Christian Advice For Brides in Training?

by Calulu

Lately I’ve been running into a number of Funda-Gelical blogs dedicated to either training brides what to do once they marry or advising them on what a proper Christian lady does to prepare for her future marriage.

Some of the advice is good, some not so good. Examples? One lady insisted that all young women find out what all their fiances favorite meals were, go to their soon to be mother in law to get the recipes and practice making that food just absolutely perfectly for your man.

Very bad idea. After having been married for the last nearly 27 years I can tell you this isn’t something you need to do. Why? Well, I learned the hard way that if you’re trying to make his mom’s perfect recipe you’re never going to make it just like mom’s. Never ever ever. He’ll eat it, tell you it’s almost like mom’s but not quite. I’ve talked to a number of my long time married pals and they all say there’s one or two dishes their husband loves that his mother makes that it’s hopeless to try to get just like hers.

Much of the other advice is things like ‘Save as much money as you can to help your groom out after you’ve married’ or ‘Comb through garage sales and thrift shops to buy all the things you’ll need to run a home efficiently.’ and ‘talk about important issues’ and ‘start praying for him immediately.’

All of that is well and good but I personally think it’s a piss-poor list that doesn’t address the facts of life as a couple. Here’s my list…

1. Make sure you have or acquire marketable skills towards a job and keep upgrading your skills. Never turn down an opportunity to learn new skills. Even if you plan on being a stay-at-home momma (and there’s nothing wrong with that) no one knows the future and at some point you may have to support the family if your husband happens to die or be seriously injured. Respecting your husband and your future family means planning for the ‘what ifs’ or even do it just to feel accomplished for yourself.

2. Always make sure you have your own sum of money, your own personal emergency fund. You never know when you’re going to need an extra fifty or a hundred dollars for an unexpected bill or circumstance you didn’t budget in.

3. Make sure you understand the household bills and finances, including knowing how to balance your check book and some basics about investing. In some marriages the wife has a better understand and more time than the man and it might be helpful for you to do the check book balancing and bill paying. Some men aren’t good at it and someone has to do it.

4. Have someone teach you how to maintain your car. Know now to check the oil and tires, when routine maintenance needs to happen, how to change a tire or dealing with AAA. Even if your hubby is a master mechanic he’s not going to be around all the time and it’s good to know what to do if you have a flat tire when he’s not around.

5. Make sure your credit history/credit report is clean. If  you have errors on the report or outstanding debts pay them off, correct the history before you marry. It’s disrespectful to the man you love to saddle him with debt or a bad credit history via marriage.

6. Be realistic in picking a place to live when you start your marriage. Do not fall for an ARM mortgage or an interest only loan on a house. Keep in mind the realtor’s rule of thumb – Your house note should not be any more than 28% of your monthly income and your personal expenses should be no more than 33%. If you cannot accomplish this right away make it a long term goal and start saving for the down payment.

7. Establish a savings account, a will and retirement funding as soon as you can. The years fly by and it’s much easier to make these things planned from the beginning.

8. Before the wedding make sure you and your groom have already talked out and settled the hard issues. How many children you would like. What church you will be attending. Budgets and spending. Don’t assume that you can change your man after the wedding on any of these things. Be prepared to compromise and understand.

9. Realize everyone has bad days, even Christians. Don’t take to heart anything said in anger or frustration by your husband. Realize it’s not you and try to be soothing and understanding. Or just give him his space when he first comes home from work to relax for a few minutes before trying to have a serious conversation. Don’t take it personally.

10. Pick your battles very carefully. If he likes his towels folded a certain way and is annoyed when you fold them differently realize how minor this is and do what you need to do to keep the peace over the small stuff.

11. If something is really important to you, make sure in a non-confrontational way that he realizes what it means to you. Don’t assume he’ll realize what’s important to you or will just pick up on your feelings. Most men need to be told if you have certain expectations that you apply to them. Don’t expect him to read your mind.

I’m sure I missed many things but I think I hit most of the more important things about going into a marriage. If I missed something tell me what it is in the comments below.

Comments open below

Read everything by Calulu!

Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway

The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network

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Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

 

About Suzanne Calulu
  • dangermom

    I’m suddenly very grateful for my husband’s non-picky ways. When I cook him his favorite thing that his mom made, he’s just happy and thanks me. I didn’t know that was unusual.

  • http://baronessblack-baronessblack.blogspot.com/ Baroness Black

    I think these are really good! Although, when I spoke to my husband about why he married me, he replied that he realised that he believed deep down that we would always be together whether we were married or not. His feeling was that actually you know you should marry someone when being married to them isn’t going to change your behaviour or your relationship. I know that most QF/patriarchal families don’t believe in letting couples get to know each other that well before the ceremony, which is a pity.

  • Persephone

    I want to add some corollaries:

    “3. Make sure you understand the household bills and finances, including knowing how to balance your check book and some basics about investing. In some marriages the wife has a better understand and more time than the man and it might be helpful for you to do the check book balancing and bill paying. Some men aren’t good at it and someone has to do it.”

    Studies have shown that women are better at managing finances and putting the needs of the family first. Men are much more likely to spend on themselves first, letting their families and bills become bythoughts. You’ll feel better and more secure if you keep close track of finances. If your husband is better at it than you, then make a point of looking over your finances once or twice a month, just to keep yourself apprised.

    “5. Make sure your credit history/credit report is clean. If you have errors on the report or outstanding debts pay them off, correct the history before you marry. It’s disrespectful to the man you love to saddle him with debt or a bad credit history via marriage.”

    It sounds very cold, but you should run a background and credit check on your fiance. We’ve seen and heard too many horror stories here and elsewhere from wives who were blindsided by their husbands’ poor financial habits or unknown criminal history. It doesn’t matter how much you love him, you can’t fix him.

    “9. Realize everyone has bad days, even Christians. Don’t take to heart anything said in anger or frustration by your husband. Realize it’s not you and try to be soothing and understanding. Or just give him his space when he first comes home from work to relax for a few minutes before trying to have a serious conversation. Don’t take it personally.”

    See how he responds when you are angry or frustrated. Does he expect you to keep a happy face? Does he try to be understanding? Does he take it personally? That’s a pattern that you’ll be faced with for your entire marriage. You may be able to help each other adapt and change, but don’t count on it. Sometimes people become more rigid after marriage.

    “10. Pick your battles very carefully. If he likes his towels folded a certain way and is annoyed when you fold them differently realize how minor this is and do what you need to do to keep the peace over the small stuff.”

    If he’s really that hung up over small things like how the towels are folded, then he can fold them to his liking. He’s a man, and a man needs to learn to not sweat the small stuff. If you start worrying about every little thing, then you are on the way to an unequal, potentially abusive relationship.

  • Lucreza Borgia

    My husband hates his mom’s cooking.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    How about, if a guy wants to eat a dish his mom makes, he can learn to cook it HIMSELF! That’s what I learned to do with the family dishes I loved (Many of which are–le gasp–my DAD’S dishes! Pretty much the rest are both of my grandmas’ dishes. Cooking isn’t my mom’s thing). Are men so helpless? Reading advice likes this just drives home what babies these people expect men to be.

    If you want something to your exact standards, it’s always easier to learn to do it yourself. Plus, I love a man who can cook. :-)

  • Tori

    I have a great piece of advice. If you get even the slightest inkling that your man views you as being little more than a hole to stick his thingy in, even the slightest hint that he won’t allow you to be more than HE believes you can, DON’T MARRY HIM.

  • L

    Realize that you don’t have to marry. Take care of the legal rights you want to have regarding each other (medical power of attorney etc). Just because it’s part of the life script, like having kids, doesn’t mean it’s the only choice. Do what works for you.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com Lana

    Interesting. In one tribal group in China/SE Asia, the newly weds go and live with his parents for a year so they can learn how to cook like his mother, LOL. I always thought that was odd.

  • Jenny Islander

    If you think that this marriage will solve your or your partner’s ongoing personal issues, DON’T MARRY. Marriage is a civil recognition of a household partnership, and/or a religious recognition of a spiritual partnership. It is not a magic transformation machine.

    Don’t turn yourselves inside out trying to create the perfect wedding day. Check the legal requirements for marriage in your state and the liturgical requirements for marriage in your religion (if any). Those are what you need. Everything else is a frill. Don’t let anybody, not even your other nearest and dearest, guilt you into making yourselves and your friends miserable for the sake of a blowout wedding. If people get mad at you because you didn’t throw a party, you know what they value you for.

    If your spouse fusses about having things just so and picks at you because of little things like how the towels are folded, tell him or her to put on a pair of grown-up undies and go fix the perceived problem. You are not Mommy cutting the crusts off the toast for a four-year-old.

  • SAO

    An engagement is a time to really get to know your future spouse over and decide if, when you take the vow to love, honor and cherish you think you can keep it. Love and respect aren’t something you can force yourself to do, if you don’t feel it. You can, of course, pretend, but that’s not much of a basis for marriage. And you’d have to ask what is worse, to break your promise to your spouse to marry him or to break your vow to love, honor and cherish (regardless of how you well you pretend)?

    For number 3, I’d clarify to make sure you understand YOUR future household budget before you marry, not just understand household budgeting in general.

  • http://baronessblack-baronessblack.blogspot.com/ Baroness Black

    I thought this was an interesting story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2273937/Australian-bachelor-dubbed-Kangaroo-Dundee-work-orphan-joeys-receives-dozens-marriage-proposals-Britain.html
    This guy, who lives in the outback in Australia and rears orphaned baby kangaroos, was involved in a TV program and has since received 100′s of marriage proposals. He’s not wealthy or particularly handsome, but he’s sensitive, kind, compassionate, caring, loving, selfless, dedicated, devoted, understanding, and insightful.

    Women want to marry him because they suddenly realise they could be in a relationship with someone who could meet their emotional needs! Should we suggest him to the Botkin sisters? :-)

  • Saraquill

    Do those blogs have any advice for the soon to be husband?

  • Sal

    “If he likes his towels folded a certain way and is annoyed when you fold them differently realize how minor this is and do what you need to do to keep the peace over the small stuff.”

    Really? He’s going to get mad at me for folding the towels wrong and it’s my job to learn how to fold them his way, not his job to relax over the way the damn towels are folded? Um, no. My ex-husband was abusive and controlling, but even he accepted that if he wanted the laundry done to his exacting specifications, it was up to him to do it himself.

  • suzannecalulu

    I used a poor example obviously. Was trying to illustrate if something didn’t really matter to you but your husband grumbled then it’s better to compromise in some way. Was not trying to give controllers or abusers an excuse. When my husband and I married we stupidly argued over things like who got what side of the bed because we were both a little older than the average bride/groom and had both lived on our own for years. Stupid niggling little things that were a stumbling block early on for us.

  • Danielle

    I understand what you mean. My fiance and I are soon to be married and I’ve been noticing little things he does that drive me up the wall–like never replacing the toilet paper on the roll. He “borrows” from the next roll and leaves it on the back of the toilet tank instead of taking fifteen seconds to replace it. At first I wanted to make a huge deal over it, but I realized he does other things around the house consistently (like changing the litterbox and taking out the trash) that I never have to do. So I decided every time I had to change the roll when he left bare cardboard, instead of grumbling about it, I’m saying “I love you”.

    Of course, if I had followed the typical fundy path of not living together (or being alone) before marriage, we’d be pretty behind on our conflict resolution…

  • Tori

    I’ve always thought that you can tell a lot about a person from the way they treat those more vulnerable than themselves, animals included. Nothing makes me want to rush off and marry a man more than seeing him cradling a baby tenderly, or hand feeding a kitten or puppy he found running stray. A kind heart is the sexiest thing EVER!

  • validated

    Chuckling at the line about the “harlot” lurking around the corner wearing “heavy eye makeup, over-glossed lips and elongated gel nails.” They just described my look to a “T”. Made my day!

  • validated

    My better half HATES how I fold laundry…and sort it…and wash it. So he gets to do it himself! :)

  • Dawn

    Totally agree with #5, although I didn’t clear up debt before I married DH2 (I was widowed at age 30, part of my bad debt is taxes DH1 owed and the other part is my student loan). I was, however, honest about the debt and how it would affect his life. He chose to marry me anyway. I feel terrible about it all, but he still doesn’t care that he doesn’t get his full tax refund. He files Innocent Spouse Relief and moves forward with life.

    DH2 also hates his mom’s cooking. LOL

  • Lori Belle

    As a divorce attorney, I strongly disagree with this. It would take a LOT of legal documents to begin to APPROXIMATE the legal rights conferred automatically upon marriage. The preparation of these legal documents is likely to be very EXPENSIVE in comparison with a relatively cheap (about $100 where I live) marriage license, and there are some rights that cannot be legally created except between spouses. To the extent that you only care about being your lover’s medical power of attorney, okay, fine. But if you want the rights married people have (hospital visitation, presumption of paternity, the right to take as tenants by the entireties in some jurisdictions, and the right to equitable distribution of property – particularly retirement accounts and other complicated federally-regulated property – upon breaking up, just to name a few), the simplest and cheapest way to do this BY FAR is to get married. And yeah, divorce is expensive to a degree, but assuming you can agree on most of the issues involved, you can usually get out for a few thousand dollars, which is still cheaper than drafting a crapton of documents.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia Lucreza Borgia

    Dan Savage has a great clip about this: http://youtu.be/r1tCAXVsClw

  • LG61820

    This all seems to be quite good advice. But then, what do I know? We got divorced after 41 years of marriage based on one fundamental difference between us that could not be resolved. However, for the most part we got along well and raised 3 adopted children and one ward. We are still both involved with the grandchildren and take them on vacations together, etc.

    The two best pieces of advice that stuck out to me were, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” and “Establish retirement funding.” In my opinion, my husband couldn’t fold a towel if a gun were held to his head. However, every towel he folded was one less I had to fold – so good on him even if they were folded “incorrectly”.

    Your retirement savings will become more important to you as each year passes. Don’t neglect this, even if it can only be $10 per pay period right now. Don’t neglect retirement savings! LG

  • Tori

    *gets down on one knee* ;)

  • Tori

    You demonstrate amazing maturity (not entirely surprising as you ARE mature but some people never, ever, get the hang of that) and I agree with your advice, and will keep it close to my heart. xx

  • Persephone

    Of course not. He’s perfect, as he receives messages directly from God.

  • Erin T.

    I got off even easier. Mine significant other’s mother never cooked. He is always shocked I can whip up dinner, and it isn’t terribly complicated stuff. He’s always shocked I can make chili or simple sauces. I think its cute.


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