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Marriage: “the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship.” An emotional partnership that is legally recognized, a lot goes into this definition. This is not my first time around the block.
I was married at age 20. I found myself in an abusive marriage along with children. I confess I was not the abused woman hiding in the corner who did not fight back. In many instances, I am less than proud as to how I handled myself. Some years later, I met and fell in love with my husband of 18 years. What a difference in marriages. Here are some things I wished I had known before I got married:
1 – Know Yourself
Know your inner workings. How was your childhood? If it was not pleasing, what things do you need to observe in a potential partner? If your childhood was abusive, find someone who does not exhibit those characteristics. You owe it to yourself to do some reading about abuse and move forward. Create a better story for yourself and future generations.
2 – Get To Know Your Soul Mate
How does your soul mate handle a crisis? I remember a time when my husband and I were dating. We were out for a drive in his newly purchased Corvette. The back wheel came completely off the car and the back end of the car landed on top of the tire. Instead of coming undone and using curse words, my darling date simply laughed and looked at it as something repairable. The event now makes for a good story.
How your mate interacts with their family can tell you a lot about them. Do they respect one another? Do you like how they interact with each other? This gives you a window as to how your potential spouse will treat you.
I am lucky that my husband looked beyond the dynamics of my family. We focused on what our household dynamics would look like. I concentrated on taking the good things from my childhood. There was a clear picture of what things I will tolerate and what things I will not tolerate.
3 – Deal Breakers.
Maybe it is religious affiliation. Maybe it is you want children and the person you are dating has made it clear that this is not what they want. You need to determine how important this is for you. This is an inside reflection for yourself.
You cannot change other people, only yourself. This speaks volumes for marriage as well. If you find that there are things about your potential mate that are big, and you cannot settle for that then you need to do the right thing and part ways.
4 – The Wedding Day Is A Day, Not The Rest Of Your Life!
I observe people spending so much money on their wedding. I am not telling you that you need to just not do anything, but use common sense. If the day falls a part, that is not the most horrible thing to happen. A worst-case scenario is that your marriage fails.
As a divorced woman, I would never wish this journey on anyone. It is not something that you wake up one day and think, “what a great idea, let’s get a divorce.”
Nothing can prepare you for the sorrow, the grief and the pain that you deal with for a very long time. If children are involved, this whole process does not have an end, it is an on- going process. Divorce forever changes adults and more so, it alters the way in which children view marriage.
It matters not the age, I have had adult friends and their parents have divorced. It leaves the adult children with so many questions that go unanswered. Marriage is not for the faint of heart, it is a lot of work.
So, make the day special, put thought into it. Realize, you will have to work daily at your new partnership and that is the most important part of the wedding. Take time to ask those close to you to assist you in this special day by supporting you not only through the wedding day but also throughout your marital journey.
5 – Never Go To Bed Angry
We have all heard this one before. It is true. You need to work things out so that you can begin a fresh new day. If you leave things as they are, they tend to continue. If it is something that you just cannot get past, seek help from a counsellor. When you are in these intense moments, and you will be, ask yourself if it is a life or death situation.
Chances are good that most things can be worked out.
6 – Just The Word Can Fill One With Anxiety And Fear
Money. It can destroy your credit and it can have a huge impact on your marriage. Money issues are never positive ones to have creep into a relationship. There are many ways to handle household finances. Research the options and choose the best for you.
In the beginning of our marriage, both of us had allowed other partners to destroy our finances. Our choice was to keep things separate. I was in charge of certain household bills and my husband took care of his half, much like having a roommate. Through the years, we built trust in each other and we now have combined our finances.
7 – Make Passionate Love A Part Of Your Routine!
Yes, I know if you are a tired mommy of babies, I know that you would prefer to say no to intimacy. Remember this, we ALL (that includes us females!) have the need for human interaction and yes that means love making!
I resisted this. I had 2 C Sections, nursed babies and did I mention worked an overnight shift to keep babies out of daycare, the last thing I wanted to do was make love. I began to notice that if we were arguing a lot, it was because we had a recent lack of intimacy. I found it much better to set aside some time for intimacy than it was to fight every day.
One of the things I sometimes roll my eyes at is the suggestion that you should have date nights. Seriously? I do not have time for that. Rearrange your idea of date night. It may not be the “leave the kids with the babysitter and go out on the town”. It may be that you have a romantic movie and your favorite adult beverage after the kids are asleep. Communicate with one another as to what alone time looks like. Get into a routine of nurturing each other.
8 – Parenting Styles
Before you have children, have lengthy discussions about what this looks like. Does your partner support breastfeeding? Will your partner help with late night feedings? Get an idea of how things may work with a newborn. Then, how do you handle each stage of childhood?
Be on the same page with discipline, not only for the sake of you the adults but also for your children. This is now a daily discussion piece.
We now have teenagers and because of consistency, they have clear expectations and when they violate those expectations, there are consequences. They will tell you that they knew that this would be the outcome. If you are not on board with each other with parenting, this can be a marriage breaker. Do not let it be.
9 – Do Not Over Schedule
As kids get older, they add many activities. You are the parent. Give yourself permission to say no. If you do not have children, you still can have issues where you are spending more time involved in outside activities and neglecting your most precious relationship, your marriage.
Create a home that is the focal point of your marriage. This is where you sleep, you find emotional and physical nourishment and it is your foundation. Make it welcoming and a place to take refuge from the crazy world we live in.
10 – Keep it Simple!
Marriage truly is one of the most amazing things. You will know when you find that special someone that you wish to be with for the rest of your life. Find happiness in whatever lifestyle you are living in. Live in the moment with purpose and with kindness. Enjoy the journey you have. Finally, do not settle for seconds. If there is even a minor element that you know you will have a hard time with, work it out before saying your vows or move on.
“The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person. You know they’re right if you love to be with them all the time.” – Julia Child