Advice for Engagement from Callie and Jamie:

1. Read a Psalm a day, beginning at 150 day countdown from your wedding date

2. Dream about your future together

3. Plan intentional dates where you don’t talk about wedding planning

4. Keep a journal filled with how you’re feeling, memories, prayers, what you’re looking forward to, and what you’re fearful of

5. Throw all expectations out the window and be filled with grace

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Advice for Marriage from the Elizabeth and Robert:

1. Being critical (even constructively) of your fiancé/spouse and being grateful for your fiancé/spouse don’t typically go hand in hand. Choose to be grateful everyday to eliminate unnecessary criticism that does more harm to the spirit than good for the relationship.

2. Don’t try to talk about anything substantial or sensitive at night, wait till the morning. Emotions tend to run high when you’re tired, and most of the time, no good comes from emotionally charged discussions. Also, allow each other to mentally prepare for any topic that takes thought or energy, try to avoid catching each other off guard and expecting positive results from that single discussion.

3. Be politely blunt. This was fun to learn, because it’s kind of relieving. You guys aren’t mind readers, and there’s no reason to spend your lives dancing around thoughts or feelings, hoping that the other one gets it. “Babe, I’m a little sensitive today, I’m not sure why. Could you limit your sarcasm? It will probably irritate me.” BOOM. Same page.

4. In case you didn’t already know, men and women are very different. Constantly ask yourself, “Am I living with my fiancé/spouse in an understanding way”? Kicker: you need to understand that you don’t have to understand to live with them in an understanding way.

5. Stop trying to fix things. In conversation, your response will often be “How can I fix this” – it’s logical, but you should stop that habit. Listening and being sincere in your response are more important than finding an immediate solution.

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Advice for the Future from Nancy and Will:

1. Most of the time, it’s not what you say but how you say it. Your tone, expression on your face and overall demeanor speaks louder than the actual words. Try to always communicate love, with what you say and how you say it.

2. It’s not a bad thing to make a “5 year plan” (or whatever you deem right for you) to wait for babies! We loved those years to ourselves! But with everything, keep open hands, knowing God’s plans are best.

3. Have an end-of-year date night, and only focus on all the wonderful things that happened that year: things you are thankful for, milestones, accomplishments, and praise. We look forward to that special date night every Christmas, and it has strengthened our marriage more than we realized it would.

4. When the time comes for babies, make a “baby bucket list” to accomplish together. It gives closure to the season before, and helps build excitement for the season to come!

5. Don’t compare yourselves with other couples when it comes to family devotions, prayer, how orderly your home is, how much money you make, how / how often you have sex, how you discipline your children. If your aim is to please the Lord and love one another, you are doing things right!

Never stop working on your relationship. That might take on several different forms: reading, spending intentional time together, having difficult conversations, or even getting outside help through classes or counseling. Stay humble, because often times someone outside of your relationship can offer wisdom that you haven’t yet experienced yet. There are always things to learn, and there are always ways to improve.

One of the best decisions we made while we were engaged was to learn as much as possible about marriage. We are still reaping the benefits of everything we learned during that time! We took a class on finances that got us on the same page about money (Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey). We completed pre-marital counseling with our pastors. We read several books that focused on specific topics related to marriage: prayer (The Power of a Praying Wife / The Power of a Praying Husband by Stormie Omartian), having a Christ centered marriage (The Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas), how to affair-proof our marriage (His Needs Her Needs by Willard Harley), communication (Love and Respect by Emerson Eggeriches), and sex (Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman).

In a nutshell, it pays to invest in your relationship!

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Advice for preparing for marriage from Olivia and Andrew:

Andrew and I will be doing premarital counseling in the few months leading up to our wedding. We are also meeting individually and as a couple with other couples who have played a big role in our life together. The NRP team has also graciously shared advice with us that we have sat down and gone through together, while reading Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. We are incredibly thankful for each of these people who encourage and guide us in preparing for a Christ centered marriage!

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