Getting married is a big deal.
And we’re not just talking about the dress, the guest list, the wedding cake…
All of those things can take up a lot of your time and attention, and of course you want to have a wonderful wedding day.
But your wedding day, as important as it is, is meant to celebrate the real thing: your marriage, your partnership as you’ll live it every day together. It’s just as important to plan your marriage as it is to plan your wedding.
“But we love each other, isn’t that enough?”
Love is the foundation of your marriage, but when it comes to conflicts, large or small, love is not enough, as the famous saying goes.
Love will help you to get through all the issues of your marriage with respect, compassion, and caring for each other, but you will also need a lot of other skills.
Yes, to plan your marriage you’ll have to think and talk about a whole list of scary ‘what ifs.’ And it is much better to talk about them before they happen than after.
Here are some of the things you should think about:
This is quite possibly the most important aspect of any relationship since communication is involved in everything. Communication patterns can make or break a marriage.
Goals and expectations
It might sound like a silly question, but what do you actually expect from your marriage? ‘Happily ever after’ doesn’t count. Your answers to this question contain the real ‘values’ that you are going to base your marriage on.
- Work/life balance: How do both of you see the importance of career and home life? How much time do you want to spend together every day, every week? How can you support each other in that?
- Children: Do you both want children? How many? Another thing to consider is, you’ve both got your own childhood experiences – some good, some bad, maybe some horrible. These experiences will influence each of your parenting styles. Can you discuss your childhood experiences and work together to overcome any problems or differences of opinion about child rearing?
- Money: More marriages break up because of money problems than for any other reason. Think about it, before marriage you both have your own financial life in terms of earnings, saving habits, and spending patterns. Merging your finances is a big deal. You need to develop trust and practical skills to share that responsibility.
- Conflicts: All marriages go through conflicts. Avoidance doesn’t work. The best way to deal with conflict is to acknowledge it is there and learn strategies to find out what each partner really wants. It’s all about learning how to argue with respect and openness, and how to stay with the present conflict instead of descending into resentment.
The issues that come up in a marriage are the same issues that each partner already has, magnified by an intimate partnership. To better understand how you each feel about these issues, help is available.
Pre-marital counseling and couples counseling
Couples usually come to marriage counseling when there are already serious issues in the marriage. Sometimes very late in the process.
Pre-marital counseling is a form of prevention – a little bit like adopting a healthy life style and getting a checkup instead of waiting until a serious health problem occurs.
And prevention is usually less costly and less dangerous.
Who can provide pre-marital counseling?
Look for an experienced, licensed couples or family counselor who will approach your relationship with an open mind. He or she will ask you personalized questions and observe the dialogue between you and your partner.
Your counselor will be able to help you identify the areas you need to work on before you get married.
Think about it like this: you’re willing to employ a wedding planner for one event. Your counselor will help you plan a marriage that lasts a life time!