Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Laying the Foundation for a Strong Relationship

Matt is five years younger than I am, which actually makes me feel younger. I figure I won't want to retire before he does (boring!), so I feel more like 26 than my ripe old age of 31.

One of the few ways in which I actually feel 31 is in regard to my biological clock. I worry about my declining fertility as I advance in years. No, this isn't a post to say that Matt and I are trying to get pregnant. My point is actually about marriage.

Since we'll probably start trying to have a baby in the next couple years, we really want to make sure that our marriage is as strong as possible. I can only begin to imagine how much a baby adds stress (as well as goodness, of course) to a relationship. We want to make sure we have really strong communication, conflict resolution, habits of caring, physical intimacy, shared goals, and self-awareness in place as a foundation for our expanding family.

Unfortunately, we didn't attend any sort of pre-marital counseling before we got married. We got overwhelmed with buying a house, getting a dog, looking for new jobs (and planning a wedding). I wish we would have prioritized a marriage course, but we just didn't.

So now we're prioritizing it. We're going to go to a free class offered to Texans. (The last one we tried to sign up for didn't work out because we didn't live in the proper zip code.) We're also going to seek out couples counseling while our relationship is going well. It seems to make more sense to be proactive rather than reactive. Anyone know a good couples therapist in Houston?

Lastly, we bought a book called Happiness for Two. Each chapter offers a poignant piece of advice with an explanation that spans about 1.5 to 2 pages. It's perfect for reading in the bathroom.

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megan said...

i had no idea matt was 5 years younger than you! you have definitely kept yourself looking good! (it must be the organic food and sunscreen! speaking of which, have you started eating meat yet? how's that going?)

i am 5 years younger than my fiance, and i have a hard time keeping him feeling young with me! i am going to the nearest bookstore and buying that book. i think it is a great concept to have a healthy relationship before having children. so many people think a baby will "solve" things, only to find (sadly) babies tend to add more stress to already-fragile relationships.

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea. The stronger the foundation, the most it can handle. It is always good to prepare yourself. Good luck with it.

Dianne said...

Hi Sara,
There's another wonderful book that my husband and I read together when we were engaged - The Five Love Languages. It will change your perspective on all of your personal relationships. The book opended my eyes to the reality that the way we love and what we need to feel loved is not absolute and universal - it is different for each person (and each child - good perspective for when you have children!). The five love languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts and physical touch. It's a wonderful book.

Plus Size Bride said...

I had a really great one that I worked with when I lived in Houston the first time. I'll try to find his information. He was inside the loop kind of in the Galleria area if I remember correctly. Really great guy. Let me know if that area is compatable with where you are.
I completely understand about the biological clock. I'm 42 and hoping it's not too late.

Los Angeles on a Budget said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becca said...

I'm three years older than my partner, and we're facing the same fine-in-every-way-but-the-fertility question about our relationship. Age also played itself out in learning to carefully and thoroughly communicate our individual needs and stages in this relationship, and we're very much looking forward to pre-marital counseling. Also, we've been working our way through "1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married" (Monica Mendez Leahy.) It's one of the few non-religious but thorough question/discussion books we've found and we really enjoy wine-and-question nights in together.

Atulya said...

In France if a couple is going to get married at a church, they will have sessions with the priest.
There are private counsellors too (in my mind, it's rather for couples who already have problems).
There is the "CLER" too, a national association for emotional and domestic development, for young or not, at pair or not.
I'm planning to look for others groups to choose the most appropriate!
Good luck!
PS Thank you Becca for the link (1001 questions...)

Kate said...

Thanks for the book suggestions...I just put a hold on them at my library. Hoping that my fiance won't find them cheesy to work through.

I think that being proactive and working through all those potential issues is great! I'm curious to hear how finding a therapist goes. I'm sure you'll find somebody great who is enthusiastic about working with such self-aware folks.

kahlia said...

We also have "1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married" (Monica Mendez Leahy) and love it. At first, my fiancé did find it a bit cheesy (the cover is bright pink, of course!), but we skip around in the book, talking about things that are relevant at the time (hello, "Relatives" section!), and now (after having the book for like 6 months) he likes it as much as I do.

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