John and I have been married for seven months today. This by no means makes us marriage experts, but I would definitely say that the first few months of any new adventure brings big change, growth, and excitement. As Franklin, my wonderful Daddy, says “With any change there is opportunity”. Marriage is one big stinking opportunity and choice that you have to make the most of every single day. It's an opportunity to choose to love the other person even when they forget to fold the laundry, stay at the golf course a little too long, their face is in their social media more than having a conversation, or their family is getting on your nerves. John and I are so blessed to have people who have invested in our lives separately and together and who continue to pour wisdom into our relationship. We went through pre-marriage counseling and it was by far one of the best things we could do to set ourselves up to thrive in our marriage and not just survive. Here are 5 things that I would definitely suggest sorting out before you get married.
1. Know the other person in all four seasons.
This is one thing that my parents and my Uncle Bob and Aunt Suz preached to all of us kids. The philosophy is that everyone can put their best foot forward for the first several months you are together. It is so wise to be with someone and see how they experience life's wins as well as hardships for at least an entire year before you make any type of lifelong commitment. When I look back from our experience this is absolutely true. Even six months into dating, John and I had never even had a proper fight. I mean, he probably thought I tooted glitter… The point is, you need to know how someone handles confrontation, conflict, difficult interpersonal relationships. This is something that only time will tell.
2. Clear the air.
Everyone has skeletons in their closet. If you have questions, ask them before you get married. Get any and all questions about the past resolved before you get married. If you are unable to forgive, forget, and make peace with someone's past, do not commit to spending forever with them. It is not fair to your spouse to use instances from their past as ammunition against them especially if you knew it before you married them. Either move on from the past or find someone else.
3. Have a household budget before you say “I DO”
Money is real y'all and it doesn't grow on trees. Thankfully, John and I were both independent before we got married and had been living on our own with our own budgets. This helped us tremendously when discussing our finances. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but we live on one of our salaries and save/invest the rest. This doesn't happen on accident. You need to realistically know how much is coming in and going out each month then plan to build a cushion. We use the online budget tool mint.
4. Be on the same page about kids.
Do not just assume that the other person is on the same page about offspring. The question isn't just about when or if you want to have children. You should include what is expected of each person in the relationship. For instance, we know that if we choose to have children I do not want to take time off from my career. We hashed all that out before we got married because we wanted to make sure that we were on the same page. There is no right or wrong answer, it's just what is best for you and your partner. However, it's important to make sure expectations are made clear when you aren't in the middle of an argument or emotional.
5. Know each other's goals and dreams.
What do you want out of life in six months, five years, or ten years? What type of life do you want to lead? Does this align with your partner? Do you see yourself with the 2 kids, a dog, and a house in five years when your partner still wants to be traveling the world at every opportunity? Your whole life doesn't have to be planned out by any means but it is good to know the perspective of your partner. Most of those things can be worked out and compromised, but it is important to know your partner's aspirations so you can be as supportive as possible.
No matter how much you think you are ready, take the time to evaluate your relationship critically so you can truly start the next chapter of your relationship on solid ground.