Marriage can be wonderful, but only if you are entirely aware of your individual, unique circumstances. Angel and I have been married for a full year now, and honestly, the transition to married life has been remarkably smooth. I do not believe our initial success with marriage is based on luck either. We took it slow and completed the following 7 steps in an effort to ensure a successful new beginning with each other. I would recommend these 7 steps to every couple considering the commitment of marriage.
- Live Together for a Full Year First– There is no realistic way you could possibly know everything about someone until you live with them. The step of combining your living space will have a dramatic impact on both of your daily routines. This is something you do not want to put off until after the wedding. You both need to uncover all the little surprises first, figure out if it works, and make an educated decision on your future living arrangements.
- Put All the Financial Cards on the Table– Financial trouble is one of the leading causes for divorce. In order to build a successful bridge between your finances both of you need to be aware of depth and distance between your financial standings. Put all the cards on the table, denote any discrepancies, and chart out a blueprint that makes sense to both of you.
- Become Friends with Her Close Friends– Initially this one may seem unnecessary or even a bit strange, but mutual friendships are a vital key to the long term success of intimate relationships. Her friends are a big part of who she is, just as your friends are a big part of who you are. It is foolish to assume that close friendships with third parties will have no impact on your relationship. If you two are as compatible as you think you are, it makes sense that you should be able to get along with her closest friends. The flipside should hold true as well. It may be a red flag if this is not the case.
- Agree on the Details Related to Children– The idea of having children may seem distant right now, but time flies. Some people are very passionate and firm when it comes to their outlook on raising children. Do you want to have children? When? About how many? Are there any other expectations or assumptions in relation to raising them? These are some of the questions that need to be answered at both ends. It’s impossible to work out every detail now, but there should be some obvious overlap in your views on having children.
- Be Honest with Both Her and Yourself– Relationships are built on a foundation of honesty and trust. No relationship, and therefore no marriage, can survive without both parties involved being honest about how they feel. Don’t just be honest with her, be honest with yourself too. If something is bothering you now, your distaste for it will only inflate as time evolves. Make sure you head into marriage with a clean slate of honesty as it relates to both your feelings and your feelings for her. Make sure she does the same. This should be an open discussion.
- Discuss Personal and Career Goals– Everyone has a different set of goals pertaining to their personal life and career. Some of these goals may have been written in long before you two met each other, long before marriage was under consideration. Neither one of you should have to give up your unachieved goals, but there needs to be a mutual awareness of what these goals are, how well they mesh, and how they impact your future together as a married couple.
- Think About the Possibilities of Change– Change is an inevitable element of life. Life changes with success, it changes with failure, and it changes with time. Nothing in the future will ever be exactly the same as it is right now. Marriage is a commitment that must be flexible in coping with the influences of change. There needs to be proactive discussions now about the possibilities for change and a reciprocated consciousness of the uncharted waters that lie ahead.
Successfully completing these steps should reveal any hidden inconsistencies in your relationship that might draw a negative effect on your marriage. It should also clear your minds of any confusing marriage myths that may have concerned either of you.