In this second installment of our series Happily Ever After, we will discuss a few issues that any couple seeking to walk down the aisle in the near future should consider. Hopefully these considerations will help you and your future spouse enter into and maintain an enduring and prosperous marriage.
- Premarital education and premarital counseling. Couples who participate in premarital programs experience a 30 percent increase in marital success over those who do not. These couples commonly report better communication, sharpened conflict management skills, stronger dedication, and overall improved relationship quality due to their participation in such programs. Additionally, financial counseling may also prove very useful. Are you and your spouse savers or spenders? Save yourselves a lot of future headaches by discussing your spending habits and plans with a counselor and each other.
- It is no longer “I” but “We.” Marriage is a partnership. Both parties should take part in the decision making process, make time to pursue activities together, and explore and enjoy their common interests. Additionally, marriage often requires compromise. As a spouse you no longer have only your feelings and desires to consider, but those of your spouse as well.
- Discuss your expectations. Prior to walking down the aisle, discuss your expectations for marriage and each other. Identify each spouse’s roles and responsibilities, how conflicts are to be handled, and the goals of the marriage. Communication is key. Your spouse will not be able to meet expectations that he or she is not aware of.
- Why are you getting married? Is it for commitment, love, loneliness, escape or impatience? Reflect on your personal priorities to assure that your relationship with your spouse gets the attention it deserves and that you are entering into your marriage for the right reasons.
- Discuss children and discipline. How many? How soon? What are the costs involved? How will the children affect your lives? Will both parents work or will one stay home? How will you handle discipline? It is imperative that you and your future spouse discuss your desire for children, how you will work together to raise them, and how you will keep your marriage healthy after having children.