Engaged Encounter Part II: Three to Get Married?


Openness in Communication

Arguing Can Be Healthy

The presenting team's examples encourage us to be open through a willingness to trust and risk. Openness is the key to communication. By revealing ourselves and believing in the other's goodness, we become closer. Arguments will arise. However, the presentation provides valuable suggestions for disagreeing lovingly and resolving conflicts.

Rules for Arguing Fairly

  1. NO NAME-CALLING: This includes using affectionate names sarcastically.
  2. NO THIRD PARTIES: The argument is just between the two of you.
  3. NO PAST HISTORY: If it's already settled don't bring it up again. You can use the 48 hour rule.
  4. STICK TO THE SUBJECT!: Identify the problem. Don't go on to other issues.
  5. NO CHEAP SHOTS: Don't use the other's weakness to gain advantage. You may win the argument, but injure your relationship. No hitting below the belt!
  6. DON'T GO TO BED ANGRY: Finish the argument or call a truce and agree on a time to continue.
  7. MAINTAIN A SENSE OF HUMOR: Don't take yourselves too seriously. LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE!
  8. HOLD HANDS: This is difficult because it requires a "decision to love". This helps to keep your focus where it belongs, on the person who means more to you than anyone in the world.

Openness in communication is process of talking and listening that involves elements of risk, trust, and acceptance. In marriage we are challenged to take a risk, to share openly with our spouse, and to trust our spouse's acceptance of our thoughts, ideas, and feelings. To experience the deepest sense of love, we need to become vulnerable and trusting.

  1. What things (thoughts, feelings, behavior, dreams, values) do I find difficult to reveal to you? (Share positive as well as negative examples.)
  2. In what ways do I listen to you ope
    nly? In what ways do I think you listen to me openly?
  3. Do I go along with you just to avoid an argument (peace at any price)? Explain.
  4. How do we differ in the way we argue (e.q. attack, withdraw, ignore)? How can we use the rules for arguing?
  5. Circle the areas where you are least open with your fiancee and then explain why it is difficult to be open about them.
    • my family
    • careers
    • children
    • roles in marriage
    • in-lawsdrinking/drugs
    • religion
    • values
    • sex
    • education
    • habits
    • lifestyles
    • marriage responsibilities
    • fear of failure
    • previous marriage/relationship
    • hobbies/free-time/sports
    • financial matters
    • the way you treat me
    • health
    • other (specify)

I want to frame the rules for arguing and hang them prominently, but my fiance won't let me. 😉

Signs of a Closed Relationship

Will They Change After Marriage?

We discover how preconceived ideas can affect marriage. Marriage is not just living together. It is our lifelong commitment, made day by day, to be totally involved with my spouse for a growing relationship.

Sharing individual expectations and attitudes about marriage is vital to a growing relationship. When we choose to ignore our differences or begin to think we can change our spouse, we start to close ourselves off from one another. The willingness to communicate and explore our expectations as a couple allows us the freedom to be ourselves, to grow and to change. Marriage is more than just living together. It is a lifelong commitment to become totally involved with one another.

  1. What things do I talk with others about more easily than I do with you? What does that indicate about our relationship?
  2. Was there a previous reluctance or hesitation to marry? If there was, have the issues which caused this reluctance/hesitation been completely addressed?
  3. Do you think marriage will solve any of our problems?
  4. Which of the following cause me to ignore difference between us?
    • Peace at any price
    • Don't rock the boat
    • Matter of convenience/laziness/indifference
    • Fear of rejection
    • Fear of losing you

    What can I do to address these obstacles?

  5. What specific changes would I like to see you make after we are married? How important are these changes to me in accepting you?
  6. What doubts do I have about marrying you?
  7. Over what issues do I become angry with you?
  8. What do I expect of myself as your husband/wife? What doI expect of you as my husband/wife?

Answering these questions was a good exercise, but I wish the presenters would have emphasized to the couples that marriage does not solve problems or magically change people. On a humorous note, I've often heard that a woman marries a man hoping he'll change, but he doesn't, and a man marries a woman hoping that she won't change, but she does. 😉