Dating Couples

Money Questions for Dating Couples

Howard Dayton, President of Crown Financial Ministries, has released a new book entitled Money & Marriage God’s Way(Moody Pub, Chicago, 2009). I had the privilege of contributing to the chapter on stepfamilies. The book presents an outstanding overview of wise financial practices based on God’s purposes for money. Howard also presents a list of questions couples should discuss before they marry. Of course, every couple has specific circumstances that they should address before they marry, but in general these questions are a must to discuss. Print this list and starting talking.

Specific questions for pre-stepfamily couples:

1.          What are your financial obligations to your ex-spouse (child support, alimony, other)?

2.          How likely are child support payments to increase or decrease in the future? When will they end? Are you responsible for any additional expenses, such as education, for them?

3.          When one of us dies, who will receive the assets brought into our marriage? What happens to them when the surviving spouse dies or remarries? What are the financial plans for your children should you die or be unable to work?

4.          What expectations do you have for me to support your family?

5.          Who is responsible for the children’s health insurance? If an ex-spouse is unwilling to do their part, how will we handle it?


Time Together

Since the publication of my book, Divorce Busting, I have been regularly interviewed by reporters about what makes marriages work. They ask, "Michele, why do you think so many marriages are ending in divorce? What is at the root of all of this?" Although the writers expect a complicated psychological response, to me, it's very simple.

I'm convinced that the single biggest contributor to the breakdown in relationships today is the fact that couples aren't spending enough time together. They aren't making their relationships a number one priority. The relationship gets put on the back burner. Everything else seems more important - careers, children, hobbies, community involvement, and personal pursuits. And when relationships aren't attended to as they should be, trouble sets in.

People who don't prioritize their relationships tell me that they often end up fighting during the little time they do have together. They argue about day to day issues; unpaid bills, uncleaned houses, unruly children. And it's no wonder. It's difficult to do what needs to be done to keep life moving in a productive direction, let alone try to coordinate your efforts with your partner's when you're under a time crunch. But the truth is, arguing about "who's doing what around the house," is really just a symptom of deeper problems - isolation, loneliness and resentment. You argue about the mundane issues when your emotional needs aren't being met. The coke can left in the living room becomes a symbol of a lack of caring for you.

And here's the Catch-22. If you and your spouse are arguing a lot, you don't feel like spending time together. In fact, you want to spend as little time as possible with him or her. Unfortunately, avoidance only makes matters worse. More distance, more tension, less cooperation, more conflict, and so on.

Some couples who don't prioritize their relationships don't argue when they're together. They simply have little to do with each other. They resign themselves to the distance and experience bouts of resentment from time to time. Leading parallel but separate lives, they start to fall out of love with each other or become strangers. "I just don't love him anymore," she says. Or, "We've just grown apart," says he. Distance in relationships is love's silent killer.


Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime

The engagement parties, the wedding showers, the big day itself, and the honeymoon have all come and gone. They were wonderful, the memories are still fresh, and you want to keep the delight alive as long as you can.

You’ve heard that relationships change over time, that challenges will present themselves, and that the “spark” won’t last forever. Part of you knows all that is true. But you are determined to not let that happen. Here’s a recipe for how you can keep your relationship glowing in the first few years of marriage—and beyond.

Commit to yourselves that you will never take your relationship for granted. It’s all too easy in the hurly-burly of everyday life, to get caught up in the externals of life such as work, household chores, television, and the internet. Even family and friends can draw attention away from your spouse.

Marriage entails making adjustments, and changing ingrained patterns of behavior can be challenging. A lot of the challenge is about finding the right balance: the balance between together time and alone time, between couple time and time with family and friends, between work and play, between fun time and down time. Finding the right balance often involves setting boundaries, establishing priorities, and making commitments that will increase the odds that certain things actually happen.


Marriage Counseling: Can it Really Save a Marriage?

couple-young-blackIn the daily stresses of life a marriage requires coordination between two people to achieve the best outcome. This doesn’t always happen so then there are conflicts that come up, it’s going to happen, there is no avoiding it. With two humans in a household there will be different opinions about situations but this doesn’t mean there’s a marriage problem at hand.

These marriage problems generally become problems when the couple can’t handle the issues coming at them, whether it’s a non-resolution issue or if the problem stays there for too long. These happen when there has become a lack of good communication between the partners, which then escalates to not being able to work together on problems.

When many couples hit this breaking point they will usually try to work things out, but without the communication skills to listen and objectively resolve problems, feelings get hurt and many times these marriage problems can’t be resolved. This often times leaves couples with one of two options: to seek out a marriage counselor, or to divorce.

By going to counseling for marital problems a couple may feel they are getting a legitimate option to divorce. But the problem is they usually wait too long before asking for help to saving marriage is spite of the help of the counselor. The reason is because they expect the counselor to fix the marriage and that’s not really how it works, but they don’t understand that.

There is only success in the counseling scenario if both spouses can take responsibility for what they’ve done to cause the melt down in the marriage, and have the strength and willingness to work to fix these problems. If a couple is willing to do this type of work they may have a cheaper alternative to going to marriage counseling. Some tools, like books and tapes, may give the partners the information they need to move through the issues just as effectively.


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