We all know couples who have gone in for counseling before they get married to help them get their marriages off on the right foot. This kind of preparation is awesome. What we might not realize, though, is that we are actually preparing for marriage from the time we’re born.
When we’re toddlers and small children, we internalize how our parents treat us. As we get older, we notice how they treat each other. These examples become our first and most impacting lessons in what constitutes a home and a family. If we were raised in an unloving home, we might need to completely readjust our earliest thinking so we can have successful marriages of our own.
When we start to do chores around the house, we are preparing to someday have a home of our own. When we help our parents with dinner, as we learn about budgeting, as we understand the importance of being a good steward over our things, we are learning how to someday take on adult responsibilities.
The way we treat our parents is a huge indicator of how we will treat our future spouses. Not only should children be taught to be respectful of their parents, but boys should understand the inherent beauty in women, and girls should understand the strength that lies in boys. Children should be taught how to respect the positive qualities in the other gender.
When we hit our early teens and start to take notice of the opposite sex, we pick up on the things that attract and repel the people we like. We’re encoding into our subconscious how to make and keep friends. As we start dating, we learn how to keep a relationship strong, sometimes through painful mistakes, and we learn what attributes we want in our future spouses.
Every minute of every day, we are taking in information that will steer us one way or another, influencing us in different directions. The input we receive, and what we do with that input, will determine how prepared we are for marriage when the time comes. It truly is something we’ve absorbed through all our life’s experiences until it’s our turn to live it every day for ourselves, as a husband or a wife, reflecting the sum total of everything we’ve learned.