So to the topic at hand, what are the Must Do's Before You Say I Do?
1 .Check Your Self From The Neck Up.
Every person has baggage. It is a irrefutable fact. What you do with that baggage is up to you. What ever your baggage is, whither it is abuse, trust issues, honesty or just finances, make sure you get your head on straight for the sake of your marriage. You need to leave all your baggage at the front door and reveal everything to them. Let them see them for who you really are, for if you try to hide it, the truth about yourself will eventually come out. Complete disclosure is always a must. In most cases, couples feel comfortable revealing everything they are to their soon to be spouse, but if you or they can't, then they are not ready to commit because they are afraid of what you or what they will think of you. Regardless of your past, if you cannot forgive yourself, then you will never be able to forgive them for their past. Simply put, No one can love you, if you cannot love yourself.
2. Get Your Finances Order is a MUST DO Before Saying I DO.
Money is a large factor of many divorces in America. It isn't the primary reason, but it is a large factor that puts stress on any relationship. At the risk of getting ridiculed, I will tell you from experience, that if your money isn't in order then your marriage will never be in order. Financial responsibility is a sign of relationship responsibility and dependency. Create a financial plan with your soon to be spouse with goals. Lay all your debts on the table. If they accept you, they will have to accept your debt as well. It is one of large piece of your baggage that you have to disclose to them. There are many couples I have worked with that realize this and work together to make their financial life together stress free before they said I do's. There are several couples out there that don't realize that once they say "I DO" they also say "I DO" to their spouses past and current financial debt, credit and prosperity. So upon marriage, your income may double but your debt may triple. So start a financial plan today before you say "I DO" and stay with it. Seek financial counseling if need be. Just like premarital counseling, there is also premarital financial counseling.
3. Seek Premarital Counseling!
I talk with several couples in the last 10 years that are now opting into premarital counseling before actually getting married. THIS IS A MUST! DO NOT TAKE IT LIGHTLY OR IGNORE THIS PART.
Marriage is a HUGE commitment. It is more than just sharing a life, its about dedicating your life and committing your all to this person your about to say your vows to. Many pastors and ministers are now offering premarital counseling before hand, but I will say, don't be afraid to go for additional counseling. Go to marriage workshops and grow together as a couple before your vows. You will not regret it. You will learn how to overcome all odds together and have a deeper connection with your soon to be spouse than you can ever imagine. Even after you say your "I Do's" continue to seek counsel. Many marriages that have no issues at all is because they continue with marriage workshops, relationship enhancing vacations or marriage retreats that focus on their marriage. Just because you may be in counseling doesn't mean your relationship is broken, but it represents that you and your spouse will do ANYTHING to ensure that it never will be broken.
4. Create a Chore Schedule
Your spouse is not your servant and is not by no means your slave. Recently, a close friend posted on face book post article stated " She Divorced Me Because I Didn't Do The Dishes."
Ok, it was my wife that posted it. It may of been a message to me saying... "HEY WAKE UP AND DO THE DAMN DISHES." Well, probably not that exact meaning. But at first I was furious. I clean... once an awhile. But my thought was I provide for the family the best I can, so cleaning the dishes is less of a priority as for paying bills and financially providing for the family. The article states that it is not just dishes to her, but not doing them was a sign that he was not committed to the relationship as he stated he was. His inability to put a single cup in the dishwasher was a slap in her face. So in hindsight, create a chore list, and follow through with it daily. A messy house can cause a messy relationship. If you don't live with each other, be creative. Do laundry together. Spend a day at your soon to be spouses home and help clean and another day they come over to you place to help you clean. With the chore schedule, don't expect your significant other to just do it, but do it with them. Working together to clean a house or just other maintenance projects will help you keep your relationship clean from resentment and maintain it for years to come.
5. Set Up Date Nights
Right now, you two are doing exactly what you should be. Dating! Even though you are engaged, you are now slowly entering into a period of comfortable. This is a very dangerous stage to be in. You probably don't even realize it. You both go grocery shopping together, laundry, and many times sit at home watching TV. You are so excited to start a marriage together, that you don't realize you are actually living the married life already. It will become VERY monotonous VERY Quickly. Start creating unique and fun things to do with your soon to be spouse. Keep the spontaneous activities alive. Think of new ways to impress her to show her you care, to just not only be there but also to excite her mind. Ladies, don't be timid to being spontaneous as well. Randomly set up a romantic dinner at home over candle light, dress up for him for no reason at all. If you are going through the motions of marriage then now is the perfect time to start acting like your married by dating your spouse. Even after you say I DO... NEVER STOP DATING YOUR SPOUSE. Even with kids, it is your duty to your spouse to date him/her. Once you do have kids, if you don't have kids already, make sure you also date your children. A mother's time with a son and a father's personal time with a daughter is very important. Regardless if you don't have time, make time. Personal romantic vacations even in a hotel room in the same city is an absolute must with your spouse. Making time will deepen your relationship with them. Even if you feel it is too late, it is never too late to make time for the one you love.
6. Stay Romantic
Regardless if you wait for marriage or if you are already intimately active, it is imperative to stay romantically active. Emotionally, mentally and physically. Whither a hot evening of passionate love making to a simple cuddle on the couch. Intimacy is an absolute must and is not too look down upon. Depriving your spouse will damage your relationship more than you can imagine. Woman believe that if they with hold romance from their spouse, it will create a unwanted response from your spouse. Men, same applies. However, woman are geared more for your time vs physical and sexual desire. So regardless how busy you are, make time for your spouse. Intimate time. If you are in a stage of your relationship where you are not ready to be romantic but have in the past with your partner, then it is your duty as a spouse to mentally prepare to be romantic with your spouse. Deprivation of romance can lead to disassociation, to mistrust, and conflict. A few moments of romance can save you from heart ache and from unfaithfulness. So Kiss your spouse every chance you have. Run your fingers through their hair and hold their hand every chance you get. Make sure you communicate your desire for romance, don't just ball it up and never tell them what your needs are. When you tell them your need for romance, make sure your also sensitive to their needs as well and NEVER force yourself on your spouse. It will only cause resentment towards romance with you in the future.
You will hear this from several currently married couple that the key is communication. It can strive off so many fights and arguments that will break any relationship. If your discontent about a situation, don't be afraid to voice your opinion. It may start some arguments but if you two are truly going to work, you will need to learn to be patience and let your significant other vent or voice their opinion as well. If the argument goes too far, take a small break from the conversation and come back to it when you both are cooled off. It is better to slow to anger and show compassion instead of quick to anger and to destroy the trust you have in one another by saying or doing damaging actions. During conversations, use words like "us" or "we" instead of "I feel" or "I think you are wrong." Communicate every thing, from little things that happen in your day to huge life changing decisions. Your spouse will be more willing to listen and jointly choose a decision versus being told what to do. Ask for advice not instruct your spouse. You are a team and therefore you must operate as such.
8. NEVER GO TO BED ANGRY.
If you get in a argument, don't go to bed angry. EVER! First, it means the next day won't get any better and the issues that you may have will not go away with the new day. They are still there, and I can promise you, she may forgive, but she won't forget. She will still hold on to that anger into the next day until you two can work out those issues. In some cases, it may take a few days to work out a certain issue, but you need to not give up. Same goes to wives and future wives, don't send your soon to be husband away just because your upset. Yes, you do need time to cool down but come back to the issue that is upsetting you when you both calm down. In some instances this may be an issue that is needed to be brought up in counseling. Sometimes a 3rd point of view that is non biased is the best opinion to receive. Just focus on the issues and resolve them. Don't give up. Once you give up, then its not fixing anything and will only make things worse.
9. Change Yourself, Not Your Partner.
If you are getting married because you think you can change him/her. Then reread the first section of this article and get your head checked. YOU CAN'T CHANGE ANYONE! You can only change yourself. If you are wanting to endure all with your soon to be spouse, then you need to change yourself first. You may think there is NOTHING WRONG with you, but in reality, your far from the truth. You are the one that needs to change as well. It's not just them. *Veteran couples have learned that trying to change their spouse is like trying to push a rope — almost impossible.*(Focusonthefamily.com). Often, the only person we can change in our marriage is ourselves. Therefore, if you like to see a change in your spouse, treat them as you want to be treated. Don't pull in on the reigns of your spouse but pull the reigns on yourself. In the great scheme of this, you will undoubtedly love yourself for the change you make, and when you love yourself, your spouse will love you more for it. Show them unconditional love and they will in return love you unconditionally.
10. Praise Your Partner
Praise, Praise Praise... That's pretty self explanatory. Your soon to be spouse needs to hear words of affirmation and needs to be told that you are proud of them. It makes them feel appreciated. Men are like children, they need to be told they are doing a good job at being a husband and father. Woman need to be told and shown they are appreciated, whither through praise, words of affirmation or acts of affections. Your attitude towards your spouse will determine their self worth and their worth in this relationship. Small acts of kindness from both husbands and wives to each other will go a long way.
11. Love is a Choice, Not Just A Feeling.
Everyday, wake up and choose to love your spouse. Ask yourself, what can I do today to make my spouse's life better. They may not do the same thing but not only will it give you self satisfaction that your doing all you can for your relationship, you will see a change in your spouses attitude towards you and you will notice that they too will start to do the same for you. It is a choice to love, because after time, the "honeymoon" phase of your relationship will pass and it is from then on a choice to keep the fire burning. Once you give up, or deny your spouse the encouragement, love and time, then your flames of love will slowly flicker to smoldering embers. But with a little bit of tenderness and a few quick soft blows of air, those embers can reignite a full fledged fire of passion that you two once had when you first said your vows.
12. Spend Time With Your Spouse's Family.
We all know the "In-Laws" can be a pain, but in many cases, they can make or break your marriage. In biblical times, a husband will leave his family and join his wife's family. That was of course 6,000 years and obviously times has changed. Woman are maternally instinctive to be closer to their family before their husband's family, it is a time and time again battle that many couples will face. A man would rather spend the day with their wife than their mother in law. However, you must endure, because if you don't, she will resent you. Same goes with wives, you must endure time with your husband's family. Even if he is a mamma's boy, you need to respect his family as you respect him. If you don't respect his family, then you don't respect him and it will show in your relationship.
13. Forgive and Apologize Daily
"Love forgives and does not keep score" It doesn't matter who is right or who is wrong. It's not a competition to always be right. It will only cause resentment and discouragement. Apologize and forgive. Even when it is hard to forgive, you must forgive. It is with in love's nature to be forgiving. If you can't forgive, then you cannot love the person you think you love.
14. Avoid discussing negative feelings or problems about your marriage with friends or family
This is a constant battle, I find myself doing this as well when I feel I just need to "Vent" or just talk to some one. However, I have noticed it can often make things worse. I've noticed, that others start to join in the negative talk or think less of your spouse even after the issues have been resolved. Husbands are just as guilty in this as wives. Next thing you know, truths are skewed, assumptions are made and the wife has her bags packed with the kids and out the door to live with her mother. Talking with your spouse is a must and for more serious problems, consider talking to a marriage counselor or pastor instead of family and friends who are too close to the situation.
15. Never use the "D" Word.
Never in any shape or form during any argument or even just joking mention the "D" word. Just stating on any means of Divorce turns it to an option. Marriage is about working through issues, not to run away from the issues at hand. Many couples frankly state, they will never use the "D" word and they haven't. It has worked for them and they have been together for several of years. Many of those years have been rough, but they made it together.
16. Not Speaking your Spouses Language
Women need to know they are loved and that you are grateful for her. You think you're showing love by going to work every day and bringing home a paycheck, so most of the time you don't do much more than that (except maybe on Valentine's Day). But, she needs more than that to see your love and she needs you to show her that you're doing it all for her. So take a little extra time and do something special. Send her a couple texts during the day or bring her home some flowers from the grocery store. You might be surprised at the reaction you get.
Women love to drop hints, but men just don't get them. Don't waste your time giving subtle hints that he won't understand: Be blunt and be honest about your feelings. Don't bottle things up until you burst. If he asks you what's wrong, don't respond with "nothing" and then expect him to read your mind and emotions. Be open about how you really feel.
17. Avoid Temptation
This is a struggle with men more than woman. Reason being is because men are programmed to procreate and will chase any good looking tail that gives them the most minute bit of affection. Especially if their spouse is neglecting their physical and emotional needs. However, woman have it difficult too. When a man actually listens to the woman about her issues at home, she starts to confide in him more than her husband, which as innocent as she may think, it can easily lead to an affair. Avoid any and all temptations buy talking to your wife. If you even have to question if your spouse would be upset about your interaction with the opposite sex, then your guilty of temptation regardless how "harmless" it may be. Emotional or sexual relationships with another person outside your marriage is just not OK and by avoiding temptation, you will never have to defend yourself or question your spouses faithfulness.
18. Always Make Time For Each Other
This is a personal struggle I have personally. I am a workaholic. I work weekends, I work weekdays, I work days, I work nights and early mornings. There are many times my wife will blatantly tell me that I need to balance business life and family life. Yes, the money is nice and it causes less stress when you have money but just like a business, your marriage has to have to have time invested into it too. Your spouse is more than just a friend or fellow parent, they are also your partner in the business of marriage. If you don't invest time into your marriage and family, it will whither and die and before you know it, its all gone. So make time. It is difficult, I know as a business owner, it is very tempting to keep working an extra few minutes which then turns into a few hours. I have and still learning to invest and balance my work and business life and my family life. This is a priority that many of us overlook. So make time, make dinner, just be there. That's all they really want.
19. ALWAYS Speak Positive of Your Spouse
This goes a bit in hand with # 14, and it is VERY important. Have you ever talked about a subject so much that you start believing it? Same goes when you always talk positive about your spouse. If you talk negative about your spouse to friends, family or who ever, you will consistently dwell on it to the point that you will have nothing but negative things to say and to believe about your spouse. Even if it is true, you should not speak negative about your spouse. If you do, then that is all you will see your spouse is in a negative way. Same goes with talking to them negatively, don't curse your spouse with negative names. If you want your Marriage to fail.. THEN TALK NEGATIVE. You will then see each other in court very soon and it will be a very ugly and unwanted experience for both of you and your children.
20. Invite God into your home, your marriage, your life...
This is a personal must do for me more than anyone. For the last six months, not only do I pray for my wife, but I pray for us and our children. I found myself becoming a better person ethically and business wise since I surrender my life to Christ. This is a touchy subject since there are many different views in religion. I may get some flack for this, but I don't care. I am a Christian, and I truly believe in the God Almighty and his son Jesus Christ. I have seen a change in my views of life and towards others. I have seen Marriages, which were selfish become selfless. I have seen divorced couples of 5 years reunite in marriage and rekindle their love and vows. Ever heard the saying, " A Family That Pray Together, Stays Together."
Well, There is truth to that. Families who find religion, and live upon the basis of religious principals, do endure all hardships. I have seen God work in my life in so many different ways. He help me grow a successful business, sent me a beautiful wife and blessed me with a legacy of three precious children. Nearly a year ago, everything I held dear to, my family, my wife, my children and my business, was stripped away from me. So for the first time in years, I started to attend church, started living the christian life, prayed for my family, myself and for my business and with in months things started to change. The business started to grow again, my family came home and I felt a new deeper appreciation for my wife and family than what I have ever before. So in summary to this last Must DO before you say I DO, go to church together, pray together and love God, Life and Each other. You will be amazed of how much your life will change, grow and flourish with each other.