Any tips for college students who want to get married?
Without knowing more about your relationship, this is a hard question to answer. All things being equal, I would wait until you both finish college. In my experience, I needed most of my time and energy to work on my classes and figure out what I wanted to do after graduation. For me, that meant another 7 years in graduate school! During that time you can continue to date and learn more about one another. The main concern for me is that you are both presumably young, and each of you is still learning about your own interests, life goals, etc. People can change during this time of their lives, and you don’t want to make a life-time commitment until you are both secure in the knowledge of who you are.
I also recommend getting counseling from a pastor about this matter. Without knowing more about you it is really impossible to give specific advice. A pastor that knows you should be in a better position to advise you. Good luck.
There is no right answer IMO. There are too many variables to consider. I will say it CAN work. And it WILL be difficult in many ways and you WILL need some help and support. I say all these from my own experience. My wife and I both were in college for 7 and 8 years respectively and married for the final 4. I won’t go into the costs I married into, but it was significant. We overcame that, and many other obstacles and 28 years later we still love each other. It will be hard, but no marriage is always easy.
But on the other hand, there are many positives as well. Many you know and already anticipate. the best advice anyone can give is to not do this, or any marriage, in a response to an outside situation. Take your time, take some counsel from both people who love and care for both of you and get some wise counsel from an unattached source – pastoral or otherwise. I know that is what you seek here, but those that have more of a understanding of you, your fiancé and you situations are the best sources.
I would agree that pre-marital counseling with a pastor is very important. Also, consider reading “Before the Ring” by Coleman.
I would recommend you gain a better understanding of the biblical concept of covenant, which is actually the basis for the Bible’s concept of marriage.
It’s been interesting reading this thread and the answers here. As Olorin pointed out, we don’t know your situation well, so it’s a bit hard to say.
I believe that Christian character, grit, and commitment to putting God first in marriage are absolutely critical. These things form the basis by which hard decisions are made together, so without them expect a shipwreck.
I’m glad for the good advice others have given here. I’ll try to go down a different road a bit to complement that.
I was blessed to be in a place where I knew that my wife-to-be and I had the things listed above because I had gotten to know her at church and at a job doing physical labor beforehand. I’d seen her on good days and bad – and vice versa. Also, we had a network of Godly people in our lives that knew us both well, that we trusted, and could give us advice and pre-marriage counseling. As a consequence, I had no concerns getting married between my junior and senior years of college – and I’m really happy we did! We’ve been married for well over a decade now.
As an intellectual, I can say I’m also prone to over-analyzing and that at some point there’s no substitute for just diving in. Just like not preparing can be a problem, so too can spending too long deliberating (which is different for different folks): it can lead to greater sexual temptation, one can begin to wonder if small differences are bigger than they are, one can wonder about “compatibility”, one can chicken out. I think the biggest thing to realize is that you are likely going to hit a wall at some point in your marriage where all the shininess has worn off and you have to really start the true work of relationship to a greater degree – and that’s a good thing even though it is often quite painful as you reach it. For us I think it was about 2 years in. Get ready for some increased self-sacrifice!
On a side note though, while I’m glad I was married during college, I am quite glad we did not have kids during that time as that seems rather difficult! I also am glad we did not pick up many new responsibilities, because it just takes time to get to know your spouse well – and your sleep may suffer as learn to sleep next to another human (that maybe snores?).
I heard a cross cultural psychologist who was Indian, but lived in the US, say that professional counseling is nearly exclusively a western phenomenon. There are clinical psychologists in some cities in the east, but the practice of going to a therapist to work through your issues is found in individualistic in places like the US and Europe. He said in his culture, many relatives live in the same home. If a man gets married and always comes home late, a father or uncle who lives there will advice the young husband to come home earlier to spend time with his wife. There are plenty of people around offering you advice and ready to talk about your problems, even when you do not want to,
I am not against going to premarital counseling. My wife and I did with the pastor who performed our ceremony. Honestly, though, I don’t think I learned much. I think my wife might have expressed stronger willingness to divorce if I cheated on her– when the pastor directly asked the question. It bothered me a bit, but I wasn’t planning on cheating. But there is also the fact that if you say, “If you cheat, I’ll stay” there isn’t that added disincentive there. That’s really the only thing I can remember learning from the time we spent in counseling. But my wife and I both had spent a lot of time in church and the Bible.
My wife and I had our first real conversation four months and give days before I proposed. About two weeks into that, we started spending nearly every day together, other than a missions trip she took for a while, maybe two weeks, there at the end. When it seemed clear enough to ascertain that the Lord was directing us to marry and that we were a good match, I took my decision to propose to the Lord in prayer and submitted it to Him. I laid out the reasons why I thought we should marry, and why I thought He was directing us that way. I then asked him to change my mind about it if I were wrong or to stop me. Then I picked her up at the train station after the missions trip to the Borneo jungle river village, told her I needed to meet with an older gentleman at church about something private (he was going ring shopping with me) and shopped for rings. The day I picked her up from the trip, a preacher called us up at the end of a service and prophesied about us going to many places and ministering to many people. It seemed to imply we would be doing things together long term, which I took as a confirmation. I would have liked to have heard that before I made my decision to propose. I proposed, and we got married.
Actual engagement in Indonesia involves meeting the parents and getting permission. We got that six months in, and married after 11 months from that day we first had a conversation.
Adding to what LBD said, ask yourselves WHY you want to get married, make sure the answers you give are the absolute full truth; if they aren’t, discover what the absolute real true answers are, and then consider, with lots of prayer, whether they are good reasons.
Great thoughts here. I would encourage you to ask the tough questions (great books like: 101 questions to ask before getting married) and set healthy boundaries to limit your physical connection. (The quicker you move physically, including what God designed for between a married husband and wife will short circuit the communication process and building a healthy connection and emotional foundation for marriage and becomes an outside influencer.)
Take one of the tests from prepare/enrich (or the couples checkup) BEFORE getting engaged along with other going through some preengagement counseling because it’s hard to see and appropriately address significant issues after you are emotionally attached and engaged formally because most of the energy and attention goes to planning the wedding rather than preparing for married life. This is why I am all for professional pre-engagement counseling, especially when there are significant issues in one person’s past (divorce, abuse, adultery, sexual trauma, sexual immorality, major family drama/issues, porn usage, etc).
Have you come to complete agreement and peace on religion/faith practice? Family & in-laws? Money? Kids? (And I would add an understanding of the importance of sexual union in a God-honoring marriage?) These are really discussions and agreements to come to BEFORE getting engaged for the reasons I previously mentioned. Those are issues that create tension and when ignored, not addressed nor co-created solutions are made together where both have had a voice, they are the things that ultimately lead down paths and behaviors that destroy a marriage when coupled with people who are unhealthy emotionally and spiritually and the stresses of life happen. Again, all reasons to get quality counseling before engagement. DW and I considered some issues of disagreement when dating as potential yellow lights (proceed with caution) and more significant issues as stop signs (do not proceed till the issue is addressed). We also use(d) a scale of 1-10 about our feelings on an issue. 1 = “whatever” up to 10 = “over my dead body” and “I’ll die on this hill” and everything in between. When something got or gets us going, we try to stop and ask why is this bothering me or so important?
What are you rules for engagement/fighting? Time of day? Place? Does it have to get resolved immediately? If not, how will you approach it again? When will you as a couple or individuals go for outside help? Who is acceptable to go to to ask for outside help/input?
(Prepare/Enrich & Couples Checkup by Dr. David Olsen is based on science. Prepare/Enrich tests (about 240 questions) are scientifically designed based on your set up questions (dating, married, living together, divorced, kids, older, etc) and the results must be received via a P&E trained person (counselor, minister, etc.). Couples Checkup is a “slightly” smaller test and you can get the results back directly.)
Wifey and I got married as I finished the last two years of undergrad, but had been together for 6 years at that point. It was tough, especially for her as she had never lived away from home and has strong relationships with her parents. It forced us to rely on each other and learn a lot of lessons the hard way.
Here’s a list of things I would talk about with my son if he were in your situation:
Why do you want to get married? Make sure you understand your reasons and hers.
Get to know her family. This can be tough if they aren’t local, but it’s crucial you get an understanding of the family dynamics you’re attaching yourself to. No family is perfect, make sure you are able to accept the imperfections as they will likely follow her into your new family.
Help her get to know your family for the same reasons. She needs to understand your family’s history too.
You will both bring expectations into the marriage. Use this time to talk about them. There are several resources for finding lists of questions to discuss before marriage, actively pursue these along with pre-marital counseling.
I hope this helps!
Pray and seek the Lord, you need to know that you know that this person is who He intends for you, because you will face difficult times and that knowledge will be the anchor that keeps you together.
Other things…. learn as much as you can about healthy, Godly married sexuality and marriage Set the foundation of being open about it now, even setting up a plan on how you will handle things when you run into conflict, particularly around sex. Will you promise to do all you can to keep a healthy, vibrant married/sex life, meaning being willing to get outside help when needed, whether counseling, mentoring, medical help, etc?
Find some mentors who will walk through this with you. A couple you can both go to for advice. prayer, and help.
As soon as you see that you might be veering off in the wrong direction, seek help immediately, rather than just hoping it will correct itself and then you find yourself lost and far from each other and that healthy marriage.
I finished college before we got married. My wife had a few classes and a thesis to do. We got married. She took the classes and did not write the thesis. Moved overseas (for her) for about a year and had our first child. Finally, she decided to finish the thesis and get her degree.
My advice is if you are both believers, both your parents agree, wait until the husband has a job and his able to support the household or both of you are set up to support the household. There is no need to wait for years and years and get to know each other. You marry, commit, and work in other life decisions around that.
As far as deciding who to marry goes, marry someone who doesn’t believe in easy divorce. That’s a really big one, and someone who is faithful, both sexually and in other areas of life, and someone who really walks out their faith. Choose someone to be a good mother or good father. Pray about it and see if you get any direction from the Lord, which can also come through other people. Then talk to your parents.
There is some sense in getting married while you are young, while you have a high sex drive, and while you are both at your peak of fertility rather than waiting for no reason.