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Some Growing Up to Do: 16 Things for Men to Do Before Marriage

Some Growing Up to Do: 16 Things for Men to Do Before Marriage

Marriage can be a scary thing for men these days. We all know someone who has been in an unhappy marriage or has gone through divorce, and it’s really rough on them. But the answer is not to just avoid marriage altogether.

Instead, if you are thinking about marriage — or you just intend to get married some day — there are some things for men to do before marriage that can increase your chances of success and happiness in the long term.

1. Watch your language

This may not apply to everyone’s bride-to-be, but a lot of guys will learn that all the vulgar talk that endeared you to your buddies will just turn off your wife. Don’t expect to be walking around the house cursing up a storm anymore. Instead, learn to cut back. Pick your spots. Being able to show restraint demonstrates that you can control yourself and that you’re considerate of her opinions.

2. Go out with the boys now

Some women are really okay with their husbands going out with the boys — and getting married doesn’t mean you’ll never see them again. But if you like to party, get it out of your system now. After you are married, there is someone expecting you to be home at a certain time. Those last-minute road trips or unexpected sleepovers on the couch of your pal’s apartment? Those days will be history. She will care about your safety, and having a wild night with the fellas is bad news.

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3. Fight with her

Yep, fight. Have a serious fight. This is one of the most important things for men to do before marriage. When you get married, both of your opinions will matter, and that means they will clash from time to time. Fights are inevitable. But before you get married, learn how to fight fair. Don’t call her names, don’t storm off in a huff, and don’t be childish. Even when things get hot tempered, learn to fight constructively so that the fight actually solves something and you’ll grow closer together. If you haven’t fought and you’re planning on getting married, you might want to hold off. You need to know that neither of you will fight dirty.

4. Learn to cook

… and not just from a can. Even if your wife loves to cook and makes the best meals ever, there are going to be times when she won’t be able to. She’ll work late. She’ll get sick. She’ll be pregnant. She won’t be home. You need to be able to take care of yourself. So get to know the pots and pans in your kitchen now and learn how to make some simple, healthy, basic meals. That way you can take care of the both of you when it comes time for you to step up.

5. It’s time to budget — and talk about money, too

Money is one of the leading causes of marital stress and divorce today. That’s because many couples simply don’t communicate openly about money. If you want to avoid that problem, get to know your money now. Talk about financial goals. Make a budget. Have an understanding about where you want to be headed financially. Keep that conversation open and you’ll ensure peace in your marriage.

6. Take a trip by yourself

Traveling by yourself is one of the great pleasures of life. There’s nothing quite like only being responsible for yourself while experiencing the world. If you can swing it, get a plane ticket somewhere and get the full experience. After you get married, you’ll likely have a travel partner all the time (or partners, once you have kids). There is a real peace to traveling alone, and you need to be comfortable with yourself before tying the knot.

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7. Learn basic cleaning skills

Nobody wants to marry a pig. And no woman wants to be a maid for her husband. So learn how to use the washing machine. Have a regular vacuuming schedule. Wash your dishes and put them away. You need to be able to pull your own weight in the household after you get married, and being able to clean now will mean she won’t have to train you later.

8. Make peace with your past

Look, we all screw up. We have horrible ex-girlfriends, or we made some other mistakes. Instead of avoiding them, make peace with them. If you are on the outs with an old girlfriend, just bury the hatchet and move on. Carrying baggage is not a smart move for men to do before marriage. Let it go, and you’ll feel much better about yourself and your wife.

9. Get to know her family

It’s true: when you marry someone, you marry their family, too. And if she’s particularly close with her family, you’ll be seeing them a lot. They might be annoying, but they’ll be your family, too. So cut them some slack, spend some time with them, and form your own bond with them. You should be on good terms with them to avoid some of those nasty family conflicts that can pop up in marriage.

10. Live on your own for a while

Going from single to married is a big enough culture shock on its own. You shouldn’t have to also learn how to take care of yourself at the same time. So try to find a way to get out of your parents’ house. You’ll learn valuable lessons, like feeding yourself and cleaning. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to manage and pay bills, because once you’re married, those bills will start coming. Develop a little manly self-reliance.

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11. Get to know your own parents

If applicable, start having longer and more meaningful conversations with your parents. Sit them down and talk about their marriage and about how they got together — and how they stayed together (if they did). Learn about their past from the perspective of a fellow adult. You might be surprised at what you don’t know, and you could learn some valuable lessons that will come in handy when you are married.

12. Do absolutely nothing with her

Some couples thrive on going out all the time. They visit restaurants and clubs, and they do a lot of activities together. And that’s great, but a big part of marriage is the day-to-day life. You can’t go out every night. Some nights, you’ll be in. And you’ll have nothing to do. So try doing nothing with her now. Just kill some time together. Learn to value each other’s company apart from other activities. This will go a long way in keeping a happy relationship between you two.

13. Talk to your married friends

This could be an example of learning what to do, or learning what not to do. Among your friends you’ll find people with varying levels of marital bliss. Having conversations with them (similar to the ones you’re having with your parents now) will help you learn about marriage from today’s perspective.

14. Challenge yourself

Marriage is full of challenges. Your time and energy will be completely depleted on occasion, but things will still be expected of you. So you need to toughen up. Sign up for a race of some kind. Or join a gym and start throwing some weights around. Start reading some more complicated books. Push yourself mentally and physically, and you’ll know what you’re made of. Then you will have the guts to approach and deal with marital problems when they happen.

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15. Live with someone else

It doesn’t matter who — just find a roommate. A wife is a roommate for life, so you need to know how to interact on a roommate level with her. This means learning to divvy up the chores and share responsibilities around the house. Or cleaning up after yourself. Plus, you’ll learn about the element of surprise: coming across a mess that you didn’t make. Knowing how to handle this properly is really important.

16. Figure out your deal-breakers

Sometimes, there’s one aspect of a relationship that can crush it for you. While I don’t encourage you to be picky, you also should have some kind of conviction that makes you put your foot down, whether it’s religious, or health-related, or in the way she treats you. Determine what those are and be willing to walk away from a relationship if they are being violated. It’s not worth it, and marrying a person expecting them to change only leads to heartbreak and frustration.

Follow these tips and you can give yourself the best chance at a long and happy marriage. Do you have any other pieces of advice or important things for men to do before marriage?

Featured photo credit: August 6, 2009: Late night hands/Christopher via flickr.com

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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