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Marriage is a marathon

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- I've been an active duty Air Force chaplain for almost seven years and a full-time minister for a combined total of 13 years. During this time I have officiated my share of weddings and will likely do many more.

I like a good wedding -- most people do -- but most people don't think about all the things that make a good wedding, much less a good marriage.

A good wedding ceremony doesn't just happen; those who have been deeply involved in one know this.

Many people think that if they focus on one thing -- the dress, the location, the vows, etc. --  then it will make for a great wedding and therefore a life of wedded bliss.

Understand, the amount of time the wedding ceremony itself can take is anywhere from 20 minutes to almost 2 hours of time.

The wedding is a holy moment to be shared with your spouse-to-be and loved ones, but you have the next 50 plus years to live with this person you are now marrying.

It seems that the emphasis should be on the marriage relationship, not the wedding ceremony.

Marriage is like running a marathon, but there is only one team in the race made up of two participants, you and your spouse. The wedding is the starting point. 

Like any marathon, you need to prepare for it. Premarital counseling will give you tools with which to handle problems and crises that are likely to pop up.

Many couples leave this important preparation out or act as if it is inconveniencing them. Let me offer a few tips to prepare for your marriage.

· Communicate. Yes guys, you're going to have to speak and listen. Yes it takes effort, but things that take effort are worth it, but speaking is only part of communication.

Body language and facial expressions are important too. Sometimes it can communicate more than words.

I encourage couples who come to me to sit across from each other for the first year of marriage. This is so they can get to know the facial and body language of their spouse. There's more to it than this, but this is a start.

· Be Honest. I shouldn't have to say this, but if you live your life honestly, then life is easier to recall when you talk. Lying uses up too much mental energy and leads to mistrust; mistrust leads to a break in faith. Being honest is the beginning of faithfulness.

· Remember what brought you together. Many couples, after about two years, get into the routine of daily life and tend to forget this. Frequently, if couples can remember "the good ole days," they can remember that they indeed love each other. Love can cover a multitude of sins.

· Plan ahead. Make monthly, yearly and five-year goals. You frequently do this at work, why not with your personal relationship? 

Plan your finances, recreational activities, work goals, and anything else that is a significant part of your life.  This opens pathways to great communication and a great relationship.

I could go on. But instead, let me encourage you to get to know your chaplain. How can we help? We do confidential premarital, marital and even post marital counseling. We want to mitigate issues that may pop up and help make your life better. Come see us.