I’ve only been married for two months so I’m by no means an expert, but already I can see the benefits of some of the things my husband and I did before we tied the knot. Here are some of the most important things we did before getting married and why I am so glad that we made them a priority.
Spending as much time planning for the marriage as we did for the wedding
My mom was the one who told me to make sure that we spent more time planning for married life than we did for one short wedding day. It’s so easy for brides to get caught up in the details of the wedding, but in reality, our decision to get married was about so much more than one day. We spent a lot of time talking about what we wanted and expected from married life, to make sure that we were on the same page and to try and confront any issues before they became issues.
Reading books about marriage
A lot of the books about marriage that I read felt irrelevant. When you’re about to get married, you really can’t relate to a chapter about what happens when you and your spouse can’t stop screaming at each other. I mean, we’re never going to be that kind of couple, right? But there were some things that did stand out, like the idea of making sure you show love but also respect and the idea of love being a choice that you have to make daily. These books gave me a good foundation to build my marriage on, even before we start fighting.
Getting premarital counseling
We met with some good friends of mine four times before the wedding to talk about what it meant to get married. This wasn’t a formal, stiff affair but just a chance to sit around with cups of tea and talk to trustworthy married friends. We were able to ask questions and get some helpful advice.
Going on dates
We’ve always been intentional about going on dates. I’m a huge quality time person so I need a lot of one-on-one, face-to-face conversation. During the days leading up to the wedding, we tried to create a lot of space for those conversations to happen. We’ve continued this into marriage, and it’s been great for feeling connected and avoiding any miscommunication-based problems.
Talking about priorities
My fiancé and I had the unique situation of dating long-distance, so we had been talking about priorities for years. This became more real when we got close to marriage, though. Since we were both graduating from colleges across the country from each other, we had to talk about things like where we’d move, whose job would take priority, and what we would do if our respective careers pulled us to different states. All of these conversations were important for making us feel secure in our relationship no matter what ended up happening after the wedding.
Spending time with family
A few months before the wedding, we started setting up weekly family calls with my fiancé’s family. This gave them a chance to be involved in the planning and gave me a chance to integrate into their family. We also spent a lot of time with my family right before the wedding to make sure that he could feel like a part of my family.
Talking about things like kids and dogs
It’s important to be on the same page as your spouse when it comes to dependents. I love chihuahuas and my husband is a cat guy, but instead of just bickering about what pets are better, we managed to compromise and discover that we both think French Bulldogs are the cutest dog. As for kids, neither of us are completely sure we want kids yet, but we were able to talk through reasons why we each do and don’t, and we know that we can have an ongoing conversation with a solid base.
I’m sure this sounds like a weird one, and I will admit that I did most of this on my own instead of with my significant other. It was helpful for two reasons: one, so that I could see examples of weddings gone horribly wrong and be reminded that in the end everything really works out fine. And two, so that I could get a better sense of what my unrealistic expectations were. Real life is not like a chick flick and I needed to make sure I wasn’t getting mixed up with what marriage actually looks like versus what the many rom-coms I’ve watched tell me love is.
Talking to people in a similar situation
We were introduced to a couple whose relationship looked a lot like ours—four years long-distance through college and a wedding immediately after graduation. Hearing what that couple struggled with and where they excelled was helpful in knowing what issues we might come across because of having dated long-distance for so long.
Finding creative ways to count down the days
It was hard to wait for the wedding! We made it a point to countdown the days and to encourage each other with how far we’d come and how close we were. I wrote a 100-word poem and sent him one word a day until the wedding. He did the math and let me know how many days we had already been apart and how few days we had left. By the time our wedding day finally came around we were more than ready!
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