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If you want your best self to show up on your best day ever, practicing self-care while planning your wedding should be at the top of your to-do list. Planning a day that is ultimately about 8 hours but signifies a lifelong commitment can be stressful, I’ll be the first to admit it, having planned my own wedding. Stress can take a toll on a person and affect your relationship with your soon-to-be spouse, so to get your marriage off on the right foot, let’s get you taken care of!

4 Ways to Practice Self-Care While Planning a Wedding:

1. Set aside a day when you don’t wedding plan.

It’s important that the engagement season doesn’t drain all of your attention. You and your fiancé need to spend quality time with each other. You’re getting married because you’ve fallen in love and see a life together. The energy you felt while dating can continue into engagement season and throughout your marriage if you prioritize your relationship first—I mean it is what your wedding day is celebrating after all! Here’s a great blog with simple ideas to spend quality time together during the wedding season.

2. Delegate tasks.

I know this is a hard one—especially because you know the vision in your head and making the list of everything that needs to get done sounds just as scary as doing them. BUT if you make a list, I can almost guarantee you’ll find there are little things some of your wedding party or family can help with. Delegating some of the more mundane time-suckers would allow you to pencil in some self-care. Things like: collecting addresses, addressing envelopes, designing the wedding program, calling floral shops for pricing, etc. 

3. Cut yourself some slack and take it one day at a time.

Try not to be so hard on yourself or your fiancé. With the stress of planning a perfect day, a bump in the road can sneak its way into looking like a mountain. There will be things that don’t go as planned, have to be re-thought or rearranged, and that’s just a part of the process! Don’t take on the stress of planning the wedding as a whole—only take on the next task.

Making a list not only helps you delegate but it can help you navigate what needs to be done. Give yourself a timeline with your to-do list and only look at what’s next on the list after you check something off. Wedding planning can be overwhelming, but when you give yourself the chance to take it one task at a time rather than planning the whole thing at once, you’ll feel better. (Let’s be honest, checking things off a list feels good—so make it lots of little checks!)

4. Focus on your overall health.

A great self-care practice is being mindful of your body. Check-in with yourself:

  • Am I getting enough sleep?
  • How’s my mental health?
  • Am I expressing my feelings?
  • Am I…
    • Nourishing my body?
    • Drinking enough water?
    • Being present when I’m with my fiancé?
    • Being active or exercising in some way?

It can be tempting to go on an extreme diet or compromise sleep in the name of getting everything done, but it’s not worth it. When you get married, you’re stepping into a different lifestyle and both of you will bring different elements. If you want a healthy lifestyle, it’ll be much easier to bring something to the table you’re already in a habit of and enjoy rather than being so excited for the wedding to be over so you can stop whatever draining regimen you’re doing beforehand. Be mindful and take care of you. You want to show up feeling better than ever on your big day, so be kind to yourself and make it happen.

Before you buy into “there’s not enough time in the day” or that you have to lose sleep while wedding planning, buy into yourself. If you prioritize yourself—you know half of the reason why this day is even happening, then you’ll get to really enjoy the process during this crazy and exciting season!

Other blogs that may be helpful for you!

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!

OMG! It finally happened! I’m engaged! There are so many things to do:

  • Venue 
  • Bridal Party
  • Flowers
  • Wedding Dress
  • Ceremony and Reception
  • Honeymoon location

Once you’re engaged, the focus turns to make sure that the “Wedding of Your Dreams” occurs. Yes, your wedding is important, and there are many details that go into making your wedding an event to remember. I couldn’t wait to plan the wedding of my dreams. I didn’t stop to consider that the wedding is not the destination. It is, however, the beginning of your marriage journey.

Have you considered what comes after the big day?

What about the marriage of your dreams?

What are you doing to prepare for your marriage

Here are some of the things I wish someone had shared with me

It’s not all about ME anymore, but about WE:

Once you get married, you and your spouse are a family. Decisions and expectations are no longer one-sided. It is important to consider the thoughts and feelings of your spouse.

Ask The Right Questions About the Big Topics.

  • Children: Are we hoping to have children? When? How many?
  • If we do have children and both of us are working, how will we handle that?
  • In-Laws: How involved will they be? What are expectations regarding holidays, family dinners, birthdays?
  • Money: Do we have a budget? Separate or joint bank accounts? What about debt? (Student loan, credit card, etc.) Who will pay the bills? What are our goals? 
  • Friendships: How will our friendships be the same or different? Opposite-Sex Friendships? How much time do we spend with separate friends?
  • Goals/Dreams: What is your dream job? Where do you want to live?
  • Legacy: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? Family legacy?

Be open for change.

Even when you have talked about the “big-ticket items,” be ready and open for opportunities you don’t expect to come up. One month after our wedding, my husband made a career change that changed our lives. We moved 800 miles away from friends and family so he could attend graduate school. He hinted at the change during our engagement, but I never truly considered it a possibility. I decided to make the most of the adventures and opportunities represented. Looking back, that was one of the best things for helping us build a strong marriage.

Friendships might shift.

You might see some friends less and see some friends more. As a couple, you might become friends with some other couples. Getting married doesn’t mean giving up your friendships, but you might have to be intentional about maintaining and caring for those friendships. You both still need friends, but make sure they are friends that are for your marriage.

Be prepared to go all-in.

Being married is not something to do half-heartedly. It requires you to give your time, energy, and effort. Go all-in for your marriage not because you have to or are supposed to, but because you CHOOSE your spouse and your marriage. It takes Intentionality. 

Realize your marriage journey will not look like anyone else’s.

In the first five years of our marriage, my husband and I moved five times between three different states. When I looked at the marriages of other friends and family, none of them looked like mine. I compared mine to theirs and felt mine lacked stability. I had to realize my marriage journey was MY marriage journey. As a result of the many moves, we learned to lean and depend on each other. Wherever we ended up was fine because any place with the two of us was HOME.

Seek Premarital Education.

There are a plethora of opportunities to seek premarital education from a variety of sources. You may choose any or all of these options to help you prepare for marriage.

  • First Things First has an online premarital course
  • The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman. 
  • Mentor Couple—find a married couple with whom you can talk, ask questions, and has the marriage you would like to have.
  • Religious /Spiritual premarital counseling.

The day of your wedding is the beginning of your MARRIAGE JOURNEY. Making time to strengthen your relationship during your engagement will prepare you for more than a day. It will prepare you for a LIFETIME of marriage together. 

Image from Pexels.com

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!

*Clink!* Champagne flutes (or rocks glasses if it’s your preference) meet to toast the “Yes!” you just said. Before you even have the chance to sit down, enjoy the butterflies and process what just happened, the congratulations come serendipitously. People begin to ask ALL THE QUESTIONS, poking at what’s next—

Have you picked a date?

Do you know where you’ll have the wedding? Surely a place easy for out-of-town guests to get to?

What kind of dress do you want?

Being engaged is a whirlwind. Do yourself a favor and set aside your expectations while you call upon every easygoing/adaptable fiber in your being.

Here Are 8 Things No One Tells You About Being Engaged:

1. You’ll have to tell the proposal story over and over and over—probably even on your wedding day.

It’s sweet to relive the question you’ve waited for… maybe the first 10 times. But you’ll tell it more than 10 times, so don’t let it surprise you if strangers who notice your ring ask about the intimate details of your proposal. *Take a deep breath* and give yourself a break. You don’t have to feel guilty if it gets old! The magic or relief you felt during the proposal is not dimmed because you don’t feel like narrating your own life. Consider an engagement party where you tell it in person to a group of your closest friends and family. Or, make a post to a social media or wedding website with the story for all your virtual friends to read on their time and not yours.

2. Your parents may have way more opinions on the wedding than they’ve had on your relationship.

Sometimes those endearing parents of yours blur the boundary between being helpful and being controlling. If your parents are trying to control the wedding, have a conversation with your fiancé about how you want to address the situation. Then sit down and talk with your parents. *Some pro advice I got while engaged:  If it’s your parent, youre the spokesperson for that conversation and vice versa (aka blood talks to blood). This advice keeps the us vs. them mentality from creeping in.*

If you’re in a situation where your parents are paying for the wedding, you have to find the balance of respecting their wishes and making some compromises but still making it feel like your day. If you’re paying for the wedding yourselves, there’s a lot more room for saying it isn’t what you have in mind. Of course, in this situation you want to honor your parents. Delegating some tasks is a great way to show you need them and they are important.

3. Friends who have recently gotten married are self-proclaimed wedding planning expertsand they’ll impart their wisdom without you even having to ask!😅

I love how The Knot puts it: Take it in stride. “You should/shouldn’t do this” can come across as telling you what to do and not suggesting what you two could do. At the end of the day, you and your fiancé decide what advice to take and who to listen to. If you take some of their advice, wonderful! But if not, just say thank you and move on.

4. One of you may be more ready to jump into planning than the other.

Sometimes it comes down to a difference in personality. Try not to take it personally if you suspect that may be the reason. 

Be sensitive to each other. Talk about what you two need from this engagement season. Then decide together (this could mean compromising sooner or later than you wanted) on when to start the planning process. You two are on your own timeline. Talk about some of the logistics like when both of your leases end, are you still in school, are you having to move for a job, etc., to get an idea of whether or not there’s an urgency to start this process.

5. It’s not all sweet; planning can cause a lot of tension and stress between you and your fiancé.

The movies make it look like everything perfectly falls into place like a rigged game of Tetris or everything somehow falls apart like the last move in Jenga. The truth is, many people (yourselves included) will ask you questions. Date, location, guest number, food, color scheme, theme, photographer, first look, where are you getting the dress, can I have a plus one… trust me the list goes on and on. I think it’d be silly to say there’s not a chance of it being overwhelming—for one or both of you. 

The reality is you aren’t just planning a wedding, you’re preparing for marriage. The questions start off with wedding day talk but lean seamlessly into your future together. You have finances to consider, serious conversations about kids or no kids, how you want to handle conflict, expectations for who takes care of what in the house, etc. With so much on the table, tension can grip tightly. You may feel like you and your fiancé are fighting more now than ever. If you’re fighting nonstop, take inventory on what it’s about. Is it understandable? Are you spending enough quality time together outside of decision making? Prioritize your relationship over the planning, because your relationship is going to be around much longer than a day.

6. It’s hard to enjoy the engagement season.

For some reasons listed above plus the busyness this season brings, it can be hard to soak in any of the joy. I know I was so excited to be engaged and thought I would feel how I felt when my husband proposed throughout the whole engagement. Some people do. If you’re finding it hard to enjoy, you’re not alone and it’s not a reflection on your excitement to marry the love of your life. If you can, consider delegating some of the responsibilities you have. Spend quality time with your fiancé and find excuses to introduce each other as fiancés because a little recognition of importance goes a long way.

7. You may consider changing how long you thought you’d be engaged: shorter or longer!

Sometimes just when you think you have it figured out, everything changes! It’s neither better nor worse—it just is what it is! If you have gotten engaged during the pandemic or have been engaged during all of this, then you were likely faced with having to consider the options. Change to a later date, get married on the original date (with less people potentially) or decide not to wait any longer because the world may have a lot of uncertainty, but you know one thing is certain—you’re ready to be married!

Outside of the COVID-19 world, life happens and circumstances come up you just don’t expect. Maybe it’s something like a job change or a death in the family. Perhaps it’s acceptance to grad school or a lease opening up at your dream apartment. Whatever comes along, you and your fiancé’s main goal should be a willingness to be flexible for changing up the plans if it’s best for your relationship in the long run. You two may find yourself like me who only had a 6-month engagement and eloping sounded more and more tempting as the days slowly trekked by. On the other hand, you may realize there’s much more to do than you two initially thought. Having a longer engagement would give you the space to make stuff happen without the stress of being rushed.

8. Your relationship feels different.

Even though you’ve anticipated this milestone, it feels different. It’s sweeter looking down at a promise of forever and wearing a symbol to everyone that someone wants you now and whoever you grow to be in the years to come. There’s a comfort and confidence with being engaged (it feels even better when you’re married). 

Sure, there’s some pressure, too. But stay true to who you are (the person they fell in love with) and work on being the best version of you there is.

Hopefully with these 8 things on your radar, you have a better idea of what to expect. I wish you and your sweetheart all of the love, a stress-free (as possible) wedding and most importantly, a beautiful marriage.

Consider these blogs for some additional resources:

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!

While you’re engaged, conversations tend to hover endlessly around the wedding day, and naturally so. Though working out the details and planning your celebration is exciting, having conversations about other topics is important, too. 

You and your fiancé are stepping into something beautiful—a promise of commitment, a proclamation of loving each other now and falling in love over and over again, a 24/7 best friend, and a person who wants to love you at your best and through the worst. You owe it to each other to take the time to appreciate what you have and to continue the pursuit.

One way to pursue each other is to sit down and have important conversations. Continue to learn about each other, find a middle ground for things you may not have the same opinion on, and keep the door open to come back to these conversations down the road. As time goes by, things can change, and so can you. 

5 Conversations Every Engaged Couple Should Have Before They Say, “I Do”

1. Talk about the importance of marriage, what it means to you both and what you hope for it to look like.

Being on the same page about why marriage is important to you helps you both take ownership of your relationship and establishes its value. When you take the time to lay out your hopes and expectations, you invite your spouse into the opportunity to make those happen. If you don’t voice what you expect from your future spouse, you’ll set them up for failure and yourself up for disappointment.

2. Do you want children?

If one of you does and the other doesn’t, this could be quite an obstacle to get over. It is important not to assume the other’s answer in this particular conversation because it intimately affects what the future looks like. Talking about this as an engaged couple is a really big deal.

3. How do you handle conflict and what rules do you want to establish on how to fight when you do?

Conflict is inescapable for any relationship, says Psychologist Dan Wile, but some of the best news is that conflict handled well actually brings you closer instead of pulling you apart. You have to find what works best for you both. For my husband and I, we have two ground rules: 1. No yelling and 2. No cussing at each other. This works for us! If we feel like we are going to start yelling, we call timeout and revisit the conversation after we have had time to process.

With more than 40 years of love and relationship research under their belt, The Gottman Institute says that whether love will last is more about how couples address their differences and support one another’s needs and dreams. Here are some steps they suggest to handle conflict better.

4. Talk through your finances. 

What are your financial goals? Have you talked about a budget and about savings? This topic can take a turn for the worst pretty quickly if you don’t find a middle ground. Here’s some guidance on automating money in your marriage and saving thousands by The Gottman Institute.

5. Intimacy in your relationship.

It’s an often underrated conversation. Being intimate isn’t limited to being physical, though that is an important part. In fact, there’s emotional and spiritual intimacy, too. Each of these plays into each other and helps create a deeper bond with your partner because you are learning about them in a way that others may never experience. Spending quality time together is a great way to increase intimacy. Talk about what your dreams are, your spirituality, your feelings and what’s on your heart as well.

Get personal with your sweetheart. Start out your marriage with the muscle memory of talking through tough conversations, how you want to love each other and what’s important to you. The more you communicate, the richer the potential for a lovely life together. Now who’s ready to say I do?

Check out some other great blogs for engaged couples:

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!

Image from Unsplash.com

Fighting with your fiancé all the time, aka, the person you are planning on spending forever with, can feel just exhausting. The uncertainty from COVID-19, the potential for rescheduling your wedding, fear of job loss, or navigating unemployment while trying to secure a future together, spending what may feel like too much time together, and so many unknowns right now can definitely stir the dust in the air. Just when you think the dust is going to settle, one of you kicks it back up again! 

I have seen far too many people fall into the trap of marrying a person thinking that they knew them, but in reality, they only knew about them,” says Dr. John Van Epp, relationship expert, and author. 

So, for starters, if you find yourself in constant conflict with your fiancé, what exactly are you fighting about?  

  • Finances around the wedding?
  • When you will actually get married?  
  • What the celebration will look like in the midst of “RONA?”
  • One of you is messy and the other is a neat freak?
  • Your mother?
  • Quarantining during the Pandemic?
  • The dishes in the sink overnight?
  • Money in general?

Fighting about things that matter is one thing, but if you find yourself fighting with your fiancé about Every. Little. Thing, that’s a whole new ballgame. It might be a good time to take inventory of your relationship and see if it’s unhealthy. 

An important thing to consider—if you are fighting about everyday things that you will for sure continue to encounter, and you are thinking that once you marry things will simmer down and those issues won’t be such a big deal or you will be able to “work on your spouse” to get them to change… Do not be fooled. If you see things that you need to work on individually or as a couple, the chances of change happening before the wedding are far greater than after the ring is on your finger

The hopeful news is that conflict is inescapable for any relationship, AND some of the best news is that conflict handled well actually brings you closer instead of pulling you apart. 

You for sure are not alone in this. Psychologist Dan Wile says it best in his book After the Honeymoon: “When choosing a long-term partner, you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unresolvable problems.” It’s true.  Every couple has around 10 things they will not necessarily agree on for the duration of their marriage. Despite this, relationship expert Dr. Gottman, who has studied couples for the last 40 years, has found that about ⅓ of conflicts can be resolved with the right approach. Even for those things that you might disagree on for forever, Gottman found that how you approach each other is the key.

Dr. Gottman’s Approach:

  • Step 1: Soften Your Start-Up. Are you beginning the conversation where you left off in your head? When your fiancé gets to your apartment you say, “Why should I ever be ready on time? You’re always late.” They respond with, “I got stuck behind an accident. I’m working on my timing.” Then maybe you go on to say, “It’ll be something else next time.” Soft Start-Ups don’t include the Four Horsemen (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling). Instead, you and your partner start the conversation gently and with intentions of understanding each other and coming to a resolution.
  • Step 2: Learn to Send and Receive Repair Attempts. Think of a repair attempt as slamming on the brakes when you see a red light. You do this to avoid a collision that could harm your marriage,” says Kyle Benson from the Gottman Institute. In the example above, acknowledging that your fiancé is working on their time management could have de-escalated the situation. Practicing sending and receiving repair attempts can help improve the quality of your relationship.
  • Step 3: Soothe Yourself and Each Other. If you know you’re too upset to have a conversation at the moment, take a 20-30 minute break and try and “focus on the positives of your relationship by yourself.” When you’re “Flooded, ” as Dr. John Gottman refers to it, your brain is flooded with stress hormones and chemicals that make it nearly impossible for your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain responsible for complex problem-solving, to function. As a result, you can’t physiologically function as you normally would. You can’t communicate as you normally should. Acknowledge what makes you feel flooded, talk about the best way and time to bring up issues to each other, how your partner can soothe you and what signals you can give each other to clue the other into how you’re feeling.
  • Step 4: Compromise. When you negotiate, you accept each other’s imperfections while recognizing your relationship is more important than the argument and being right.
  • Step 5: Address Emotional Injuries. Sometimes how you fight is what hurts more than what you were fighting about. Be open to talking it out and processing what you two went through. Accept responsibility and learn from your fights.

Fighting with your fiancé doesn’t have to be all bad—it can be an area for growth and an opportunity to understand each other’s differences better. A great way to fight for your relationship is by preparing for marriage. Consider premarital education or counseling to set yourselves up with the tools you need to thrive in your relationship.

Some other blogs you might find helpful!

10 RULES TO “FIGHT NICE” WITH YOUR SPOUSE

TOP 10 POTENTIAL MARRIAGE PITFALLS

10 GREAT DATES BEFORE YOU SAY “I DO”

10 RED FLAGS IN A DATING RELATIONSHIP

***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.***

Image from AdobeStock.com

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!

I just want to feel our love—the love we are spending time, energy, and money on celebrating. I miss the lack of urgency in answering questions and exchanging our ideas to spark conversations instead of polite compromises. When I was in the midst of planning my wedding I didn’t prioritize quality time with my fiancé. When we saw each other it was business. We sat in the tension of wanting romance but not knowing how to be both productive and passionate about each other. Learn from my mistake and get you and yours on a date! 

The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia did a study on how date nights affect couples. According to the study The Date Night Opportunity by W. Bradford Wilcox and Jeffrey Dew (University of Virginia, 2012):

In these data sets, husbands’ and wives’ reports of couple time were associated with higher relationship quality. For example, Figure 1 shows that husbands and wives who engaged in couple time with their mates at least once a week were approximately 3.5 times more likely to report being “very happy” in their marriages, compared to those who enjoyed less quality time with their spouse.

You are preparing for marriage as you prepare for your wedding. You will be someone’s husband or wife. Take what you see from the research and practice this habit so that it becomes muscle memory for your marriage! Don’t let the quantity of time you’re spending together blur with the meaning of quality time with your fiancé. 

How to Spend Quality Time with Your Fiancé While Planning a Wedding:

  1. Go over both of your schedules together. If you are making time to plan, to grocery shop, or to hang out with friends then you can surely make time to be intentional with your future spouse! Re-allocate your time and try to spend time together at least once a week. P.S. Try your best to refrain from talking about the wedding during this time—unless it’s about how excited you are!
  1. Be intentional with your time. Now that you have carved out some precious time together, don’t waste it! Put up the screens and put in the effort. Talk about how you two can love each other well. If you don’t know what your love language is, take the test and find out. Enjoy falling in love with each other over and over again (as well as learning to love each other better and better.)
  1. Cultivate intimacy. To have intimacy you have to spend quality time together. Communicating your desires, thoughts, feelings, and needs effectively and often are a sure-fire way to keep your connection with each other close. In this same vein, pursue each other. There’s nothing like the feeling of being worth someone’s time and effort. When you pursue your spouse-to-be, you are communicating to them they are valuable and deserving of your love. And for goodness’ sake—kiss! “A daily 6-second kiss will increase your emotional and physical intimacy.” According to author Dr. Kory Floyd, physical contact releases oxytocin (the bonding or trust hormone), can improve your mood (for days at a time), and can help you stay calm. To top it off, something as simple as holding hands, hugging, getting close, and yes, making out, can lessen your stress hormones (cortisol) and enrich your sense of relationship satisfaction.

You have your life together ahead of you. Let’s start it out with some healthy habits and making sure your relationship is the priority.

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to get the most quality out of your time set aside for each other, here is a link to date nights that perfectly mix together fun, romance, and facilitate natural connection… Pro-Tip: They’re free! (Which I know is a plus since weddings aren’t always cheap.)

Image from Unsplash.com

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!

Prioritizing your marriage over your wedding is a beautiful place to grow from. While the wedding day itself is dreamt of, saved for, and planned out, it can be magical without being financially detrimental. You’ll find you carry over some of the same conversations you had while planning your wedding while having conversations about preparing for marriage. What you two talk about in regard to how to save money for the big day will probably lead you to some great ideas you take with you after the wedding season.

It wouldn’t surprise me if you talked about:

  • Cutting down on how often you eat and drink out
  • Combining subscriptions like Netflix, Spotify or Apple Music
  • Buying some used things instead of buying all new things
  • Setting saving goals
  • Packing your lunch
  • Paying off debt
  • Asking friends and family if they have something you need

Research from the Gottman Institute shows that one of the biggest reasons couples fight is because of money. You can avoid this by getting on the same page and goal-setting together! When the two of you have a conversation about how you spend your money separately and how you can save together, you’ll find that while working as a team, you’re strengthening your relationship. You’ll inevitably align your priorities and practice making important decisions together. It’s a win-win. So let’s get down to business: You want to save money for your wedding, so here are some great ways to do so with a little advice from NerdWallet and my own wedding experience!

Money-Saving Tips for Planning Your Wedding:

If you’re expecting to be engaged soon, start saving.

If you know the two of you are planning to get married, start saving as soon as possible! My husband and I looked at our monthly income and cost of living and found room where we could save. Some months we saved $500 each, some $300. You have to figure out what works best for you. The best part about starting a few months prior to being engaged is that we could pay for things as we made decisions and we knew we had stability from the get-go.

Consider having an intimate wedding!

COVID-19 has made guests joining in over Zoom or Facebook Live sexy. All of the money you’ll save on food, beverages, a DJ, venue, extra hours from photographers, the rehearsal dinner with extended family, bridesmaids and groomsmen can go straight into investing in your own marriage! Maybe you can save money based on what you were willing to pay for a bigger wedding and put it away as an emergency or fun fund!

Skip the Saturday wedding.

Planning your wedding for a Sunday or weekday can save you thousands! (I know from experience—my husband and I saved $1.5k by having a Sunday wedding.)

Think outside the box for a venue.

Vacation home, if you know someone with property, government-owned historical sites, restaurants, State Parks (so, so cheap), etc.

Use the venue’s resources.

Using a venue that offers chairs and tables is a huge plus! Ask what’s included.

Design and send your own invites. Go paperless for the younger friends!

Canva has tons of free designs. The two best pro-tips I can give is to only send formal invites to those you know wouldn’t be as tech-savvy and email the rest. If you do decide to print, here is part 2: use Staples to print. Don’t upload your design as an invitation, but as a postcard! It cost us maybe $48 for 250 “Save the Dates” and postage costs less for postcards as well! We did the same things with our invitations but put them in an envelope and used the back as a place for more information. (P.S. The average cost for stationery/postage items like those listed is over $400… I just told you a way to do both for about $100). My wedding planner book told me to budget $800?!?

Buy Wholesale Flowers.

You can put arrangements together yourself and save $150 alone on what people charge for making bridal bouquets!

Check the sale rack and wedding dress samples first!

Your dress won’t be any less beautiful if you get a great deal.

Borrow anything you can!

Everything from accessories, centerpieces from friends or family members who have gotten married, decorations… anything!

Cut down on a store-bought cake.

Trust me, you don’t need as much cake as you think. Get a nice personal cake to cut into for you and your spouse and ask some friends and family to make the rest. This worked out beautifully for us.

Limit Plus-Ones.

If someone isn’t seriously dating, they don’t need one! On the flip side, just because someone is dating, doesn’t mean you need to invite the significant other—especially if you aren’t close to them! If someone is coming from out of town, offering a plus-one to travel with is thoughtful.

Be up front with each other while planning your wedding and figure out what your priorities are. Remember, your wedding day is the beginning, but your marriage is the rest of the story. One of the best reasons to save money on your wedding is so you can invest directly into your marriage! Enjoy this season, but anticipate the sweetness that follows. Being married is just the best!! (I’m biased, but I’d like to think I’m also honest.)

Image from Pexels.com

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!

What people are thinking about about marriage may surprise you.

At the 2019 NARME Summit in Nashville, Dr. Scott Stanley shared what people are thinking about marriage using the latest marriage and cohabitation research.

If you’ve heard that married couples have a 50% chance of eventually divorcing, did you know that this statistic pertains specifically to Baby Boomers—the most divorcing generation ever in U.S. history? The news is better for those marrying today—their lifetime risk for divorce is only around 38%.

Before you get too excited about the divorce rate decrease though, it would be important to know that the marriage rate has also decreased. 

WHAT MARRIAGE LOOKS LIKE TODAY

According to Stanley, demographers and sociologists wonder whether people are marrying later or if a historic number of younger people just won’t marry. Some people are thinking marriage will bounce back, while others think the younger generations are afraid of or disinterested in marriage. 

This is quite perplexing when research, including the U.S. General Social Survey, indicates that around 95% of people say they are “pretty happy” or “very happy” in their marriage. Stanley says it’s possible that people are happy, but that when things go south, they may do so very quickly.

The average age of first marriage is currently 30 for men and 28 for women, but this delay in marriage puzzles many who have young adult children or grandchildren. Boomers and Gen Xers reflect on their own young adulthood and realize that not only did they marry in their early to mid-20s, but they also had children and jobs.

So what’s up with the delay? Stanley likens it to people milling around the airport who aren’t all there for the same reason. 

THREE TYPES OF SINGLES

  1. Seekers: Some are there seeking the one perfect person who will be perfectly attuned to them. Stanley cautions these seekers to examine if they are unrealistically seeking perfection from someone when they aren’t perfect themselves.
  2. Determined Delayers: The “determined delayers” at the airport might eventually be seeking “the one,” but are uninterested in finding them, at least for now. They say they want to get married—but maybe in five years or so. These delayers are either having fun trying out several relationships or are enjoying being uninvolved romantically.
  3. Wanderers: Then there are the wanderers, who aren’t looking for a relationship or preventing one either. If they get into a relationship and it works, they could easily end up married.

It’s when a seeker starts dating a determined delayer and doesn’t know it that things can get complicated. Stanley says ambiguity can lead one person in the dating relationship to believe that the other is more interested in marriage than they really are.

THE COMPETITION TO COMMITMENT

According to Stanley, the number one competitor to commitment in a relationship is how good your alternatives are and your awareness of them. People who carry a lot of relationship experience into marriage tend to think, “I hope this works, but if it doesn’t, there are other fish in the sea.”

“Marriage for many people has moved from being a cornerstone to your life to a capstone,” Stanley shares. “Instead of being foundational, it is a major achievement as a status symbol.”

Yet, the 2018 American Family Survey (AFS) indicates that 64 percent of us believe that marriage makes families and children better off financially. A large majority believes that marriage is necessary to create strong families and that society is better off when more people are married. The percentage of people who believe marriage is old-fashioned and outdated hovers in the mid-teens.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • If there is a benefit in delaying marriage, Stanley believes that perhaps people are self-insuring to protect themselves from potential loss. However, the downside of that means they are doubling down on individualism versus interdependence.
  • Friends used to connect their friends to their future mate, but the data shows that more people are meeting online instead. If people wisely use these online systems to look for someone who is a better fit instead of limiting themselves to only the people in their community, this is good news for relationships. Stanley says people need to think about what they are looking for and intentionally surround themselves with people who share their values.
  • People are wrestling with the idea of marriage for various reasons. When the AFS asked what was essential to living a fulfilled life, marriage was the lowest thing on the list. A good living, education and a rewarding job were at the top. It could be that people are thinking if they have those three things, their chances of making marriage work are greater, but no one knows for sure.

In The Atlantic piece, What You Lose When You Gain a Spouse, Mandy Len Catron contends that marriage is socially isolating, marriage is no longer what many want, there is too much emphasis on marriage and commitment is really the main thing, not marriage.  

Research does indicate singles have more social connections than marrieds, and they tend to have a broader community. When people marry, they do tend to invest their time and energy into their marriage. However, couples who know that marriage could become socially isolating can be intentional about building social connectedness and community.

THREE QUESTIONS TO CLARIFY COMMITMENT IN A RELATIONSHIP OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE

For those who align with Mandy Len Catron, Stanley offers three questions that are important to ask.

Have you…

  1. Both agreed to a lifetime of commitment to each other?
  2. Publicly declared the depth of your commitment to those who matter most in your lives?
  3. Agreed to be faithful to each other for the rest of your lives?

The answers to these questions can help determine the trajectory of the relationship, for better or for worse.

This article originally appeared in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on August 9, 2019.

***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.***

Image from Unsplash.com

Why do couples fight? And what do they usually fight about?

Most people say they fight about money, sex, kids, and in-laws straight out of the gates.

In romantic relationships, all kinds of major and minor disagreements can impact the quality of a couple’s relationship. If you’re wondering what couples are most likely to fight about, check out this 2019 study by psychologists Guilherme Lopes, Todd Shakelford, David Buss, and Mohaned Abed.

They conducted the study in three stages with newly-married heterosexual couples. They looked at all of their areas of discord, and what they found was pretty interesting. Out of 83 reasons for couple conflict, they found 30 core areas which they placed into six component groups.

Component Groups:

  1. Inadequate Attention or Affection. This would include things like not showing enough love and affection, lack of communication, one not paying enough attention to the other, not being appreciated, and feelings.
  2. Jealousy and Infidelity. This was affected by real or perceived risk to the relationship from things like talking to an ex, possessiveness, past relationships, and differing opinions on whose friends couples hang around more.
  3. Chores and Responsibilities: Think about everyday tasks that couples may share. The housekeeping, chores, who does more work, not showing up when expected, and sharing responsibilities would fit here.
  4. Sex. One may want sex and the other doesn’t. Frequency of sex, sexual acts, and telling private information about the relationship to others—the list goes on.
  5. Control and Dominance. This would refer to events in which one partner tries to manipulate or control the other in some way.
  6. Future Plans and Money. Things like goals for the future, children, and the ability to invest in the relationship fall into this category.

Utilizing these areas of discord, the psychologists created the Reasons for Disagreements in Romantic Relationships Scale (RDRRS).

Key Findings

  • Jealousy and infidelity seemed to decrease after several years of marriage
  • A husband’s higher income contributed to control and dominance issues.
  • Men who were more religious mentioned less disagreement over jealousy and infidelity elements.
  • Relationship satisfaction improved over time, although the frequency of differences did not change significantly during the three years of marriage.
  • Females were less satisfied when there was more disagreement about control and dominance. As women grew older, there was more disagreement about infidelity and jealousy.
  • Women reported that sexual satisfaction was lower when there was greater disagreement about chores and responsibilities.
  • Women were more likely to guess they would have an affair in five years when there was greater disagreement around inadequate attention and affection.

Whether considering marriage, engaged, or already married, this info can provide a great foundation for a conversation about potential disagreements. There’s some relief in knowing that lots of people struggle with the same types of issues. However, it might be a bit disconcerting to find that the one you love doesn’t see things the same way you do. It’s pretty much impossible for two people from two different upbringings to come together and not have any differences of opinion about certain things.

Either way, knowing you have these differences or areas of conflict can help you talk about how you’ll navigate them so your relationship can thrive in the process.

How Do You Talk About It?

Find a time when you both can talk for 30 minutes or so without distraction. Choose one of the topics you differ on and begin sharing. Keep in mind, always seek information and to remain curious. Don’t include any rules about the conversation ending when the timer goes off! This also isn’t the time to try and convince your partner they’re wrong and should for sure see things your way.

Couples often find that seeking to understand their partner helps them make sense of why they think the way they do. It doesn’t mean you have to agree. You can still disagree on some things and have a healthy marriage, but it’ll require some effort on each person’s part. If you’re dating or engaged, your differences may be significant enough for you to evaluate whether marrying each other is the best next step. It really boils down to respecting your partner and doing what’s in your relationship’s best interest.

This article originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on January 11, 2020.

***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 your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

Being engaged is a season of anticipation! You feel all kinds of excitement, right? You can’t wait! Before the wedding arrives, that and the honeymoon are all you can think about! (Plus, you can’t wait for all those wedding questions to stop!)

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