THINK OF HAVING A LIFE PARTNER.
Most couples I work with, when they think of marriage (if they do, rather than co-habiting), think of a life partner. But the idea of covenant may not be there, at least intentionally and reflectively. And its profound implications.
- DO THE FOCCUS PREMARITAL INVENTORY WITH A THIRD PARTY WHO CAN INTERPRET IT (GET EXCELLENT PREMARITAL COUNSELING).
- The FOCCUS material helps me as I premarital counsel couples. It asks covenantal questions. So, for a premarital couple entertaining marriage, I have them do the FOCCUS survey. BTW - you don't have to be engaged to do this survey. And, 10% of all who take it break off their relationship after taking it.
- FIND A COVENANT MARRIAGE AND TAKE THEM OUT TO DINNER. Do you know of a covenant marriage? Two persons who have been married many years, and selflessly and sacrificially love each other? Go out for dinner with them and ask them questions about their marriage. Treat them. They deserve it. Note: Linda and I were hosting Chaim Potok when a young girl asked him, "Mr. Potok, I don't have any moral values. How can I get them?" Chaim answered: "Find a family that has moral values and hang around them." A lot of the stuff we have been taught has been caught.
- REJECT THE MYTH OF COMPATIBILITY. Understand, from the beginning, that no two people are compatible enough to weld together for life. So, you won't need to divorce on the basis of "incompatible differences." Expect them. Again, find a successful, long-term covenant marital couple. They've learned how to love in the midst of such differences.
- SAVE THE SEXUAL (INTERCOURSE) RELATIONSHIP UNTIL COVENANTALLY WELDED TOGETHER. This builds trust, and increases real love which is: loving the other for who they are in Christ and not for the sex they can give you. Contractual relationships are all about what I get; covenantal relationships are all about God first, and the other person second.
- READ GARY CHAPMAN'S BOOK. I really like Gary Chapman's newer book Things I Wish We'd Known Before We Got Married. Everyone should read it.
- READ THESE TWO BOOKS BY WALTER TROBISCH. Before I got married (almost 39 years ago) my pastor had me read these two marvelous books by Walter Trobisch - I Married You, and I Loved a Girl. Prepare to be ushered into another, beautiful, alternative noetic framework.
- READ MIKE MASON'S BOOK. I strongly suggest reading Mike Mason's famous The Mystery of Marriage. This is all about the nature of covenant relationship.
- WATCH "SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE," ALONE. The Tom Hanks character knew his wife, inside and out. The Meg Ryan character longs to have a husband like this. And she hasn't even seen his face. Such is the quality of covenant relationship; viz., it grows in an ever-newness of love while the face and body sag and decline.