The bride-to-be shared that it was only two weeks, four days and six hours until the wedding. Her eyes sparkled as she talked, and everyone could tell she was head over heels in love.
Many brides who have gone before her know that feeling so well. They also know that starry-eyed love is not all you need to carry you through the marriage journey.
What kind of advice would newlyweds give to engaged couples?
One bride shared that she and her husband didn’t talk about finances before walking down the aisle. Even though they were set up for automatic deposit and bill payment, she was clueless about what was in their checking account.
“Not too long after we married, I decided to spend a little extra on payday,” said the bride. “I almost caused us to bounce checks because it was the first of the month, when many of our largest bills are paid. To this day, we still haven’t established a budget.”
Research shows that money is one of the least important factors couples consider when preparing for marriage. However, it is the number one thing that creates distress in marriage. Many newlyweds create massive debt furnishing their home, driving nice cars, and generally “keeping up with the Joneses.” Instead of trying to immediately have what your parents accumulated over many years, attend a money management seminar to learn how to budget your money. Most money experts agree there are three cardinal rules to follow when it comes to managing your money: Spend less than you make, avoid going into long-term debt, and put away a little bit for a rainy day.
One couple shared that even though they love each other, adjusting to having someone else around and having to consider their thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes is a huge change. Everything from getting ready with only one bathroom and bedtime when one person is a night owl and the other isn’t - to spending habits, how to do the laundry, a clean bathroom, in-laws/extended family, visitors and time for date nights - are now up for discussion and negotiation.
Learning how to do the marriage dance without stepping on each other’s toes is a skill that takes time to master. The best thing you can do is talk about all of these issues as they arise. Keeping your frustration to yourself will only create friction in your relationship. This is where you learn it isn’t all about you and your wants and desires. It is learning how to let another person be a part of your life. You have to figure out how to give and receive and compromise.
One bride said she wished she had known she'd have to sacrifice who she was for the sake of her marriage. Healthy marriage isn’t about sacrificing who you are when you come together as one. Coming together should make you better as an individual and better as a team. Talking about career expectations, children, individual and collective goals before you marry will be helpful. There are seasons in marriage when you choose to make sacrifices because it honors your relationship. This doesn’t mean that only one person makes sacrifices.
Finally, keep expectations realistic. The person you marry cannot meet your every need, make you happy and always be perfect. You will disagree. You will make mistakes. And believe it or not, there will be times when you don’t feel head over heels in love. That doesn’t mean you married the wrong person - nobody is perfect. We all have needs and growth opportunities. Don't focus on your needs and your mate's weaknesses. Instead, focus on their needs and strengths, and on your own opportunities for growth.
A great start for your marriage takes at least as much prep time as you put into your wedding day. These couples have high hopes for a long lasting, healthy marriage. If that is your goal, make it a point to start investing now in your relationship.
The return on your investment will be worth it!
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