Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Tag: marriage (page 1 of 2)

A: Aspirations as a Married Couple

You spend your whole life planning what you want to do and be for the remainder of life, and then . . . BAM! You get married, and everything changes. It’s a challenging experience to try to take two lives with two plans and merge them into one. In some cases, there has to be a lot of compromise so that the two partners can live their idea of a fulfilling life.

When I was deciding to marry my husband, Tyler, I thought integrating my plan into his life would be pretty easy. My plan in life was to grow up, go to my dream college studying the thing I love, marry the love of my life, have some cute little kids, and otherwise insert myself into his plan. I thought my plan was very conducive to married life. This plan would have worked out great, except that life doesn’t always go as planned, and I didn’t have a back-up plan.

Shortly after I married Tyler, I realized that the thing I was studying was not something I loved. This was problematic because I was almost done—and if I wanted to insert myself smoothly into Tyler’s plan, I had to graduate when he did, or not at all; so changing my career track was not an option at that point.

Another problem we encountered was the fact that Tyler’s plan wasn’t fully developed. Sure, we knew the basic outline: graduate from college, get a master’s degree, get a job. But, all of a sudden, we started figuring out that the track he was on would not lead him to the career he thought it would. We applied for internships, but he didn’t get any because he just wasn’t in the right field (even though he’s brilliant, and any company would be lucky to have him).

These problems led to many nights of stress for Tyler and worrying for me. Sometimes we’d lie in bed about to go to sleep, when I would start worrying out loud and end up in a fit of tears. Why aren’t things working out for us? I’d ask. Why didn’t everything go as planned?

Now, I still don’t have the solutions to our problems, but I have a formula for dealing with aspirations as a married couple that I recommend to anyone having similar issues.

First, you have to talk to each other. You have to get together and write down the things you enjoy doing, the things you could see yourself doing as a career, your ultimate dreams and goals.

When you’re done with that, I recommend that you rank the things on your list in order of importance to you. Talk about the things that you feel are non-negotiable, and things you wouldn’t mind doing without. Work out possibilities for the future, and how those things might affect your relationship and your family.

Then you have to make a plan together. And not just one plan, but several that range from broad to specific, from semester to fifty years, from ideal to worst case scenario. This could take several hours, so make sure you have a block of time set aside for doing this, or else you could end up scratching things out at 3 o’clock in the morning.

The last step is making a plan of action for right now. What will you do today to set you on the right path? Even if it’s just research, it will help you out in the long run. Decide on a timely plan for both of you, and help each other out. Remind your husband when his internship application is due. Encourage your wife to look for opportunities to acquire new skills. Take it day by day—if you always make sure you’re on the right trajectory, you will eventually end up where you want to be.

BY CARI AVERETT

I: How to Deal With Imperfections in Marriage

imperfectionsIntelligence has been humorously defined as an adjective used to describe people that agree with oneself. The wisdom in that joke is very applicable to this entry in our marriage series: our perception of perfection will be based on our imperfect understanding of the world and our desires. With that in mind, before we seek to improve all the weaknesses of our spouses as though on a religious crusade, it is good to remember to keep our own imperfections in check in the following ways:

Realize that weaknesses are often closely linked with strengths.

If your spouse is someone who really sticks to something, you may find in her or him stubbornness, or you may find dedication. If your spouse is someone that shows little emotion, a possible word to describe that attribute would be, well, emotionless—but if you analyze that attribute you may see that calm would be a better description. As such, be grateful for what your spouse contributes to your marriage and find out how to work as a team despite the difficulties that may be associated with his or her strength.

Don’t be unrealistic in your expectations.

Perfection should be defined according to one’s capabilities and efforts rather than against an unrealistic standard. One unrealistic standard is expecting to have at the beginning of your marriage everything your parents have after years of marriage. It is likely that the only way you could have all the tools, toys, and luxuries they have would be to go into considerable debt, which is not a good financial decision. You may not even have enough extra cash for more than a monthly ice-cream cone, as my parents did when they started out.

See what is really important.

You may be bothered by little imperfections every now and then. When this happens, consider if they are really important. If not, move on with life. If they are important to you specifically, communicate about that need and see what you can work out together. For example, if you can’t live with your spouse’s bad breath, you might be able to keep mints on hand. And if he or she doesn’t like mints, maybe you can take a toothbrush and toothpaste everywhere. Whatever the specific circumstance, you can work through it, as long as you do it together.

In summary, dealing with the imperfections of our significant other is likely to require dealing with our own inability to judge perfectly and doing whatever is necessary to improve that judgment as much as we can. This might not be an easy task, but with that special someone that committed specifically to be with you in the good times and the bad, it should work out.

By Austin Tracy
This is the fifth post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

R: Resources for Married Couples

couple-168191_1280If you’ve ever started a fire with flint and steel, then you know how frustrating it can be—or at least, it frustrated me. There I was with my small steel striker, charred cloth, and the only rock I could find in the wild that barely made a spark. I hit that rock for probably an hour, bloodying up my knuckles in the process, and getting colder by the minute.

And then it happened: I started a fire, and in the process, I learned a lesson.

In life and in marriage we can find ourselves doing all the right things, striking in very different ways at the rocks (or relationships) in our life, getting a spark but no fire. It can get frustrating, and yes at times it can be easy to give up, but if you don’t keep striking, you don’t get a fire. You don’t even get sparks.

So when marriage gets hard, what do we do to keep the sparks flying and to work at keeping that fire? Here are just a few resources married couples can use.

  1. Prayer and Scripture Study

First and foremost, your best resource is the third member of your relationship: God. Coming together as a couple to pray and receive guidance and inspiration from the scriptures should be the first thing you do when the going gets rough. Spend time searching the scriptures and praying not just on your own, but together.

  1. Speak with an ecclesiastical leader

This can be a Bishop if you are LDS or a Priest or other religious leader if you are of a different faith. The important part here is that you go together. Ecclesiastical leaders can receive inspiration for you and your spouse; however, it’s important to remember that if you are dealing with a more serious and sustained problem, couple those visits to the bishop with seeing an actual professional.

  1. Consider marital therapy

Therapy and professional counseling sometimes come negative connotations. However, most professional therapists advise couples to see a counselor before any problems arise. For example, premarital workshops and therapy can help prevent future problems in a marriage.

  1. Go to a marital workshop

Universities will sometimes host marital workshops, as well as professional counseling organizations. These workshops can be especially insightful about communication styles and how little adjustments can drastically improve a couple’s communication. For example, BYU Counseling and Psychological Services holds a six-week marriage prep course each semester.

  1. Go on a couple retreat

A couple retreat doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, even a simple date or series of dates can be a way for couples to reconnect and stay connected.

  1. Read a good book

And by “good book” I specifically mean marital books (although I don’t oppose reading aloud to each other your favorite book every night). Some well-known, successful marital books have been The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work, His Needs Her Needs, and The Art of Intimacy. If you are seeing a counselor or ecclesiastical leader, ask them what books best meet your needs, or do this research together on your own.

  1. Do what you love

Think of the last time you and your spouse were at your best. Think of all the things you were doing at that time of your life and then do it. Maybe you were serving more, or you were more attentive, or you went on more dates. Whatever it is, try to revive those good habits.

Of course, it’s always to easier to keep a fire going than to start one. Don’t be afraid to use these resources before you’re in the dark striking at a rock and praying for sparks. And if you are at that point, keep striking, keep going: the ember will catch and the fire will come.

By Jessica Olsen
This is the next post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post highlights a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

Is it Really Mutual?

mobile-phone-791644_1280I remember the first time I saw the commercial for the Mutual dating app. It was hilarious! I mean, it had Stacey Harkey in it so can you really go wrong? But that was mostly it. I was familiar with Tinder and its reputation and wasn’t about to embrace that or “sink to that level.” That included online dating sites and dating apps in general. Sure, I get that there are happily married people out there that met on Tinder, and that is wonderful for them. One of my roommates met her husband through Tinder, and that was great for her! However, I was convinced that dating apps and online dating would be, for me, a last resort.

So, naturally, I have had Mutual for two months.

Yes, I know, right? But, before you start to think that I only did it because I’ve finally reached that “last resort,” let me explain myself:

We live in the 21st century. Now, if that is news to you, then go back to your knitting and watching Murder She Wrote and disregard the rest of my thought dump. If living in a college town has taught me anything, it’s that dating needs to be redefined. Maybe I’m just not that girl that gets asked out every weekend, but in my experience, dates are few and far between. Then, to add to the trouble, there are all these stigmas. People don’t date in the ward because, as they say, you don’t want to “pee in the pool.” People don’t ask out fellow classmates on dates either because if it goes south then you still have class together. People also don’t ask random people on campus out on dates because it’s usually seen as weird (except for my old roommate who got asked out by a random guy on campus and is now happily married to him—shout out to Jane and Nate!) But seriously, that doesn’t usually happen. Okay, so the ward is out of bounds; the classmates are out of bounds; and the general human being on campus is out of bounds. So…how do you meet people?

But there’s more. Excusing the fact that today it seems to be more acceptable for a girl to ask a guy out, I’m a traditionalist, so we are going to make pretend that guys man up and ask the girls out. Guys traditionally have the advantage: they can look at a group of girls and narrow it down to which they are attracted to, and then ask one of the them out on a date to see if they are also attracted to her personality. That’s a much easier scenario than how we girls simply succumb to whomever asks us out! Then, if we aren’t attracted to the guy at all, we have to play the “bad guy” and let them down. I guess this is where online dating sites and dating apps come into play.

Dating has changed and so, I must change with it. Maybe that means I will eventually feel comfortable with asking a guy out on a date; or maybe that means I will cave and get Mutual (oh wait, I did). But I have learned that I can’t pass judgment. I thought dating apps were ridiculous! (I guess I still have a little bit of that still going through my head as I swipe through profiles.) However, I have realized that it is just another way to meet people. And considering that any other aspect of college life doesn’t often result in anything, I figured it could be a good place to start.

I’ve met this really great guy on Mutual and we have been talking. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but maybe something will. Right now we are just trying to see if, well, if things are Mutual.

By Camille Baker

Living up to Expectations

I remember the first reactions I got from my Laurel class advisers when I told them I was going to Brigham Young University.

“Oh my goodness you are going to go down there and be married within the first year!”

Name: Camille
Age: 23
Year in School: Junior
Relationship Status: Single

Now, I understand that I am not ancient. I also understand that I still have some time until I graduate; however, I think it is important to discuss the problem of trying to live up to expectations.

I remember what went through my mind after my Laurel advisors said that. I became convinced, as they apparently were, that I would get married quickly. I mean, it was BYU, right? Isn’t that the way it goes down there? I had decided that I would be married by 20 and would have a child at either 21 or 22. That didn’t happen, but I am grateful for the course my life has taken because it led me to serve a full-time mission and I wouldn’t give that away for anything.

So here is my key piece of advice: turn your expectations into goals. Live up to your goals—your goals—and focus on that. Don’t let others determine what the “correct” course is for yourself. I wish I could remove the idea in my mind that a successful life means getting married early. That isn’t the case. Marriage is ordained of God— that is true—but everyone’s time is different. My time to get married wasn’t at age 20 like I thought it was. My time at 20 was to be walking the streets of Italy talking to people about Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, and a restored church. I love everything about that. But yet, I have friends whose plans were to get married at 19, 20, or 21, and I love that too.

If there are any expectations you should live up to, it is the expectation that God has for you to become like Him. That is your potential; that is my potential. And eventually marriage will play into that potential, but remember that success in life is not measured by the societal expectation of marriage timing. I know many successful and happy single people that are in their upper twenties. Now, I would say to my Laurel class advisers, “I may not be married, but I am happy.”

By Camille Baker

R: Living your Religion in Marriage

Photo by Sarah Wells http://www.freckleblossom.com/

 

 

Getting married is hopefully the best decision you’ve ever made, but like any major life change, it comes with a lot of transitions. Even if you come from the same religious background, it is likely that you and your spouse will have some differing views and traditions when it comes to religion. (Read more on merging traditions in the first installment of this series.)

My husband and I were both raised in a similar way, with religion being a top priority in our families’ lives. Despite that, we have had to learn how to make our religious practices work in our marriage.

Here are a few things we’ve learned

  • Talk about it. We had to sit down and discuss what religious practices we wanted to carry into our relationship. We decided which things were a priority to us, and what we would start doing now so that we could have well-established traditions for when our children are born.
  • Set a time to be spiritual. This could be every day, every week, or whenever you decide is best for you. We have loved setting aside time every day to study and pray together. It’s a quiet time when we can reflect on what is most sacred and important to us, and in which we can remember what is truly important. No matter what you and your spouse do during your spiritual time, setting aside time for it will ensure that you can have time amidst a busy schedule.
  • Involve friends and family. Just because you are married now doesn’t mean you have to exclude friends and family. My husband and I have loved having a weekly religious discussion group every other Monday night with four other couples in our apartment complex. We keep it fun and always have a treat and game to go along with it.
  • Lift each other. One of the best things about being married is that you have another person to encourage you. Never nag or criticize your spouse when it comes to religious habits. If you know he or she can be better, show your spouse! Treat them how you want them to be and that’s how they will act.

As my husband and I live our religion together, we feel closer together and find meaning in our marriage. As you find what works best for your new marriage, you will find that having religious traditions you can do together will increase the spirituality of your relationship and help you to be closer.

By Mckenna Clarke
This is the third post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition

A: Articulation Makes all the Difference in Marriage

couple-1838940_640In addition to merging traditions, articulation is another important aspect of the transition to marriage. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines articulation as “the action of putting into words an idea or feeling of a specified type.” Articulation can create some of the most beautiful conversations in a marriage, but it can also create some of the most destructive conversations in a marriage. A husband or wife can form a mixture of words to express their undying love to their spouse; a husband or wife can also form a mixture of words to express their frustration or anger with their spouse’s shortcomings or honest mistakes. A spouse holds the greatest potential to not only lift up their spouse but also to hurt them and put them down.

The saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a nice concept but is not true in reality. Sometimes I poorly express an idea or concern to my husband, leading to an argument that is simply a huge misunderstanding. Before relaying a vital message to my husband, I try to remember to think through what I am saying, and what it really means. It is necessary to bring up concerns and have difficult conversations in a marriage, but these things can be done tactfully. Think about what you are going to say and how that will make your spouse feel. Even concerns and requests can be made in an uplifting manner. Build up your spouse with a compliment or praise before trying to make a compromise on a specific subject. For example, I tell my husband how fashionably he dresses before asking him to put his clothes away when he changes instead of throwing his clothes in a corner; I tell him that this will help keep his fashionable clothes in good condition. Take a deep breath before thickly laying down all your personal frustrations that might otherwise come off as frustrations toward your spouse.

There are many ways to develop the art of articulation, but one last piece of advice that I will share is to learn from others and their mistakes and triumphs. Ask your parents, grandparents, friends, or any person that you trust how he or she has achieved effective communication in marriage. Different methods work for different people. Keep working until you have found the method of communication that works for you and your spouse.

Language is a beautiful blessing from Heavenly Father. Language is what allows nations and people to learn from each other, to grow, and to thrive. Learn from your spouse, grow with your spouse, and thrive with your spouse. The art of articulation is learned through a lifetime of practice; but don’t give up, because the best things in life come through lots of challenges and lots of practice.

 By Elizabeth Hansen
This is the second post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

M: Merging Traditions

wedding-443600_1280

A lot of the struggle that comes with married life is the transition from being an individual to being in a family setting where traditions are foundational. Growing up is chock full of traditions, and these traditions shape you as a person. Since no two families have the same traditions, clashing can happen when your foundational traditions don’t line up with your spouse’s.

Here are some things to consider when merging your traditions:
  1. Explain to each other those traditions that have been most influential in your lives and why you would like to continue practicing them. Think about the effect your family’s traditions had on your life and rate them on a scale from neutral to highly beneficial. Talking about this with your spouse will solidify feelings you have about these traditions, and indicate to your partner how you feel toward them. This discussion will help you to ease the merging of your traditions without having a potentially destructive argument when things don’t pan out as you expected.
  2. Make new traditions. If you and your spouse don’t agree on a certain tradition, your best course of action might be to create a new one for just your family. And who knows? Maybe you’ll like this tradition better than the one you grew up with. It’s always good to take a minute to re-evaluate your traditions and tweak them to better suit your needs. Also, I’ve found that compromise is always a good way to go in your marriage; not everything can be just the way you are used to. Now that you are a ‘we’, you have to look out for your spouse and make sure you are accommodating their wants and needs as well.
  3. Remember that no amount of traditions is too many. Just because you’ve established the amount of traditions your family had doesn’t mean you have to stop there. You can have as many traditions as you want, as long as you can handle them. For example, my husband grew up memorizing hymns to sing as a family as they drove to church each Sunday, whereas my family didn’t do anything like that. Even though there was no compromise that needed to be made because there weren’t any conflicting traditions there, we can still add it to our tradition list. Small traditions like that can benefit your family greatly, so don’t leave them out just because your family never did anything like them.

There are many ways to merge traditions in your new family. Just be sure that however you go about doing it, you’re not being insensitive or stubborn. Go into your new family with the mindset that a lot of things will be different, and that’s okay— keep your mind open to new possibilities that will enrich and enhance your life. But with all this change, don’t forget the experiences you had with your family traditions that made you who you are today. Those memories will always be priceless to you, and no amount of change or compromise should take those away.

By Caroline Averett

This is the first post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E with you, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

Parenting Tip #4: Support Your Spouse

As my husband and I were discussing parenting (we often do) we realized that a large part of parenting is supporting your spouse. You may wonder “what does that have to do with parenting? Turns out it plays a large role.

There are many ways to show support to your spouse:

  1. Being there for big moments 
  2. Upholding the rules set by partner
  3. Recognizing when help is needed and giving it
  4. Being happy for each other’s successes.
  5. Listening to the problems/triumphs
  6. Bragging about spouse to others
  7. Touching:  a hand squeeze, a hug, a high-five

Parenting is a tough job.  It takes time, hard work, perseverance, patience, creativity, and divine help.   When you feel overloaded or alone, it’s hard to endure through the tough moments (yes, everyone has tough moments).  I’ve found that the only way to get through it is to have support.   Unless you are a single parent (a topic for another day), that support ought to come from your spouse.  

These moments of support are not time-consuming or costly. It can be as simple as Rosen 2011 1277walking in the door at night and giving your spouse a hug.  It might mean showing up to his or her presentation, performance, or work party. It could even be as easy as asking “What can I do for you today?”  One of the best ways to support your spouse is by continuing to “date” each other.  Taking the time to do fun things together allows you to remember why you got married in the first place.   Weekly dates keep the fires of romance burning and they help you remember that there is more to life than parenting!

Rosen 2011 1023

Over the years, my husband has given me tremendous support. When I held piano recitals, my husband would always be there early to hand out the programs—a huge show of support since it meant he had to leave work early.  He would also hand out treats after the recital, allowing me time to visit with the parents of my students.

But how does this help our parenting? Happy spouses make for happy parents. When you know your efforts are appreciated, or even noticed, you feel valued as a person. Feeling valued as a person allows you to focus on others—the kids—and not yourself.

Another part of being supportive is being willing to sit down together and come up with a parenting plan.  Although you can’t cover every possible circumstance, you can set some guidelines for yourselves that put you and your spouse on the same parenting page.  When parents take the time to do this, something wonderful happens.  The kids soon realize that their parents are a team.   The kids will not be able to manipulate or pit the parents against each other.  (If you don’t think kids do this, you don’t have kids yet!)  This is a big step in positive parenting! Even though kids express the idea that they wish they could pit one of you against the other, the truth is that if they know the parents are united, they feel secure and confident.

IMG_1766If your parenting feels disjointed, if you feel alone even though you have a spouse, if you need encouragement or recognition, now is the time to take your honey on a date, sit down somewhere, and discuss how you can support each other in ways that matter to the two of you.  Your kids will thank you for it later.   

 

Written by: Phyllis Rosen

How to Tell if He is Marriage Material

wedding-322034_1920After coming from a city where righteous, kind, ambitious, loving young men were few and far between, I can understand the appeal of dating in Provo, where that is  not the case. There are so many practically perfect men that cross your path every day, and if you happen to snag one, how can you know that he could be your eternal companion?

When I had been dating my boyfriend (now fiancé) for 6 months, I knew I loved him, but I just wasn’t sure if he was the one for me. Some people say they “just know,” but for a logical thinker like me, that kind of thinking just didn’t work out.

Luckily, my brother sent me this document of questions for couples anticipating marriage to ask each other. I cut these questions into strips, folded them up, and put them in a bag. Every once-in-a-while, we would pull out the bag and take turns picking random questions and answering them. Not only was it informative, but it was also both spiritual and fun. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee, but these questions can give you a deeper insight into the heart of your loved one.

My fiancé and I highly recommended these questions to anyone who is considering getting married, as most of these questions do not usually come up in normal conversation.

These questions (and my fiancé’s answers to them) were pivotal in my decision to marry my best friend. Maybe you already know that he’s the one, and maybe you don’t, but regardless, give these questions a shot—you might be surprised by your results.

Written by Cari Taylor

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