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Consider these principles before you say ‘I do’

by Van Ducote//


Economist George Stigler once said, “A transition period is a period between two transition periods.” There is no argument that life is filled with transitions, and even life itself is one.


I’ve known people that had an aversion to any kind of transition, as well as others who couldn’t live without transition. These periods of change are two numerous to explore so I’d like to tackle just one —possibly the greatest of all and the most paramount. Without a doubt, the most challenging change that requires the utmost preparation is the transition to marriage.


The bible states the case that two people will become one. Now, that’s nothing to flippantly rush into. I mean, wow, you’re going to have to undergo a metamorphosis. Is anybody ready for that?


In June, I celebrated 45 years of marriage with my junior high school sweetheart, Jan. She is a beautiful and intelligent woman who has been the best part of my life. We started dating on her 14th birthday and it has been a fun ride for sure. We have experienced and learned much in the last 49 years of being around each other, and I’d like to share some nuggets of wisdom that will help you.


Here are five major transitional thoughts as you contemplate marriage:



Self is going to have to realize it will be dethroned. Moving from what I want, where I want to go, and what I need to do will transition to, “Honey, what would you like to do and where would you like to go?” This may sound simple, but it can become complicated if selfishness is not dealt with in preparation.



Communication must undergo a renovation in order to fit into the new environment. It’s not just about talking, but also really communicating true feelings in a compatible way until both parties completely understand and hopefully agree with each other. Much practice is required here until you learn your spouse.



Decision-making will have to evolve into an open discussion before any decision is made. Prior to becoming one, you simply had one person to think about, but now you have two people who are one. Case in point, before marriage when you wanted a new car, you simple had a conversation with yourself and decided what you wanted. A red convertible? Yes! However, in a marriage you now have to consider several other factors like economy and practicality, which means no fun. In a healthy marriage, there are many decisions to make: Should we buy a house now? What about children? Should we move to another city? It’s a good day when both agree, but sometimes there will be a standoff and this is why you will need to prepare for the transition.



In preparation for your transition to marriage, finances should be scrutinized and a complete financial plan, including a budget, should be in full force. Too often couples make the transition to marriage without any financial planning and it can become fuel for a wildfire of unhealthy behavior. The late Dr. Edwin Louis Cole stated that the three major causes for divorce was communication, sex and money. With 31 years of pastoral experience, I would agree with Dr. Cole. Get your money straight — that’s an order!



The most important transitional principle to learn is the act of forgiveness, which is what keeps a marriage alive. Try, as you will, to be the perfect spouse and you will soon find out how impossible it is. We all, especially married couples, fail at always being the loving and kind person our spouse deserves, and because of this, we will need to forgive each other often. Saying, “I’m sorry. Would you forgive me?” may be difficult, but it will yield the greatest rewards of a healthy relationship.


So, my advice is run straight into the transition of marriage, but only after you have prepared yourself adequately.



Van Ducote is pastor of Northwood Church, which has locations in Gulfport, Wiggins and Long Beach. Reach him at