“You Make Me Want to Be a Better Man” – As Good As It Gets
This week’s blog post is a continuation from my post last week on The Art of Preparation. As promised this week is Rocket’s very first blog post on his experiences preparing for marriage.
When our single friend asked:
“How do you prepare for marriage if you don’t know who you are going to marry?”
It took me a few minutes, but I think back to before Rachel and I were dating, and in particular to when I first relocated to Dubai.
Unlike some people I know (my wife), I didn’t start actively preparing for marriage as a sophomore in college. Before moving to Dubai, I was starting to settle down at home after living abroad for three years, so when I decided to move to Dubai (6 months before Rachel and I started talking), it initially felt like a setback to that goal. I had to think about making new friends, finding a new church and everything else that comes with an international move, but I came to realize that this would be a great time to intentionally prepare for marriage.
To start, I thought about how I prepared for other important milestones in life such as college and work. In both cases, I had an idea of what I wanted (my goal), instruction (from teachers, professors and peers), and a personal desire to learn and test and try what I learned (application).
At first I thought it was “to find a great woman to get married to,” but after some advice I realized it should be “to have a successful marriage.” Why did I want get married and why it would benefit me? I wanted a companion who would help me have a stronger relationship with God and my family, stay healthy, make good business decisions, enjoy traveling and working in emerging markets, and love to try new foods.
So what type of man or husband do I need to be for that to happen?
I asked for relationship advice from peers who were married, my parents, siblings, and the elder/wiser people in my life. The most impactful advice I received was from my grandmother’s sister, Aunty Hermie:
“Find someone who is willing to change for you, and find someone you are willing to change for.”
I realized that the process of changing didn’t have to wait until I met someone. I could start now on areas I already knew I needed to work on based on feedback (over the last 30 years) from my parents and siblings:
- Patience especially when explaining things
- Being more detailed in communication
- Disciplined in my diet
- Consistent in working out
- Spending more time reading the Bible and praying
- Learn to dance
- Being too “busy” – what activities am I willing to cut out to build a successful relationship?
- Planning my finances (budgeting for a wedding AND life after the wedding)
How could I start changing today? How do I break bad habits or establish good ones?
In every interaction with a woman, I tried to treat her like I would treat my mother or sisters. I worked on communication in my conversations with my parents and siblings. Since I had recently moved, it was pretty easy to set up a schedule allocating time for cooking, working out and spending time with God. I set up a budget and started tracking how I spent my money.
By the time Rachel and I started talking, I had come to the realization that I didn’t need to find the “perfect” woman, but that I needed to CHANGE to compliment a future wife, and look for signs that a girlfriend (potential wife) would be WILLING to change for me. I was much more ready to date as a result of recognizing the things I needed to change, and was blessed that Rachel was of the same mindset.
The interesting thing is that since we aren’t perfect, I am still working on all of the things I worked on in preparing for marriage with the addition of a few new items. I am still changing for her and she is still changing for me.