Hello, friends! To continue on with our month of wedding posts, today I’m sharing 9 tips to help prepare you for marriage! My husband, Daniel and I were engaged for only 33 days (see more on that here), which left us little time to prepare for married life. But, truthfully, if you’ve begun discussing the possibility of marriage with your boyfriend, it’s not too soon to begin prepping now! Each tip I’ve listed has resonated with me to a large extent, and I hope they will help you, as well. Remember, they’re just tips, not musts!
1. Ask Questions
A really fun way to do this is to turn it into a game! Make a list of questions, or, find some on Pinterest (these are my favorites) & either guess the other person’s answer, or just answer them for yourself. Keep the environment safe and your S.O. not feeling like they must have the perfect answer. Some common questions include:
How many children do you want in the future?
Would you rather get a dog or a cat?
What Church/Faith do you want to raise children in?
Or, the age-old question: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Remember, make this fun. There are no right or wrong answers.
2. Learn Your Expectations
One of the most anxiety-freeing conversations Daniel and I had was when we discussed expectations of one another. I set expectations for myself, which caused me to wonder what Daniel might be expecting from me as his future wife. For instance, I like to cook for us. I’m new at it, not very good, but I really enjoy it. But some days, I’m too worn out from class, or it’s just been a bad day, and the last thing I want to do is subject myself to failure in the kitchen. I gave Daniel the scenario and asked him how he would feel if some nights didn’t go as planned, and even though I said I would cook, I don’t. His response? He didn’t care. He said, “that’s what Grub Hub is for”. I knew his response before he said it, but sometimes it’s just nice to hear the reassurance out loud.
In turn, it’s also important to express the expectations you have of your partner. One of the most vital roles in marriage is making sure your spouse feels loved. Everyone’s love language is different, no matter how similar you might be in personalities. We simply asked each other, “What should I do to make you feel loved?”. Some people need hand-holding or regular hugs, while others need verbal communication. I suggest revisiting this once you’re married, as it can be hard to know the answer to this before you’re spending time with the person consistently.
3. Prepare Your Current & Future Finances
This might be the most nerve-racking and dreaded conversation for some couples, but it is important. It’s good to have an open dialogue about your current financial situation, and how you realistically envision it progressing over the years. Stay realistic, and share where each of you are financially, and what you can bring to the table in terms of expenses and assets. Get specific: Talk about how much each person brings in a week, month, year. Decide if you want to open a joint account. Discuss what loans you’ve taken out, when they need to be paid back, and if you have incurred any debt over the years. In addition, come up with a plan (if you haven’t already) on how to start paying back the loans, debt, etc. This is also a good time to figure out who’s going to be in charge of paying the bills, and if you want to make it a team effort or not.
4. Share Your Fears & Excitement
Answering all of these questions can be difficult & uncomfortable. When you start to feel overwhelmed, talk to one another. Share your fears, and also your excitement. Don’t forget to talk about how amazing you picture life to be as husband and wife. Talk about your future adventure goals. Be honest with one another.
5. Don’t Try To Be Perfect
Engagement brings excitement, and excitement can bring expectations. With expectations comes reality, and lots of it. If you’re expecting yourself to always have it together as a married woman, as in: the house is always clean and laundry done on time, even though you worked all week and are ridiculously exhausted, but your patience never wears thin, and everything is perfect, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Expect to be human. It’s normal to argue sometimes, especially as you’re learning. The key is to understand that neither of you are perfect, and both of you will sometimes make the wrong decision or say the wrong thing. (Note: This excludes mistakes detrimental to the relationship).
6. Don’t Ignore Unexpected Baggage
As you prepare for your life together, you and/or your fiancé may notice certain issues, feelings, emotions arise unexpectedly. This is normal. Aside from deciding to add children to your life, marriage is the biggest commitment you’re going to make, and that can be exciting and scary. Commitment issues are real. Worrying you’ll make familiar mistakes is real. I urge you to acknowledge, address, and work through this together. Couples counseling is a very popular and immensely beneficial way to get through any worries or fears that might arise. The common counseling misconception is that there must be a problem in order to need/want to talk to someone. False. Any couple can strengthen their relationship from the benefit of counseling.
7. Remember, It’s Okay To Change
Not everyone will agree with this tip, and that’s okay. Like I said, these are the tips that worked for me, and I know I’m not the only one who needs to hear them. You may notice certain friends start to say things like, “You always spend time with him” or something along those lines. It’s important to maintain your friendships outside of your marriage, but I want to reassure you that it is okay to choose your husband first. In fact, the order should be: God, husband, children, etc. Make sure you’re staying invested in your friends’ lives, but it’s okay if you suddenly notice you’re spending more time with your husband than anyone else. Just be sure not to disappear from the friendships you’ve been blessed with.
8. Be Individuals, Together
I wholeheartedly agree in two becoming one once married. But that doesn’t mean you need to completely forget who you are or were. You are still you. Pursue your hobbies, goals, dreams. I hope you’ve chosen to marry someone who supports your interests, and pushes you to continue them when you’re discouraged. It’s possible for both spouses to pursue their interests and remain happily married. Compromises are important in a marriage, but completely giving up who you are and what you love to do? Unacceptable.
9. Pray, Pray, Pray
I’ve always been embarrassed to pray in front of anyone besides myself and my cats. But once Daniel and I began praying together, a weight was lifted off of our relationship, and we suddenly had a more solid foundation to stand on. Keeping God the center of your relationship, engagement, and marriage is easier said than done. Impatience, anger, and fear creep in unexpectedly, and the devil will do anything to keep us from praying. But consistency in prayer is key. Even when it doesn’t feel like it’s working, it is. If you establish a solid foundation before you walk down the aisle, it doesn’t take the hard times in marriage away, but it does make them much easier to get through. Prayer strengthens the confidence you can have in your relationship.
Marriage is a wonderful and adventurous learning process. It takes compromises and lots of “I’m sorry’s”. It requires learning how to ask for what you need without starting a fight first. Preparing for marriage is no different. In addition to planning the wedding, you should also be planning your life as a married couple. And that can feel overwhelming. Be patient with your fiance as he figures out his answers to some of these questions. And please don’t forget to be patient with yourself, too. Do you have any recommended tips for preparing for marriage? Share them down below!