Getting hitched is a big step in any relationship. If you and your future spouse are not properly prepared, your marriage could go downhill in a hurry.
Preparation does not just mean picking out the perfect engagement rings, either. Here are some things every couple should do before tying the knot:
1. Talk About Children
Having kids is a major commitment. You and your future spouse need to be on the same page. Do not assume that you have the same views on the topic, or that you can change your lover’s mind later.
Make sure that the two of you agree about how many kids you want, if any. You should also decide whether one of you will stay home with the kids, or if you will invest in daycare. Having these serious conversations now will save you a lot of headaches later.
2. Make a Financial Plan
Money is another issue that can tear couples apart. You may not want to think about retirement plans when you are young, but it is important for both parties to discuss how long they plan to work. You should also talk about how you will divide living expenses.
You and your future spouse should additionally determine whether you will create a joint financial account or keep separate ones. Either way, the two of you need to be transparent when it comes to expenses. You may also want to establish a rule that expenditures above a certain amount cannot be made without consulting the other.
3. Attend Counseling
Premarital counseling is a great place to discuss these and other issues. Some fear that couples therapy will dredge up unknown problems. Others think they have the perfect relationship and that counseling is unnecessary. Yet a counselor can help you and your future spouse discuss your expectations for the marriage. Seeking counseling before you tie the knot will also make it easier for you to return to therapy if issues come up after the wedding.
If you do not feel comfortable speaking with a stranger, you should at least have weekly meetings with your future spouse where you discuss any concerns you are having. These meetings will also give you a chance to share your love for each other, plan future dates and coordinate household responsibilities. These meetings should continue once you actually tie the knot.
4. Live Together
Most couples do live together for some period of time before getting married. This saves money and ensures that you and your lover have compatible living habits. If your future spouse is messy or always leaves up the toilet seat, you should find out before the wedding.
For some couples, moving in together pre-marriage is not possible due to religious or geographic reasons. If this is the case, you should at least spend weekends in the same home.
5. Meet Each Other’s Friends and Family
Once you get married, you will likely be spending a lot of time with your lover’s extended family and close friends. If geographically possible, hang out with these people ahead of the wedding. You could also consider a virtual gathering via Zoom. Building deep bonds with the people close to your future spouse should bring you closer together.
These meetings should also give you a chance to discuss where you will spend the holidays each year. If your families are on opposite sides of the country (or world), you may have to alternate whose hometown you visit each year.
Similarly, if you have any lingering problems with a member of your lover’s inner circle, or vice versa, you should try to work out those issues before the wedding. You do not have to be best friends with your future spouse’s annoying best man or maid of honor, but you should at least make peace with them.
Marriage requires a lot of work from both parties. This work should start well before the wedding. The above tips should help you get your marriage off to a good start.
*Photos by Dziana Hasanbekava