Any relationship, whether it’s a friendship, romantic relationship, or marriage, requires constant effort and nourishment. However, when a couple is considering making the transition from relationship to marriage, it’s important to keep in mind that a more committed relationship comes with more responsibilities.
If you and your partner are considering marriage, but want to make sure you’re set up for success, here are ten tips that reflect the things we wish we would have done. Mull them over individually, and then discuss them with each other. It will be a great way for you two to communicate, explore your relationship on a deeper level, and evaluate whether marriage is a step you two are ready for. No two marriages or relationships are alike, so all of these tips may not be a perfect fit for you, but take it from two people who have been there before. It’s worth a conversation.
Here are the 10 pieces of relationship advice we wish we knew before we were married:
1. Have a collaborative vision.
Although it’s good to let go of the need for certainty and live in the present moment, it’s also good to have a general idea of how you’d like your life to look in the future. This is especially true for couples. Having some sort of vision to work towards will motivate both you and your partner to invest in your relationship and continuously develop it together. Regardless of what your collaborative vision is, it should be one that you’ve arrived at together.
2. Talk about finances and family.
There are certain topics that are sensitive and difficult to talk about, such as finances and the ideal family structure. Nonetheless, they’re important to discuss thoroughly before you and your partner decide to embark on marriage. You and your partner need to be on the same page, or at least understand where you’re coming from so that when these topics come up later, you don’t face major surprises or disagreements that could be be deal-breakers in your relationship. Specifically talk about the percentage of money you plan to allocate to savings vs. fun money, as those are often the two financial areas that couples disagree on.
3. Pray or meditate together.
A relationship must be nourished in every aspect—sexually, emotionally, and even, spiritually—in order for it prosper. Meditation is beneficial physically, emotionally, and mentally, so if you and your partner do it together, it can a way that you two bond and work towards achieving holistic wellness together. If you’re religious, then praying together will help as well. Spirituality is an important part of who you are (even if you’re not spiritual) so sharing that side of yourself with your partner will bring you closer and help you build a life together.
4. Learn to listen first.
Everyone has their own side of a story, so it’s important to really listen to what your partner has to say, whether it’s during an argument or when he or she is talking about their day during dinner. When you show your partner that you’re interested in what they have to say, they’ll make more of an effort to really listen to you as well. It will improve your communication and, in turn, your relationship, exponentially.
5. Don’t take it too seriously.
Although responsibilities increase as you and your significant other grow together and your relationship becomes more serious, need to have time to de-stress and enjoy each other. You can even turn it into a bonding activity, where you both sit together and have a conversation about the different ways you can unwind, separately and together. Find ways to laugh at the challenges that come up in life and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have the perfect life or relationship.
6. Don’t focus on being right, focus on what’s right for the relationship.
Often in arguments, people talk more than listen, which is why many arguments deviate from the main cause and become a discussion of everything that’s wrong in the relationship. If you and your partner are in an argument that escalates, take a few minutes and take a break from each other, then regroup after you’ve calmed down. When you do regroup, try talking about the issue at hand from the following perspective: how is the issue affecting your relationship, and how can you resolve it in a way that’s right for the relationship?
7. Set goals frequently.
A relationship needs to be a source of nourishment for you and your partner; therefore, it needs constant nourishment. If you and your partner don’t frequently set goals in your relationship, you may face a rut and feel as though your relationship lacks purpose or direction. Goals don’t have to be aboutbig milestones, such as moving in together, getting married, or having children either; they could include planning a vacation together, volunteering in the community, or even starting a business together. Setting and working towards goals together will bring you closer and make your relationship more well-rounded.
8. Don’t avoid arguments.
Passive aggression in a relationship is useless and unhealthy. Ultimately, it will create more deep-rooted problems between you and your partner—problems that wouldn’t have existed if there was honest communication. If you’re upset with your partner over anything, even if it’s over something as simple as leaving the toilet seat up or letting the laundry pile up, talk about it and air it out. Likewise, if your partner raises an issue with you, don’t shut him or her down. As mentioned earlier, listening to your partner is important and will prevent problems in your relationship from forming and gradually getting out of control.
9. No technology in the bedroom.
The bedroom is a sacred place that’s supposed to be confined to the both of you; keep it that way. If you have a television in your room, limit using it at night. Dedicate the moments before sleep to connecting with each other. At a later point, you and your partner could maybe have a conversation about removing the TV from the bedroom and choosing a different method of unwinding together. Regardless of what you decide, ensure that there is a cut-off time for using phones in the bedroom.
10. Commit to always growing.
As mentioned earlier, a relationship needs constant nourishment in order to develop and grow. There’s nothing wrong with consulting seminars, workshops, and books to help you and your partner learn more about each other and further connect. Talking to other couples is also helpful—maybe even more so, because you get advice from people you personally know, relate to, and who are in the same boat as you. Every relationship, especially marriage, comes with its own set of ups and downs; so it’s reassuring to talk to couple friends you trust and get their perspective on issues you and your partner are facing.
A good place to get started it to pick one of these tips to focus on each week. Within a couple of months, you can make massive strides in strengthening your partnership. You’re a team, and these tips will help you become even stronger.