10 Things You Should Do Before You Get Married

Spring just officially started, which means wedding season is on the way. While people do get married year round, the spring and summer months are most popular in the South. (I guess people don’t mind sweating like a hog to avoid missing a football game.) In fact, I got married the first week in June.

My husband and I will be married nine years this summer. We started dating when I was in college and dated over four years by the time we got married. (So I can literally say I gave him the best years of my life!) Taken from both life experience and advice from others, there are several things I think one should do before saying “I do.” I wish I could say I did them all, but at least I made it through most. Hopefully this little list will help any engaged and dating people to get a headstart on a good relationship.

1-Live on your own. Whether you go off to college or live in the same town your entire life, it is always helpful to live on your own for at least a year. To clarify, I specifically mean move out of Mama and Daddy’s house. A roommate is not likely to wash your clothes, cook your food, and pay your bills.

No matter how responsible a person you may be, running a household (even an apartment or dorm room for one) can seem overwhelming at first. It is best to overcome that obstacle before you live with a spouse. Otherwise, too much “new” can add unneeded stress to any situation. Trust me, I was really glad that my husband had a college apartment to learn why you don’t use dish soap in the dishwasher and why you don’t wash towels with dress shirts.

2-Make sure you have your own crap together. I would say I was 90% on this one by the time I got married. My husband was (and still is) the mature one in our relationship. He has had everything figured out since like middle school, when all I cared about was cheerleader tryouts and if I would ever get boobs. (Negative on the later.) Yet in hindsight, I think marrying him helped me more than not marrying at the time. It’s always nice to have a wise soul around when you’re sifting through crap.

meet-the-fockers43-Meet the family. Maybe it’s because I’m from the South or because I dated my husband for so long, but I think it’s odd that some people don’t meet families. But it obviously happens or there would not be movies where someone brings his or her fiancé to meet the family at Christmas.

The family may live many miles away, but it is always important to see where and how someone grew up. (Even The Bachelor and The Bachelorette know that!) It also helps to see how your significant other acts around his or her family as well as how they all act in general.

reginageorge4-Meet the friends. Meeting a person’s family is extrememly important, but so is meeting the gang. It may be even more important since people can’t choose their family but they do choose their friends. These will also be the people you see and hang out with after the two of you marry.

counseling5-Go to marriage counseling. I overlooked this little nugget until about eight months into my marriage. We had been together going on five years, we knew everything about one another, and we had similar goals concerning our futures. As far as I was concerned, marriage counseling was a waste of money and time. Boy was I wrong!

Counselors know all the right questions to ask. They know how to get the discussions going, and more importantly how to help you communicate properly. Situations you may have never imagined will come up in marriage. Also, it amazed me how in our first counseling session my husband and I discovered that we often interpret what the other says in a totally different way than it was meant.

skeleton6-Drag all the skeletons out of the closet. Before you start sweating bullets, there is no reason to go into depth about past relationships and give a playback of every time you got in trouble. However, you should share important details like if you were engaged or married before, or if you have any crazy exes running rogue.

There are other issues besides past relationships that you need to share, too. I struggled with an eating disorder in my late teens. This was something I talked to my husband about when we started getting serious. Do you have any addictive hangups, major debt, or family issues? It is only fair that you both bring to light anything that might be a red flag to the other person or detrimental to the relationship. Also, as a person of faith let me add that it is so important to discuss spiritual beliefs.

expectations7-Let go of unrealistic expectations. So many people buy into the myth that marriage is like a fairytale. Despite the glamorous picture painted by the likes of Disney and Hallmark (both favorites in the Hindman Home), it’s just not so. Good marriages take a lot of hard work. People disagree, make messes, and are normal humans rather than animated royalty.

No one person can meet all of your needs or desires. Putting those expectations on another person will only disappoint you. It is also unfair to put that much pressure on another human being.

relationship-compromise-tip8-Make sure you are willing to compromise. This is not a bad word, and it does not show weakness. It shows that you care about the relationship as well as the other person. Compromising does not make one or both people less in a relationship. It makes everyone stronger, as long as there is an equal amount of give and take without one always being on the same end.

9-Date long enough to see the person in various situations. I have caught some flack before from friends and family since I often promote long-term dating. Not everyone meets his or her future spouse at the ripe old age of 19. Truth be told, if I were single at my age now I am quite certain I would not date “the one” for over four years before getting married.

Still, there is also the risk of dating someone not long enough. That time is different for everyone, but it should be long enough to get to know all you need to know about the person. I know people who have decided to get married sooner than I can decide what to order for lunch. But the important fact is that they took the time to get to know one another, whether that means they knew each other previously or just took the time to get to all the important points.

sheldon10-Make sure you’ve had time to get over the newness and excitement. This one is an extention of number 9, with a little bit of number 7 mixed in. Whenever you first start dating someone, even the most mundane activities seem exciting. Just like those new job jitters or the awe of moving into a new home or driving a new car. Eventually that job becomes, well, a job. The house will need repairs and the car will get scratches and dings (at least with my driving!). Make sure you have time for the new to wear off so that you can see if you still love the old.

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About Kaci Lane Hindman

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