Is marriage on your mind for your future? If it is, it doesn’t make a difference whether you’re a single searching for that special someone, in an “endgame” relationship, or perhaps already engaged when it comes to preparing yourself for marriage. If you know in your heart of hearts that you want marriage to be a part of your future, you don’t have to wait to prepare yourself for it. In fact, taking the time to prepare yourself for marriage now will save you from yourself later. (Take it from someone who’s married now and was grateful for getting this advice sooner than later.)
How to Prepare Yourself for Marriage
Make sure you’re meeting the expectations you desire for your future spouse.
If you want your spouse to have a stable job, work on getting one for yourself. If you want them to be good at listening and to understand when conflict arises, be that also. People can’t meet expectations they don’t know are there and in that vein, you shouldn’t expect something from someone else that you don’t expect from yourself. If you can decide what your standards are and choose to meet them first, you won’t have any reservations for wanting those in someone else.
Love yourself and improve yourself.
You cannot give what you don’t have. If you don’t love yourself, loving someone else wholeheartedly will be a challenge. If you second guess how much they love you because of an insecurity you’re facing, you risk projecting a problem onto your significant other that isn’t really there. Those feelings can hurt both people. Of course, someone can help you feel more loved, but ultimately, your expectation for a relationship shouldn’t be to solve your struggles. Having someone join the journey you’ve already started means you’re at a place to explain what you’ve been working through and giving them an opportunity to understand.
When you love yourself, you’ll find productive ways to challenge yourself and promote growth and healing. You want the best version of someone else to partner up with so offer up the same! Now listen closely to this part: It doesn’t mean being the best; it means giving your best effort. That looks like choosing to put time, energy and effort into what’s important to you in your life and learning to be happy on your own so you can share that happiness with someone else. You and your partner will fall short and are incapable of being each other’s only source of happiness. Imagine the pressure you’d feel from that! You two will undoubtedly make each other happy if you’re in a healthy relationship, but you will rest easy in the fact you don’t have to be the only source.
Work through your past and move toward healing.
This one is an ongoing process. There’s a multitude of emotions and circumstances that come with healing. If you’ve been through something traumatic, it could affect your day-to-day experiences and interpretations of what other people do and their motivations, including a significant other.
Starting the process now rather than when you have another person to consider can be so liberating. As you work through your challenges or baggage, you can discover tendencies you have that may be a side effect of what you’ve been through. Naming your hurt reclaims power over it. I’m not saying you have to have it all figured out and all of the mess you may bring to a relationship perfectly tidied. However, acknowledging the hurt you may have been through now and doing something about it is great for your mental health and in turn, your well-being. A counselor or therapist is most qualified and depending on your experiences, maybe your best option. But, if you know there is just some baggage you need to talk about to process it, call up a trusted friend and let them know what you need.
Marriage is a beautiful gift, but sometimes the price is compromise or sacrifice. When you’re committed to loving someone and doing life with them for the rest of both of your lives, your dreams, goals and future plans have to go through a WE instead of ME filter. You two will be a team—win together and lose together. Find a communication style that works best for you both and go out of your way to make them feel loved. (You may have different love languages, so sometimes it doesn’t feel as natural to do what your future partner needs.)
The compromises and sacrifices can be as small as sacrificing plans with an old friend when it’s the only night available for date night, waking up early to help each other in the mornings, sharing the spotlight at family gatherings, and the list could go on. Or as big as moving for their job, paying off debt before a down payment on a house, waiting to have kids, etc. In circumstances big and small, being married dictates being flexible or at least being willing to try.
Preparing yourself for marriage is really a journey of self-awareness—understanding the motivations behind your actions, the words you say, how you carry yourself, and how you treat others. It is monumental and can make the world of difference in a relationship and ultimately one day, your marriage.
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