Before You Save the Date
When my wife, Deb, and I began dating, I believed it was crucial to have guidance on important topics we needed to address prior to marriage. It was especially critical in my mind due to concerns that exist in a second marriage that don’t apply the first time around. So, I asked a marriage and family pastor I knew for his recommendation. What he provided was a list of books he deemed most pertinent.
As per my custom, I researched the suggested titles and decided on a book to walk us through the questions we needed to discuss: Before You Save the Date: 21 Questions to Help You Marry With Confidence by Dr. Paul Friesen. Let me begin this review by saying it’s one of the best resources I’ve come across to help couples take an honest look at their relationship before tying the knot. Significant enough to list in Discovering Love Online's Online Dating Resources. It does come from a Christian perspective, so many of the questions are approached based on that viewpoint. Still, it offers great value in preparing for marriage regardless of your religious persuasion.
The Book’s Outline
As you can tell from the subtitle, Before You Save the Date seeks to focus reader attention on 21 key questions. However, it’s more accurate to view each chapter as dealing with a related group of questions rather than the given one alone. These stated queries simply set the stage for a multitude of additional questions to follow related to the chapter’s topic.
Friesen’s work is divided into four main sections: Questions on Convictions, Character, Compatibility and Chemistry. Under these divisions the main queries are posed including a bonus question. The breakdown is as follows.
Questions on Convictions
1. The Authenticity Question: Who was this person before you met one another?
2. The Faith Question: Are you at a compatible level of faith?
3. The Word-of-God Question: Is the other’s life truly governed by God’s Word?
4. The Completeness Question: Are you looking to marriage to make you complete?
5. The Commitment Question: Are you entering marriage with a covenant or a contract mindset?
Questions on Character
6. The Time Questions: Has your relationship spanned four seasons?
7. The Servanthood Question: Is he/she interested in serving your needs above his/her own?
8. The Parents Question: What role will your future in-laws likely play in your marriage?
9. The Respect Question: Is she willing to respect you and submit to your leadership?
10. The Cherishing Question: Do you feel loved and cherished by him/her?
11. The Provision Question: Is he able to provide for you?
12. The Mother/Father Question: What kind of parent will your date make?
13. The Communication and Conflict Question: How satisfied are you with your communication?
Questions on Compatibility
14. The Compatibility Question: Do you have a significant number of similar interests?
15. The Motivation Question: Are you similar in areas of motivation and accomplishment?
16. The Family Background Question: How alike or different are your families of origin?
17. The Public and Private Question: Do you like your date both in public and in private?
18. The Shared Passion Question: How much do your passions overlap?
19. The Finance Question: Do you have similar views about finances and stewardship?
Questions on Chemistry
20. The Physical Attraction Question: What role does physical attraction play in your relationship?
21. The Physical Involvement Question: How have you encouraged each other toward sexual purity?
When all is said and done, what does your gut say about this relationship?
The Book’s Purpose
I won’t explore each of the questions proposed above. That’s beyond the scope of this review. What I do want to share is how each query is handled to provide you with a gist of how the book functions in helping you determine if your relationship’s compatible enough to be successful or if serious discrepancies exist you’ll need to consider. The goal is enabling you to enter a successful relationship, not one doomed to failure.
Before You Save the Date works best if both partners have a copy of the book so you can prepare individually and simultaneously for your tête-à-tête. Then, after completing a chapter, you meet together to discuss your reading and the associated questions, answers and thoughts that it generated. It’s the main purpose for going through the book, preparing for the inevitable and necessary heart-to-heart. As a side note, I recommend combining your discussion time with a fun, though private, outing of some sort to avoid a sense that you’re meeting for the purpose of an inquisition, even though a beneficial one.
Each chapter concludes with sections titled Making It Personal and Making It Plural, providing space to write answers to your questions and record observations. The former poses information-gathering assignments and additional queries to consider while the latter offers a place to record notes related to your answers and your discussion together on the current topic. It wraps up with a rating scale to indicate how you feel about the relationship based on the above, from extremely confident to extremely hesitant. It’s a gut-feeling conclusion to the chapter.
Since I’m rather thorough and voluminous in my approach to things, I recorded the questions, my answers and my thoughts in a separate digital journal. I found the space provided in the book rather limiting. However, for many of you, it should prove sufficient.
The Book’s Content
As you delve into the book, you’ll discover many concerns that, if you’re honest, would have gone undiscussed prior to marriage. That’s the big plus that comes from reading Before You Save the Date and talking over the questions it raises with your partner. Some topics need deeper deliberation, as well—faith, finances, children and sex, for example. This book will guide you through those multifaceted issues and many others.
For instance, have you thought of discussing how your finances will be handled? Who will pay the bills? Joint or separate accounts? Who will be named as beneficiaries on life insurance policies? Do you have wills and, if so, how is the inheritance to be distributed in the event of death?
What about sexual preferences? While I’m not a proponent of sex prior to marriage, I do believe it’s important to discuss the topic thoroughly before tying the knot. Expectations can be all over the board in this category and some decisions earlier in life can have far-reaching repercussions such as sexually transmitted diseases.
Children are another major concern. How many kids do you both want to have? Or, would you rather not have any at all? What about step-children? Who will be the disciplinarian? If younger children are in the home, how will they be raised? Public schools or homeschooled? For those of faith, in what belief system will children be instructed? Will they attend church, temple or synagogue?
Regarding the issue of faith, are you both on the same page? If not, I guarantee you’ll encounter significant conflicts. Have you discussed it? If Christian, are you both believers? Do you have the same faith traditions? How frequently do you attend religious services? How important is God in your life?
What about family traditions and celebrations? What holidays do you and your family celebrate and what ones are excluded? Where do you celebrate the holidays? Your home? At mom’s house? Whose mom? And, how important are birthdays and anniversaries?
None of the above questions are trivial either, at least not to everyone. Bringing them to light is the benefit of a resource like Before You Save the Date. Many additional questions are addressed within its pages, too, such as those pertaining to gender roles, passions, values, mindsets, employment, respect, communication, conflict resolution, friendships, extended family and more.
Hopefully, this review gives you a better understanding of how important it is to thoroughly discuss these types of questions prior to marriage. And, how valuable a service a book like this can provide.
The Book’s Value
Overall, Before You Save the Date: 21 Questions to Help You Marry With Confidence is a great resource with some truly crucial relationship questions to ponder. Even if you don’t use the book as designed, having the gamut of queries on hand to discuss when you and your intended are together is worth the investment. Though, I do recommend taking full advantage of the book’s read and relate formula.
Whether you’re currently in a relationship or hoping to be in one soon, take an active role in preparing to marry someone with whom you’re truly compatible. While your gut can tell you a lot about a person and a relationship, an informed gut is all the better. I know that I would have missed discussing some important topics with my wife before we married had we not read Before You Save the Date.
Make an investment in your and your partner’s future. Its way cheaper and less stressful than marriage counseling or, worse, divorce.
About The Author
Architect of Propeller Cap, LLC and former singles ministry director, Chuck Miller brings a diverse career background and four decades of experience as a writer, editor, publisher and pastor to Discovering Love Online.
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