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The National Foundation for Credit Counseling has put out some key recommendations for couples who are planning to get married in the very near future. It would be wise to discuss the following BEFORE you get married, so that there are less surprises after the fact. Set aside time in your busy schedule to discuss these items openly and honestly with your loved one.

  • How much debt do you have? Debt includes credit cards, student loans, mortgages, car loans, etc.
  • What is your credit score? It will benefit you both to know who is in better financial shape…and who isn’t.
  • What is your philosophy on saving?
  • Will each of you have your own money to spend?
  • What will you do when (not if) a relative or friend asks for a loan?

“Forearmed is forewarned,” my Dad used to say quite frequently. That’s never been more true than with couples looking to tie the knot.


Almost any couple who wishes to marry goes through a process called engagement. Before their wedding ceremonies, every married couple has gone through an engagement period. But what really is engagement? Why is it important to couples who wish to marry?

Engagement is a process that happens when two adults agree to marry. It refers to the time gap between the formal marriage proposal and the actual marriage or wedding ceremonies. After this agreement, a couple is said to be “engaged” to each other. This is the time when a woman engaged to man is called that man’s fiancée, and he is called her fiancé.

It has been observed that couples who became engaged to each other wear their engagement rings. These rings are worn to commemorate their engagement and are different from the wedding rings which they present to each other during their formal wedding ceremonies. Engagement rings are worn on the left hand’s third finger.

Despite the numerous theories surrounding the origins of the wedding rings, it has been documented to have originated 1477 when Mary of Burgundy was given a diamond ring as his engagement gift by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I.

It has also been said that the tradition of wearing the ring on the third finger of the left hand came from Romans who believed that this finger is vein leading to the heart.

Engaged coupleThe engagement period is important and memorable to any couple. This is a time when they are seriously introduced to their future roles as husband and wife. Once engaged, a couple’s relationship shifts to a different depth because they are now preparing for a life together.

While they immerse themselves in the preparations for their wedding ceremony, they begin to seriously discuss plans for their future, and outline an essential path for the family that they are soon to create.

From being a dating couple, they are now called “engaged” to each other, and are somehow accepted in the community as husband and wife. The couple then moves up to a higher level of intimacy as they begin to assume their roles as future husband and wife.

During the engagement period, a couple spends more time with each other. While preparing for their union, they begin doing tasks together, and are regarded as husband and wife due to the legal binding of their future roles. They could, at this time, begin looking around for their future home.

These activities strengthen their bond and bring them even closer to each other and to their respective families. Some engaged couples go to as far as living together as soon as their engagement is formally announced.

It is also possible for couples living long distance to be engaged if they have the intention of getting married later on. One of them can later move in to where the other is, so they could be together. This could be tough for the person who relocates because this means a change of community, jobs, and being far from his/her family.

Engagement periods have no set time length, and the gap from this period to the formal wedding ceremony may vary according to the couple’s customs, choices, and religious beliefs. Some religious affiliations require a certain length of time from engagement to the wedding ceremonies.

For some couples, their engagement is accompanied by formal announcements to their families, friends, and their communities. They also hold a celebratory gathering or an informal party to commemorate their engagement.

Engagement is also very similar to betrothal, and these two terms have been interchangeably used through time. The difference of betrothal from engagement is that, betrothal is a more formal arrangement or agreement that involves not only the marrying couple but also their families and communities.

For couples whose marriages are arranged, this is the term used to describe the time gap from the formal announcement of their union until the wedding ceremonies.

About the Author

James Monahan is the owner and Senior Editor of and writes expert articles about engagements.

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By Sanjay Kali

It is said that marriages are made in heaven and marriage vows are sacred in nature. Whatever may be the truth, marriage is one of the oldest human institutions surviving through ages and still doing fine. In fact it is one of those primary relationships which give rise to a family which in turn leads to the higher social structures and the society. Marriage has undergone tremendous change over thousands of years. Today in few parts of the world and in few societies, marriage is an established social structure for a primary relationship between a Man and Women based on equality and shared bonding.
Marriage vows: The reality

But this may not be true as black and white. If we analyze the marriage structure across societies around the world we will find lot of grey areas which are of concern. We may find that in many societies women are purchased like commodities at the market place. Here the criterion for selection is the amount of dowry the Women brings with her. In many more societies the only role of women in marriage is reproduction, procreation and bringing up the next generation. In such marriages it has been seen that women has to sacrifice her individuality at the expense of the family. Ironically such sacrifices are accepted as strict norms and rules for the women involved in the marriage but they are not applicable for the men. So in real terms marriage becomes a burden for the women involved. It becomes one of the classic tools of suppression and exploitation of women. All kinds of evil deeds against women are seen in the guise of marriage like the physical and mental torture of women in the name of dowry or covert and overt ways of control of women through the marriage including a check on their physical, psychological, financial, social and religious independence.

Marriage vows: The positive side

Nevertheless marriage is an institution which is worthwhile to preserve for the sake of all the positive advantages it offers to the society. Marriage allows the couple a life of love and commitment to each other and it provides a stable and protective environment for bringing up the next generation. Marriage helps us to live a life of love, compassion, sharing, caring and commitment which not only involves the self but also others in the family. In fact this is an institution which if properly understood and incorporated as part of our lives, can help us in evolving as a more refined human being who is capable of caring for others and who cares for the nature itself. Therefore marriage vows are sacred in nature.

Marriage vows: Interpretation of love in marriage

On the other hand marriage can also become a living hell if there is no love between the partners in the marriage. Now love in today’s society has a very-very narrow meaning. Most of the marriages which have failed have sown the seeds of their own down fall either because of the evil practices which I had mentioned earlier or because of the “lack of love, bonding & mutual care” between the partners. When a person interprets lack of love and caring most of the times he/she ends up telling about only his/her needs which are perceived not to be fulfilled ignoring the other persons unfulfilled needs from the marriage. This is pure selfishness based only on one’s self interest. This is not love. In fact this might have been a relationship where both the individuals only cared about their own needs ignoring the other person’s aspirations and his/her needs. Always it has been seen that a marriage which is moving towards a failure has self interest as the primary cause of failure. Further the negative and manipulative developments due to the so called friends and relatives compound the problem to a great extent.

Marriage vows: No single answer for failure or success

There can be lot of angles through which we can analyze why a particular marriage was a failure or for that matter why majority of marriages are a big success even in today’s materialistic world.

Marriage vows: Building the essential structures for married life

Speaking in a broader sense, I feel every marriage can work if people can look at their marriage through the spiritual, intellectual, mental, emotional and the physical planes strictly according to the order that I have mentioned. When we start looking the marriage through the spiritual dimension then the whole “scheme of the nature” opens in front of us. Then we can see the larger purpose of the marriage and we can see the meaning of the marriage in terms of what it can offer to the individuals involved, what it can offer to the family that is raised, what it can offer to the near and dear ones from both the sides and most importantly what it can offer to the society and the humanity at large.

Marriage vows: Living the real life

For the germination of a thinking based on holism and unification, we need to come out of our “outer exterior” that we portray to the world and live the real life we cherish and value. It is paramount for the couple to discus and open up their soul’s true urge to each other and then synthesize a common structure at the spiritual level. They should know why they are coming together and how they see themselves together in the short term, the medium term and the long term. The couple should discuss their purpose of coming together in depth which in turn will provide the awareness and inclination to lay a structure and framework towards achieving their mutually synthesized purpose.

Marriage vows: Marriage with a mutually synthesized purpose

When the couple starts living their life dedicated to their mutually synthesized purpose, they will find that they are truly becoming independent and free in their growth as an individual and still remaining complementary and beneficial to each other, their near and dear ones and the society at large. Such a mutually complementary life sows the seed of real love and commitment which considers the total well being of not only the self but also the other person, the extended family, the society and the world.

Marriage vows: Highest foundation of spiritual awakening

Once a couple start living their life with their inner voice as the supreme guiding force, the world will start respecting them as individuals as well as a couple. People and society will then seek suggestions and advice from the couple and further they will have only suggestions and advise to offer to the couple. In fact the world will lose the power to interfere in the couple’s day-to-day life.

Such a marriage based on the highest foundation of spiritual awakening based on our soul’s desire is bound to succeed. A life lived with our inner soul’s voice can never ever lead us to a wrong direction. It may throw up hurdles and barriers but it will also help us develop the strength and resourcefulness to invent ways to overcome these hurdles and barriers.

Marriage vows: Solid foundation for a marriage

Once we have a solid foundation based on the spiritual and the intuitional wisdom, we can start expanding the same into the intellectual, mental, emotional and physical planes. We can then think about the way we will use our keen intellect and mental energies to deal with the issues and people in our life. We will be then able to handle the negativity around us more rationally. We will then stop condemning a negative person and also stop becoming ourselves negative. On the other hand we will then try asking questions like, why this person is generating so much negativity. Are we the cause of it? Or is this person so negative because of his/her circumstances and past experiences? Whatever the cause may be, we will be then able to either solve the negativity or avoid the negativity without condemning the person involved and without we falling into the negativity trap. This will also help us to come out of the “blame game” which is so typical of today’s society.

Further this kind of thinking will allow us to understand the negative and positive structures and help us to build on the positive structures of life and simultaneously either resolve, downplay or avoid the negative structures. We therefore prevent ourselves from getting into the negative spiral.

Thus with strong spiritual and intuitional wisdom as our foundation in life and with sound intellectual and mental balance to distinguish between the negative and positive structures of life it will become very easy for us to live in the emotional and physical planes. This will make us live a life with emotional and physical commitment to our near and dear ones, it will help us in starting a family with true commitment and dedication, it will help us in bringing the next generation in a protective and nurturing environment and it will help us in creating financial and material resources to look after us, our families and to be helpful to the society at large with the additional resources in hand.

Marriage vows: Integration of life at every level

Only by living a life which synthesizes and integrates the spiritual, intuitional, intellectual, mental and physical planes, we can think about living a life in sync with nature and our inner self. This makes us part of the nature’s scheme of things in bringing the unification of forces. We need to believe in this unification of forces and actively practice in establishing it through motivating and strongly cajoling each other towards it. Only if this is done, we can think about bringing positive forces in our life and only then we can move ahead in life taking everybody along with us.

Marriage vows: Rupture in the marital relations

Now if a couple can work on the above mentioned platform from the beginning, the synthesis of life becomes easy. On the other hand if the marriage is already in trouble because of all the negative structures of the past and if the couple is trying to work out the process of rapprochement then they should keep one thing in their mind that is the whole process of rapprochement is a slow and steady process and it will evolve as per the will of the nature.

We should not think of pushing it or hastening it as nature has its own course of action. We are nobody to control nature. It may take months and years to break the negative structures and thus clear the bad blood and animosity between everybody involved. The miracles of nature happen slowly and steadily.

We need to understand the fact that to break and destroy things is easier and faster. To build a new structure from the ruins, it takes great courage, commitment and lot of time. As they say the real character of a person is known by how he/she acts in the times of adversity.

Marriage vows: Finding a win-win situation

In the troubled times, the rapprochement and counseling session should work on the immediate goal of finding a working solution to prevent the complete collapse of the marriage by offering a win-win situation to everybody involved.

Marriage vows: Open communication

The most important thing in this regard will be an open and free communication between the couple involved as well as the true well wishers of the couple who want to see them back together. This communication should not become a blame-game session nor should it become a session of dominating each other. These communication sessions should explore the possibility of constructing a middle ground to live a life based on the structures of spiritual, intellectual, mental, emotional and physical well being of everybody concerned.

Marriage vows: The choice is with the couple

Therefore it is indeed in the hands of the partners involved in the marriage to either make marriage vows sacred or make marriage a living hell for themselves. The choice is indeed with them and nobody else.

Married and feeling desperate, disappointed, discouraged and unhappy is not what most couples signed up for when they said “I do”. Married and dealing with infidelity, loneliness, low self-esteem, lack of communication, disrespect and unhappiness is definitely not what was expected with your marriage commitment. Well, statistics show that over 50% of the marriages today end up in divorce. I can give you 2 reasons (in my humble opinion) why there is unhappiness in most of the marriages that end up in divorce. Selfishness and lack of love!

 In a broad sense there are some common problems in a marriage that take the marriage from a blissful relationship to that unhappy marriage stage such as;

 Abuse (Physical and Emotional)

  • Communication
  • Fighting
  • Commitment by one or both spouses
  • Infidelity
  • Money
  • Intimacy
  • Jealousy

 All of the above issues can lead to an unhappy marriage. If you have been married for a little while (it doesn’t take long) you probably stumbled upon one of these issues. You may not have become unhappy with your marriage but a brief flash of “oh no what did I get myself into” probably popped into your head. If you haven’t hit one of these marriage hurdles yet, trust me you will.

 Let’s deal with the selfishness that ignites a lot of the fires in a marriage and turns them from happy to an unhappy marriage.

 Here is the definition of selfish just for the record; devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

 A very selfish person is very difficult to either be happy in a marriage or make a spouse happy, unless they change and become less selfish during the marriage. Marriage is a commitment between 2 people being joined together as one. It’s no longer my stuff and your stuff, or my time and your time or my money and your money. Everything is now “ours” once you get married. A very selfish person is unwilling to put their spouses’ interests, benefits, and welfare first. This can lead to an unhappy marriage.

 Can an unselfish person be responsible for making the marriage unhappy? The answer of course is yes. However, I believe you have a much greater chance of having a happy marriage instead of an unhappy marriage because an unselfish person is more likely to grow together with their unselfish spouse and become like one.

 To make a marriage become better and go from being an unhappy marriage to a happy marriage we need to get the selfish spouse(s) to see how putting their interests ahead of the spouse or in some cases the entire family is causing frustration, hurt, disappointment and could lead to unintended results, such as a divorce.

 Now let’s tackle the love or lack of love that makes a marriage unhappy.

 Here is the Webster definition of love; a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

 Here is a better definition that I like and if it exists in a marriage there is a greater chance for happiness instead of an unhappy marriage; Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. That’s the real meaning of love according to the Bible. I don’t think you can have an unhappy marriage with this kind of love.

 Does it mean that if you love your spouse with this kind of love you will never have issues to overcome in your marriage? Of course not! However, do you think you have a better shot of having a happy or unhappy marriage?

So the key to being happy or working towards fixing an unhappy marriage is less selfishness and more love. Sounds pretty simple but is very difficult to do. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks right? WRONG!

 Every person is capable of change. It’s called making a commitment to doing so and following through. If you want to stop smoking you can. If you want to stop drinking too much alcohol you can. If you want to stop gaining weight you can. If you want to be happier in your marriage you can. The only difference is sometimes it takes both spouses to be willing to change for the sake of making an unhappy marriage better.

 Here are 8 basic things or tips you can work on to move from the unhappy marriage stage to the happy stage of marriage. If you and your spouse can work toward the same goal, that would be best. If not, you make a commitment to make things better and your spouse will come around eventually.

 Fighting fair – Don’t bring up things from the past that were supposed to be forgiven and forgotten. It’s like pouring salt on an open wound. Don’t say hurtful things about your spouse that you know will cause a lot of pain, and add to unhappiness in the marriage.

  1. Stop sweating the small stuff – Make it a point to stop getting aggravated, frustrated and disappointed over little things that really aren’t that important. Overlook the little things that you normally complain about that gets under your skin. You know what they are.
  2. Enjoy being around your spouse – Don’t disappear when your spouse comes home or when they enter the room your in. Stop acting like you enjoy life more when they are out of the house, out of town or at least not in the same room as you. Let your spouse know that you enjoy it when you are together.
  3. Don’t talk negative about your spouse to others – It’s very easy to share what’s wrong with your spouse that’s driving you crazy. Stop doing that immediately. No spouse likes to be talked about in that way. It’s not okay to make jokes about your spouse around family or friends that betrays a trust. If you don’t have anything positive to say don’t say anything.
  4. Talk to your spouse – It’s not okay to go hours or days playing the silent I’m not talking to you game. There is nothing gained by shutting down and not talking to your spouse. It’s difficult at times but the only time you should not be talking is if for some reason you are really upset and need a little time to cool off. Otherwise, keep the lines of communication open. I know not talking times gives you peace of mind. But don’t settle for a temporary time of peace when you could work on fixing your unhappy marriage problem.
  5. Act like a married couple – Don’t take separate cars to the same place unless it’s really necessary. That’s what you did before you got married. No separate vacations, or bedrooms. You need to be committed to being a couple and not married singles.
  6. Don’t take advice from the wrong people – There will be many family, friends and enemies who will offer you free advice. Be careful who you talk to and more importantly who you listen to. It’s very difficult for a spouse to be happy in a marriage knowing that you have blabbed your marriage problems to the world. You also don’t want to follow advice from someone who has been married 3 times. It’s better to limit the circle of people you discuss your marriage with and you also don’t always need to share all the details. The wrong people can’t tell you how to fix your unhappy marriage problem
  7. Support your spouse – Make sure you are there for your spouse even though you don’t want to be. If there is a family function with your in-laws don’t stay home. Be there for your spouse. The same thing goes for work or even playful functions like a sporting event. It’s important for your spouse to know that you care enough to be with them even though they know you don’t want to be around certain people. It shows that they mean more to you than your feelings about other people.


There are many ways to take your unhappy marriage and make it better. The key to Restoring Your Relationship is to work on being less selfish and being more loving. Put your spouse’s interests ahead of yours and you will be happier and so will your spouse.

Living in an unhappy marriage is difficult and hard to sustain. If you need some proven strategies and techniques to make your marriage better I would suggest taking a look here at Save My Marriage Today.

 You deserve a happy marriage because that’s what you agreed to when you said “I do”. Take the steps to get what you deserve.

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“To the unmarried and to the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do.”?
(1 Corinthians 7:8)

The immortal words of St. Paul, who quite possibly had experienced the pain of separation and divorce first hand prior to penning these words, and who certainly dealt with relationship breakdowns in every church he pastored.

I seem to be at that stage of life now where all my friends are getting divorced. I’ve long passed that stage where all my friends are having their 21st’s. And I’ve passed the stage where they are all getting married, and even the one where my friends are all having children. Now I’m up to the ‘all my friends are getting divorced’ stage. I suppose the only one left after this is the ‘all my friends are dying’ stage. Not much to look forward to really.

Of course in terms of divorce I led the way. I managed to stuff up my marriage long before almost any of my peers. It’s nothing to be proud of, but at least it means that no one needs fear that I’m going to judge them. Who me? I don’t think so.

The disturbing thing for me at the moment is that it seems to be all the couples that I’ve most looked up to as couples that are now falling apart as couples!

When it come to some of the couples I know – such as where the guy deliberately gets the girl pregnant because he figures that having a child will give him the motivation to give up is heroin habit – I sort of expect those marriages to last only a couple of years at best. And yet it’s not those couples that are falling apart. It’s the marriages made up of men I admire for their integrity and courage, who are married to women who are loyal, nurturing and understanding. And most of these people are good, solid, church-going Christian folk. It’s not supposed to happen this way!

I was talking to a girl recently whose relationship had only just broken up after some 20 years of marriage. She was not a part of the church and said that she’d never be. For her the final proof of the non-existence of God was the way in which men and women had evolved with an in-built incompatibility. Her analysis was simple but profound. Men have evolved as creatures that need only to eat and mate. Women have evolved as creatures that need to nurture and nestle. Hence, not surprisingly, we find that men can’t handle monogamy and that women can’t live without it. Marriages are thus biologically doomed to failure from the outset, and the statistics on modern marriages would seem to bear her out. How could a loving God have created men and women in such a way that they were genetically geared towards their mutual destruction?

It’s a good question. Every male knows that his biological drives are not geared towards monogamy ? not lifelong monogamy at any rate. Conversely, it is unrealistic to expect women to settle for anything less than monogamy in today’s society. Does this mean that God is cruel, or is there something in the whole marriage concept that we’ve missed?

I wonder if at the heart of the problem is the assumption that we all make ? that marriage is supposed to make us happy. Indeed, I suspect that most of us believe that the institution of marriage was brought into being for the very purpose of making us happy.

Weren’t we all brought up to believe that love and marriage go together like horse and carriage, and that the phrase ‘they got married’ should generally be followed by the accompanying phrase ‘and they lived happily ever after’? Perhaps that’s the problem. Perhaps we need to look beyond musicals and fairy tales to find a basis for our adult relationships.

I don’t think any of us seriously imagines that our institution of marriage came about because some individual had a ‘bright idea’ one day about how he could make everybody happy. Marriage is a social institution, and social institutions are developed because they serve a social purpose, not because they bring personal fulfillment to certain individuals within the community. Whether or not you believe God created marriage makes no difference. If He did, God did it for the sake of the community as a whole and not for the sake satisfying every individual’s social, emotional and sexual needs.

It makes sense when you think about it. What is the purpose of marriage? To create a stronger society. Strong marriages create strong families who build a stronger community. Marriages contribute stability. They contribute structure. And most importantly, marriages contribute children.

Read through your Old Testament and you’ll get the feel for what marriage is all about. Marriage is all-important because without marriages there are no children and without children there is no army. This is why baby boys are more valued than are baby girls. This is why gays get such a hard time. This is why childlessness is such a curse, and why polygamy is a far better alternative than singleness. It’s not because the individuals involved prefer it that way. Marriages are there for the sake of the community first and foremost. If an individual finds satisfaction in his or her marriage, then that’s a bonus.

So how come every time someone says ‘I’m not happy in my marriage’ we treat it as if something is horribly wrong? If someone expresses dissatisfaction with other social institutions, such as the government or the taxation system ? we don’t normally get too worked up. Maybe it should be the other way round? Maybe when we hear someone speak of their joy in marriage we should react as if they were speaking of their love of Queen and country ? giving them a sort of quizzical smile that expresses admiration without empathy.

I suppose the truth is somewhere between these extremes. Nobody would deny that the institution of marriage can be of some assistance in helping us to satisfy our individual social, emotional, and sexual needs. The truth is though that no marriage is ever going to satisfy all of those needs and desires. We human beings just weren’t created to have all our needs for companionship, security and intimacy met by one other solitary individual. We need a community.

This brings us to the positive side of the marriage-community equation. Marriages exist for the sake of the community as a whole. That’s the bad news if you thought that your marriage existed for the sake of your individual happiness. On the other hand though, the community exists to meet those needs we all have as individuals. That’s the good news.

Our individual needs for companionship, security and intimacy can be met. They just can’t be met by one solitary person. We have to learn to draw upon the group for our sustenance, and find support and affection from a variety of people within the community. I think that’s a large part of what church is supposed to be about.

So where does this leave us? Is there any hope for the modern marriage? Not so long as people look to marriage as a means to making all their dreams come true. Not so long as individual men and women look to their partners to satisfy all of their social, emotional and sexual needs. Not so long as we demand that our marriages make us happy.

Yet what would happen if we all began to approach marriage in an entirely different way. What if we began to look at our marriages as being the most significant contribution we could make to the broader community?

What if we saw the importance of our roles as parents in terms of the great good that could be achieved in the community if we bring up our children to be strong and capable? What if we stopped assessing our partners and our children in terms of the amount of satisfaction they bring us, and were able to see those relationships as being our gifts to humanity? Perhaps then we’d find ourselves saying things like ‘well, I don’t get on brilliantly with my wife, but I think we’ve managed to achieve some fine things together and that the world is a better place for our union, and perhaps that’s more important than my individual happiness’.

OK. That’s a long way from where we’re currently at in this society, but I have a feeling that it would be a better place to be.

Rev. David B. Smith (the ‘Fighting Father’)

Parish priest, community worker, martial arts master, pro boxer, author, father of three

Get a free preview copy of Dave’s book, Sex, the Ring & the Eucharist when you sign up for his free newsletterat

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