Your wedding date is approaching. You have done an impressive job managing the multitude of details that planning this momentous occasion calls for. You are excited and ready to tie the knot. But wait! We’ve spoken with dozens of been-there couples who have some advice for you. Take a moment to read the following tips from those that know how best to grab that happily-ever-after feeling.
1. It’s not about the wedding, it’s about love
No couple has ever planned a wedding without their share of fights. From small bickering to all-out blow ups, creating your dream day can bring on some arguments. What do the experts say? When you sense conflicts building as you work out the details for your wedding, pull back and take a deep breath. The wedding is not an endpoint. It is the gateway to your shared life together. Don’t let the idea that your wedding day must be perfect create anxiety and friction. If you find that you are getting too wrapped up in making your wedding a gala production, take a step back and reframe what this is all about: love. Bring your friends together to witness your vows and expressions of love. That’s all it needs to be.
2. Practice acceptance
Do not move towards marriage with the idea that marriage will change your partner into the person you are hoping he or she will be. If your future spouse has traits or habits that are irritating to you now, you can bet that these will be even more irritating post-wedding. Address these issues now or just accept them as part of your beloved’s personality. Learning the art of practicing acceptance will be a useful skill as you grow old together.
3. Have the money talk before you need to
Premarital counselors will always ask engaged couples how they view money and its role in their life. They are right to do so, as money can be a source of conflict in any marriage. Are you a spender? A saver? Do you create a budget and stick to it? Do you set aside a certain amount of your earnings each month for an emergency (or vacation) fund? Married for long couples advise this: Talk to your future spouse about how they manage their money and make sure you are both comfortable with each other’s spending and saving habits before you marry and start combining assets.
4. Ask yourself if you are ready to be married
Are you marrying for the right reasons? Are you truly ready to enter this union? If not, do yourself and your future spouse a favor: wait. There is no need to rush into marriage. If you feel the pressure to tie the knot (from your partner, family or society), take a time-out to sit back and reevaluate. If you find yourself thinking “Well, if it doesn’t work out, I can always get a divorce”, stop right there and take a step back. Worried about hurting your partner’s feelings? There are gentle ways to ask for time: Try “I love you very much and I take this commitment seriously. But I want to truly feel that I am in the right place with my love before we get married. I need a little more time to get there.”
5. But don’t wait too long
Research shows that the longer couples who live together wait to marry, the more likely they are to continue living together without making their relationship legally official. Communication is key here. If marriage is important to one or both of you, set a goal date for fixing a wedding date. If you don’t, it is likely that a wedding will never happen.
6. Get your mind around the idea of living with another person
If you have been living on your own for a long time, the shift to a two-person household will take some adjustment. That’s completely normal and does not mean you two aren’t made for each other. How do you make this change as smooth as possible? Communicate. Before you move in together, talk over how you see your new communal space. What are each of your needs in terms of workspace? Home gym? TV room? Does it make sense to move to an entirely new place, or have one of you move into the other person’s place? Have a definite plan in hand as you blend your lives will make this change a lot easier than just playing it by ear.
7. Sex and intimacy
If your sex life isn’t satisfying now, don’t count on it magically getting better just because you are man and wife. And if your sex life is terrific now, be mindful that as you grow together, changes may occur. Communication and trust is important to keep this part of married life healthy, happy and hot!
8. Loving acts are important
When you were dating, you probably showed acts of love often; it’s part of human mating ritual. Flowers, love notes, flirty texts, surprise weekends, thoughtful gifts…these are all part of the dating love language. Sometimes you forget to keep these loving gestures going past the initial years of marriage. Couples can fall into a routine, take each other for granted. And then they wonder why they aren’t feeling as loving as they did in the early days of married life. Loving acts are not the only thing that keeps a marriage happy, but they do a lot in showing your partner that you see them, you appreciate them, and that you love it when their face lights up when you walk through the door with a beautiful bouquet.
9. Marriage is hard (but worthy) work
Don’t be fooled into thinking that love is enough to make the wheels of married life run effortlessly. The number one pre-marriage tip the experts share is that a good marriage takes work to keep it good. But it is the type of work which bears fruit continually, so the results are very much worth it.