You’ve found the man that meets your recipe. He’s also added more to the list than you could have possibly dreamt of. He’s the Adonis wrapped in red velvet icing and you’ve contacted the BBC to release a small bulletin about such joyous news. You know that at some point, they will reply to your 3,685 phone calls.
But how do you know it’s for marriage? Because they might tick your boxes, they might be able to play chopsticks on their biceps, but surely there is more to knowing if this little union is going to match up for the next 50 years. It’s convenant. For a Christian, we aren’t to trust in divorce to provide us freedom one day. We need to sustain freedom in marriage. You have to stick at it. It’s the reason perhaps why it’s taking me so long to wed, because I don’t want to feel like I’ve made some hideous mistake. I don’t want to be found in a room looking at my loins, screaming ‘I TOLD YOU SO LOINS! I TOLD YOU SO!’
No. There needs to be a season of discovery with a willingness to accept that Romeo might just be better off drinking the poison, no matter how much he may resemble Jared Leto (on looks department, not bed notches).
And so I’ve been taught recently the ‘Marriage Ladder’, lectured to us by Jason Vallotton. After all he’s experienced in life, I’m willing to listen to the dude and I’m poised at the front, voice memo on record, moleskin drawn all over, and shssshing everyone around me. This. Is. The. Tool.
You will not find this in Songs of Songs, but you will find it amongst the most successful couples I know to date. Whether they are conscious to this love algebra I don’t know – but I’ve spotted common denominators before.
Every rung of the ladder must build trust. Without trust, well, just trust me – you’re not called ‘Psycho Sally’ for no reason, and you’re not the version you were created to be. You’re the seconds of the product pile currently being sold at Wilko for a substantially lower cut value. Just before the Marriage Ladder was explained. He gave some golden nuggets which I’m passing on for free. I’m lovely to you aren’t I?
- Never let your level of intimacy exceed the level of trust.
- Be okay with failing without killing the other person.
- Never place a person of the opposite sex in the spot saved for a future relationship. They don’t want to feel they have to compete.
So here we go. The Marriage Ladder:
Rung 1. I first know me. I’ve just written an article on the importance of identity for Magnify Magazine – tbc soon.
Rung 2. You want to know me. (Kind of helps)
Rung 3. Are they safe? – Do they know how to handle themselves? Ie. Not self sabotaging or destructive behavior .
Rung 4. Can we have fun? – You can’t have too much lacking in dreams.
Rung 5. Can we be best friends? – Really good friends make really good partners. Being lovers is important. But being really good friends carries through a strength and longevity that lovers alone can’t provide.
Rung 6. Is God in the God Spot? – Fixers you are screwed.
Rung 7. Do our core values line up? – It’s what most people divorce over. Or indeed fight over their children
Rung 8. Are we going the same place? Love is not enough to change each others dreams/desires.
Rung 9. Can we build consistency in time? If one person is pushing too quickly – it’s not healthy and shows insecurity and lack of trust in God.
Rung 10. Communication is life giving.
Rung 11. We both have needs and boundaries = real love.
Rung 12. We know how to do conflict.
Rung 13. They know how to take care of me
Rung 14. Unconditional love – you will only know that if we show them our worst.
Rung 15. We agree to do win/win – we’re not a compromise.
Rung 16. We’re both powerful – assertive, both have thoughts and dreams that matter.
Rung 17. Forever is not long enough.
Rung 18. They know how to do covenant. If they don’t respect your needs, don’t follow it through.
Now the key is to start from rung 1 and take every step up – absolutely no skipping. If you skip vital questions, you’ll come out with incorrect answers. Trust is not built on the absence of mistakes – but built by how the mess is dealt with. So you keep trying at the ladder and start again.If you or both of you are fastening the pace, ask yourself how non-co-dependant are you? Hmm. Yes, quite.
My own theory on the formation of relationships and the coincidental breakdown of them, is actually most people don’t get past the first rung. They don’t know who they are and hope that someone else will one day introduce them to themselves. Equally you might have two people that know themselves, know each other well but they’re so emotionally intense, that they don’t know how to have fun. Or they have the same core values, but their dreams are completely different. Love is not enough to sustain a healthy marriage – dreams and visions will propel two people together or apart.
This isn’t gospel, there might be other rungs you need to add. Or you can disregard it altogether. But there’s no harm about thinking things through logically when lets face it, the power of love can be the most overwhelming bolt to the brain you’ve had for a long time.