The months leading up to your wedding is an exciting time, with many opportunities for quality time and to tackle some hurdles together during the planning process. Amidst the engagement parties and wedding showers, wedding and honeymoon planning, some couples may get caught up in the chaos but it is important to set aside plenty of time to reflect on this important phase that is quickly approaching.
My husband and I were married three years ago. I remember how excited we were to start our new life together. We took a Pre-Marriage Prep class through a local church and really enjoyed it. The class gave us an opportunity to meet with other couples in the same relationship stages and share the happy moments, feelings, and struggles that we’re all going through. Every relationship is unique, but there are a few areas that everyone can learn to handle a little better. Communication, conflict resolution, money management, and family boundaries were just a few topics covered.
We also took an assessment from Prepare/Enrich that measured our strengths and areas for improvement as well as personality traits, family backgrounds, and ability to handle stress. This is used as a tool to add to the conversation in the class.
We followed the class up with meeting our assigned mentor couple to continue the preparation for our upcoming nuptials. We had so much fun talking about our relationship and getting to know our mentor couple, a more experienced married couple who has been trained to help newlyweds adjust to married life.
Normally, a counseling session with our pastor would come next, but it was not required since we were not getting married in the church (or the same state, for that matter).
I’m a huge advocate of pre-marital counseling and pre-marriage prep, even if it’s just reading some helpful books and working through workbooks together. Many times, one or both may be reluctant to bring up an issue that is usually pretty common in relationships, or even something unique to that relationship. Communication is extremely important going into a marriage, and it is best to get started early!
- Find a Marriage Prep workshop or class. These will usually be hosted by a local church. If you can’t find a marriage prep workshop in your area or if your church does not offer pre-marital counseling (or you just want to get a little extra help), I recommend reading Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. This book offers great questions and talking points to develop a healthy discussion about your relationship and expectations for your upcoming marriage.
- Talk about your expectations early and often. I feel like a broken record here, but communication is key! Jacob and I were very clear with each other about everything – from our goals in life to responsibilities around the house. We even negotiated who would be picking up after the dog outside! Nothing is too insignificant to talk about before the big day. I think this prevents those silly little arguments many couples have the first year of marriage.
- Discuss your finances. Revealing your current financial situation and discussing how you will handle your finances together after marriage is so important. Many marital fights are triggered by money, so it’s best to get on the same page now! I highly recommend checking out the resources from Dave Ramsey. His Financial Peace University class includes a lesson on money and relationships, and it was a big eye-opener for us.
If you do these three things, you’re sure to start your marriage off on the right foot. Good luck to you and happy planning!