Money Matters

Before you marry, money is a critical topic to tackle. And after you marry, money is one of those things that can bring lots of stress, conflict, and worry, if you don’t deal with it well.

Can you tell, right now, how much debt, how many assets, and how many bills you have? Often we can’t. Yeah, we might have a vague idea of where things stand, but usually, it’s only a general feeling.

One way to keep yourself up-to-date is to do a monthly checkup—together as a couple—and it’s important for you to start doing this before you marry. Set aside an evening and figure out where you are, exactly. Make it pleasant—a nice dessert and coffee, a candle burning, soft music playing—and get down to business.

Lay out all your bills, statements, records, and anything else that will tell you what you owe and what you own. Then figure out how you can simplify this by organizing your paperwork, keeping it in one place, and consolidating anything you can.

Cancel anything that’s unneeded. Do you have a landline that you rarely use? Do you really need all the bells and whistles on your cable—or do you really need cable at all? Be ruthless, and do what you need to do to give yourself some wiggle room to breathe financially.

Last, get everything in order, and write down a master list of all you owe, all you own, where it is—everything that affects your budget.

Now your monthly checkups will be quick and easy. Simply update your master list, discuss the changes or challenges, and adjust your master list and files accordingly.

Congratulations! You’ve joined a small group of wise people who know what’s really going on with your money.

What financial issues do you struggle with the most? I’d love to know.

For more on preparing to marry, check out The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage.

So Long Single Life

You may have been single for a long time and have quite a circle of single friends who love their single lifestyle. But now they’re giving you grief because you’re getting married. You hear the jokes. You put up with the snickers and snide remarks. How do you manage all this and help them understand that you’re happy to be getting married?

Tricky stuff, to be sure, and sometimes you may even loose a friend or two through this transition time. You know that you can’t continue your single lifestyle after you marry, and this is important to recognize early on. You also know that you must keep your mate first, even over your best friend. But how do you manage all this?

First, discuss this transition with your friends. Help them understand that your friendship doesn’t have to be threatened by your upcoming marriage. But also let them know that your priorities have and should change—your fiancé comes first from now on. And encourage your friends to affirm your marriage, not fight against it. Ask them to be positive and encouraging to your face—and to others.

Unfortunately, there may be one or two who just don’t get it. They want things to stay the same, even when that’s not the best thing to do. Realize that this reaction may stem from immaturity, ignorance, selfishness or insecurity, and give them space and a little grace for those shortcomings. But be sure you draw a good healthy boundary, and keep your future spouse first.

Have you struggled with this issue? I’d love to hear about it.

For more on preparing to marry, either for you or a loved one, 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.

Great Expectations

The expectations we have heading into a second marriage are often quite different from those of a first marriage. Our past experiences and our current circumstances can overshadow the bliss younger couples might have going into a first marriage. There might be issues of trust, safety, and security. A death or divorce may bring a cynical, or at least cautious, view of the future.

In second marriages, the biggest influence is often our previous marriage. Whether you lost a spouse through death or whether there was a divorce, there are usually some negative feelings you need to deal with. Grief over the loss, sadness, depression, anger, pain, hurt, and trauma—these emotions and feelings can often affect your expectations of a second marriage and put undo pressure on your mate.

Because each of us is uniquely different from one another we must understand and manage each other’s expectations if we’re to have healthy relationships. To do this, talk about and study each other’s priorities and preferences so you’ll be better informed when it comes to understanding each other’s expectations. Though you won’t get all the answers to every area of life, you will soon realize how comfortable—or uncomfortable—you might be with the other person’s expectations.

As you move toward marriage, keep in mind that God expects you to serve each other unselfishly, accept one another’s unique personalities, needs, and differences, and be faithful to each other throughout your entire lives. God also expects you to love each other unconditionally, be merciful and forgiving, and be patient as you learn and grow together.

The key to merging these expectations successfully is communication, compromise, and care. Continually ask yourself, “What’s best for our relationship? What’s really important to us as a couple?”

What expectations surprised you the most?

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


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.