The Keys to Forever After
By Rebecca Blackwell, Relationship Foundation of VA
You’re engaged! As you start checking things off your list, don’t forget to prepare for the part after the wedding day called marriage…
Why are heathy marriages so important? The community is stronger when couples are fulfilled in their relationship, and children (when and if they enter the picture) are more likely to do well in school and life. Everyone hopes for happy, lifelong relationships and research shows that most people, regardless of background or economic status, eventually want to be married! In fact, around 40% of couples get engaged between Christmas and Valentine’s Day then immediately start focusing on their BIG day! Excitement takes over and the couple is off and running in a race that seems to go faster and faster until their wedding day arrives. Therefore, all new couples should pause, take note and prepare for their marriage together, not just the wedding day. Here are a few things to remember as you get ready for “I do”:
- Get Pre-marital Coaching – Did you know that couples who simply take an online assessment are more likely to show relationship satisfaction through their own discussions. Those who take it one step further and meet with a facilitator or coach decrease the likelihood of divorce by 30%. Your pre-marital coaching program should be fun and exciting while getting you to talk as a couple about important topics. So, as the big day approaches, be sure to take the time to make plans for your future.
- Build in Fun & Grow your Friendship – Couples that play together, stay together. As you are preparing for the wedding, make it exciting for both of you through the entire process. Obviously, you want that day to be fun, just remember that it is only one day. You need to be playful and proactive when it comes to keeping the friendship alive for many years to come.
- Make it Last a Lifetime – How do you prep a meal? What steps do you take before a trip? Where are you going to live after the wedding day? In other words, you make plans for everything else in life, you should do the same for the marriage. If planning a wedding takes a lot, think about how much planning the rest of your lives together will take. Discuss and set long-term goals together as a couple. Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years? When will you have children? When do you want to retire? Real life happens and you need to be able to talk about everything, be willing to share thoughts/feelings, and lean on each other when things change. You’re on the same team and the motto is now ‘We Over Me’ as you do life together.
- Be Prepared for Wedding Stress – Your wedding is one day, but marriage is a lifetime. Stress causes a lack of connection between couples and planning a wedding can bring on a lot of it. Remember to consider the big picture when making choices. Discuss with your fiancé how they may feel about the decisions that need to be made. Healthy communication is a great tool for a successful relationship. If conflict starts to arise, don’t run from it; instead stop, relax, and discuss the issue that may be causing the conflict without letting emotions take over. Make sure you understand the issue before having an emotional conversation and say something you really don’t mean.
If you are looking for even more tips on how to start your life together, talk to couples who are already married. They can offer great advice, sometimes without being asked. Finding a mentor couple is another way to gain different perspectives about being married. When you engage in conversations and a pre-marital coaching program, you will discover the playful and practical parts of being married and learn things that will impact the relationship while enjoying spending time together. If you hit a speed bump along the way, it’s okay to ask for help. Many couples wait too long before discussing important issues, taking those unresolved issues with them into their marriage. Remember, there is great value in talking through things now, learning how to communicate effectively, finding efficient strategies to handle conflict, figuring out finances, discussing intimacy/affection and knowing how you each view the roles and responsibilities in the relationship before starting your life together. By being proactive, the marriage will start strong and continue to grow ‘til death do you part.
Rebecca Blackwell, Marriage & Relationship Coach with Relationship Foundation of VA, has been working with couples for over 15 years to help strengthen marriages and relationships. Her passion for marriage and family is contagious as she so enjoys encouraging couples as they start their marriage journey, enter new stages of marriage, rare dating, or working through issues.