If you’re dating, in a long-term relationship, or engaged, you may be wondering what marriage is like. You probably have friends with good marriages and those who have so-so marriages. Perhaps you’ve got questions, but you don’t know exactly how to ask. Questions like: Is it hard? Is it worth it? Why get married? 

Well, there’s a lot to learn! Here are 10 things you need to know about marriage that will give you some food for thought.

1. Marriage is hard work (but it’s the best kind of hard).

Marriage requires intentional time and attention from both partners. You’ll have times that seem easy and effortless. Other times require more energy.

2. Marriage takes compromise and respect on both sides.

People often say marriage is a two-way street. I like to think of it as a one-way street where you and your spouse are walking together in the same direction. Finding common ground and respect for each other, especially if you disagree on the path, is vital.

3. Marriage: You + Me = We. 

Marriage is two individuals who know themselves (likes, dislikes, stressors, etc.) and continue to grow. When you grow as individuals and learn more about caring for each other, your marriage thrives. 

4. Marriage requires rearranging your priorities.

Life is busy, and you’re probably juggling all kinds of priorities, including work, family, friends, community service, self-care, etc. After you get married, you may have to rearrange some of those priorities. Friends may be a little lower on your list. There are special considerations if you’re already a parent thinking about getting remarried or married for the first time. Preparing for Marriage is a great, FREE course to help you make sure you’re ready!

5. Marriage has seasons.

Marriage changes, like all relationships do. There are ups and downs, highs and lows, smooth and rough times. These seasons are natural and sometimes predictable. It doesn’t necessarily mean something’s wrong with your relationship. Seasons can be times of change and growth instead of trouble, depending on how you handle them. 

6. Marriage has benefits.

Not just that one (wink, wink)! Research shows that married people are healthier, happier, and wealthier. They’re less likely to be depressed. And guess what? Healthy marriages also lead to healthier communities with better schools and lower crime rates.

7. Marriage requires skills.

For a marriage to flourish over time, you’ll need a variety of skills. Communication helps you understand your partner, know when to listen and when to speak. Problem-solving skills help you work together to manage complicated situations. If these tools aren’t your strong points, we’ve got some great resources to help you fill that toolbox! (Check out The Magic of Communication in Marriage, 5 Days to Better Communication in Your Marriage, or do a quick search for communication here.)

8. Be aware of unrealistic expectations.

Many couples enter marriage with unrealistic and/or unspoken expectations on topics like sex, money, and how they’ll spend their alone and together time. Talking with your spouse goes a long way toward minimizing issues that come from unrealistic expectations

9. Marriage is impacted by your family.

No matter where you live, your families affect your marriage, for better or for worse. They raised you and influenced who you are. Some of the things that’ll get on your nerves will probably be habits that started in the homes you grew up in. Remember, this isn’t about blaming anyone, but it’s just so you can be AWARE.

10. Marriage is a daily choice.

After you get married, you get to choose every day to stay married. You get to show your spouse how much you value and love them daily through words and actions. Even if you have a hard day, remembering that you get to start over and choose each other again can give you hope and strength.

I hope this list does not deter you. Marriage is all of these things, but it’s so much more. Marriage is fun. It’s exciting. And it’s an opportunity to grow as a person while you’re part of a couple. More than anything, “Marriage is choosing someone, again and again, to love and to cherish with each new dawn.”

How gritty are you? 

Is your marriage gritty

Do you teach your kids to be gritty

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Harvard-trained psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth examines what it takes to stick things out and accomplish long-term goals. 

Grit has everything to do with how we do family relationships. 

Don’t mistake grit with talent (which Duckworth describes as the rate at which a person improves a skill). Grit isn’t how intensely you want something. Instead, grit is an attitude. It is a relentless, determined work ethic—despite setbacks, defeats, and hard days

It’s a “never-give-up” attitude.

Who do you know that is truly gritty? Grit is what drove Thomas Edison to succeed as an inventor. As a boy, teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Edison was  fired from his first two jobs for being “unproductive.” He reportedly experienced 1,000 failed attempts before successfully inventing the lightbulb. (Edison reported that, rather than failing 1,000 times, the lightbulb was an invention with 1,000 steps. Now that’s grit.)  

Great things are achievable in ordinary people through gritty determination.

Duckworth quotes sociologist Dan Chambliss, “…the main thing is greatness is doable. Greatness is many, many individual feats, and each of them is doable.

Grit is more than just a trait for inventors, athletes, or business leaders; grit is a significant family value. 

Duckworth’s research points to a high correlation between grit and marital longevity. People with a gritty determination have a can-do attitude toward building a healthy, strong marriage—despite struggles, conflict, and tension. Gritty couples say, “No matter what we have to do, we’re going to make this work. We’re committed to this marriage.”  [Note: There are some situations in marriage that are unhealthy and unsafe. “Grit” is NOT enduring a dangerous relationship. See the note at the bottom of the article.]

For parents, the nagging question is, how do you teach grit to your children? Duckworth offers some great answers. 

First, grit is best taught with a balanced parenting style. In other words, parents who connect through affection and encouragement, while also creating structure and appropriate expectations, have a parenting style that fosters grit. 

It’s a balance between love and support with accountability and parental toughness.

Second, gritty kids want to take after gritty parents. Duckworth explains that “if you want to bring forth grit in your child, first ask how much passion and perseverance you have for your own life goals.” 

Third, Duckworth suggests that extracurricular activities are especially beneficial in developing grit in kids. An organized activity requiring a child to overcome challenges or criticism from peers, coaches, or teachers fosters grit. Bad days, lack of energy or motivation can help teach kids to push through and be gritty. 

Let’s get practical. Do hard things.

Duckworth shares a very practical strategy for developing grit in her teenage children called the “Hard Thing Rule.” There are three parts: 

  1. Everyone in the family, including the parents, has to do a Hard Thing. A “Hard Thing” is anything that requires deliberate practice. For a parent, in addition to the skills they use at work, it might be yoga, running, or completing a degree. For kids, it might be ballet, piano, or soccer. 
  2. You can quit your Hard Thing. But there’s a catch. You can’t quit until “your season is over, the tuition payment is up, or some other ‘natural’ stopping point has arrived.” In other words, you can’t quit on the day your coach yells at you, or you have to miss a party because you have practice. 
  3. You get to pick your Hard Thing. 

As a family and relationship educator, it makes me wonder: if grit was a more common character quality, would we see more successful marriages, healthier parenting styles, and overall relationship satisfaction? 

Perhaps it starts with you.

Maybe it means you are more intentional about pressing through your small, doable feats even when you’re not motivated. Maybe you model more grit for your family and lead by example. Perhaps this week, you and your family can pick your Hard Thing to practice. 

Don’t be afraid to get your hands gritty.

I’m convinced—and I hope you are, too—grit is a good thing and something we all can use in our family. 

Related: 

10 Things Healthy, Happy Families Do

How To Encourage A Growth Mindset In Kids

The Blessing Of The Skinned Knee

Got some gritty thoughts on grit? Share them in the comments below!


***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

You said, “Yes!” Congrats! Now, the planning begins. Where to start? The venue, music, big or small wedding, indoor or outdoor, caterer, DJ or band, wedding cake, dress, tux, bridesmaids, groomsmen… OH MY! 

Lots of preparation for the big day, but what about preparation for the marriage?

What can you do to focus on the lifetime together after you say, “I do?” 

These do’s and don’ts for engaged couples can help you think about preparing for #marriedlife:

Do’s:

  • Do take a premarital course. We accept driver’s ed and hours of supervised practice as part of the responsibility of operating an automobile. Marriage has more curves than any road you’ll ever drive. A premarital course will cover topics you may not have discussed yet, such as children, in-laws, finances, and intimacy. You may not get all your questions answered, but you’ll get the conversation started. Check out our Preparing for Marriage Online Course.
  • Do seek out a mentor couple. Seek out a couple who has the marriage you want. Couples who have been married at least 10 years have experienced ups and downs and have navigated some tough topics. You may quickly learn their “perfect marriage” has taken lots of dings and isn’t as perfect as you perceive, but it is healthy and thriving. Learn from experienced couples that share your values.
  • Do talk about expectations for your marriage. A giant pothole for couples is unmet expectations. These are often unmet because they are never discussed. Don’t assume your soon-to-be spouse can read your mind. I hate to tell you, but they can’t—and never will. Communicate your expectations clearly and often.
  • Do evaluate your habits. Ask yourself the question, “Am I ready to be a spouse?” Are there bad habits you have that you need to ditch before the big day? If you’re unsure whether you have any habits that need to be addressed, ask those closest to you for honest feedback. Check out this blog for more info on preparing yourself for marriage.
  • Do look for ways to care for one another. Marriage requires a mindset shift. It’s no longer about me; it’s about we. I’m not saying you lose yourself. I’m just saying there’s a bigger picture in play now that you’re married. By helping your significant other, you are focusing on “we.” When we put the needs of our spouse above our own, intimacy and connection grow.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t forget to make the relationship a priority. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the wedding. Don’t let your connection get lost in the busyness. Once the guests have gone, the relationship remains.
  • Don’t just plan for the wedding; plan for the marriage. You’re working hard to prepare for the wedding; make time to talk about your dreams and expectations for your marriage. Grab some coffee and have some marriage-centric conversations.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. My wife and I laugh a lot and sometimes at each other. You both are gonna have quirks that you’ll find funny– and sometimes not. Marriage requires a sense of humor. Have fun with each other! Laughter makes the heart grow fonder.
  • Don’t stop working on your marriage. A healthy marriage takes effort. Always look for ways to pour into each other and your relationship. Just like a car requires maintenance, so does your marriage. Easy maintenance is to keep dating your spouse. Put a regular date night on the calendar and make it a priority.
  • Don’t forget marriage is a partnership. You aren’t partners in a small business named, “Family, Inc.” You are life partners for life. You are each bringing different backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, perspectives, opinions, and quirks into this partnership. Allow those differences to complement, not compete.

Marriage is exciting and fun, but it’s even better when you are intentional about investing in each other and your relationship. These do’s and don’ts for engaged couples will help you both avoid problems before they start as well as build a strong foundation for the issues you can’t even foresee. As you prepare for the wedding, don’t forget to invest today in your marriage.

What’s the difference between a loving, warm marriage and one full of friction and conflict? Trust. There are probably many items on your checklist for having a strong marriage. If there’s one that ought to be at the top of the list, it’s trust. 

How do you establish trust in marriage from the start?

1. Trust is built over time.

Trust is built through moments that confirm for your spouse that you are who they think you are. How you respond when someone speaks negatively about your relationship or how you care for each other during a difficult time will either confirm or cause questions about who you are. Don’t be disappointed when you find areas where trust needs to grow, especially early in your marriage. Opportunities will come that will strengthen your trust or give the two of you something to work through.

2. History matters.

Do you trust in your marriage easily? Is it difficult for you to trust? Have things happened in your past that make trusting someone hard? How have your past experiences affected your ability to trust? You want your spouse to have a fair opportunity to be trusted and not be the victim of your past experiences with other people. However, it’s important to be aware that your past is not to be forgotten but to be used as a learning experience. Talking through your ability to trust helps you develop clear expectations. Your past shouldn’t control your ability to trust. Rather, it provides understanding to help build trust.

3. Believe your spouse’s actions.

There’s a saying, “When a person shows you who they are, believe them.” When dating, it’s easy to create a mental image of what you think your spouse will be like once you’re married. This can cause you to ignore the behaviors that give a more accurate picture of each other. Many people have trusted others in spite of all the evidence showing that they are not trustworthy. And other times, you may have withheld trust from people despite the person being extraordinarily trustworthy. 

4. Be open and honest about everything.

This includes the big stuff: family, money, in-laws, parenting, the future, and sex. Avoid the temptation to keep secrets and withhold information. Setting aside time to talk honestly about finances or your expectations of the in-laws, for example, is important. 

As quick as transparency can build trust in marriage, secrecy can betray it.

5. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Be willing to hold each other accountable for your words and actions. You can’t build trust by telling your partner what they want to hear. If you say you’ll be home from work at six, then follow through. Trust is built when your spouse has confidence that the words you say are true.

Related: How To Tell If Someone Is Trustworthy

6. Admit mistakes.

Don’t let pride get in the way. Trust will not stand if built on the premise of perfection. It’s built on the promise that the two of you have the relationship’s best interest at heart. Admitting your mistakes sends the message that the relationship is more important than you being right

7. Consider the effects decisions will have on your marriage.

Nearly everything you do will affect both you and your spouse. (There is no I in Us.) Talking through decisions together helps you understand the potential effects. Before making personal commitments, get in the habit of talking to your spouse.

★ Ask the question, “How will this affect you and affect us?” 

Establishing a solid foundation of trust in marriage can provide the groundwork to building trust that’s as strong as a 100-year-old oak tree with deep roots. Some foundations aren’t solid. It’s good to know early that a person can’t be trusted. It’s not wise to trust someone to be honest if they continue to build a record of dishonesty. Trust will grow if you’re consistent in your words and actions.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Weddings are time consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

You’re getting ready to marry the love of your life, and you’ve been reading card after card wishing you a marriage full of love and adventure. With that comes the hope of fulfillment in each other and the desire to have fun, because who wants a boring marriage?! No one…

Here are 3 easy things you can put into place NOW to keep the fun in your marriage relationship forever:

1. Add elements of surprise when you’re married!

  • Text your spouse something spicy during the workday. Make it out of the blue and with no business attached, (aka no talk about what’s for dinner or what needs to get done) just some good flirtatious banter.
  • Surprise your spouse by wearing their favorite outfit and suggest an impromptu date night.
  • Send them something at work—could be something as small as a coffee or and grandiose as an edible arrangement.
  • Pick something up for them while you’re out running errands, just because.

2. Play together!

  • Play is essential to having fun in marriage. There are not only relationship benefits to playing together, but health benefits, too! The National Institute for Play (NIP) believes (and has research to back it up) that play can dramatically transform our personal health and our relationships. It can be board games, video games, a puzzle, Minute To Win It challenges, Dominos, cards, or whatever your favorite way to spark some healthy competition is.

Play generates optimism, novelty, makes perseverance fun, and leads to growth. Bonus feature: it gives the immune system a bounce, fosters empathy, and promotes a sense of belonging and community. 

3. Don’t shy away from romance!

  • Light the candles, turn on some music, and enjoy cultivating intimacy. You have lots to look forward to as you step into married life together. Take the time to be curious about your spouse, compliment them, cuddle up close, and tune in to each other. Alone time can be so beneficial and continually draw you closer to each other. 

BONUS: Free date nights for a more fun marriage!

  • Surely you’ve heard it before, so you’ll hear it again: Date your spouse. The romance doesn’t need to go down as the anniversaries go up. Try new places, carve out quality time, cultivate intimacy, and enjoy being one on one. There are tons of date night ideas, free virtual date nights, and date night DIYs right here on our site—free to you!

It’s easy to have fun in your marriage when you embrace that to have fun means to create fun! Enjoy laughing together, kissing one another, and everything in between. ; )

Some more blogs you may be interested in:

Weddings are time consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

You want to have good relationships. You want a healthy marriage AND you want to be a great parent, a wonderful friend, fiancé, or co-worker. 

But relationships are sometimes complex. They aren’t always easy. Issues arise. And if you’re like me, you could just use some help sometimes.

The internet gives us ENDLESS information on relationships. Just Google how to resolve conflict in marriage or how to parent a rebellious teenager. Then watch TONS of articles, blogs, videos, how-tos, and step-by-steps fill your screen.

It’s overwhelming. 

And here’s the thing: can they all possibly be right? I mean, with literally thousands of resources out there on any given relationship subject, there’s got to be some conflicting information and something that’s not accurate. (As a matter of fact, there is.) 

★ So when you and I are trying to get help in the area of healthy relationships, how do we know what kind of information to trust? How do you wade through the countless sources of information on your screen and determine which advice is legit?

I’ve been on both ends of this spectrum, searching for accurate relationship advice as well as writing relationship content as accurately as possible. And I can tell you there is a lot of good information out there, as well as a lot of bad. 

Here are some pointers I’ve found helpful on how to identify reliable relationship advice. 

Understand that relationships are something that’s actually researched

find good relationship advice

Seriously, there’s a whole science behind it. There are a lot of experts and researchers out there looking at questions like what makes a marriage great, what kids need from their parents, what are the best ways to resolve disagreements, what role does intimacy play in relationships, etc. And, they’re observing and testing answers using psychological research techniques. 

This is good to know because it tells us that there is, indeed, reliable information out there to tap into for our relationship questions and struggles. Good sources of information are typically (but not always) written by researchers who have either done the science themselves or by professionals who have used the science to counsel others. That’s usually what I want to look for when it comes to good relationship advice. 

On the flip side of the coin… know that just because the word “research” shows up doesn’t always mean it’s great advice. 

I’ve read countless articles using the words research says… or studies prove… or a survey of 500 people tells us… If you search for any kind of advice about relationships, you’ll find this, too. And it sounds very convincing. 

But for many reasons, it doesn’t always mean you can trust the advice. For one thing, it’s easy for writers to twist the words of a piece of research out of context to fit their own point of view. Not to mention, a lot of research just plain isn’t done well. You don’t have to be any kind of research expert to take what you read or watch with a grain of salt or even sense there could be some missing information. 

I’m not saying count these kinds of articles out. Give them a chance. Just approach them with a more critical eye. And here’s something I’ve found: if you come across an article that says some sort of research proves something, approach with caution. Researchers don’t try to prove anything. The goal of the research is to provide evidence of one thing or another and spark people to study the question even more. Claiming proof for something could be a big red flag that the writer could be twisting some facts.

All this goes to say, of course, to consider the source.

With any article or video, take a quick look at the author’s bio. Google them. Do they have a background in relationship research, education, or counseling? Are they associated with a university or an organization specializing in relationships like marriage or parenting? Do they have a product to promote? Does their writing seem to have an agenda? Does it sound like they have a chip on their shoulder (like they’re ready to pick a fight)? Or, are they simply trying to report the best information out there as objectively as possible? These are all important questions to consider. 

Do a quick search on “reviews” or “criticism” of the author or the organization they represent. See what other people are saying about them. 

I particularly like authors who are transparent about their own relationships and balance it with trustworthy fact-giving. Rather than making bold claims saying what they are doing in their own relationships is the way to go, thank you very much, they tend to admit where they’ve messed up before and humbly say let’s look at evidence of what’s healthy.

Prepare to do a little digging.

I’m confident telling you it’d be a mistake to only consider the first few pieces of relationship advice at the top of your search list. Sometimes these are reliable resources, but not always. The first sites popping up on a search list many times are determined by popularity factors or advertising dollars. This means you could very well be getting relationship advice based on opinions instead of qualified research, and on the fads families of “the rich and the famous” are doing. (This is just my two cents: it’s difficult for me to swallow trying to relate to Hollywood trends in marriage and parenting. I’m not dissing actors or performers; it’s just a totally different world from the norm, and it rarely reflects what we know to be healthy in relationships.) 

Dig down below the first few search results and see what else lies beneath. This is often where you’ll find the real gold of reliable relationship advice. 

Be cautious with sources that seem to run against the grain of what we already know to be healthy in relationships.

I get a little twitchy when I see titles like The Way We’ve Been Doing Marriage for Decades Is All Wrong! I don’t ignore those sources completely (Who knows?—they might have some good info after all…), but I do tend to read or watch it with a lot more discernment and savvy. Apply what’s been said above to these kinds of articles and determine for yourself if the information given is truly on the level. 

Understand how easy it is to find information that supports your current view and quickly rest your case.

These days you can just about find anything that will claim to back up even the wildest of ideas on how to do healthy relationships. (“Survey Proves a Steady Diet of Tacos Will Improve Your Marriage” — I knew it!

So if you’re simply trying to find something to support the opinion you already have, then guess what? You’re going to find it.

When approaching a piece of relationship advice that may run counter to your viewpoint, I find it helpful to give the information a chance. I’ll often think to myself, “Could there be the possibility that this differing opinion (other than mine) might have some truth to it?” And then, based on all the things I’ve talked about above plus a dose of common sense, I determine if the advice is worth taking. 

If you truly want to learn what healthy marriages, parenting, friendships, dating, and work relationships look like, good information is out there for you to get your hands on. But it’s like swimming in the middle of the ocean. There is a virtual sea of information to swim through. Much of the advice is like currents which will guide you safely to the shore of healthy relationships. But there are some riptides of bad information that can drag you further out to sea. 

One more thought to leave you with: finding relationship experts online can be extremely helpful.

But let’s not look past the fact that you probably have actual people around you in healthy (but not perfect) relationships who you can lean on. A get-together over coffee where you can ask this person (or couple) questions about how they do things in their relationships can provide some very practical wisdom. 

Put the above ideas into practice, lean on the healthy people you know, and I guarantee you’ll learn more about what makes relationships healthy than you ever thought you could have. 


***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Weddings are time consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

When you marry the love of your life, they bring so many different things to the table for the two of you to share. Their personality, adoration for you, commitment, maybe some furniture or experience with things you don’t know how to do. And don’t get me wrong—this sounds lovely (and it is…) until one of the things they bring to the table are in-laws. If you’re honest, it’s possible you aren’t crazy about your future in-laws, to put it politely. In fact, you’ve decided what you want to bring to the table in your relationship is an extra table 😡 … one that doesn’t always have seats for the future in-laws… but that’s not really the solution. (And don’t assume that your fiancé doesn’t have any issues with YOUR parents.)

It’s okay to not be fond of your fiancé’s parents, but you also have to be okay with them being a part of your lives in some capacity. You can’t marry your fiancé without also understanding you are essentially marrying into their family. So let’s put together a game plan so when the visits begin, you won’t be nervous to pull up a chair to the table!

What to Do When You Aren’t Crazy About Your Future In-Laws:

1. Talk about your concern with your fiancé.

If it hasn’t come up already, be honest with your fiancé about your concerns and why you feel they’re important. Also, consider the possibility of your fiancé not being crazy about your parents either! Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they interfering with your relationship?
  • Do they say things that hurt your feelings or rub you the wrong way? 
  • Is it that you don’t like them or don’t get along with them?
  • Do they point out every little thing you do differently or “wrong?”

The least you can do is invite an honest conversation to try and clear up any potential misunderstandings. If you’ve never really gotten along with your fiancé’s parents, ask your fiancé to talk to them on your behalf. Try to get to the bottom of what they’re feeling or what could be misinterpreted. Perception is reality until you get a different perspective. This would be a great place to start before any serious decisions of how to allocate your time are made. 

✦ The two of you will form your own family once you’re married and you have to make decisions based on what’s best for your family (the two of you) before anyone else. When you’ve decided what to do for the holidays, for drop-ins, like calling before, use “we” statements and each of you should tell your own set of parents. In doing so, you protect your future spouse from getting thrown under the bus or having your parents put blame on your new spouse!

2. Set Boundaries Early-On.

If you know your in-laws have a knack for being overbearing, giving unsolicited advice, criticizing things you two enjoy, and even guilt trips you by saying things like, “If you lived closer we could have dinner more,” or “It’s a shame you don’t have enough time for us.” Prepare yourselves and have a plan in place. This is why the first step is to talk about your concerns with your fiancé, to get it all out there so making a plan will be easier! 

You don’t have to live in the Anticipation Zone; you have an opportunity to decide with your future spouse what the relationship with your future in-laws will look like and entail. The two of you need to talk about what the relationship expectations are for them, what you want the relationship to look like, and then work toward meeting a compromise. For example, calling before you/they stop by. Or, it could go from seeing them weekly to calling weekly and having a meal together once a month. You could trade off holidays, family vacations, or maybe decide to just see them a few times a year and send cards. 

However you decide to make it work, decide that’s how it’ll be for now, but leave room for the relationship to change. It’s possible in the future you’ll want (or be okay with) more or less time together. The last thing you want is extra stress, drama, or tension in your marriage because of your in-laws. The two of you need to come together and figure out the best way to have the least drama and tension.

Here are some great topics to get the conversation going:

  • How much time will you spend with them?
  • Topics that are off limits for discussion.
  • How you allow (or won’t allow) their behavior to impact you.
  • How do you honestly feel about my parents?

3. Location, location, location.

If you both know your future in-laws are the type to drop by, overstay their welcome, or cross boundaries like finish lines, then it may be a sign to move somewhere that makes it less of a possibility. Travel time is a great buffer. Normally, if you live further away, you have to make a plan before you see each other. This is great news because it gives you the space to prepare mentally and physically for a visit. Plus, it’s much easier to suggest coming for just a weekend every so often than feeling the pressure if you live nearby to have weekly meals. (This could be difficult because of work or school situations, but it is something to keep in mind. Downside: Less free babysitting for date nights.)

At the end of the day, you and your soon-to-be spouse will come to a compromise, and compromises sometimes include sacrifices. On the big day, you’re committing your life to them, for better or for worse, and promising to make it work. And making it work takes work! But it’s worth it when the love of your life encourages you, pushes you toward your best self, helps you realize your dreams, and has committed the same things as you. You’re about to be your own family!! Good luck, and I hope you both find the balance that works best for your relationship.

Other Blogs You May Find Helpful:

Weddings are time consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

Engagement season is upon you—congrats, by the way!! With the pretty ring comes some planning, excitement, questions, and ultimately preparing for marriage! With that being said, here are 5 tips to help newly engaged couples thrive during the engagement season:

1. Have the big conversations before you’re deep into planning.

If you haven’t already, make sure you and your fiancé are on the same page about big ticket items by having intentional conversations. Things like whether or not you want kids, job/career expectations, finances, how you handle conflict, spirituality/religion you want to carry forward, etc. 

Here’s a great blog to walk you through why each of those is important! You’re making a wonderful lifelong commitment.  Reminding each other you’re on the same page (or finding out that you’re not) with these things can help you decide what’s best for you both in the long run. Also, consider some sort of marriage preparation to enrich your relationship! We have a free online preparing for marriage course you should really check out! (And, if you live in WV, TN, GA or FL, it will qualify you for a hefty discount on your marriage license. Cha-ching!)

5 tips for newly engaged couples

2. Decide how long you want your engagement to be.

Before you worry about picking a date, consider what’s best for your relationship. Long or short engagement? Is there a particular season you want to get married? What’s going on in your life currently that could affect when you can get married? If you’re not sure how long you should be engaged, you can read research-based reasons for both a long and short engagement here.

3. Discuss your budget for the wedding.

This will affect how many people you’ll invite to your wedding, the location, and may even help you decide on a date. If you’re paying for the wedding yourselves, the length of your engagement may reflect the time it’ll take to save. Remember, this day marks the beginning of a lifetime together. You want to start out on the right foot. Because finances can be one of the main sources for conflict in marriage, consider planning a beautiful day that doesn’t leave you or your loved ones in debt. This may sound crazy, but U.S. weddings cost an average of $33,900 in 2019, including all the expenses related to the engagement ring, ceremony, and reception, according to the latest Real Weddings study from The Knot. So, remember, the cost of your wedding doesn’t reflect how successful your marriage will be.

4. Make time for quality time.

As I’m sure you’ve been told and can imagine, planning your wedding can become time-consuming, a conversation hog, and, to top it off—overwhelming. If you feel stressed, irritable, or unusually short-tempered with your fiancé, it’s probably time to do something other than talk about the future and hash out the details. Your wedding day is a celebration of your relationship! It’s sooooo important not to put your relationship on the back burner. So, make spending quality time together a priority. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but doing things to help you take your mind off of wedding planning will be helpful for sure. Check out this link for some great ideas! 

5. Don’t assume—ask!

You and your fiancé are in this thing together. Just because you know them best doesn’t mean you know everything they want or you can accurately anticipate all of their opinions. I’ll be the bearer of bad news: getting married won’t make you mind readers either. Everyone likes to feel heard and likes what they have to say to be valued. It’s possible you two have very similar ideas when it comes to your dream day, but just to be safe, talk about it. Each of you write down your dreams for what you want your wedding to be like, then compare notes and find places to compromise. You’ll find out not long after you’re married how important it is to invite the middle ground into your relationship.

This is an exciting season for you and your relationship! Don’t let the details get the best of you; instead give your best to each other and take it one step at a time. This is just the beginning of a beautiful life together. Cheers, for the best is yet to come!

Weddings are time consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!