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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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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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