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In Part I of this series, I shared tips on how planning your big day can be overwhelming, and how to not let it overwhelm your relationship. Setting aside time to connect with each other and focus on your relationship will go a long way toward keeping your future marriage strong. If you missed last week’s article check it out here.  

Preparing for Marriage While Wedding Planning (Part I)

Preparing for Marriage

Engaged couple spends months, sometimes even years, planning the perfect wedding. Many brides start as a child dreaming of what their wedding day would be like. All the wedding preparations are time-consuming and even stressful, but my big question is:

How much of your time and energy is going into planning the actual MARRIAGE?

As a wedding planner, it is my responsibility to take the “wedding planning overwhelm” off your plate, so you can focus on preparing for the very reason you are doing all of this in the first place: your marriage.  Here are things you can do to prepare for your marriage:  

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Talk about Expectations

Communication is key in marriage. Since you will soon be a team, it is important that you are able to talk openly together about anything and everything! As a couple, you will need to communicate about finances, intimacy, household roles, expectations, in-laws, religion, children, and so much more!  A good resource to read is Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John M. Gottman

Here are some questions to get you started:

Future Family

  • Do you want to have children? If yes, how many?
  • How long after getting married would you want to wait to have children?
  • What kind of parent do you want to be?
  • Will one of you stay home with the children or would you use child care?
  • How do you plan to split holidays with each other’s families?

Finances

  • What are your financial goals?
  • Together, how much do we owe in debt?
  • How should money be budgeted in our family?
  • Would you have joint banking accounts or separate?
  • Are you a saver or a spender?

Expectations in our Marriage

  • How do you plan to divide up the household chores?
  • What are your expectations of your roles in marriage?
  • How do you feel about maintaining relationships with friends of the opposite sex?
  • How much time should be spent together vs. time spent with friends or family?
  • Will religion play a part in your married life?

Intimacy

  • What do you consider “cheating” in a marriage?
  • How often do you expect sexual intimacy?
  • What boundaries do you have when it comes to sexual intimacy?
  • If physical attraction were eliminated, what would be left in our relationship?
  • What would you need to feel wanted and needed sexually?
These are just a few of many questions.  Get started with these and begin open communications in which you can express yourself to your partner openly and honestly.
 
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Take a Marriage Preparation Course 

Many couples wait until there are problems to seek counseling and learn techniques to improve their relationships. If you can learn before you are married, the pitfalls and struggles many couples face, you can avoid repeating them in your own marriage and use those learned skills when the issues surface.

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Read Preparing for Marriage Books 

There are so many wonderful preparing for marriage books out there that you can start reading together as a couple. Read the books together and talk about what you are learning. Again, don’t wait until you run into problems to start learning about successful marriages! Wondering how to prepare for marriage? Study!

Here are links to  a couple VERY robust book lists (and they are not what you would expect):

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Determine a Budget

Discuss with your future spouse where you are currently at financially and where you want to be.  You will also want to make financial goals and a plan to achieve them. If you have any debt, establish a plan now to get rid of it and, of course, determine a savings plan. Finally, you will need to make critical decisions about how (and if) you are going to join your bank accounts and who will be paying what bills.

Most importantly, talk about all of this BEFORE you get married so that there are no surprises! Having open communication about finances and money early in your marriage will help to alleviate unwanted stress and prepare you for a strong financial foundation for years to come! 

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Set Goals Together

Your future is no longer just about you, but about your future family. When you are getting ready for marriage, you will definitely want to sit down with your future spouse and really talk about the goals that you hope to achieve together.

Establish Good Habits

What are things you’d LOVE to do when you are married? Eating all meals at the dinner table? Working out at the gym a few times a week together? Going on walks in the evenings?  Start doing these things right away in your marriage and they will become great habits that will continue into your marriage!

One of the best habits you can start when preparing for marriage and early in your marriage is establishing a regular date night. When you are newlyweds, every day can seem like date night, but it is important to get in the habit of regularly scheduling and blocking out time for each other especially before you start a family and it gets much more difficult. One great way to establish a regular date night is to put together a Year of Dates Binder so you have a plan for the entire year! This would be a great gift to give your spouse or another newlywed couple!

Making Traditions

One of the best parts about starting your marriage is that you can establish your own traditions! Take time to learn about your spouse’s family traditions, share your own and then together decide what traditions you want to have for your OWN. Maybe you make pizzas every Friday night or have a waffle breakfast Saturday mornings. What traditions will you keep or create together and make your own?

Final Tips in Planning for Marriage

Finally, I think the important part is remembering that marriage is always changing. They take work and they aren’t about you. Marriage is about the person you are saying yes to. It is about serving them. When you take YOU out of the picture, your spouse becomes your first priority. 

Getting married is an exciting time in your life. It is something that you may have looked forward to for some time and that day is finally here! As you are swept up in the wedding plans just make sure that you take the time to plan your marriage with as much enthusiasm as your wedding and you will have a great start to a successful marriage!

A special thank you to Katherine & Danny for sharing their fun engagement photos and Midwest Lifeshots Photography for their great work.  Katerine & Danny’swedding photos will be coming very soon! 

Marsha VanArk, Wedding Planner at Distinctly Yours Wedding & Events