just married couple walking through grass

Starting a Marriage Built to Last

Pre-Marital
Julie Baumgardner

Build a Strong Foundation
for Your Marriage

We’re in the heart of wedding season! Starry-eyed couples say “I do” and look forward to spending a lifetime together in wedded bliss. So when a curveball shows up in their marriage, it can cause them to wonder what they’re doing wrong.

You may have heard the phrases “starter wife” or “starter marriage.” This concept was first made popular, in part, by demographer Pamela Paul in her book, The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony. Paul found that many people are divorcing before age thirty as part of the “starter marriage” phenomenon, a name coined to refer to marriages lasting less than five years, including no children and ending by the time the couple is in their early thirties. Recent statistics also tell us most first marriages that end in divorce average seven to eight years in length.

According to Ms. Paul, the following risk factors (among others) raise the likelihood of having a starter marriage:

  • Lack of guidance from parents. Children of divorce often do not have healthy role models to understand what a thriving marriage looks like.
  • Culture of impatience. When young couples hit a pothole, they might think it’s time to move on rather than working through issues.
  • Pressure to marry. Young couples feel that their bio-marriage clock is ticking away.

Research has shown that many couples walk down the aisle, after months of planning the perfect wedding, without the slightest idea of how to make their marriage last. That fact combined with the risk factors listed above can produce a deadly combination for marriage.

But don’t lose hope! Marriage experts tell us several specific things couples can do to significantly enhance their chances of staying married.

6 Ways to Start a Marriage Built to Last

1. Attend a premarital experience like Prepare to Last.

89% of married couples who attended premarital education found it helpful to their marriage. These times usually encourage you to learn communication skills and give you tools for managing conflict effectively — skills crucial to the long-term success of your marriage. (Learn more about Prepare to Last.)

2. Manage your expectations as you’re approaching marriage.

Every union is a combination of two very different and imperfect people. It takes time to learn how to cooperate with and love one another. You become soul mates with your spouse over time. This kind of deep love isn’t instantaneous; it’s a journey of learning each other over the years (no matter what the latest rom-com would like us to believe).

3. Self-awareness can make you a better lover and spouse.

Often we are looking for perfection in our spouse without realizing we ourselves aren’t able to meet the standards we’re asking our significant other to meet. Staying in God’s Word, humbly asking the Holy Spirit to shape our hearts into God’s image, and connecting with a community of faith who can show you areas of growth and possible blindspots you may have will help you not only understand your own need for grace, but support you in efforts to maintain realistic hopes in relationship with your spouse.

couple preparing for marriage

4. Marriages should grow and change over time, as each individual in the marriage is growing and changing on their own.

Be curious about your fiancé or spouse, constantly learning about them and encouraging them to be who God has called them to be. Share how you are growing too.

5. Marriages should grow and change over time, as each individual in the marriage is growing and changing on their own.

Finances are the number one thing couples argue about and often the reason they state for getting a divorce. Understanding what money means to you and to your spouse will be helpful to you as you launch your marriage journey. If you want to learn more, check out Money Habitudes.

6. Find a mentor couple.

This couple can provide wisdom, support, and resources to you on your marriage journey.

Be curious about your fiancé or spouse, constantly learning about them and encouraging them to be who God has called them to be.

The good news is—you absolutely have a great chance of being happy in marriage, especially if you take the opportunity to prepare ahead of time, add some communication and conflict resolution tools to your emotional toolkit, aim to love your spouse through the eyes of Christ and make your marital health a priority.

Want to lay the foundation for a fulfilling and fun marriage? Join us for Prepare to Last.

More Resources For Your Marriage

Upcoming
Prepare to Last Retreats

These weekend marriage retreats will help strengthen your marriage and give you the tools you need for a deeper relationship with your spouse and with the Lord.