Can you build a marriage on the foundation of feeling “in love”?
If you turn on your radio and randomly surf the channels, you’ll likely find that 90% of all the songs played are about love. Some songs are about the person’s beauty. Some are about how a person makes the singer feel. The lyrics are composed to convince the listener that this “in love” feeling or obsession is the end goal.
It’s all about being in love with this one-of-a-kind person. We remember these amazing feelings when we were courting: she made me feel like I was on top of the world; he made me feel like I was a cherished and rare jewel. We remember thinking, “How could this get any better?!”
While these emotional highs are important and completely normal, try to think of them as the “cherry on top.” There’s so much more to building the foundation of a life-long marriage than these first feelings of being “in love.”
Research indicates that it takes roughly two years for people to fall out of being “in love.” Through our counseling, we have seen some marriages steadily grow into powerful marriages and others seem to simply get by, but not have a great marriage. What we have found is that being “in love” is not a stable foundation on which to base your future life with another person.
Remember, dating success is not getting married. If that was the case, everyone who gets a marriage certificate is a success. Intentionally learning as much as you can about the person so you can make an informed decision about your potential life together is a successful courtship. If people break up because they decide that they are going different directions, have different values, or have irreconcilable characteristics, then that dating experience was a success.
So you might be wondering, “How do I know that they are the one?” You do this by being voraciously curious about the other person. Be intentional about learning the other person’s desires, goals, dreams, and passions.
Here are some questions you can ask each other to get conversations rolling. Take your time with them:
- SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION: What is your personal mission statement? What is your morning/evening routine? How do you make sure that you’re walking as closely in God’s will as you can? How can I support you in becoming closer to the Lord? What is your relationship like with your pastor? Who are your spiritual mentors/accountability partners? Do you have accountability on your phone and digital devices?
- FAMILY OF ORIGIN: How are you like/unlike your mother/father? What family traditions do you like/dislike? What about your family of origin do you want to repeat in your marriage and what do you not want to repeat?
- LOVE LANGUAGES: How do you give and receive love? Take the 5 Love Languages test. While we all speak all five love languages, we generally have a primary and secondary love language that speak more deeply to us. How can your partner best show his/her love and appreciation for you?
- PARENTING: What is your basic philosophy on parenting? What did you observe from your own parents or parents around you that you liked or didn’t like? How many children do you want? What are your views on discipline? What are your views on public school and homeschooling?
- CONFLICT RESOLUTION: How do you argue? Does each person in the relationship have the opportunity to voice their opinion and concerns? Do you brainstorm as a team? Research shows that it’s not the number of conflicts that predict a healthy relationship, but how those conflicts are resolved. When you conclude an argument as a team, both individuals feel understood, appreciated, listened to, and loved. How well are you reaching a win-win solution together?
- SEEKING/GRANTING FORGIVENESS: Have you apologized to anyone in the past? How did you do it? How did you show your sincerity? Has anybody apologized to you, but you didn’t feel it was sincere? Why did you feel that way? What words or body language do you see as being sincere and insincere? Get to know your partner’s history of apologizing and being apologized to. Doing this “well” is key to building trust in a relationship.
- ROLES/ RESPONSIBILITIES: In your family, who does which tasks and responsibilities around the house? Your father does which tasks? Your mother does which tasks? Are their roles decided by tradition, skill, interest, or a combination of these?
- STRESS: What are some of your major stressors right now? How do you see that changing over the next five years? 10 years? 20 years? What do you do to cope with stressful situations? Do you tend to take on too many responsibilities? What are some other emotions that arise when you’re stressed out?
- PERSONALITY: What is your personality type? Take a personality assessment. We like this one from 16Personalities because it’s very much like the Myers-Briggs, but it’s free.
- VALUES/LEISURE: What are your similar interests? What are your interests that are completely opposite? How might you get to know more about your partner’s interests? Which topics of conversation get you talking most deeply (i.e. culture, travel, Scripture, political perspectives)? What can you do to enjoy recreation and leisure together?
Adam and Karissa King have been working as a coach-therapist team since 2011 and are dedicated to helping couples become intimately connected, get adventurous, and find purpose. They have a practice in Elk Grove, CA, and also serve couples all over the world through online marriage counseling and coaching. You can find their daily marriage advice on Instagram and Facebook: @dearyoungmarriedcouple
Adam and Karissa hold Master’s degrees from Biola University and National University respectively and are both certified facilitators through Prepare-Enrich Marriage Counseling. In addition to counseling, they also enjoy traveling and speaking at various churches, conferences, and retreats around the world. Adam and Karissa host a marriage backpacking retreat in Tahoe, CA, each summer. They have two children and a golden doodle – all of whom accompany them on various adventures.
8841 Williamson Dr. Suite 40
Elk Grove, CA 95624
Phone: (916) 678-1797