They say that love is all you need, but what they don’t tell you is that this only holds true up to a certain point. Love may be all you need in the beginning, but long-term relationships require more work than relying on the hormonal throws of love, especially if you plan on turning it into a marriage.
If you want it to last, there are eight significant and unavoidable things that you must do in order to prepare yourself for marriage, and, if it really is love, the best news is that it won’t even seem like work!
#1 PREMARITAL COUPLES COUNSELING
For those that keep running away from the idea of premarital couples counseling, stop. Nobody is too good for counseling, especially if it helps to make your marriage last. The last thing you want to do is fall victim to divorce because of a refusal to accept the guidance of a professional who, believe it or not, knows more about relationships than you.
Here’s the thing — counseling is not just for problems; premarital couples counseling is nothing more than an intelligent outside perspective who helps to prevent a future marriage from failing. This type of counseling is excellent for one-on-one personal sessions that help to improve the strength of your relationship as well as the stability of your marriage.
Think of a premarital counselor as a cheerleader who is rooting for your exclusive relationship. Even attending just one session has been known to enhance newly engaged couples and, if you’re willing to try it out, then that proves that you are willing to take on anything your marriage may bring.
#2 FINANCIALLY INDEPENDENT
Yes, marriage is about working together and sharing. Having said that, marriage is also about being secure when it comes to your own financial situation. Spending your down payment for your first home on that engagement ring might not be the best move (stick with the standard 1-3 months’ salary budget will ya).
It is important to realize the difference between sharing mutual funds and relying on someone for them. Most people are under the impression that this type of individual security acts as a backup or a type of safety net in cases of divorce and, yes, it can be…but that’s not the primary reasoning behind it.
Since divorce isn’t typically included in a couples future plans, knowing that you’re financially stable without the help of someone else makes for a stronger foundation of success than a mere safety net.
In fact, it lends to two very important things:
- A solid, debt free marriage
- The continuation of practicing your independence
Financially independent couples that have built their security separately from their future spouse come together like the missing piece of a puzzle. Not only does this prevent money related arguments, but it welcomes the willingness to share their respected earnings with the one they love.
Marriage is about sharing, helping, and growing. Otherwise, it turns into a world of permission seeking, inferior values.
#3 COMMUNICATION SKILLS
It is a wide known fact that, without communication, a relationship is bound to fail. Having said that, it is also a wide known fact that effective communication is not everybody’s forte.
If you are prepared to express your love by saying I do, then you must also be prepared to put your other thoughts, feelings, and emotions into an expression of words. No matter how well you think your partner knows you, they still can’t read your mind. Passive aggressive silence or expressing only small hints of emotion lead to nothing other than petty arguments and grudges.
#4 SETTING AND DISCUSSING INDIVIDUAL AND COUPLE GOALS
In order to discuss goals, you must first define them. Setting goals as a couple will keep your relationship exciting, and also allow for your marriage to grow at a healthy pace that you both agree to. Sit down with your fiancé, grab some drinks, and talk about what you’d like to accomplish once your marriage begins.
Discussing the kind of goals that you’d like to work towards gives you a chance to learn about their deeper hopes and dreams and also lets you find a common interest to tackle together.
Short term goals present excitement and long term goals present stability, so be sure to talk about both!
Having said that, it is critical that you don’t neglect the personal goals that you have for yourself. Part of keeping a marriage alive is continuing to practice your individuality. Marriages cannot thrive on things that solely bring you together, so it is crucial that every married couple have aspects of their future that set them apart. This doesn’t imply that your spouse can’t help you along the way, but they will respect that you are still the unique character that they love in the first place.
#5 BE INDEPENDENT
One of the things that couples struggle with is codependency. Marriage is not supposed to blend every aspect of your lives together; the balance of spending time together and spending time apart should be relatively equal.
Spending time away from each other is valuable when it comes to keeping a marriage balanced.
For example, finding a hobby that you enjoy sparks creativity, independence, and allows you to continue being your own person. Hobbies help to enhance your personality and keep your unique characteristics from deteriorating. Marriage should never pose as a threat to who you are as a person, and it is important that your partner has their alone time as well.
If you find that you are starting to need your partner with you in order to be content, you should work on preventing that codependency by having your own friends. They do not always have to be there. You will always make new friends as a couple, but you should never shut out the friends you have had before you tied the knot. Dedicate a day for you and your friends to be together and make sure that you fiancé is able to do the same.
Nobody wants to end up in a relationship where someone acts as a parent.
#6 WORK OUT A MARRIAGE PLAN
Working out a marriage plan helps to shape your marriage; as in, it gives you something to look forward to. Whether it’s a weekly date night or a monthly day trip, grab some paper and your favorite pen and discuss what kind of plans you have for your future. Here are a few short and long term plan ideas to start you off:
Short Term Plans
- Date nights
- Day trips
- Weekend getaways
- Movie nights
Long Term Plans
- Fitness goals
- Home renovations
- Savings plan
- Family vision
Mapping out your marriage with short term goals makes it easier to create and follow a consistent path that will help you accomplish your long term goals. It doesn’t have to be perfect nor does it have to be permanent. But creating a marriage plan gives both party’s an incentive to make sure your marriage will be a success.
#7 TRUST THEM
If you do not fully trust your partner, then do not marry them. As stated before, alone time is imperative to a happy and healthy relationship. As much as you need to spend time alone, so do they.
Your anxiety should never be a result of wondering where they are or who they are talking to on a daily basis. Let them go that bar with their friends, and leave their phone alone. If you find yourself questioning their whereabouts, then you should also question how much you really trust your future husband or wife.
#8 KNOW YOURSELF
Keeping sight of who you are is probably the most important thing that you can do before you get married. If you fail to remember your personal likes, dislikes, opinions, and dreams, you will end up living as someone else’s version of who they think you are or who you want to be.
Not only is that exhausting, but it’s just not real.
Learn to say no, learn to compromise, and don’t ever change your hairstyle simply because your partner dislikes it. Remember that it’s okay to disagree on politics and you should always stand true to how you feel.
Marriage is a serious endeavor. But preparing for marriage can help make sure you and your soon-to-be spouse or husband live happily ever after.
As long as you’re strong enough to be yourself, set your own goals, and understand the importance of communication, then there is no doubt that you will remain a happily married couple until death do you part.