Being single is filled with all sorts of thoughts, feelings and experiences. You may struggle during this phase of life because you long for intimacy and companionship with a spouse. While the wait can sometimes feel like forever, it’s essential to make the most of this time by intentionally growing in wisdom on how to have a successful marriage one day. So this post will cover some tips on how to do that and ideas on how you can start preparing yourself now for marriage.
All spouses have needs, preferences, expectations and concerns they bring into marriage. Sometimes, newlyweds haven’t been married long enough to identify their spouse’s needs, but talk with anyone who’s been married for a few years or longer, and they will usually be able to tell you what they are.
Unfortunately, one of the most common dynamics within marriage that destroys intimacy is how we respond to our partner’s needs. A lot of times, we fall into a pattern of ignoring, dismissing or judging them by thinking “they’re being irrational” or “I can’t provide that because that’s not who I am” or “they never meet my need for X, so I’m not going to meet their need for Y,” and the list goes on. At the core, the issue is a complete disregard for our spouse’s yearnings and preferences rather than lovingly and sacrificially placing their needs above our own.
Usually, the more a spouse feels like their needs/concerns are ignored and dismissed, the more they move from hurt to anger to bitterness. When anger and bitterness take hold, all forms of intimacy tend to unravel. We must learn to honor our partner’s desires without judgment. As long as the need doesn’t disagree with biblical morals, meet it without hesitation. God tells us to “be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10, NIV).
Attachment Theory tells us that one of the best ways to cultivate a secure attachment with a child growing up is to sensitively and consistently respond to the child’s cues and needs. When this occurs, the child and parent develop a secure attachment. Likewise, we must excel at sensitively and consistently responding to our spouse’s cues and needs to develop a secure attachment with them.
There are at least two ways to start preparing yourself now to be successful in this area if you get married one day.
1. Spend time praying, thinking and journaling on the possible needs, preferences and expectations your spouse may have one day.
If you’re a female, spend time talking with friends and family and reading resources on common needs of men so that you’re cognizant of these areas before entering marriage. Likewise, if you’re male, spend time talking with friends and family and reading resources on common needs of women for the same purpose.
Many enter into marriage having little to no idea what the common needs are of the opposite gender and are only consumed with their own. Instead, properly prepare yourself now by becoming well versed in the needs of the opposite gender to excel at sacrificially loving and serving your spouse within marriage one day.
2. Practice honoring the needs and concerns of your friends now.
How do you respond to your friends when they express their needs and concerns in your friendship? Do you ignore the needs? Do you get defensive and justify why you aren’t responding to their concerns? Instead, practice meeting their desires lovingly and sacrificially.
For example, perhaps you tend to run late, but your friend really appreciates your being punctual because it makes them feel like you value their time. Don’t ignore their need and think, I’m a late person, so they can take it or leave it. Instead, think, That’s important to them, so let me do whatever it takes to be punctual. This will make them feel honored and cherished in your friendship.
In sum, one of the keys to a successful marriage is learning to honor rather than dismiss your spouse’s needs. Spend time learning about common needs of the opposite gender now and honoring the needs of your friends to prepare for loving your spouse one day within marriage.
Wyatt Fisher, Psy.D., is passionate about helping Christians connect and develop God-honoring relationships. He blogs at ChristianCrush.com/relationship.
Copyright 2015 Wyatt Fisher. All rights reserved.