Life is a series of milestones: your first step onto the career ladder, leaving home, tying the knot. We’re all in such a rush to make the next step, but it’s often only when you make it that you realize the importance of the buildup. The journey to the next milestone is the valuable time where you learn and prepare for the challenges to come. Even the negative experiences are beneficial.
Marriage is one of the biggest milestones in anyone’s life. It is a huge commitment, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whether your big day is just around the corner or a long way in the distance, there are a number of things you can take into consideration so you can enjoy the journey towards married life, grow as an individual, and build a solid foundation for a happy and successful marriage.
How to prepare yourself for married life
It’s always a good idea to get these things out of the way, even before the idea of marriage crosses your mind.
#1 Take a long, hard look at your bank balance. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that money is the number one cause for divorce. Give your marriage the best chance of survival by getting your finances into order before you tie the knot. Start tackling your debt, and get into the habit of saving 10% of your paycheck each month. If you start early enough, you might even have some extra cash to spend on your big day.
#2 Make your health a top priority. How better to start your married life than with a clean bill of health? Get fit, and shed any extra pounds, as well as getting tested for any nasties like STIs. Not only will you look your best in your wedding ensemble, but you can have confidence that ill health won’t plague the joy of married life. [Read: 25 motivational tips to get you to work out]
#3 Do a background check on your partner. If you are putting the effort into sorting your life out before your big day, make sure your future spouse is, too! Get to know the facts, especially when it comes to their finances and health, and identify any issues that need rectifying. After all, their problems are your problems when your signatures are on the marriage certificate!
#4 Get to know the in-laws. Make sure your first meeting with your partner’s family isn’t on the wedding day. They are becoming part of your family, after all! What’s more, even if your soon-to-be in-laws aren’t your favorite people in the world, you need to make sure you can be civil at the very least – no one likes family drama! [Read: 7 clear signs it’s time to meet the parents]
#5 Have a procreation plan. Find out whether you and your future spouse are on the same page when it comes to having children. It’s no good discovering that you’re dying to have babies whilst your partner is repulsed at the very thought, or vice versa, a year or so into your marriage. If you’re not sure, spend some time with the children of friends or relatives. You could even try getting a pet – can you take the responsibility of caring for it and keeping it alive?
#6 Reconnect with your parents. Make sure you’re on good terms with your folks. Having a decent adult relationship with your parents might come in handy, and they could turn out to be your strongest allies. They have multiple years of life experience and may be a great source for marriage advice.
#7 Make time to educate yourself. One important way to make the most of what is left of your free and single life is to focus on your learning and education, before too much responsibility takes hold. Enroll and finish any courses or post-graduate degrees that you’ve always dreamed of doing. You might not have the time, money or freedom to do so when you give up your single status.
#8 Take a step or two onto the career ladder. You want to ensure you start pursuing the career of your dreams before you tie the knot. Experiment with new jobs before the pressure and responsibility of marriage sets in. What’s more, learn the career plans of your partner to make sure they won’t clash with your own in the future.
#9 Become a homemaker. Be sure you can take care of yourself and live alone. If you have no idea about running a household, it may cause tension in the future. Learn to cook one dish well, and clue yourself up about laundry and cleaning. If it turns out that your spouse is a complete slob, you’ll be able to share the knowledge and ensure your living space isn’t a complete mess. [Read: 9 habits of independent people that will come in handy even in marriage]
#10 Decide on your deal breakers. Consider your values and religious beliefs, and decide what you won’t compromise on in a long-term relationship. There’s no harm in making your future spouse aware of your deal breakers now to avoid conflict in the future. Just make sure your list isn’t too long or unreasonable. [Read: 10 relationship deal breakers you should be looking out for]
#11 Make your partner your roommate. This all depends on how traditional you are, but living with the person you are planning on marrying is a sure-fire way to test and strengthen your relationship. People show their truest colors when they are in their resting state, which you may not have had the opportunity to witness before. You can prepare yourself for any bad habits that you haven’t yet learnt about. Best to know now, before you spend the rest of your lives together! [Read: 14 ways to make living together work before marriage]
#12 Explore the world as a couple. Travelling with your future spouse is another way to test and reinforce your bond. Travelling brings out the worst in people. Arguments won’t easily be avoided, and there will be on the spot decisions to be made, whether it be finding your way around unknown places or deciding on a place to eat. Afterwards, you’ll have a good idea of how successful you are at making important decisions together, and how easily you can stand being together for long periods of time. [Read: 8 tips to have a great time when you travel together]
#13 Decide if marriage is what you really want. When you tie the knot, the aim should be to make it a lifelong commitment. So, it’s important to decide whether marriage is actually what you want, and to identify your reasons for wanting to do the deed in the first place.
Do you simply like the idea of being married or are you just in it for the wedding you have always dreamed of? Maybe you feel pressured into reaching that next life milestone? You need to be confident that spending the rest of your life with your future spouse is genuinely what you want. [Read: 25 signs you’re high on wedding fever]
#14 Make honesty your number one policy. Any skeletons in the closet that your partner doesn’t know about? It is probably better to be honest and confess anything now that might come out and cause problems when you are married.
#15 Dip your feet in the sea before you settle in your own pond. Serial monogamists often regret not casting their net a little wider and dating more before they get married. If marriage isn’t on the horizon for you just yet, try going on a few dates. There is no harm in falling in love more than once. You will give yourself the opportunity to truly decide what kind of partner you want, and even though you might not believe it at the time, suffering major heartbreaks will make you stronger and more relationship savvy.
#16 Get closure and move on. It is no good entering into marriage if you are still feeling sore from a past relationship. Do whatever it takes to get yourself some closure and leave that relationship behind you, so you can start fresh with your new spouse.
What’s more, take a moment to reflect on your past relationships, and learn from your prior mistakes, in order to prevent them from happening in your future. What part did you play in the destruction of those relationships? Were you neglectful, jealous, critical? Did you take your partner for granted? [Read: 15 lessons you can learn from your own breakups]
#17 Learn to love. Remember, loving someone is the easy part of the relationship. Getting along and making the relationship work is the hard part and the hurdle that many stumble on. Before your big day, truly commit to putting the effort into making the relationship work. Learn to trust, learn to love your partner as they are, learn to apologize sincerely and admit that you are sometimes wrong, and learn to fight fairly.
#18 Treat yourself. One of the keys to a successful marriage is compromise, which often means sacrificing your own wants and wishes in order to keep the peace. Make the most of your time before your big day by splurging on yourself and spending time on you. Immerse yourself in your passions whilst you still have the time, and experiment with new hobbies and fashions, before anyone else can judge you. Most importantly, learn to love and appreciate yourself. It’s the first step to truly loving and appreciating your spouse.
#19 Give your life a spring clean. Think of marriage as a fresh start. Prepare by decluttering your life a little. This applies to your possessions *your large childhood collection of stuffed toys is unlikely to help you in married life*, social media *you probably should have unfriended your ex months ago*, and every other aspect of your life. Go into marriage with a clean slate!
#20 Survive a big bust up. Whether it’s when you are living together, when you are travelling or in any other situation, there is no harm in getting into a big bust up with your future spouse before the big day. It will test your relationship and your ability to work through your disagreement, and you’ll come out stronger together at the other end. [Read: 23 dos and don’ts of relationship arguments]
Add these tips to your pre-marital bucket list, and remember to enjoy every minute of the journey towards married life. You will reap the rewards of a happy and successful marriage when you get there.
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