Date OneSharing Hopes, Dreams, and Expectations"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11Let''s listen to Hayley as she describes her recent date with Kevin:Our greatest date didn''t start out so great. Kevin had said, "Let''s go over to the lake and watch the sunset." But how can you watch a sunset when it''s overcast and foggy? I thought.Kevin was so determined that I humored him. We got to the lake, and he pulled out a blanket and picnic basket. Was this guy really serious? There was no sun anywhere on the horizon; in fact, it was chilly. I felt weird trying to watch a sunset in the fog.Kevin was acting strange-really nervous. "I''ll be right back," he said and disappeared. So I sat on this blanket all alone. A few couples walked by hand-in-hand and stared at me. I felt really stupid. This date was going downhill fast. And then I heard a commotion behind me.I turned around just in time to see a knight in a suit of armor riding a horse right toward me. As I looked more closely, I could see it was Kevin! He dismounted, and the next thing I knew he was on his knees asking me to marry him! Without a doubt, this was our greatest date yet!What has been your greatest date? Have you had a unique storybook date like Hayley and Kevin? Or maybe you have had lots of great dates and now are looking forward to having a fairy-tale wedding where you will both ride off into the sunset to be blissfully happy ever after. Sounds like the end of the story, doesn''t it? Not so. Your wedding day will only be the beginning of the story of your marriage.A marriage is not a one-day event. Instead, marriage is a lifelong process of growing together and deepening your love for one another. It is facing life''s trials together and pulling together in the good times as well as the bad. And, to be frank, marriage is not a fairy tale; it is more like the novel War and Peace. But the marriage relationship can be the most rewarding and fulfilling one you will ever know. And your greatest dates may be up ahead-after you''re married!CONSIDERING MATRIMONY?Maybe like Hayley and Kevin, you''ve made the commitment to become engaged and are looking forward to getting married. Or maybe you are not engaged at this point but are wondering if you''d like to be. In either case, this date is going to help you look at your hopes and dreams for the future and better understand your expectations for marriage.Many couples who marry are incredulous when marriage turns out to be different from what they expected. We don''t want to shatter your hopes and dreams, but we do want you to take a good look at your present relationship and your expectations for the future. Too many who are considering marriage answer positively the premarital inventory question, "I expect my partner to change some of his/her behaviors after we marry."Also it''s important to note that every engaged couple does not end up marrying. One of the major purposes of marriage preparation is to help couples make a good decision about whether or not they are ready to be married to each other at this time. Couples who begin marriage preparation a year to eight months before marriage have a 15 to 17 percent rate of postponing or canceling the wedding if their preparation includes both an inventory and an educational program.1The value of marriage preparation is having the opportunity to reexamine and reconfirm your decision to marry. In the following dates we want to help you look closer at your own decision to consider marriage or a more serious relationship and to better understand your own "good match." We will start that process on Date One by looking realistically at your own expectations.What We ExpectedWe (the Arps) started marriage with stars in our eyes and a belief that we would surely always meet each other''s needs. We got married in the middle of our college experience. The year was 1962. Our world was tArp, David is the author of '10 Great Dates Before You Say I Do' with ISBN 9780310247326 and ISBN 0310247322.