other completely before even considering a second marriage.

Every night for several weeks after our time in the mountains, we made lists of things we wanted to know about each other—everything from how we were raised to finances, to roles and goals, to expectations and pet peeves, to sex and health issues, to our previous marriages and our children, to our relationships with God, and so much more. Each question prompted twenty more, and some of the questions were serious, deep, and scary.

Being open and honest made us feel very vulnerable, and we realized this kind of openness could make or break our budding relationship. But we also decided that without complete honesty, we’d be marrying a person we didn’t really know. And while we were in love and wanted to move forward in our relationship, we first needed to know God’s plan for us. So we talked, shared, and completed an 8-week premarital course, working hard to really know all we could. There are a zillion things you should know about one another, so do your homework well.

What was the most interesting question you ever asked your spouse?

 Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness, by Susan and Dale Mathis. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.


Wedding Jitters?

A recent study shows that brides-to-be who have nagging doubts about their pending marriage need to heed their female intuition!

“People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don’t have to worry about them,” Justin Lavner, a UCLA doctoral student in psychology who led the study, said in a statement. “We found they are common, but not benign. Newlywed wives who had doubts about getting married before their wedding were 2½ times more likely to divorce four years later than wives without these doubts. Among couples still married after four years, husbands and wives with doubts were significantly less satisfied with their marriage than those without doubts.”

The study consisted of 232 newlywed couples who were interviewed every six months for four years. Lavner and team found that of the 38 percent of women who said they were uncertain or hesitant about getting married, 19 percent divorced within four years!

While jitters and doubts don’t forecast a relational death, it’s critical to not ignore concerns. “Do you think the doubts will go away when you have a mortgage and two kids? Don’t count on that,” Thomas Bradbury, who co-directs the Relationship Institute at UCLA, said in a statement.

Dale and I agree. It’s so important to learn all you can about each other. Make sure your friends and family meet (and assess) your potential mate, and prepare for the adventure of marriage. That’s exactly why we wrote our two books—to help alleviate—or confirm—your concerns, doubts, or jitters so you make the right decision for a lifetime.

Don’t ignore your doubts! In this world of complicated relationships, you’ve got to do your homework!

Did you have wedding jitters? What did you do? I’d love to know.

For more on preparing to marry—for you or someone you love—check out The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage by Susan and Dale Mathis.

Not Just Chapter Two!

Remarriage can be an incredible journey into a new and beautiful life. But it also can have its challenges.

“Be cautious, because a second marriage is so much different from the first,” Jill and Nick, a couple in our book, say. “It’s not just ‘chapter two’—everything is so much more complicated! You have your marriage, but you also have your kids—his, hers, and sometimes ours. So be teachable and open to learn all you can before you marry, and then be completely committed to each other.”

While on this lifelong adventure of remarriage, romance will give you the mountaintop experiences you crave; companionship will help you walk through the mundane fields and boring pathways of life; unconditional love and commitment will take you through the valleys that are less than enjoyable.

When you encounter rainstorms or roadblocks, don’t even think of abandoning the journey. Instead, repair the road and weather the storm. When one of you is tired and weary, hold the other up, encourage each other spiritually, and affirm each other in love. And when you’re struggling, find others to help.

How keep your marriage strong through life’s struggles? Leave us a comment; we’d love to know.

Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness, by Susan and Dale Mathis. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.


The Adventure of Remarriage

Remarriage is truly an adventure! As on any journey, there are often beautiful moments and wonderful surprises. This has certainly been true for Dale and me. There are times of love and laughter, joy and adventure. But there are also dangers seen and unseen—road bumps, potholes, detours, hazards, and difficulties along the way.

When you’re on a journey, you’ll inevitably learn new things, and hopefully you’ll always continue to grow. You’ll enjoy new experiences, meet interesting people, and encounter new challenges. And when you are blending a family, you’ll experience all of these things—sometimes in just one day!

Dale and I love to experience new adventures. Whether we’re hiking in the Rocky Mountains, scrambling up the famous Dunn’s River waterfall in Jamaica—just as a hurricane hit—or holding a wild baby lion cub in South Africa, we try to enjoy everything our journey has to offer.

That goes for our marriage as well. We enjoy the good times, make great memories, and capture the moments of fun and adventure. But when times get tough, when storms come, or when roadblocks hinder our path, we try to realize that the road bumps and potholes are just part of making an adventure unique. So we work together to overcome each obstacle that attempts to impede our journey.

What challenges have you found to be an adventure? Leave us a comment; we’d love to know.

Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness, by Susan and Dale Mathis. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.


Marriages Around the World

We recently went to our mailbox and received an Indonesian copy of our book, Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. And then we heard it is also being translated into Spanish and will release in October! We’re so excited that we can help couples prepare for the adventure of marriage all around the Spanish-speaking world. Wow!

What an incredible blessing to know that we, in essence, are missionaries to the people of Indonesia, a Muslim country so far, far away! And to know we will also minister to Spanish-speaking couples is both exciting and humbling.

I’ve had a heart for the world ever since I became a believer some 35 years ago. I taught about God’s love for the peoples of the world when I taught grade school. I wrote missions curriculum for the Association of Christian Schools International for five wonderful years. And I’ve written a children’s book series on missions that I hope to get published some day.

I even helped my daughter prepare for becoming a missionary. I helped her raised support to go on missions trips every summer, and I encouraged her to follow God’s call on her life. And when she met and married her sweet husband—who was also called to the mission field—I rejoiced with her. I was content in touching the world through their ministry, and I took great joy in that.

But I had no clue that God would so graciously send us around the globe, teaching about His plan for marriage, through our books. I am blessed beyond measure. I am humbled beyond words. And I find great joy in the reality that He can choose to use every day people like us to help others. Is our God cool or what?

How has God used you to reach out to others lately? I’d love to hear.