". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


2024 is Going to Be a Big Year for Proposals. Are You Really Ready to Get Hitched?

April 22, 2024

If you’re planning a marriage proposal for 2024, you’re far from alone. Wedding industry experts suspect that 2024 and the following few years are going to be a boom for proposals. But every proposal represents the beginning, in its way, of a new marriage

Marriage isn’t something that just happens to you. It is carefully built and nurtured every day. You and your spouse are called to show up, even on the hard days, to do the work. In marriage, we become both the stewards and recipients of a complex and lifelong gift. Marriage is a gift! We fix what breaks, nurture what bears fruit, cull weeds and pluck thorns. 

But to undertake this sort of work, you’ll need more than sheer willpower and the right ring. You will need the right tools — and the right people to help you. In my decades spent working with couples, and particularly now as senior director of WinShape Marriage, I’ve carried a few tools with me that are especially important.

Tool 1: Prayer

You may have heard the saying, “Couples who pray together stay together.” And while that may sound cliche, it could not be more accurate. Prayer is a vital and practical tool for building a happy, healthy marriage that bears the fruit of discipleship and closeness with God and your spouse. 

A recent study that surveyed more than 10,000 couples shows, for instance, that couples who pray together experience higher marital stability. They are more likely to be satisfied with the level of communication with their spouse. Couples who pray together reported high levels of agreement on financial matters as well as increased respect for one another. Agreement on parenting issues increased and feelings of happiness were elevated by almost 20%. One of the most stunning findings was that the fear of divorce plummeted to zero.

If praying together as a couple feels awkward, here are some ways you can begin to move toward each other with prayer:

  • Talk for a few minutes about things that are on your heart, and then hold hands and pray silently together for one to two minutes (there is nothing wrong with setting a timer). Wrap up by saying “Amen” together.
  • Every Moment Holy is a beautiful book filled with liturgies you can pray aloud together.
  • Share three things you would like your spouse to pray for you, and then take turns praying those things aloud for your spouse. God doesn’t grade our prayers. Genuine, short, and to the point is beautiful.

Tool 2: Individual Health

When two become one, many people believe they have to leave themselves behind. Not true. The greatest gift you can give your spouse is knowing what it means to take good care of yourself so you can bring the healthiest version of you to your marriage relationship.

All of us come to marriage bringing a lot from our childhood and families — some of that good, some not so great. You may think you have left this behind, but it is baked into your DNA. Nobody’s upbringing is perfect, but some have had harder roads than others. For example — if you have experienced abuse of any kind, you may be telling yourself things that are not true about who you are. Addiction might be part of your story. Coming into a marriage relationship believing that marriage will fix or make issues from your past disappear or not seem so huge is an unrealistic expectation.

Acknowledge that you need help and seek out credible resources to help you navigate your marriage journey in a healthy way.

Tool 3: Healthy Conflict 

The absence of conflict isn’t a sign of health in a marriage — but well-managed conflict is. Recognize that when two people with different personalities come together in marriage, just because you love each other doesn’t mean you won’t ever disagree. How you disagree really matters. Choose to believe the best about your spouse. Attack the issue, not each other. Seek to understand each other’s perspective and work as a team to find a solution. Healthy conflict will build intimacy in your marriage.

Tool 4: Community

The most important tool of all isn’t a tool, but a community. Find a faith community for yourself and your new or soon-to-be spouse. We aren’t made to live or work in isolation. 

You’ll need encouragement, affirmation, guidance, and support as you build your new married life together. You’ll need reminders that your struggles are normal, and that others have overcome what might seem like insurmountable hardships.

So if you decide to take the plunge and get engaged this year — or have already done so — make sure you have the resources and people you need to set your marriage up for long-term success. 

Julie Baumgardner is the Senior Director of WinShape Marriage. She has nearly 40 years of experience of helping marriages and families thrive. Prior to joining WinShape, she spent 20 years as the President/CEO of First Things First.