A lot of times when we think about getting married, our sole focus is the wedding. That’s not to say that’s all we care about, but I’m guilty myself of spending the months leading up to my big day focusing on every little detail of my wedding rather than every little detail of my marriage. Now looking back, there’s a lot of things I did that I’m glad about and there’s other things, I wish I would have taken the time to do before tying the knot. There’s no 100% right way to do a relationship or wedding or marriage, but there are some things you can do in preparation to make being newlyweds a lot easier.
1. Pre-marital counseling
This is something that Bryan and I dreaded and thought was totally unnecessary. I mean… we were choosing to get married, not fighting, so why did we need to go to counseling? Luckily, my pastor required it in order for us to get married, because it ended up being such a good thing for us. It helped with conflict resolution, it distracted us from the stress of wedding planning and brought to light things we hadn’t thought about. For example, my dad worked shift work when I was a child and every time he would leave for work, he would come by to each of us (my mom, me and my 3 sisters) and kiss us on the head and tell us he loved us. I had always assumed when my husband left for work or got home from work, first thing he’d do is come tell me he loved me and kiss me. This came up in counseling and it was so funny how foreign that was to Bryan. He has grown up being a lot less affectionate than me and my family, so it was good for him to know what I expected and now…every day I get lots of hugs and kisses before and after work.
2. Make a budget
This one is not fun.. and I think in a lot of my posts, especially What I’ve Learned in My 1st 2 Months of Marriage, I talk about just how not fun and not sexy finances can be. But, creating a budget beforehand allows you guys to reasonably be able to expect what sort of expenses you will have each month, what disposable income, what you can save, etc. Nothing will be a surprise because you’ve already planned for it and it will help you to prepare yourself for when your finances merge.
3. Discuss debt
This will likely be covered in your “make a budget” conversation, but debt can definitely be a Debbie downer on a new marriage. I was so stressed to tell my husband what debt I had that I was adding to his plate, but talking about it before the wedding made a huge difference. If you think about the average American couple, it’s likely that they both have student loans.. if not additional credit cards or medical expenses. Talking this through allows you guys to figure out how you’re going to go about paying it off and how aggressive you can be in doing that. Eventually, the hope is to become debt free, right? But that takes some conscious planning and effort to get there.
4. Fart & talk about your period in front of your man at least one time
This sounds funny, but I’m serious. My husband and I dated for over 10 years before getting married and I could count the number of times I had farted in front of him on one hand. I am a girl with stomach issues, so this was no easy task and moving in together was going to be even more difficult. You don’t want to be uncomfortable living with someone, so get it over with, see how they react and live a normal, healthy, tooting lifestyle. haha! Also, yes, bring up your period and in a normal manner. It’s not gross, it’s not bad and he needs to be cool with it if he wants to have any pretty babies.
5. Set expectations for what life after the wedding looks like
This is especially important if you and your spouse have not lived together prior before getting married. My husband and I didn’t and it has been really fun growing together, building our home together and learning even more about each other than we knew before, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare a little better. Talk about what your daily routines look like, how you do the dishes (this has been an issue for me and Bryan, lol), what cleaning happens when, how to divide up the cooking for the week, etc. It’s also good to talk about how weekends will be spent, what hobbies are important to be done on your own and how it will work having friends over to your shared home. It will help you to avoid any let downs, some arguments and give you a clearer picture of the marriage, rather than just the wedding.
6. Go grocery shopping together
As much as I thought I knew everything about my husband, moving in with him made me realize I didn’t really know what he liked to eat from the grocery store. I went the first time just to find out that he hates all of my organic/natural meats, he hates skim milk, he hates granola bars, he doesn’t drink coffee k-cups, etc. The list goes on and on. We’re still working on this because any time he goes to the store I don’t want anything he buys and vice versa, but if you work on this ahead of time, you can have a better idea of how to build a grocery list that covers both of your needs and makes sure each of you has food you enjoy in your home.
7. Start saving money
This one is hard… especially if you’re paying for a lot of things yourself for the wedding, but saving money ahead of time will make living life and saving money once you’re married a lot easier. It’s important to have an emergency fund tucked away for when the car breaks down or the air conditioning goes out or you have a medical emergency. We follow Dave Ramsey with this and try to keep about $1000 set away where it’s difficult to get to. But you also want to save for a down payment on a house in the future, for a car when you need it, just to have money saved in general. Don’t wait until you’re married, moved in together and have additional expenses. Save as much as you can as soon as you can.
8. Start focusing on making decisions based on “we” instead of “me”
This is a major shift that occurs when you get married. When you’re making plans for the weekend, you often have to think about if you and your husband already have plans. When you’re choosing whether to take a new job in another city, you have to also think about how this will affect your husband and your marriage. One of the most difficult is making plans for the holidays and figuring out when you’re going to spend time with whose family. It’s the same for him… he has to think about whether he wants to go to the football game or be there for your little sister’s cross country meet. Marriage is all about compromise and selflessness, so start trying to get in that mindset.
9. Work on positive conflict resolution skills
You might think fighting and knockdown drag outs are cute in your “passionate” relationship with your boyfriend, but they’re not so cute in a marriage. Yelling and getting angry often don’t lead to any good results. Although it’s comical in shows and movies, having your husband sleep on the couch really is not a good solution. Start talking through how you want to resolve conflict… how you’ll talk it through instead of yelling it out. How you’ll avoid saying terrible things you can’t take back that will forever exist inside your marriage… how it’s okay to sometimes need a break for a couple of hours to cool down before you discuss it again. Being newlyweds is really fun and there isn’t a ton of fighting, don’t get me wrong, but there will be some as you navigate this transitional period in your life and how you handle it can really set the tone for your relationship.
10. Don’t compare your soon-to-be marriage to anyone else’s
My husband actually told me to add this one to the list. What works for one couple doesn’t work for another. Our parents both have totally different marriages and ours is even different than theirs. Some things are more important to other couples than to you and everyone has different guidelines and expectations. If you’re trying to constantly keep up with other marriages or always overanalyzing yours, it’s not going to succeed. Same for your wedding on some level. You may not have $200,000 to spend on a wedding or you may have to pay for it all yourself and as long as it’s a special day between you and your husband, surrounded by your family and friends and you get some pictures (always have to get some pictures) 🙂 it’s going to be great and so will your marriage.
Becoming Mr. & Mrs. is more than just planning a beautiful wedding and saying “I do”. Here’s to all of my future bridey friends out there… I wish you the best of luck and I hope that this list helps you feel a little more prepared for your life as husband and wife! 🙂
C’est la vie,