Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Decisions, Decisions!

As much as one would love to be married, it isn't something to be entered into lightly. Love and being together for forever is wonderful (as long as it is with the person you are supposed to be with); nevertheless, there are many factors that loom over unsuspecting, ignorant, and/or immature couples. Why unsuspecting? Because when in love and the relationship is new, the mindset that everything else will just simply fall into place with little to no effort is the common denominator (James 2:20 AMP). Why ignorant? Anything that is not researched is done impulsively. While some think it is the spice of life to do so, it is also what keeps peace at bey. Peace is the necessary ingredient for Kingdom Living. So that "free spirit" kind of thinking needs some discipline and training. Why immature? Not necessarily immature in age but in the matters concerning God. It is the reason for this entry. Once sound information is received, it is difficult to make any decisions based on impulse and ignorance (2 Timothy 4:3 AMP). When information is given and the receiver is set to do the undesired behavior anyway, then he/she has entered into a whole different class. The labels for such a class is foolish, rebellious, and sinner.

In making the decision to be together forever, the factors that come with that decision must be considered. It is the discussion that needs to take place while dating. Don't rush it. These factors will be loud and clear when arguments come about, children have been birthed, and the different decisions are in place whether staying married is even worth the effort. Lets avoid such the scene and just do the necessary homework before leaping into such a life altering pool.

Major subjects to be discussed to avoid arguing are the very matters that lawyers hash out. The no longer loving couple is sitting on opposite sides of a conference table and the two that are speaking for them is enjoying the actual assets that are being divided into their pockets. They smile and take their time until there is nothing left to argue about. It is such a waste of time and energy. Nevertheless, if deciding to be in a relationship, you have to find if this is a good match not solely because of what the person looks like, financial assurance, or its been too long waiting for God to do something. If this is what made your mind up for you - yeesh, good luck! For everyone else, keep reading.

FAITH It should be the number one thing that caused you to start dating the individual in the first place. Babes in Christ might think this is not a big deal until well into the relationship. A reality show on BET called Hip, Hop, and Love  has such the couples. One in particular claims to believe in God but the division comes with what they believe about Jesus. "Jenn" says she is a Christian. "Consequence" is a black Moslim. She would like for there to be a traditional Christmas in their house for her new son to get use to some of her family traditions. He says its not the Moslim way. He's upset at the thought of bringing the subject up again and she is always in tears. They aren't married but have a child together. What were they thinking when they made that decision (2 Corinthians 6:14 AMP)?

CHILDREN How many of them are you planning to have? If the plan falls through, who is going to be responsible for the contraception? Do you believe in contraception? Why do you desire a big family? Is it an issue if there isn't a big family? Is there going to be an issue if one is unable to have children? What is the recourse if one cannot have children? Does he like children? Does she? Is there children from a previous relationship? How many baby daddies or baby mamas are there? Who is raising the children? What is the foundation that the children will be raised? Is there going to be discipline? Who is the disciplinarian and why? The thing about children is that they aren't as resilient as originally thought. They watch and consume information like sponges. Where they attend school and who will be babysitting is a huge responsibility. Protecting them and keeping them sound until they reach 18, is a fallacy. If they aren't ready to grow up for whatever the reason, they will keep returning home. Are you ready for that? Children also need time and a good percentage of your income that you planned to retire on or do some traveling. Even the amount you planned on, will change as they grow, will need more, and the economy being a factor as well. The other thing about children that new parents don't factor in, they are not as appreciative as you would like for them to be. They take and take and keep on taking expecting for you to keep giving. They are the way you were or most likely were to your parents. Speaking of which, your parents aren't built in baby sitters and will eventually get tired of you taking them for granted. They don't have to take care of your children. Those are yours. YOU have to do it!

IN-LAW INVOLVEMENT Now, how does this happen? Where does a mother or father-in-law think they have the right to speak on matters concerning your house? Most of the time, it is because there wasn't a boundary made and specific direction not to cross. Whether directly said or indirectly, some people need to know a line has been drawn not to step over. For the most part, each should take care of their own side of the family unless a member disregards the warning. Then it is the man who has been called to protect the garden. It doesn't have to be dramatic, loud, or confrontational. Just take the person aside and be matter of fact about it. He /she will get the hint and appreciate not being humiliated in front of the other members. Once this has been done, peace resumes. But if, there is a disagreement between the newly married couple, it is a matter taken to God and being patient for His answer or she has to be content with her husband's decision. It cannot be discussed with outside parties because you didn't like what he/she said. Keep your marriage private and you will stay happier longer (Genesis 2:24 AMP).

WHERE TO LIVE AND WHY You would think this is a no brainer however, many men find their wives in the place where they grew up but have no desire to stay in that same place. While the wife would like to be close to "Mom and Dad". The bible says to separate from the parents and cleave to the spouse. If your wife has an issue with leaving, its because she is not secure with who her new husband is and his plan in caring for her. This is a necessary discussion in the dating process. neither party cannot be so thrilled with getting married and missing a crucial element like trusting your spouse because of the Greater One on the inside leading and directing. Understand that the leading of the Holy Spirit is always a good thing whether it is a season of chastisement or moving in the direction of the blessing - both are documented in scripture. It is up to the individual to know what season your intended is in. Once vows are spoken, you are in the same season with him/her.

INSIDE HELP This isn't something that is thought about when getting married. Usually we think of newly weds as a young couple with enough energy to do as well as they were doing as singles. Yet, it doesn't matter what the age, considering to get outside help could be a means to keep your marriage fresh. If you have children and it is your first time, consider getting help. Men become anxious during this time because after pregnancy, she needs time to heal. But even after the 6 weeks are over, because of her getting up to feed, change, amuse, and clean the baby - she is exhausted and does not have the desire to be affectionate or alluring to her husband. She has baby weight to lose. She hasn't been to the salon in months. She hasn't been out of sweat clothes seemingly ever - its just not a glamorous time. You say the cost might be out of your reach - well, that's something to consider when planning for a family. A big family might sound good but is it? Could you handle it. Is she equipped to bear the burden? Would she like to? Have to ever seen the show on TLC, 19 and Still Counting? It is a reality show about a family called the Duggars. The couple has 21 children altogether. Seeing her carry the last one was extremely stressful and when she went to the hospital, there was a possibility of losing the child. The entire family was distressed over the matter. Whether the episode was scripted or not, the subject matter of having help is something to discuss and thoroughly understood between both parties.

EDUCATION Hopefully the couple finished all of their schooling before entering into matrimony - well, that would be the ideal thing. However, there are those that marry because it was better to do so then to burn, as it is written. Now, who will it be that is going to work, stay home, and/or finish going to school? Is it necessary to get a four year degree or will vocational school be a well chosen option. Can both go to school? Is she willing to stay home with the children or work until he gets a well paying job or should she be the one to finish first? What is the reasoning behind the decision? What is the plan for the children's education? Is there a long term investment already in the works so when the children are ready to go to college, its already paid for or will they be in debt when they finish due to student loans (Hosea 4:6 AMP)?

ESTATE PLANNING This a topic that is tossed in the sand for later use if considered at all. Life insurance, financial investments, important papers on property and the like have to be sorted and maintained. The policies need to have an executor and a beneficiary must be named. Now, this is a touchy subject only to those that aren't secure in Christ and/or secure with whom he/she has chosen as a life long mate. Yeah, oh well, if you are already married. Seek counseling. If you aren't, consider reading an entry already written in 3 parts, The Pre-nuptial Agreement. If you have never read it before, attempt to. Its not what you think. It is a practical and necessary tool in these days and times. The other matter in this same topic is a will. When there is a life insurance policy and other assets equaling a substantial amount, it would be wise to have a financial consultant and/or an attorney go over the appropriate papers for all to be in order. If an unfortunate incident were to come about you would wish for all of those personal matters be taken care of so your spouse would not have one more thing to be stressed over. Whether you know it or not, love isn't going to miraculously make this come about. To be responsible in having this particular matter in order (this is focused on the groom) shows the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This is loving your wife as Christ loves the church.

GOD PARENTS When having children, there is a matter in church that some of the regular members look forward to when the mother returns after her 6 week hiatus. Who did they choose to be the god parents? In choosing this couple, the parents are not just making this decision because of them being their best friends or the amount of respect the parents have for these two people. The decision is based on how well the couple has done with their own children, if they have the room in their homes and in their hearts for more, and if their relationship is rock solid. If there isn't anything in their lives that you might question, go for it. They attend church regularly and aren't doing so for superficial reasons. They not only talk the life but walk it as well. How do they discipline their own children? Talk to the man alone (Proverbs 15:7 AMP). What are his views about women when he is talking man to man? What are some of his dislikes about being married? If he could do anything different about his life, what would he change (Proverbs 14:7 AMP)? These are crucial questions to ask him, because he might be unhappy and has an agenda in his heart that no one knows about. People will tell you about themselves if you listen. In her case, is she overwhelmed? Does she love her career more (Proverbs 9:13 AMP)? Is there anything in her life that she would like to change? How much attention is she getting from her husband? These questions for her are deep seeded and will eventually come forth. The fruit, if negative, could mean her leaving the marriage. Where would your children be then? Another matter is, what is expected of the god parents while you are raising your own children? Will the god parents baby sit on a regular basis? Will they be expected to establish a relationship with your children? Should they contribute to their education, birthdays, come to their school activities? All decisions about your children is a part of marital planning.

As many entries as I have written about marriage, these topics have been mentioned separately and extensively. One might read an entry here and there and think that he/she has it under control. Good for you. Now that you see these topics altogether, do you really have it under control? Have every one of the matters been dealt with to exhaustion? Marriage truly isn't a matter to be taken lightly. I have not met a marriage counselor that has made these topics a matter of discussion. Then again, the counselor isn't the one making vows to be true to the other for the rest of his/her life - that's you. You are the one God will be asking for your record in life and how well you fared. You will be responsible in being the head of the house (groom) or the help he needs (bride). Are you ready for that?

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