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[updated: 2/15/19]

Did you know you already have a rough blueprint of what your future marriage will be like? You do!

Know where you got it?

Your parents.

Don’t remember getting it? Well, before you call and ask about it, understand this blueprint was never printed on large, thin, blue pages. That’s not how parents give their children their marital blueprint.

Parents pass down their own special marital blueprint by simply living out their marriage in front of their kids.

In other words, the marital blueprint your parents gave you is the blueprint they followed themselves, which is likely a version of the marital blueprint they received from your grandparents.

Perhaps that marital blueprint makes room for an emotions closet where you can stuff all your hurt, confusion and anger. (Make it roomy, or its contents might spill out into the accompanying bedroom.) Maybe it includes an indoor shooting range where you can fire off verbal abuse whenever you like (at whoever happens to be around). What about a place to drown your cares? Put a pool out back and fill it with the drug of your choice. And don’t forget about a darkroom where you can engage in those “hobbies” you don’t want others to know about.

Did I miss anything?

If at this point you are beginning to feel a panic attack coming on, if you’re ready to throw up or scream for help, know you’re not alone. Many would like to do anything but model their own marriage after their parents’. (That’s one of the reasons for writing this guidebook.)

Curiously, even those blessed souls who revere their parents’ marriage oftentimes have this ominous apprehension, not knowing how they’ll ever manage to measure up themselves.

Does that seem ironic? Well, it really isn’t.

Just because the best parents give their children a solid blueprint for building a sound marriage, remember: it’s not a blueprint transcribed onto paper. It’s a blueprint you had to observe and internalize.

Unfortunately, though children often see the best and the worst in their parents, there’s a lot that goes on behind closed doors they do not see and you can’t internalize what you can’t observe. Furthermore…

Since most of what you did observe in your parents relationship was from a child’s point of view you can’t entirely trust those perceptions, though we usually do anyway.

Frankly, even if you had the perfect parents who actually presented you with a large light blue scroll in a special travel tube, a blueprint is still a very complex document to decipher. And, don’t forget, in addition to the training necessary to actually read the blueprint, you still need all the materials, tools and hardware as well. This is why even those chosen few with the perfect parental role models have reason to approach their own marriage with fear and trepidation.

Questions to discuss with a good friend or two:

    • What kind of plan do you think it takes to build a successful marriage? Simple directions or a blueprint? Why?
    • How do you think our culture prepares people for marriage: like you need a full-scale blueprint or just some directions? Why?
    • What was your parents’ blueprint like? What do you feel were its strengths?
    • What do you think were the weaknesses of your parents’ blueprint?
    • What did your parents intentionally teach you about marriage?
    • What did they unintentionally teach you about marriage?
[If this post blew your mind like a “grenade of grace,” you need to know something. God has more to tell you! This is an excerpt of the 2nd book in our discipleship series: Beyond Sex & Salvation. So seriously consider purchasing a digital copy and you will learn three key life disciplines for relational success; habits best best forged BEFORE you fall in love. Even before you date! Find out more or purchase the book at this link.]

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

Dug this weekend’s DNA? Be a good friend and share with your friends on the social media platform of choice: Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter.

The LoveEd discipleship series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE you fall in love!

It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.

Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.

Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!

[originally published: May 2, 2013]