If you are considering the lifetime commitment of marriage, or if you are already engaged and have your special date set, you will want to know these 10 pieces of advice. Before my wife and I said “I Do” fifteen years ago, we ignored most of the advice experienced couples gave us. These 10 things will save you and your spouse a great deal of heartache if you will put them to work. Below are the 10 things married people want you to know before saying “I Do”:
1. Live Your Life as a Single Person, First
Face the facts, you need to enjoy your life while you are single. This is a time in your life when you should take time to travel, explore, find your place in the workforce, and work out your individual kinks. Know yourself before you try to know someone else.
2. Get Financially Sound
One of the worst things you could do to your future spouse is bringing a heavy load of debt into the marriage. Worse than this would be bringing bad financial habits into your marriage. There are tons of resources available with great information to help you grasp the importance of being financially sound. Don’t bring unnecessary burdens into your marriage.
3. Realize People Change
This one is tough to understand until you have been there and it especially applies if you are saying “I Do” at a young age. People change because of life’s circumstances, events, and other influences. Just know, your spouse, even yourself, will change over time. The key to success in your marriage is knowing ahead of time you will need to be able to adapt to a changing spouse, and a changing you, over the years.
4. Get Your Priorities in Line
If you are accustomed to hanging out with the guys six nights a week or hanging out with the girls in clubs on the weekend, it is time to change your priorities. If you think you can put yourself in these positions after saying “I Do”, you are setting yourself up for a failed relationship. Understand this; I am not saying you can no longer have fun, but you must respect your spouse when you take your vows. You should communicate your priorities well before setting a date for the big day.
5. Communicate with Your (Future) Spouse
This is the life blood of your relationship. Over the past fifteen years, my wife and I have had our share of conflict, with the majority of conflicts being caused by the lack of communication or miscommunication. Be intentional and deliberate when communicating with your spouse. This could be as simple as calling your spouse to let him/her know you are going to be late for work, always give an estimated time of arrival.
6. Respect Your Spouse
This should be in all bold, italicized, and all caps. Maybe you should consider having it tattooed across both arms and your chest. Respect in a relationship determines how severe, and how often, conflict will be in your relationship. Learn to respect yourself. When you can respect yourself, you can adequately respect your future spouse. Respect is simply this: Considering the feelings and needs of another over your own.
7. Never, Ever, Quit
Don’t go into your marriage thinking ahead of time, “If he/she does this, I am out”. You must be open to forgiveness from the start. Regardless. No, I am not suggesting you tolerate any type of physical, mental, or verbal abuse, but, beyond these issues, learn to forgive. After marrying my wife at the age of eighteen, I packed my stuff and threatened to leave multiple times the first year. Show commitment to your future spouse. Don’t threaten to leave. Don’t mention leaving. Be committed. Never quit.
8. Make Sure You Can’t Live Without Him/Her
Listen, if you date casually now and if you can go days without talking to him/her, you should reconsider your plans to marry. Marriage is a covenant between two people who are best friends, first. Best friends talk. They have conflicts, but they are fair about dealing with conflict. Think about this: If your spouse disappeared from your life today, how would you respond?
Reality is none of us are promised tomorrow. I know, stop with the depressing talk. This is reality, and once all the parties and celebrations are over, reality hits you between the eyes like a baseball thrown at 95 MPH. If you two aren’t even friends now, maybe you should consider your decision: marriage is a commitment for life.
9. Be Prepared to Give 100%
You have heard the cute little saying, “marriage is 50/50”, right? Well, that’s crap. It is not 50/50, in fact, it is more like, you give all you have and your spouse gives all they have, plus some. Marriage will chew you up and spit you out if you go into it thinking you can get by with giving half an effort. It does not work that way.
10. Never Stop Dating
Do you remember the very first time you and your spouse, or future spouse, went on a date? Do you recall how your heart was beating out of your chest at some point during this date? Often times after the vows are exchanged, us men especially, tend to sit back on cruise control. Don’t do this! Celebrate her! Celebrate him!
Pursue your lover like he/she is still considering spending their life with you. When you love, respect, and pursue your spouse, you will reap unending rewards. Yes, guys, sometimes this means sex. To men, be men. Your wife wants someone to lead the way. Lead her by loving her, respecting her, and never, ever, stop pursuing her.
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