Three tips to help understand faith's role in a relationship—and how to make it work.
In case you've been out of iPhone contact for the past couple weeks, here's the latest: Over New Year's weekend, Russell Brand filed for divorce from Katy Perry.
Personally, I didn't see that one coming. Recently, since they were both talking so highly of one another, I was under the assumption that life was treating them well. So much for my ideas... 5 Reasons Russell Brand & Katy Perry's Divorce Was Inevitable
While sources are saying faith wasn't the reason for the breakup, you never can know for sure. And regardless, there is good reason to think about the role faith plays in a marriage at the beginning of the new year, especially if you've just started dating someone, or if one of your 2012 resolution is to tie the knot.
I can't speak for Russell Brand's belief system, but I know enough about Katy Perry to know that she's a Christian. She grew up in a Christian home, with two Christian ministers for parents. And if there was indeed a difference of faith between her and Russell, this could have been a major struggle in their marriage, and could be a struggle in yours, too. While I do think people of different faiths can be married and can have a great relationship, there are plenty of benefits that come from sharing the same beliefs. When you share a common faith, you tend to approach the foundational issues of life from the same perspective. There can still be differences in how the faith is lived out, but the big issues are pretty much decided.
This is just musing and speculation, but what if Katy and Russell began the exit from the "honeymoon phase" of their romance, and realized their values and life goals were totally different? How can you avoid that mistake in your life? Did Russell Brand And Katy Perry Split Over Having Kids?
1. Spend significant time and energy with your potential mate before you're married. You need to have conversations about your convictions and beliefs. If they don't match up, perhaps you should consider holding off on the marriage. Relationships have fallen apart after saying "I do," after finding out a partner disagrees on how kids should be raised, who makes more money, who should be responsible for what duties in the house and other opinions that people hold dear. These need to be discussed in a sincere, non-judgmental way before you head down the aisle, so there are no big surprises after you've exchanged vows.
2. Get past the "Love Potion No. 9" state. The word "whirlwind" has been used to describe Russell Brand and Katy Perry's marriage. While this might be OK for couples from the same faith background, I believe that, for most couples, waiting a year or more before deciding to marry is important. Reason being? When we fall in love, our brains literally get swamped with "Love Potion No. 9." The hormones swirling in our brains cloud realistic judgement of our new mates. When people talk of falling in love, they're usually talking about the "drunk-type" feelings that come from a new relationship. This love concoction in our brain lasts about nine months or so. Then, it wears off. Romance Fading? Get It Back STAT By Asking These 20 Questions
Suddenly, you realize that your partner really does have stinky breath, a bad penchant for leaving the leaving the lid up on the toilet—or a tendency to misuse money, something that might be a red flag on the path to the altar. If you rush into marriage, you don't have time to really find out who the person is—you're acting and making decisions solely on the emotions stimulated by the chemicals in your brain. You need to love a person after the chemicals die down. So, slow down. Don't rush the relationship. Find out who your potential spouse is, if she's someone you really could spend the rest of your life with.
3. Learn to fight well, and don't run from your problems. If you believe what you read about the Brand/Perry marriage, you know that they both had healthy tempers. And of course, matters of faith, and every aspect of life your beliefs affect, can be a source of conflict. 5 Steps To Getting Over The First-Fight Hurdle
My personal belief is that if you never fight, you're far more likely to go postal than the couple who knows how to fight well. There are going to be disagreements in a marriage. There are going to be challenges. While these challenges will come, it's best to deal with them. Don't shut down until they blow over, or just throw in the towel and jump out of the marriage. What happens the next time you get into a fight with a partner? Are you going to run away from that one, as well?
I'm not talking abuse here, folks. I'm talking about your average, married-couple squabble. We all have them, and many of us have thought about leaving because of them. We can't do that, though. Marriage is the best place for two people to actually learn, grow up, and stop being selfish.
Let's say you run out and get a divorce after a big fight. Your tendency will be to do the exact same thing the next time, next person. And the next time after that. And guess what? You will never learn how to communicate, or grow up. You'll never learn how to love someone like he or she wants and needs to be loved—because you've chosen to do the selfish, easy thing every time.
Don't run from your problems, or from those squabbles. Learn to disagree in a way that gets things accomplished. Listen to your partner if she says she doesn't want kids. Listen to your husband when he tells you about the financial mistake he made. And then, do everything in your power to work through it—together. It's how you grow up, and it's how you keep a marriage strong. 9 Common Reasons Why Couples Fight
We all want the fairy-tale ending, but fairy tales are just that: Make believe. Pretend. If you want a marriage to work, you need to have conversations about sensitive topics like faith, and grow through your issues together. If you do that, your marriage might not be a fairy tale, but it can still be great.