Dating, Pt. 4

Engagement is more than just planning the wedding. It is also about building a rock solid foundation for a lifetime together.


If you are the first time marrieds it is imperative you discuss your values regarding children and parenting. How many children do you want? Where do you want to raise them? What are your beliefs on childcare, best methods for discipline, education, and will you both work or will of you one stay home? It seems common sense that engaged couples would talk about their dreams of building a family, but it is not uncommon for couples to have these discussion post-nuptial. That is a lousy time to learn one person wants five children while the other wants none! These are important conversations to have, because during the engagement if there is significant disagreement in these areas you may choose not to get married. It is also not uncommon for one partner to believe the other spouse will change their mind once they are married. Do not bank on this; it is very manipulative and deadly to a relationship. Be sure you share common values on children and parenting skills.

If you are blending families from previous relationships know that you are not only marrying your spouse but you have now gained relationships with their children and that child's other parent. Discuss strategies for blending all the relationships as well as define roles. It is also important to discuss the roles, if any, you play in each child's life when it comes to discipline, finances, and role modeling. It is a delicate balance being a step-parent. Define the roles and know there will be many bumps along the road.

Expectations

When Mike and I were first married we both had different expectations of me as a wife. At that time I was working full time in a job that was stressful, going to graduate school three quarters time, doing a twenty hour a week internship, developing my research for my sixty page thesis while attempting to be the perfect Martha Stewart wife. As the months passed I became increasingly frustrated to the point of insanity for not living up to my expectation of giving Mike perfection in every area of our relationship. However, Mike's expectations of me as a wife were very different. It turns out he had little interest in a Martha Stewart-worthy wife! It was a very life changing conversation when we finally sat down and we discussed what he wanted and needed in a wife. We also discussed how I viewed his role as a husband. It led to many conversations that have helped set us up for success.

Being a married single

This is the best phrase I can use to describe being a police officer's wife. It is a challenging lifestyle because the LEO's job will become a third entity in the marriage. That is because being a cop is more than just a job, it is an identity that is carried with them at all times. Spouses of cops need to be willing to sacrifice beyond the normal call of marriage for the sake of the job. Before becoming married to a cop be sure your personality is suited for this lifestyle. Talk to spouses of cops and go in with eyes wide open of what is required. There are reasons LE has a high divorce rate. If you are the LEO, work hard to include your future spouse in your life and to develop interests outside of the cop world. Nurture all dimensions of your relationship.

Being engaged is so much more than just planning the wedding. It is also about building a foundation for your relationship that is rock solid so that you can build a lifetime together. The above are just a few areas for discussion before getting married. Other topics include communication styles, sex, spiritual beliefs, recreation, hobbies, friends, families of origin, and even what constitutes a clean home. Do not assume because you are similar in other areas all of these will work out after wedding. Seek out self-training in marriage survival skills by reading books and attending couples counseling, plus a premarital education seminar, and by seeking the counsel of successful marrieds. Doing this at the start of our marriage has helped us celebrate 15 years this month!



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