If We Planned for Marriage the Way We Plan for Weddings

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Premarital Counseling Chicago – Planning for Success 

Deciding to get married is an important event in a person’s life.  Surrounding it there is most often joy, excitement, anticipation, and some degree of anxiety.  For some the wedding day may have been something they envisioned for most of their lives.  Even if this was not the case, there is often great investment in how the day unfolds.  So every detail is thought of and carefully planned.

But what happens after the guests have gone home?  Very few people, it seems plan as well for the after-wedding stage as they do for the event itself. Everyone accepts that a wedding involves planning, but few accept that marriage does as well.   Then as issues arise, couples may be caught off-guard and this may lead to disagreements and even tension in the marriage.  

Below are a five ideas of how to prepare for marriage while preparing for the wedding:

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1) Walk Through the Living Space

This may seem silly.  Maybe you’ve already been sleeping over.  Maybe you even live together.  If the latter is true, then this might be unnecessary, but there is potentially a lot to be learned from a walk-through that can help avoid “roommate issues” particularly in the early stages of the marriage.  What type of space will you be living in?  How big is it?  Is square footage or layout an issue?

Walking from room to room imagining a typical day can give you a sense of your partner’s typical routine and identify points of potential irritation.  For example, if, standing in the kitchen, he admits that he may leave dishes in the sink for 5 days or so and this bothers you, it may be something to discuss.  

2) Spend Time with the In-Laws and Friends

People in relationships do this to varying degrees while dating, but it is imperative that you know and understand the personalities and relationship dynamics that may impact your marriage.  Maybe you haven’t visited your partner’s parents that much while dating because you have been too busy being in love, but the expectation after marriage is weekly dinners.

Maybe you haven’t socialized much with her friends but after marriage there are more couple-centered outings.  You should know to what extent this is workable for you.  Do potential areas of conflict exist?  What are they?

 3) Go on a Road Trip

As far as quality time and togetherness goes, there are few situations that can compete with a good, old-fashioned road trip.   Obviously there will be lots of time to talk about a wide variety of topics and this time, if used wisely, can prove invaluable.  But there are other benefits as well.  You will, for example, no how your partner drives and whether you are comfortable being in that situation.  You will have time to strategize if this is a potential area of conflict.

You will also have the opportunity to experience several situations that may invite important and necessary financial discussions.  You will also undoubtedly learn something about her approach to vacations.  Is she a scheduler or does she prefer to play it by ear?  And you will, if you are not yet living together, get some sense of any ritualistic behavior or general living habits.

4) Hire a Financial Consultant

Your reaction to this piece of advice may be “But we don’t have the money for that.”  Fair enough.  But if there is any way to make this work, it may potentially help avoid significant future conflict and may even save your relationship.   And this needn’t be a long-term solution.  A few meetings may have a lasting approach on your financial decision-making.

Many couples struggle with financial decision-making and differing approaches in this area of life.  Often there is also a history that could make this more of an emotional topic for some than is expected.  Having a professional, third party individual may make financial facts easier to hear and accept.  It could de-personalize much of the process and free you up to argue about topics other than money.

5) Hire a Therapist

Self-promotion?  Perhaps.  But over the years that I have been working with couples, those that have come in for pre-marital counseling have universally seen a benefit.  Issues that you avoid talking about as a couple may become easier to discuss.  Issues that you don’t even consider may come up.  And you will likely walk away with concrete strategies to handle discussions and inevitable conflict.

I hope that you consider these suggestions as you are taking that next step and that they make your relationship stronger.  

Congratulations and save me a piece of cake!