Consider these Groundrules for Marriage

What's supposed to happen on the wedding night? Will it hurt? What if I'm not a virgin? ...
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Job29Man
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Consider these Groundrules for Marriage

Postby Job29Man » Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:52 pm

Dear As Yet Unmarried Friends,

I am a very, very happily married man. And my wife is also very happy in our marriage. Our sex life is excellent even though we have worked through a number of challenges in our marriage. We attribute our success to these Groundrules.... For your consideration here is a thread I started on Is this OK?/How to?/Other, but I also post it here so you engaged folks can discuss it too....



In several threads I have alluded to the groundrules that DW and I agreed to for our marriage BEFORE we wed.

After many, many hours studying Biblical principles together, and after talks with older successful couples we came to agreement on these groundrules. It is significant that, even though ours is a very traditional "Husband in Charge" kind of marriage I wanted to make sure that I bound myself to several "checks and balances" upon myself. These are OUR Groundrules. I'm not saying that these are THE Groundrules for others. But if you find something in here that you'd like to adopt for yourself, have at it!

The funny thing is I don't think we ever actually wrote these Groundrules down until I did so just now, to the best of my recollection. We just always remembered them and lived by them.

In our case we have had the advantage of sincere agreement to these principles in advance of our wedding, and in 30 years we have never broken this agreement.

I attribute our happy marriage (30 years of joy and homeschooling 10 children) to this agreement. It has gotten us through some very tough times. Maybe someone here could benefit from it too. I will also post it in the Engaged Section.

Perhaps you also have groundrules that have helped your own marriage to succeed?

GROUNDRULES FOR OUR MARRIAGE:

When we set up our groundrules before marriage it was after discussing sex and marriage with older godly couples first, so that we got the benefit of their wisdom.

Some of those rules are ...

1. Sex is a gift from God for our intimacy, pleasure, and procreation.
2. We will not use sex as a reward for "good" behavior.
3. We will not withhold sex as a punishment for "bad" behavior.
4. Sex is good and beautiful and we want to do it a LOT! We will always be cheerful and generous lovers.
5. The one with less desire will always try to please the one with greater desire.
6. We never go to sleep angry. We always work it out before sleeping. We will never walk away from an disagreement. Silence is not an option.
7. We never refuse sex or any other intimate act. Never, ever.
8. Not all sex needs to involve romance or a big buildup. "Quickies" are also fine. Sometimes it is OK to just “get your release.” [mod edit]
9. We give each other ALL our sexuality and intimacy, including control over masturbation, and the keeping of friends of the opposite sex. We do not expect privacy from each other in these things.
10. We don't ask for sex when it would truly cause pain or injury, or anger. These times should be very rare.
11. I am not qualified to judge whether I am being a good husband or wife. Only you are qualified to make this judgment. If you say "there is a problem" or that I am not being a good husband or wife, then that settles the matter and I will change until you judge me to be a good mate.
12. I will always listen to your rebuke. If I am wrong I will apologize, ask for your forgiveness, and then repent and start to change my ways immediately and without resentment.
13. I agree that you may appeal to the Bible at any time. If you can show me that what I am doing is contrary to sound teaching, I will change my opinion and actions without argument. I promise to always be “teachable”.
14. If all this fails I will not refuse to go to our pastor with you for counsel. I will listen to what he says. In fact either one may compel the other to go to the doctor, or counselor, at any time (jointly).
15. We each have the authority over the other's body according to 1 Cor 7. This authority should only be used to increase intimacy, never decrease it.
16. In disagreements over things that distract from our marriage the more permissive one will yield to and support the more conservative one.
17. In disagreements over which influences are harmful to our children the more permissive one will yield to and support the more conservative one.
18. We will not argue in front of children. We will always present a united front to them.
19. We will not be so involved in ministry to save the world that we lose our own children for Christ. They are our first mission field.
20. Our marriage comes before the children in importance. We will not neglect each other's needs because we are so busy with the children's needs.
21. In all things the Bible will guide us. We do not start with the assumption that American culture is correct. We will conform our family life to Bible standards and not to our surrounding culture.
22. When one of us offends the other it is not sufficient to just apologize. Generally there is sin involved, so confession and forgiveness are required in a Christian relationship. This means "I am sorry. Please forgive me." followed by "I forgive you." (Never "That's OK." Because it is not OK). And once forgiveness is given the forgiving one must "forget" the matter and loses the right to bring up the topic or have it affect his/her attitude or behavior forever more.

All of these commitments, and more, we made to each other before we wed, and we have kept them to this day 30 years later.

These rules have made our marriage solid. We have had tough problems, but worked through them relatively quickly. It is not acceptable to let dissatisfaction boil for years.
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Postby datepalm » Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:47 am

Job,

Our marriage has not been nearly as smooth a road as yours, but I'd like to add a ground rule we agreed to before marriage--and have kept, despite everything:
    "Divorce" is not a word in our vocabulary. We will not discuss it, threaten it, consider it, daydream about it, or "check into" it. We are committed to making this marriage work--there is no Plan B.

Disclaimer: I'm not criticizing or condemning anyone who is divorced. DH was divorced from his first wife, who left him. I also realize that our agreement may seem naive to some. But it is what God called us, as an engaged couple, to commit to. And some times were so difficult and painful, I know without a doubt that agreement kept us together! I've gotta say, though, what we have now is so sweet, it eclipses all the rough patches. The marriage we have now was definitely worth the wait.

Just something to consider....

Datepalm
What if God's primary intent for your marriage isn't to make you happy...but to make you holy?
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Postby Job29Man » Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:38 am

Datepalm,

Your words are wise. I know my list is not comprehensive. Each couple should make their own from scratch if they choose to do this.

Absolutely correct to strike the D word from your lexicon. Yes that is totally the conviction in our almost 30 year marriage.

To us it was just so foundational that we figured it didn't even merit mentioning, right along with "We will stay true to Christ. We will never scream at each other. We will never hit each other. We will stay true to each other." Those things are so obvious to us that we don't even say it.

Each couple should say what is needed for them in their list (if they make one). In our case there has never been a divorce in either side of the family as far as we can tell, going back for several centuries. (there was one separation a few generations back) So we were literally raised in a total family context and culture that never even considered divorce (thank God). Literally we never ever heard any family member ever use the word except in the sense of "Didja hear the Smiths are getting divorced? What a shame."
Wanting to become like Job, as described in the Bible, the book of Job chapter 29. Hence the screen name.

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Postby bhall96992 » Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:59 pm

I sent a link on this thread to my FW. I'm interested in her response.

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Postby Dadtoall » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:23 am

Kuods to having the foresight to establish the ground rules. However, know that you are fortunate to have a DW who still honors the agreement, despite changing cirucmstances, tastes, wants and needs.
Always grateful for the opportunity...

welive4Him

Postby welive4Him » Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:47 pm

I'm copy/pasting your list and well as the "rule" about the mention of divorce into a word doc to give to my FH. Some things I don't entirely agree with or maybe I'm just reading things wrong but the point is that I'm going to show him them so we can talk about them and revise to fit what we believe. Thanks! :)

JuneBride

Postby JuneBride » Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:31 pm

We also agreed not to throw around "divorce" as a threat during an argument. It's no joking matter, and is never to be taken lightly.

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Postby Job29Man » Sun Nov 02, 2008 5:51 pm

welive and june,

Good for you two! I tell you the more time you put into discussing NOW how you are going to run the marriage AFTER the wedding, wow! You will save so much strife!

Job
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Maywife

Postby Maywife » Wed Nov 05, 2008 4:40 pm

I don't like that not arguing in front of our kids bit. I think kids need to see disagreements handled well. Otherwise, any conflict is going to seem negative. Conflict can be a good thing

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Postby MapleSyrup » Wed Nov 05, 2008 4:45 pm

Maywife wrote:I don't like that not arguing in front of our kids bit. I think kids need to see disagreements handled well. Otherwise, any conflict is going to seem negative. Conflict can be a good thing


AGREED!

My parents NEVER fought/argued in front of me... so it was a HUGE shock to me when DH and I started having disagreements. I thought our marriage was failing! I thought that "good" married couples didn't fight! While I don't think it is healthy for couples to have screaming matches in front of their children, I think one of the best things they can do for their children is to resolve arguements in front of them.
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Postby Image of Christ » Fri Nov 21, 2008 2:40 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us Job! It was truly a blessing to read and was a great encouragement for me and my FW as well.

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Postby Kevin'sLady » Fri Nov 21, 2008 9:02 pm

Ditto what MapleSyrup said. My parents never argued in front of me and my sister. Completely freaked me out when DH (then boyfriend) and I disagreed or argued when we were dating. I thought we were done for.

Now, not arguing in front of the children about something that involves them I can see. But not the never arguing or disagreeing in front of them. If you never disagree in front of them, they're going to grow up thinking a married couple doesn't argue or disagree and that just isn't true.

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Re: Consider these Groundrules for Marriage

Postby TheTigress » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:56 pm

I know this is an older thread but I'd like to resurrect it for the newly engaged couples who maybe haven't looked this far back into the threads :) I like to read EVERYTHING! I'm going to present this topic and Job's list to my FH sometime soon. I don't necessarily agree with each item but I like the idea of ground rules we agree to prior to marriage.

Job I'd like to know if any of your rules have seemed to not fit or needed to be altered? Have you added any rules since being married?

I'm also curious about the fighting in front of the kids rule. Did you ever fight or disagree in front of the kiddos? I'm wondering like what other posters have said if it would be healthy for kids to know that it's okay to disagree in a respectful manner. Though I already wait to express most of my disagreements with FH until we are alone. If it's a discussion on theology or even where we should eat that everyone is participating in then of course I'll express my own opinion regardless of if it's the same as FH's. But if the disagreement could come across as disrespect then I don't vocalize the disagreement until we are alone. If it's something I feel needs said sooner or is pertinent to the situation at hand I'll send a quick text or pass a note.
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Re: Consider these Groundrules for Marriage

Postby neilethere » Sat Apr 19, 2014 11:37 pm

Beauty,

I go weak at the knees just reading the name Amy Pond (blush ....... how embarrassing)

job,

I know you aren't looking at this as a definitive list but maybe a mention of sorting out headship prior to marriage wouldn't go astray? Is there a way this post can become like a permanently available discussion thing?

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Re: Consider these Groundrules for Marriage

Postby TheTigress » Sat Apr 19, 2014 11:44 pm

neilethere wrote:I go weak at the knees just reading the name Amy Pond (blush ....... how embarrassing)

Lol definitely one of my favorite characters and I often quote her from the episode "the girl who waited" about how Rory is the most beautiful man she's met to FH only about him. :) We have always flirted using Doctor Who and I don't see that diminishing once we are married!!
Together or not at all- Amy Pond

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Re: Consider these Groundrules for Marriage

Postby Learning1 » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:04 am

Hi Beauty4Ashes,

We also wrote a set groundrules for our marriage. We did use much from Jobs list.

Also as a resource for our groundrules, we used book & 7 Principle's for Making Marriage Work by Gottman. Not a Christian book but one of the best marriage books, also recommended by Paul B. founder of the TMB.

If you are interested I can send you the ground rules we came up with.

The other most important thing I think we did that has really helped us the most, it that we set aside one weeknight to have a marriage meeting, (we use the groundrules in the meeting) to discuss anything. It is not out date night, which we keep fun & romantic.

:D
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Re: Consider these Groundrules for Marriage

Postby SeekingChange » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:39 am

Beauty4Ashes10 wrote:I'm also curious about the fighting in front of the kids rule. Did you ever fight or disagree in front of the kiddos? I'm wondering like what other posters have said if it would be healthy for kids to know that it's okay to disagree in a respectful manner. Though I already wait to express most of my disagreements with FH until we are alone. If it's a discussion on theology or even where we should eat that everyone is participating in then of course I'll express my own opinion regardless of if it's the same as FH's. But if the disagreement could come across as disrespect then I don't vocalize the disagreement until we are alone. If it's something I feel needs said sooner or is pertinent to the situation at hand I'll send a quick text or pass a note.

This is a good question! I'm interested in hearing others answers and opinions.

There has to be a balance, and I'm not sure I know what it is. I grew up in a house that I NEVER EVER heard my parents fight. I never felt insecure and wondered if they would divorce, but it had a very deep, negative impact on me and my marriage. I saw my mother as a doormat and my father as very domineering. I had decided that NO MAN would control me as I felt my father did my mother. That does not set up a marriage to be very peaceful. :wink: I also realize that some of my "unworthy" feelings are rooted in this. As a child, when I was not really being treated right, it seemed* to go unnoticed and I wasn't "worthy" enough for my mother to confront my father on his harsh, unloving manners.

*I say "seemed" because I now realize that things could have been confronted behind closed doors, but if they were, I don't recall ever seeing much of a change or any apologies for wrong behaviors. I also realize now, that sometimes it takes a much stronger woman to lay her will down, but that's another topic.
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Re: Consider these Groundrules for Marriage

Postby TheTigress » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:44 am

Learning1 wrote:If you are interested I can send you the ground rules we came up with.

I would love to see your ground rules!

I like the idea of a time to talk about marriage. I already try to keep our relationship status talks away from date night and I have managed really well to keep them seperate. I just never wanted to "spoil" date night with super serious talk. Date night should be fun! And while a lot of our relationship talks have been really positive I just thought it best not to engage in those convos at date night.
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Re: Consider these Groundrules for Marriage

Postby Bear » Sun Apr 20, 2014 8:59 am

Interesting conversation on the fighting in front if the kids. I think a realistic balance between honest disagreements and natural conflicts can be a good thing. Interpersonal fighting or meanness would be very bad.

I've always pondered the wisdom of the old saw 'don't go to bed angry'. I mean I get it, but I wonder if it prioritizes 'feelings' a bit too high.

In our relationship I think this has not always been helpful. I think trying to 'feel' un-angry at 2am in the midst of a miss understanding and 'working through it all' until both are 'happy' can be a bit binding and counter productive.

Coming to a place of resolution reaffirming love, grace, and commitment; then being able to look each other in the eye kiss goodnight (even with ruffled feathers) and share a bed with the partner an lover who agreed to 'for better or worse' can be a powerful and beautiful thing.

Many things actually do look different in the morning, and a commitment and understanding to revisit the next day for any housekeeping may serve just as well.
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We Need to Argue/Discuss More in Front of the Kids

Postby Job29Man » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:38 pm

This is a really excellent question. And in fact in 2010 I posted an update that was titled We Need to Argue More In Front of the Kids.

Go on over there and read up on it.
So... we've been arguing/discussing more in front of the kiddos (selectively) and I'm actually happier with the effects of this. I think it is healthier for the children. We've been doing so for about 4 years now.
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