Like, at all.
I would be foolish to think I knew even a handful of things about marriage.
But I do know how practical and useful it is to surround yourself with the right stuff to prepare/continue to grow/repair your marriage.
Because it is all ups and downs and smooth sailing and pot holed road.
Not just one type, but a mixture, and it's constantly changing.
So here are a few of my suggestions, on what has been useful for Ian and I so far.
http://www.refineus.org/ is a blog by an ex pastor and his wife, who, after the husband had an affair, were separated and nearly divorced after years of marriage and children. Thankfully, they were able to work on things (and still are,) and are back together. They did a "special," on marriage called "8 Things That Destroyed Our Marriage," and it's very practical and applicable.
Simply go to the site, scroll down to the right, and pick any of the 8 parts under "Blog Archive."
The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. Now, I haven't actually read this yet, but I know alot about it, and have taken some evaluations based off of it. The book is about how each person expresses their love/affection in different ways. They may also like to receive it in a different way, which makes it difficult for their spouse/ loved one to figure out how to love and serve them best.
The author and his publisher has put together a great website at http://www.fivelovelanguages.com/ which includes a thirty second quiz, information on the five love languages, advice from Dr. Gary Chapman, and real stories. Plus alot more. So, if you are skeptical, check out the site first, but, I will tell you, it was one of our most sold books at "the bookstore," when I worked there. PLUS, I just was looking at the site, and apparently there are Five Apology Languages too! I really need to read the book. (I just found a 10 dollar gift certificate, so I will be getting it this week!)
*Also, I have heard that The Love Dare, the book that "Fireproof," the movie, is based off, is an excellent resource, but have also heard that it is not very good for newlyweds, because it is for more of the "slipped into normalcy instead of being constantly awesome due to the newness of marriage," crowd. Still, I wouldn't mind getting two of the workbooks and having them ready for whenever Ian and I feel that we need a boost.
My friend from college, Olyvia, gave me this awesome set of questions to talk through before Ian and I got married. Alright, if I am telling the truth here, I would let you know that she LENT them to me, but then I couldn't find them after the move, even though SHE needed them before her wedding. I felt like a heel. Only, I found them!
There are seriously, at least 50 questions, that you should talk through with your future spouse, and, probably with your current one, just to cover your basis. The questions seem basic and like things that you have already discussed before, but I thought it was very helpful to have a whole list to work through, and we just talked through our "agenda." We took them on our road trip to VA for his graduation, and ended up talking through them for days. In the car, rock climbing, over dinner, and hiking. It was wonderful. Well most of it. I will tell you these questions brought up some not so wonderful things, but I am so glad we forced ourselves to answer EVERY question, no matter how uncomfortable we were.
I am working on typing them all up, and will have them up in the next week or so, so keep your eyes open for them!
Ian and I think it's really important to listen to church leaders take on marriage, love, and family, but, unfortunately, that is not always the topic at church on Sunday. We have found several free podcasts on marriage though which is helpful to hear someone else's opinion on the matter, other than you local pastor.
Mars Hill Church-Pastor Mark Driscoll Good Sex, Bad Sex
ugh, I can't find the rest because my itunes has slimmed down my podcasts, bu I will get you more if you are looking for some!
That's it for now, I just thought you would like to know what Ian and I are doing to be "continuously working," on all aspects of our marriage. It's a refining process, and we are trying to be vigilent about not sitting back and thinking, "wow, we have this all under control." We know that God is the only one who can make this marriage work as it should.