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Make Sure You Do: Before You Say ?I Do?

Tina Turner asked an important question in the title of her hit song; What's Love Got To Do With It? Yes love is important but love don't pay the bills. It is not be enough to be "in love." Couples must have the basic skills necessary for building and enhancing the relationship over time. Lasting marriages require partners who are committed to respecting one another, who have gained knowledge about what makes marriage work, and who have developed skills that will enhance rather than deteriorate the relationship.

It is mind boggling that so many spend countless hours planning for the great wedding day. That's right; it is only for one day; a mere drop in the ocean of time. Here today, gone tomorrow; then what? It is just plain ignorant to spend numerous weeks and even months planning for the wedding that last a day and ignore the marriage that is expected to endure for a lifetime. It makes good sense then, to spend at least an equal amount of time preparing for married life. By reading this article, you have taken the first step toward increasing your awareness. I applaud you.

Whenever I perform a wedding ceremony, it usually includes these words:

Do you promise to love, honor, cherish, and protect him/her, forsaking all others and holding only unto him/her according to God's holy law; and thus pledge your faithfulness.

It is disconcerting that nearly half of all married couples regretted uttering those profound words and have since divorced. I believe that the most egregious mistake these couples made was not spending enough time seriously planning for a lifetime together in marriage. Though most couples do claim to take their wedding vows seriously, often what has been disregarded is really getting to know each other on a level beneath the surface.

Women, particularly, seem to approach marriage from a fantasy "happy-ever-after" mentality. We do not seem to realize that what we think we "see" is not perfect reality. And, what we think we feel is related to what we think we see. In other words, we tend to approach marriage with a distorted perception of what married life will be like. In a way, it can be analogized to an adolescent girl who always wanted a baby until she actually had one and the reality of parental responsibility ferociously slapped her in the face; or the teen young man who didn't understand that as soon as he hit adulthood, the system would relentlessly seek child support payments from him for each child he has fathered.

Keep in mind that who you marry will have a dramatic impact on all aspects of your life; spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health. Marriage is serious business and should be given serious thought. It is not optional, it is obligatory. Take a long and hard look before you leap.

Rev. Saundra L. Washington, is an ordained clergywoman, social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries http://www.clergyservices4u.org. She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach. Her new book, Out of Deep Water: A Grief Healing Workbook, will be available soon.

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