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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 September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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