This week my wife and I are celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary. We are both amazed at how far we’ve come. We’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs, and sometimes our relationship seems downright dysfunctional. But through it all, we can both say our marriage keeps growing and moving towards new levels, and today, it’s a healthy marriage.
We almost didn’t make it and would have been on the wrong side of the divorce statistics. Our marriage was on the brink of failure before we even knew it — even before we had our first anniversary. We came into the marriage with plenty of individual baggage and bad relationship habits. And to add to those challenges, we had our first child before marriage; so, you can see why we struggled.
Saving Our Marriage:
The writing was on the wall for us to fail, but we didn’t. A marriage class, counseling from the couple who taught the class, and a marriage retreat helped save our marriage. Since that rough start, we’ve remained happily together through all the stages of marriage, or what we like to call the “7 Rings of Marriage.” I’m talking financial issues, in-law issues, job loss, homelessness (twice!), trust issues, and a host of other challenges.
Having persevered through all of that, we now have confidence that we can withstand any challenge that presents itself in our marriage. I’m not saying these challenges are easy, but we now know what to expect because we’ve been through it. We’ve learned how to handle them in a way that keeps our relationship growing and essentially makes our marriage better. And through it all, a tremendous passion for marriage has been developed, which is one of the reasons I’m even writing for Babble today.
Saving Other Marriages:
My hope in blogging for Babble is that I help the marriages of all couples who come across my writing. One of the first ways to help is by making sure you’re aware of what to expect in marriage.
When you know what to expect — when you know the “7 Rings of Marriage” that just about every married couple experiences — then you’ll be better prepared to navigate challenges in a way that helps your marriage, rather than hurts it.
The 7 Rings of Marriage Every Couple Goes Through:
1. Engagement RING
The beginning. Think vision — vision filled with hope, love, and possibility. You have no real clue of what challenges lie ahead, as it all seems blissful.
2. Wedding RING
The commitment. Think of your wedding day, and saying “I do.” Your lives come together as one, and you can’t think of anything better.
The real you. Think of pulling the covers off. After becoming one, sharing a home, and a lot of other stuff, you both begin to learn things you never knew about each other. This can be good and bad.
The work. Think of the reward when you commit and work hard at something. This is why couples say, “Marriage takes work!” But you’ll learn that work pays off in amazing ways.
The fixing. Think of healing and cleaning up. You both may have been hurt by one another at some point in your marriage, but your love prevails and now you begin healing and making your marriage great.
The goal. Think happily ever after — of reaching your goal and realizing the vision you had when you were engaged. Now, after all you’ve been through, this is a reality.
The payback. Think of experiencing something great and wanting to share it. You want others to experience something similar. This drives you to help other couples who haven’t experienced what you have.
Right at this very moment, it’s safe to say that your marriage is “wearing” one of those rings. The first step is just recognizing which ring it is. Then you can begin to intentionally move from one ring to the next until your relationship is at its most mature stage and can remain a healthy marriage.
My wife and I have worn the first six rings and are now working on the MentoRING. If the 7 rings mentioned above resonate with you, then we expect you’ll get even more benefit from our upcoming FREE web show. You’d also benefit from our marriage courses designed to teach you how to go from ring to ring, along with our book filled with stories of marriages wearing all different rings.
Which of the 7 Rings of Marriage best represents your marriage today?