- 7 Things for Couples to Do Before Getting Married – The Ascent
- 1. Talk about everything, especially about money
- 2. Get accountability
- 3. Reveal who you really are to your future spouse (no skeletons left behind)
- 4. Create a vision and run with it (set goals to keep you on track)
- 5. Ditch your exes
- 6. Let the families meet
- 7. No sex
- Connect More In-Depth
- Seven Things I Wish I Had Known Before Getting Married
- Marriage is the final frontier
- You’re not just marrying your partner; you’re marrying their family, too
- Say goodbye to taboos
- The little things matter a whole lot more
- You both have to change to make the marriage work
- You’re now part of a ‘we’
- It’s a constant work in progress
- 7 Things to Consider Before Getting Married
- 7 Things You Must Discuss Before You Get Married
- Where you will live
- Financial matters
- Your married name
- 10 Things Every Couple Should Do Before Getting Married
7 Things for Couples to Do Before Getting Married – The Ascent
Photo by Naassom Azevedo on UnsplashMay 18, 2019 · 5 min read
After looking back at all the preparations, the big ceremony and life after the party, I want to share some behind the scenes elements that will help you get ready for your own wedding day and beyond.
1. Talk about everything, especially about money
Taking turns speaking and listening to each other is healthy for your relationship.
Set the intention to learn about who your spouse is better than anyone else.
Learn their s and do them.
Learn what they don’t . Don’t do those.
Figure out the way they love to be loved. I’m referring to Dr. Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages. Some people are more receptive to words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, or physical touch.
Test out “The Great Exchange.”
- NOTE: Only do this with someone with integrity who you trust and are seriously discussing marriage with or are already married to.
Set a time and date to meet. Then you swap financial statements in each other’s presence. For example, you may view each other’s tax returns, pay-stubs, financial statements, etc.
This way, both can see where each stand financially. This allows you to start coming up with solutions together. You both may realize you need to work on paying off debt.
Or, you may learn that you’re in such good shape you could start working on building a financial portfolio.
2. Get accountability
Find a healthy married couple who will walk through this premarital season with you to keep you accountable. Accountability partners help you see your blind spots and hold you to what you say you’re going to do. Ideally, this is a couple you give permission to correct you.
Here’s a scenario where having an accountability partner may help you sort some things out.
You have a close friend of the opposite sex who you share a lot with. You are close and maybe, every now and then, cross the line of being just friends. And, it doesn’t even have to be physical. Maybe, it’s an emotional boundary.
He/she sends you a text late at night. “Hey, how are you doing?”
Should you respond? Not sure? That’s a good time to call an accountability partner (of the same sex as you) to ask them what do they think about the situation? Hopefully, that accountability partner would speak the truth, in love, and tell you that late night messages from the opposite sex may not be well received by your boyfriend/girlfriend/future spouse. And explain examples of how to correct the issue.
3. Reveal who you really are to your future spouse (no skeletons left behind)
At some point, preferably before you get married, you should properly introduce yourself to your significant other.
Let him/her know what you do stand for. What your values are. What you want is more powerful than trying to build a future together solely on what you don’t want.
Around our fourth date, I told my husband (fiancé at the time) that I want to see him e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y.
That may seem a bit much. But at that point, that’s what I wanted. I wanted to spend quality time with a potential partner to get to know them. I was so tired of coming second to more “urgent” matters.
Try not to hide your true self. Don’t worry about the other person rejecting what you put forward. Whatever you hold back, could become a bigger obstacle for you both later.
4. Create a vision and run with it (set goals to keep you on track)
I was so happy on my wedding day.
But, at this point six years ago, my wedding could have been derailed.
My mother died nine weeks before. Would our wedding get postponed? Would I use money I had been saving with my fiancé for our wedding to pay for funeral expenses? If I had done any of the two it would have been rightly justified.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
– Ecclesiastes 3:1–4 (NIV)
We pressed on with our wedding plans. The vision and goals we set before we got engaged kept us on track.
We both agreed we wanted to build a legacy through our marriage.
We put goals in place to achieve this.
We set a wedding date.
We had an incentive to stick to it (more on that incentive later).
We planned to have the wedding of our dreams.
We wanted to pay for our wedding without going into debt.
Having a vision and prioritizing helped keep us on track. That example may be drastic but having a vision helps with big and small things, and everything else in between.
5. Ditch your exes
Cut ties with your exes. Nix them. Especially on your wedding day. No matter how you spin it, exes are simply not worth the drama.
My husband and I decided no exes, old crushes or anyone we knew had a crush on us (even if it was one-way) would be invited to our wedding. It didn’t matter how “cool” they were, or if they were “just friends” now. They were just not invited.
We had eliminated the possibility of being anxious over running into each of our past relationships on our special day.
6. Let the families meet
Schedule time for your relatives and your partner’s family to meet each other preferably months before your wedding.
It shows you have integrity.
It shows your intention to get to know each other’s family.
It breaks the ice between future in-laws.
Promotes transparency and authenticity.
They will be more familiar with each other at least on the wedding day.
It shows honor and respect to your elders.
Speaking of honor and respect. Be intentional about thanking loved ones on your wedding day. Add it to your wedding program.
7. No sex
This is the incentive I mentioned earlier. Delaying sex and looking forward to having lots of it after you’re married is a great reward.
But, it’s a tough one. But, it’s where trust and confidence are developed.
I have experienced how not having sex is a good place to regain some sense of purity into your relationship before marriage.
I believe if any couple tries this, even if it’s weeks before you get married, they will reap long-lasting benefits unique to their situation.
On our second date, I told my husband that I had made a pledge not to have sex again until I am married.
He didn’t flinch. Or run away. We wanted to do something we had never done in relationships before. We wanted a fresh start.
By repeatedly resisting, we learned we can overcome temptations. Trust is also earned because you have seen your partner display enough self-control to handle themselves in tough situations.
Connect More In-Depth
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Seven Things I Wish I Had Known Before Getting Married
No matter how much advice you get before getting married, nothing can quite prepare you for what it’s really . Over the years I’ve been married, I’ve learned a few things I didn’t expect about what life after the wedding would be . Here are the things I think everyone should consider before they get married.
Marriage is the final frontier
Most of the things I’ve learned (below) apply to both cohabitation and marriage, except this one: Getting married really is different than living together unmarried even for many years. It’s not just the many legal and financial benefits of marriage, though. There’s a psychological difference.
My husband and I lived together for several years before getting engaged, and dated several years before that, so it’s not there was much to adjust to after getting married.
But maybe it’s the months of preparing for a wedding (and investing thousands in it) or the knowledge of how difficult (and also expensive) divorce can be that makes the commitment more ironclad, for both you and those around you. This is it.
As soon as the wedding vows are exchanged, you’re on a different, accelerated life path. Before, you were being nagged about when you were going to get married.
Now friends and family will be asking when you’re going to have a baby (a relationship- and life-changer on its own).
Once you have that baby, you’ll be asked when you’re going to give the kid a brother or sister. Everyone’s in such a hurry.
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Ever since I got engaged, planning my wedding has been a financial challenge—especially since I’m…
Even if you’re really ready for marriage and can picture the entire rest of your lives together, it’s normal to wake up some days and think, “Holy sh*t, I’m married forever and ever?” Everyone knows marriage is a big commitment, of course.
But even when getting married is a natural step in your happy relationship, years later when you’re more appreciative of the decades you have ahead of yourselves, you can be floored by how extraordinary it is to commit the remainder of your life to one person.
You’re not just marrying your partner; you’re marrying their family, too
You know the saying “We’re not losing a daughter, we’re gaining a son-in-law”? Well, it works in the reverse too: You’re inheriting the obligations, stresses, and, yes, benefits, of a whole new family.
You might get along superbly with your significant other’s family now, but once you’re married, they could transform into the in-laws from hell, because now you’re cemented to your partner and they claim you as one of their own.
I’m the quiet sort of person who needs her space, but my husband’s family is full of extroverts who don’t really understand that perspective.
That’s caused a lot more grief over the years than it should have (I wish we had this article back then), but I’m lucky that my husband understands me and mediates when necessary. Others aren’t so lucky.
I’ve seen couples on the brink of divorce over in-law issues rather than problems specifically between the couples themselves.
So my advice would be for both sides to imagine each other’s family at their worst and how you two might handle any issues before they got bigger than the both of you. And, to be fair, know that bonding with your partner’s family at a deeper level and becoming the daughter/son/sister/brother they always wanted is another surprising perk of marriage.
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Say goodbye to taboos
There’s a scene in This Is 40 where Paul Rudd’s character forces his onscreen wife Leslie Mann to inspect his naked bottom for hemorrhoids. It might not be as extreme as that for all couples, but after being married for some time, the raw and crude things are no longer, well, raw or crude. In fact, they’re curiosities and, sometimes, obligations.
You might ask or be asked to evaluate nose hair or pull off a blackened fingernail—things you would never do or ask while dating—because now you two are one and almost nothing is embarrassing anymore. It’s nice to always have someone there to tell you if you have broccoli between your teeth and not feel judged by it.
The little things matter a whole lot more
I used to think that the best test of whether you could live with someone else forever is to ask yourself if you could put up with his or her biggest flaw—or the worst version of this person—for the rest of your life.
I still think that’s a good exercise, since people become more themselves as they age—their desires, strengths, and flaws get sharper. If your partner is somewhat of a curmudgeon now, he or she will probably only become crankier and more stubborn as the years go by.
Conversely, the best things you love about a person could hold you steady through the inevitable tough times.
But now I think that it’s the little things you have to look for, because in the day-in/day- marriage, the little things add up.
Little annoyances a nail biting habit or leaving filled water glasses everywhere are really easy to overlook during a relationship when the bigger things—the way your partner makes you laugh or how beautiful you feel around him or her—attract your attention more.
When we’re “in love” we tend not to notice the small things that could drive you crazy months later, hanging the toilet paper the wrong way.
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On the flip side, it’s also the small acts of everyday kindness, respect and love that keep a marriage going. Romantic gestures buying flowers or a surprise date out are great, but they don’t hold a candle to mundane things unclogging a drain or taking over child-bathing duty. Doing chores becomes sexy in a way you would never imagine.
You both have to change to make the marriage work
The old adage that you can’t change someone by marrying them still holds true. You shouldn’t fall prey to “fixer-upper bias,” and you probably don’t want anyone to change you either. The truth is, though, you’re probably both going to have to change or adapt, as a choice, to keep the energy and love alive.
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The two biggest things are learning how to fight more productively and how to communicate in ways that might not be natural to you but make more sense to the other person.
Gary Chapman, who literally wrote the book on what people should know before they get married, says that people have different “love languages” or ways they express and receive love best. I’m not naturally a “toucher” but am learning how significant just holding hands can be.
It can take a long time to learn what your partner’s silences mean (and don’t mean), that grudges can kill a relationship, and how to adapt to the ups and downs that life is going to throw at you both.
I think every couple should go through at least one really tough time together before they get married, just to see how the other person handles such things.
It’s too much to expect that you never argue with your lover, spouse, or partner in romantic crime.
You’re now part of a ‘we’
As it turns out, Paul Reiser’s 1995 book Couplehood explains the idea of going from a singular person to an entity pretty well:
The problem is, when two people live together, there is no more Business of Your Own. Your Own Business is closed. You’ve merged and gone public. You have to run everything by the partners. And if there are too many conflicts of interest, the business may go under, freeing the partners to once again open up smaller concerns by themselves.
all businesses, couples engage in endless meetings to discuss areas of management concern and division of labor.
“You know, we really should call the post office and tell them to hold our mail while we’re away.”
“We? You mean me, don’t you?”
“No, I mean we. I didn’t say ‘you.’ I said ‘we.’ You or me.”
“Oh really? Are you ever going to call the post office?”
A moment to think. “No.”
“Then you mean ‘me,’ don’t you?”
Being part of a permanent team has its benefits. You come to rely on the other person to remember and take care of certain information (Psychologists call this transactive memory).
I don’t have to worry about making plans with our friends or not getting lost when driving, and he doesn’t have to worry about the bills or after-school activities.
(Also, I wish I had known at the start that there were some things he’ll willingly do that I just assumed he hated, because I hate them: things grocery shopping and getting rid of telemarketers. I would’ve had him do those things sooner.)
On the other hand, now you have to put the marriage above everything else, and might even forget what you were when you were single and “free.” It’s not a bad thing, necessarily. It’s just a lot of responsibility, being responsible to someone else.
It’s a constant work in progress
You might think once you’ve finally settled down you can relax and live happily ever after, but nothing can be farther from the truth. The years jumble together, and if you’re not careful you’ll easily take the marriage for granted.
I didn’t know it over the years, but I think the thing that’s made the most difference for my marriage is our regular vacations and other traditions—things that force us to take stock again in our relationship and reconnect on a deep level.
Just “being in love” isn’t enough to make a marriage work.
Even after decades of living together, you’ll be learning things about your partner, bit by bit, that might surprise you—or they’ll suddenly change or have different priorities and needs (“Really, you want to become a scuba diver now?” and “How come you never told me you don’t olives?”). It’s a dance, and you both have to keep up with each other. But what a beautiful dance it can be.
7 Things to Consider Before Getting Married
Long before I ever started my psychology degree, I was a wedding/event planner.
I have seen women of all ages take the trip down the aisle with various ideas of what their life will be post-marriage.
To avoid a huge mistake, I invite anybody who is thinking of getting married to read this article. Make sure you know your motivation for getting married before you walk down the aisle.
According to Kenrick, Neuberg, & Cialdini (2010), our interactions with other people are goal oriented. That means that we are attracted to people what our belief is about how that person will affect our goal. It sounds harsh but, we interact with people all day how they will affect our current goals.
It would make sense that we are attracted to people what we think they can contribute to our goal. Somewhere someone will say they married for love but, under that idea there may also be a goal. The goal may be; to not be alone, to be loved, or to have a family.
We may love the person we are with however; they also help accomplish a goal.
This puts divorce into a whole other perspective. People tend to leave each other in the middle of a financial crisis; hence their goal of obtaining financial stability is no longer being sustained by the other person. Of course that is only the perspective; in reality a person’s ability to provide may only temporarily be hindered.
Now let’s put this in terms of “who” you are about to marry. Over the years I have seen countless brides rush down the aisle for the wedding. They do not really love anyone, they do not see the commitment, they want the big party were everyone brings gifts; they want to be told how beautiful they are, and how happy everyone is for them. This situation is doomed for divorce.
Marriage is full of tests that you will endure and overcome. The least of these tests are infertility, financial loss, health issues, children (who are sometimes born disabled), addiction, infidelity, and in-laws. These are not situations to take lightly. When you see people who have been married for 20 to 70 years they have been through most, if not all of these things.
Now look at your life. What is your goal? Is your goal to be loved by someone, anyone? When we are young we base how we feel about others by how they make us feel. This does not always last.
Men settle into a relationship and they tend to take less time to tell you how they feel about you, they bring home flowers less, they basically do all the courtship activities less.
Marrying because of how someone makes you feel during courtship is not a good idea.
Life is long and this type of “feeling” fades. You have to have your own sense of self going into a relationship. You have to know who you are and be OK with who you are. If you are not, you could be headed down the isle of co-dependency. This is the same truth for men and women. Men also get married because you are holding up their ego. Is that how you want to live?
If you have a life goal that involves your career, is this person going to support that goal? Are you already having problems with your soon to be spouse being supportive of your desire to live in a certain place, have a career, or have children? These are important life goals that should be supported by your life partner. Marrying someone who does not support your goal is dragging an anchor to a swim meet. You will be fighting just to keep your head up. Do not marry someone who doesn't support the life you want. By support I mean encourage you and make concessions to support the goal.
wise, if you think you cannot support the goals of your soon to be spouse, you should be honest with him or her about your inability to be supportive. It is not fair to either of you to have someone who intentionally or unintentionally sabotages goals. In a marriage you work on things together.
What are you life goals for;
- Marriage. Your marriage should have goals as to what you want that relationship to be.
- Career. Where do you see yourself in five, ten, twenty years?
- Family. Do you want kids? How many?
These are things you should discuss and agree upon before marriage.
How do you know you are marrying for the wedding? This is an easy test; if you spend more time picking out your dress than you do talking to the person you are engaged to, it may be time to back out. The dress, the cake, and wedding are only a moment in your life. Believe me when I say that they will not mean much to you ten years from now.
If you can, in your mind, see yourself marrying this person on the courthouse steps with no one else around, then you may be on the right track. If you can see the marriage without the big wedding, then save your money. Instead of buying a wedding, have a great honeymoon. It will mean more later.
You can always get professional photos taken as a couple.
Financial stability is a fallacy. It doesn’t matter what two people do for a living, there will come a time when they lose everything. It happens to almost everyone. Financial stability is never a reason to marry someone.
In fact I would encourage all women to have their own degree in something, be educated, and be able to support themselves. The freedom to support ones self eliminates codependency and the ability of a spouse to walk over you when it comes to money (not that all spouses will do this).
The worst marriages I've ever come across were created a monetary dependency.
Think about the statement “I want a family”. One would think that wanting a family would indicate that any man/woman would suffice. I would caution any young woman/man that you do not just want a family; you want a “GOOD FAMILY”.
What that means is that not just any man/woman will do. You need a man that wants to be a good father, a man with morals, and principles that can be passed on to your children (same is true for a wife).
Choosing just any spouse that takes an interest to you, will lead to fights over the children, money, and even you.
Think this out. All these girls/woman who are having babies young think they are creating a family but, they are really creating a broken family (don’t make me reference “16 and pregnant” to prove a point). There is a difference.
People who raise children will tell you it is not easy. You have to have the same basic morals as your spouse.
Ask yourself what is this man/woman going to teach my children and does that align with what I believe and how I behave? If wanting a family is your goal, use caution!
Every good relationship, especially marriage, is respect. If it's not respect, nothing that appears to be good will last very long.
— Amy Grant
Many people get married fear of being alone. We all know the story about the cat lady. I know a woman who was widowed in her forties; she spent her life traveling and meeting people. She never remarried.
She was a great person and never owned a cat. We define our lives by what we want. Just because someone is single does not mean that they are lonely or sad.
Life is to be lived regardless of if you are single or married.
Being married is work. Marriage requires communication, cooperation, problem solving skills, understanding, and love. That sounds easy right, well its not. At times it can be downright frustrating. Being married comes with its own set of problems.
People who go into marriage believing it will solve their problems will be disappointed. Marriage takes a lot of time to perfect. Once you get to that point it can be the greatest thing ever, getting to that point is not so easy.
Just a job, marriage is a learning process and work.
Here comes some blatant honesty; because people are raised with certain religious ideas they tend to get married to cover or to justify behaviors that were unacceptable by the standards in which they were raised. In other words; sex or even pregnancy.
In the mind of a girl if she marries the boy she committed “sins” with, they were meant to be, and it erases the sin. If you believe that sex before marriage is a sin then nothing ever erases that for you.
However, you can avoid a lifetime of hell by not then marrying someone who does not respect you. (Did you flinch?)
I said it “men/women who compromise your standards do not respect you”. This is reality. Furthermore if you believe that sex before marriage is a sin and you do it anyway, you don’t respect yourself. That is correct; you do not respect yourself.
Think about it, you compromised what you believe for some guy/girl. Does that sound someone who is stable and ready for marriage? I know it’s harsh but, it’s absolutely true.
What it means is you are about to marry someone who cares very little about how you feel or your standards.
All that said, this does not apply to people who do not share any type of paradigm in which premarital sex is a sin.
It’s never a good idea to have premarital sex but, if you do not feel it is a moral issue then by your standard no one has compromised your beliefs or been disrespectful. Every person should own their mistakes.If you let this happen, own it.
Do not make a greater mistake to try to cover the previous mistake. I can tell you it is better to live and learn than it is to let the mistake take over your life.
Here is an interesting idea, a person uses you to cheat on a spouse, and then you marry them. Good idea or bad idea? People who cheat are what the psychology refers to as passive aggressive.
What that means is that the person may be mad at their spouse but, instead of having an adult conversation, they cheat. Cheating is not always the result of bad relationships. Cheating can come from a person’s inability to handle a life crisis.
If you are the other person… WHAT ARE YOU THINKING???
I have seen countless women cheat with a married man because they see the other women’s life and they want it. One person can NEVER get the complete picture of another person’s life from the outside.
It may look a man is a loving father and husband. If that is true then why is he/she cheating? In reality people have weaknesses. They act on those in moments when they should walk away.
You will never know who someone is until it’s too late.
If a person cheats it is an indication they have some growing up to do. If you marry that person you are going to be in for a rude awakening when they use you as part of their growing experience.
Countless affairs turned marriage end the same way they started, with infidelity. Respect and trust are not a factor in a relationship that started with secrets and broken trust.
If someone wants a relationship with you, make them end their current relationship before you consider dating them. You deserve better.
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
After all this, you may feel that there is never a good goal for a marriage or that there is never a good relationship. I can tell you that is not true. People mature at different ages. There are people who married young and have had wonderful lives together.
You have to expect there to be some tough times in a relationship. Do not marry thinking that wedding party continues. Get married loving that person, accepting them for who they are, accepting that you have a goal together, and you are both committed to each other and the goal.
Most importantly, be on each others side.
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7 Things You Must Discuss Before You Get Married
You’d better be on the same page if you’re going to grow old together. Here are 7 conversations to have before you tie the knot.
Wee Three Sparrows Photography
You may think it goes without saying that there’s more to marriage than your wedding day. Yet many couples fail to dig deep and address the most important issues they will face as a married couple. Before you get knee-deep into wedding planning, take the time to have these possibly difficult yet necessary discussions.
Where you will live
When you envision your future, do your dreams and expectations line up? Will you rent or buy? Downtown condo or country home? Are you willing to relocate if necessary for work or other circumstances? Does either of you need your own private space for an office, man-cave, or whatever? Discuss your needs, expectations, preferences and aversions.
Money is one of the biggest risk factors for relationships, so think and talk about every possible aspect: bank accounts and credit cards (joint and/or separate?), budgeting, saving, spending habits, credit ratings, the debt you already have, right down to who will make sure the bills get paid.
Will you go 50/50 or in proportion with your earnings? How will you get through hard times, if they happen? What about charitable donations or family obligations? Do you think you need a pre-nup? Marital money is such an important issue that it might be a good idea to consult a professional, or at least read a book or two on the subject.
This is, of course, central to an intimate relationship. The ability to talk about it now and in the future is paramount. You should discuss your expectations about your sex life, as well as how satisfied you are now.
What do you enjoy? What would you to try? What will you do if (when!) your needs and desires are not in sync with your partner’s? You must foster the trust and sensitivity required to talk openly about what can be such a “touchy” subject.
Your married name
After the wedding what name will you take? Do you want to take your husband or wife-to-be’s last name, keep your own, hyphenate your name or come up with something completely different? Changing your name is a big decision and will involve some legal paperwork. You should also discuss the implications of your choice if you plan to have children.
This could be a deal-breaker, but don’t avoid the conversation for that reason! Getting married won’t solve a disagreement about whether to have children.
Do you both want to be parents? If so, how big a family do you want? What if you can’t have children of your own, for some reason? Would you be willing to adopt or spend a lot of money on medical treatments? Do you have similar philosophies about parenting, including discipline, choices around education and religion, etc.? What about the career/family balance?
What role will religion play in your relationship, if any? Will you practice different faiths, and if so, how will you accommodate them both? How will you raise your children, and what will you do if they choose something different?
It may seem odd to talk about communication, but this is another thing that can make or break your marriage. The complications of married life aren’t going to make it any easier.
Discuss what works and what doesn’t, and develop strategies for getting over the bumpy patches when they come up. Pre-marital classes or counselling could be helpful in developing good communication skills.
In the future, if you reach an impasse, will you both be willing to seek professional help?
Join the discussions in our community forums »
10 Things Every Couple Should Do Before Getting Married
Sure, love is all you need—but doing these 10 things together before you get hitched can make married life that much sweeter.
Once you decide to get married, it can feel one swift free-fall toward the big day. It’s easy to get caught up in wedding planning and let every single interaction with your sweetie revolve around wedding details and decisions.
But whether your wedding is months or years away, it’s important to take this time not only to prepare for a beautiful wedding, but to get ready for a lasting and happy marriage.
See what wedding and marriage experts recommend doing together before getting married, then grab your honey and start checking things off this list.
Traveling together gives you a chance to see how you each handle stressful situations, which is valuable insight for your future life together, says Marisa Manna Ferrell of So Eventful in Healdsburg, California.
So if you haven't skipped town together yet, book a trip, pronto! Even if you've mastered the art of the couple getaway already, this is a good time to consider an engagement-moon. “It lets you decompress,” says Megan Velez of Destination Weddings Travel Group in Boston.
Make it easy on yourself and consider an all-inclusive resort, which gives you the chance for down time without having to worry about details once you get there, recommends Velez.
Long before making that commitment to spend the rest of your lives together, it’s important to communicate and discuss your individual values and beliefs, such as religion, family dynamics and rituals, and politics.
“You may not always agree, but you need to respect each other’s viewpoints and ensure that they’re not a deal-breaker before walking down the aisle,” says Brittny Drye, founder of Love Inc. in New York City.
If you do find yourselves on opposite ends of the spectrum in one area, know that it can still work, but it might take some extra effort and pre-planning in your relationship to decide how to handle conflict before it happens (say, on Thanksgiving or Election Day).
You and your significant other should agree on fundamental topics finances—even though they’re not always fun or easy to discuss.
“401Ks may not be on your mind when you’re in your 20s, but it’s crucial to have this discussion ahead of time so you’re not finding yourself in situations down the road that could do damage to your marriage,” says Drye.
(Don’t believe us? The majority of marriages that end in divorce cite finances as the No. 1 culprit.) Talk about how you'll share/divide living expenses, how you plan to live, and whether you both expect to work till retirement.
the money talk, the conversation about kids is an important one. Do you both want them? If so, how many? Share your vision before you exchange vows.
“Having children is a huge commitment, personally and financially, for the rest of your lives, and does change your relationship with your partner,” says Beth Bernstein of SQN Events in Chicago.
“Couples go into marriages thinking it's something they can work out later, or one thinks they can change the other person's mind, but it rarely ends well. It's important to agree on this one from the beginning.”
Consider taking dance lessons, but for an entirely different reason than you may expect.
“Yes, it’s a great way to learn how to move on the dance floor with one another, but equally as important, it’s time where you can literally step away from the stresses of planning,” says Kevin Dennis of wedding business intelligence company WeddingIQ in Washington, D.C. It's an opportunity to learn together, laugh together, and spend time together, phones down and focused on each other.
More than two-thirds of new marriages are preceded by cohabitation. And for good reason: Not only does living together before marriage have economic benefits (one rent instead of two? Yes, please!), it’s arguably the best way to test your compatibility with each other.
“It’s important to learn the good, the bad and the just plain ugly about your partner—their weird habits, their cleanliness, their morning routine—and make sure you’re domestically compatible,” says Drye.
If you can’t or don’t want to live together prior to marriage, perhaps to due geographic location or religious reasons, at least aim to spend weekends together.
Have a conversation about any name changes before getting hitched.
“It’s easy to assume someone is going to take the traditional route, but these days, we’re seeing so many different paths taken, it’s best to visit the topic early,” says Emily Sullivan of Emily Sullivan Events in New Orleans.
Whether you decide to take your spouse’s last name, keep your own, combine the two, create a new last name or choose something else entirely, consider the implications for both of your families and any future children that might come from your marriage.
“Whether it’s their inner circle of friends or an entire extension of family, getting to know the most important people in each others’ lives gives you insight into who the other is as a person,” says Drye. If time and geography permit, spend time together and really get to know your sweetie's loved ones.
Building strong relationships with your significant other’s close family and friends will also deepen the bond between the two of you.
A note of caution: If your families come from opposite sides of the country (or even the world), start having conversations now about how you’ll spend time with each of them once you’re married, especially when it comes to holidays.
Going your comfort zone to learn something new together—whether it’s taking a cooking class, trying a digital photography workshop, or attending a TED talk—strengthens your bond over a shared experience. Or attend a few wine tastings.
“Not only can it be a fun pastime, but better understanding wine allows you to make more personal wedding day selections for you and your guests,” says Heather Jones of Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California.
Years down the road, you can open a bottle of the same wine you enjoyed on your wedding day, and the memories will come rushing back.
If you’re waffling on whether to have engagement photos taken before the wedding, go ahead and do it.
“It’s a great opportunity to get to know your photographer a bit better,” says Keith Phillips of Classic Photographers in Boston.
After all, you’re about to spend one of the biggest days of your life with him/her, so breaking the ice early can be a smart way to make you feel more comfortable in front of the camera when your wedding day arrives.
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