Dating for Newlyweds
With the coming of the holidays, a new wedding season is in full force. If you’re not getting married, there’s a good chance you could be getting engaged this season. In fact, ABC News reports that 26 percent of engagements happen within the months of November and December.
With the number of marriages—and, subsequently, divorces—on the rise, how can newlywed couples keep the spark alive and continue to date after they’ve said their vows? Professional matchmaker Amy Stevens and licensed marriage and family therapist Alisa Snell are here to discuss some tips with us.
Your dynamic inevitably changes a bit from dating to marriage. How do you keep your love alive?
Snell advises young couples to start early with establishing traditions, routines, and rituals so that they can build a sense of security with each other. These can be things such as weekly date nights, having dinners together, or even something as simple as kissing each other before you leave for the day—all of these things, says Snell, will contribute to long-term happiness in marriage. She also says that it is vital to maintain these rituals as your family grows with the addition of children. “Your children need to see that you can set personal boundaries and take some time to be away from them and work on your relationship with your spouse.”
What are some of the different needs that men and women have in marriage relationships?
Stevens says that both spouses really need to get to know each other better even after marriage; they need to continually be reminded of why they got married in the first place. However, women and men often differ in specific marriage needs.
Snell says that a woman’s number-one relationship need in marriage is to feel safe and secure—emotionally, spiritually, physically, and financially. She advises husbands that women “feel so much more confident when [our husbands] are pursuing us. … We like surprises and spontaneity and to feel like your girlfriend as well as your wife.”
On the other hand, Snell says that the number-one need of a man in a marriage relationship is to feel that his wife has faith and trust in him. “A lot of the time when women criticize, nag, whine, and complain [to their husbands], the reason why men withdraw is because the underlying message is that we don’t have faith and trust in him or in the goodness of his intentions. Women can do a lot to increase the effectiveness of a conversation if we simply start off addressing what we trust in first by saying things like ‘I know you’re a good man’ or ‘I know you have my best interest at heart.’ Then, express your feelings, needs, or complaints. If we start [a conversation] with a ‘soft start-up,’ that feeds his need to feel that we have faith and trust in him.”
What should you do when your spouse does something that bothers you?
Snell says that often when we are annoyed with something that our spouse does, we allow ourselves to focus in on just that one thing, and we lose sight of the bigger picture and all of the great things that our spouse does. She says that each of us needs to take personal responsibility for our actions and reactions instead of blaming each other. Also, praying for each other helps us to better understand each other’s perspective. When Snell did this in her own marriage, focusing on all of the things that were going right in her marriage instead of the things that were going wrong, she says that her gratitude for her husband dramatically increased. “When I was praying [for my husband], the idea came to my mind to just focus on all the reasons why I married him … so I could focus in on the bigger picture.”
Listen to a Gospel Solutions for Families episode for more ideas for Strengthening Affection in Marriage.