Recently an old friend asked me what were some things she should think about and do before getting married. She thinks her long-term boyfriend is preparing to ask THE question. Her biggest fear is not a lack of trust or love – it is a lack of positive relationship role models in her life. She comes from a family that has a history of divorces, settling, adulterous relationships and just plain unhappy couples.
While I do not consider myself a “veteran” wife, after (almost) nine years of marriage, I can honestly say that communication (ie – listening AND saying what you mean in a clear way), sacrifices on both parts, and a clear understanding on finances makes a world of a difference.
Yes, I recall the advice to never go to bed angry (has anyone successfully done this?) or have date nights monthly when we were celebrating our reception and my bridal shower, but as we got seriously serious it would have been great to have someone share things to think about before even saying “I will” when the man of your dreams gets down on one knee.
I decided to reach out to some family and friends that were both single, engaged, married and divorced to get their views on what someone should do before getting married.
The first response I got was “Make sure there’s no one else that you may want.” – at first glance it seems simple enough. Why would someone even consider marriage if they weren’t 100% sure, right? Wrong!
One of my male friends quickly chimed in with “As far as men are concerned, say good-bye to your own opinion.” Of course, that got a few chuckles, but it rang some truth. A relationship should be give and take. As the years have passed, I have found myself automatically “thinking like” my husband – from dinner choices to vacation getaways. It’s important to really know your partner and be willing to appreciate and accept their opinions – even if it’s different from yours.
Have a weekend to reflect on the person you are. Write about the person you want to become and learn that saying “I do” doesn’t mean the end of life but the beginning of a journey that you are taking with someone that you love. This takes me to one of my favorite pieces of advice…
Before saying “I Do” be comfortable with your own company. Your future spouse is not responsible for curing boredom or providing you with constant entertainment. Please don’t get married because you feel it’s time, your biological clock is ticking or everyone else you know has – settling or rushing to the aisle will not bring you the happily ever after you’re wanting. Make sure you love yourself 100% and know that this person is not coming in your life to complete you but to compliment you. You must already be complete within!
Make sure you actually know the person you are about to marry – ask lots of questions before hand. If he wants children and you don’t – guess what? He’ll most likely still want kids when you become Mr. and Mrs.
Get to know your in-laws – it makes a big difference. They are now your relatives – people you’ll be sharing holidays, special occasions and family dinners with. They are, also, your children or future children’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – they have the potential to make a huge impact on their futures. Make sure there’s clear understanding on how you’ll spend your holidays – I have seen some serious marital issues stem from this seemingly simple request.
Take a long distance road trip together – just the two of you. If you can’t handle each other in a car for 18 hours, you may want to evaluate spending the rest of your lives together. I can personally attest to this. Right before we got married, my husband and I traveled from Fort Hood, Texas to Columbia, South Carolina. That was one of the longest road trips ever and I learned just how “forgetful” my husband was. Something I had never truly paid attention to before. He lost my debit card while pumping gas – seriously, he got out the car, pumped gas, walked in the store, got back in the car – no debit card and later left his wallet in a restaurant we stopped in for a quick bite. He learned that I am no help when it comes to road trips if someone else is driving – I either get engrossed in a book or fall asleep – and when I am driving I sing loudly and will have random, off-the-wall conversations in between choruses. Were there some heated conversations during that trip? Oh yes! But at the end of the day, we still found ways to make each other laugh and enjoy the situations. I knew he was a keeper!
Give yourself an opportunity to miss them. Their absence reminds you how much of you and your life is impacted by them. More than just another step in a logical progression, marriage becomes a heartfelt, even craved state. I’ll let you marinate on that one for a moment.
Chime in below with your suggestions or experiences.