My fiancé and I have run into some trouble since getting engaged. Though both of our families are excited about the match, we met while traveling abroad and have spent most of our courtship in different cities. Our future together will require at least one of us to totally uproot and start over. Obviously, this has huge implications for our careers, our church home, our friendships and more.
The problem is that we can’t talk about it without fighting. It feels like no matter what we decide, one of us will be the winner and the other, the loser. This seems like a no-win situation, and not a great way to start our marriage. Please help.
Thanks for writing and congratulations on your engagement and upcoming marriage. This is a wonderful and trying time. I remember engagement being difficult. So much pressure to get things done, relatives with lots of opinions about the ceremony (What? You mean your punch won’t be the same color as the bridesmaids’ dresses?) and lots of emotions and hormones. If you’re being pure, you’re probably sexually frustrated. If you’re falling, you’re feeling guilty, or should be. That’s why I like short engagements!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to minimize the importance of these decisions. But understanding the context you’re trying to make them in is helpful. At this point of major stress, laughter is good medicine. And perspective is essential. These are, after all, good problems. Struggling over which city to spend your newlywed years in is a dilemma lots of my single friends would love to be in.
That’s not to minimize the nature of your fight. It does sound though like an opportunity to address how you handle conflict, how well you work as a couple on the same team and how open you are (both of you) to input from godly mentors and God’s will. What you decide will change at least one of your lives in dramatic way. But as important is how you decide. Whatever challenges you face while dating and engaged are foreshadowing of, and practice for, marriage. Have you prayed about all this together? Consider praying together with a mature married couple you both respect. God can work wonders! Don’t lose hope. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it!
Here are some further things to consider. The first is the obvious need for him, once you’re married, to obey the biblical mandate to “leave and cleave.” Of course that assumes that you will submit to his leadership and be willing to “fit in with him.” These are concepts in healthy tension.
Also, where is your family? If they are where you are currently, there’s something to be said for asking him if he’s willing to relocate so you will have the benefit of help when the babies arrive. There is cultural support for this (as well as there is biblical support for you moving to be near his family). Again, ideas in tension.
But these ideas are based on principles that are interdependent.
Consider love and respect. Are you being respectful in how you’re conveying your wishes, desires and needs? Is he being loving? (see Ephesians 5). Is he saying, “My hometown! Take it or leave it”? Or is he trying to shepherd you toward his position?
If the decision is made by either of you “winning” this debate, it will remain an open wound in your marriage that may cause damage later on. When Steve and I were making decisions about where to live and how to merge our lives after marriage, we decided to put away the “my way vs. your way” paradigm and chose to work on coming up with “our way.” This wasn’t about his traditions, desires, and plans versus mine. It was about deciding what from each of our pasts and presents was worth holding onto and making our own.
If you end up having a lot of children, and you’re planning to stay home with them, living somewhere for the purpose of preserving your career option seems frivolous. By the time all those kids are grown and on their own, you may be wanting to do something completely different. You can’t know the future now. But if you can’t conceive, living somewhere where you have to start over professionally seems frustrating. Again, this is not something you can know right now. Ultimately you must ask, is your fiancé asking you to move because that’s where he believes God wants you to live? Or because it’s where his family wants you? This is a key distinction.
And beyond that, regardless of what his family wants, is he following God? Are you? And in light of all this, can you work toward answers together and discuss them without fighting?
Again, how you handle these matters may be even more than what you decide. It will set the pattern for all future decisions, big and small. No matter what course your marriage takes, you can count on a lifetime of decision-making together.
May God guide you,
Copyright 2007 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.