25 Things To Do Before You Get Married

We live in a world that is determined to sell us on The Wedding. Our culture cares little about helping us develop the skills and characteristics necessary to build a marriage that will last. So, I wonder how it would look to be planning a marriage, not just a wedding. Here, I offer you... 🌟The Marriage Planning Checklist🌟
  1. 1.
    Spend time with each other’s family.
    Eat meals together, watch movies, play games. Your partner’s family is about to be your family. For better or worse, it’s a package deal, so it is worth your time to be around them and learn their unique family culture as much as possible before they become your in-laws.
  2. 2.
    Talk about your dreams.
    What do you want the coming year to look like? What have you always wanted to do, but haven’t done yet? Do you have hopes for your job or school or traveling in the future? Do your dreams include each other, or are they more individually focused? What makes you excited about the future?
  3. 3.
    Read a book about marriage together.
    You could read The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman, Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson, or Boundaries in Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend. The point of reading a book about marriage together is to talk through your own thoughts on the content. Focusing on a book can help you dig a little deeper into the ideas you might not think to share in your every day lives.
  4. 4.
    Spend time with your friends.
    When you’re wrapped up together in your cocoon of twitterpation, floating through the air on heart-shaped clouds, it’s easy to forget that before this big love happened, you had friends. Do not forget about these people! Make every effort to spend time with them with or without your partner. Marriages succeed in community and fail in isolation. Making sure you’ve built and kept a close community of people is one of the best things you can do to ensure your marriage lasts.
  5. 5.
    Talk about money.
    This can be so awkward, but it is so important! Money is in the top five issues couples fight about most. Take the opportunity before you’re married to share the details of your finances, your habits, your hopes and goals. Try your best to suspend judgement, this is a fantastic opportunity to grow together. Get a hold of basically any book by personal finance expert Dave Ramsey and dig into it together.
  6. 6.
    Talk about traditions and what celebrations are important to you.
    For instance, what are your expectations around Valentine’s Day? Your birthday? Do you like big parties and week long celebrations, or do you prefer a short note or small gift. Be honest about what’s important to you, share both your good experiences with celebrations and times you were disappointed. How has your family done Thanksgiving and other big holidays in the past?
  7. 7.
    Talk about your views of divorce.
    Do either of you believe there are reasons to get divorced? What would cause you to throw in the towel? Did you experience the divorce of your own parents growing up, or of any other family members? What was that like for you?
  8. 8.
    Talk about kids.
    Do you want any? How many would you like? When will you start? How will you discipline? Is adoption an option for you? Are there things you’d like to do before you start having kids? Would you like to have kids by a certain age? Do you already have kids. What are your expectations for your blended family?
  9. 9.
    Get in some fights.
    Really. Make sure you’ve had a handful of fights and then talk about the way you fight. Much of marriage is navigating conflict and stresses. It’s important that you don’t avoid conflict and recognize it is a natural part of any close relationship. If you never fight, never argue, never disagree, it’s very likely that someone in the relationship is holding back their honest thoughts and feelings and that’s no way to begin a marriage.
  10. 10.
    Talk about intimacy issues.
    Talk about any past partners. Have either of you experienced any abuse? Do you watch pornography? Do you have any fears about intimacy? Any hopes? The truth is, couples who avoid talking about sex aren't enjoying the best sex. Gotta talk about it.
  11. 11.
    Ask your friends to be honest with you about your relationship.
    Then listen to them. This will be a tough conversation to get started if you haven’t been spending any time with your friends (see #4). The beauty in building and maintaining close friendships is that these quality people can offer perspectives on things you could be blind to in the early days of love. 
  12. 12.
    Have a garage sale.
    You’ve likely accumulated a lifetime’s worth of stuff. Do you want to bring all of it into your marriage? Doing a big purge together can strike up conversations about memories and the value of material things to both of you. Get to know what physical objects your partner really values and what items can be released or donated before you begin your new life together. 
  13. 13.
    Make a list of free and cheap dates you can go on year round.
    This little brainstorming session will come in handy when you feel like you’ve suddenly found yourselves in a rut. You’ll need to find ways to keep pursuing each other even after the big vows have been made. 
  14. 14.
    Take some personality tests.
    I like Myers-Briggs, The Strength-Finder Test, and The Five Love Languages Assessment. Really, anything not sponsored by BuzzFeed would be good. Personality assessments are great tools that will give you insight into yourselves and each other. 
  15. 15.
    Don’t fight over the gift registry.
    Listen to me, you will not care as much as you think you will about your dishes once you get them. The sooner you figure out which battles are worth entering into and which are better left on the battle field, the more you will really be able to enjoy each other. 
  16. 16.
    Talk about church and your spiritual beliefs.
    What is important to you about your faith and your lifestyle? Are you keeping the traditions you were raised with, or will you forge new ones? What was your childhood like when it comes to church and spirituality? If your beliefs differ drastically, can you still respect one another and remain open to the other’s perspective? Or, are you each hoping the other will change? Be honest about how you feel and what you really want.
  17. 17.
    Discuss politics.
    Religion AND Politics? Aren’t these the no-no’s? Well, sure, in ordinary polite society it might be best to avoid these topics, but not with your spouse. Your marriage should be the safe place where you can say what you really think and process how you feel about these hot button issues. You should be able to bring up questions and concerns you have about politics and government with your partner without being afraid of getting in a fight with each other about it.
  18. 18.
    Ask your parents if they see any red flags.
    Your parents know you like nobody else ever will. Like your friends, they are invested in you and hopefully want the best for you. Just ask them what they see, what concerns if any they may have. Let your guard down a little while you listen. You don’t have to heed their every word, but their insight might be just what you need.
  19. 19.
    Share your most embarrassing moments with each other.
    Shame and secrecy ruin our opportunities for real intimacy with each other. Practice being vulnerable and transparent with each other even about things the other person might not ever otherwise find out about. 
  20. 20.
    Share your “normal” with each other. 
    Do you get up early or stay up late? What do you do when you get home from work? Is your morning routine hurried, or do you like to take your time? What does an average week look like for you?
  21. 21.
    Find out how you each handle the laundry.
    Do you fold or hang your clothes? Everything goes in the dryer or nothing goes in the dryer? 
  22. 22.
    Find out your favorite meals and meals you hate.
    Do you like to eat the same food every week or are you big on variety and trying new things. Do you like to cook big meals or do you prefer take out? 
  23. 23.
    Talk about how you each handle social activities.
    How busy, socially, do you like to be? What do you do when you have to be around people you don’t like? Is one of you naturally more social than the other? How will you navigate that once you’re married?
  24. 24.
    Tour the neighborhood your partner grew up in.
    Listen to their childhood stories. Ask about some of their favorite memories. Share some of your own. Would you have been friends as children?
  25. 25.
    Don’t go into debt for your wedding. 
    You’ll avoid a lot of post-wedding fights and stress by not going into debt for the wedding. It’s safe to say that a lot of the ideas you spend time and money on for your wedding day will ultimately get overlooked by you and by your guests. They are not going to make a great impact on your marriage one way or the other.
  26. 26.
    Just one more thing...
    Regardless of the wedding theme or budget, what matters in the end is how you handle your relationship. Most of the items on this checklist involve talking to each other. More than any other factor, learning to have real conversations with your spouse will set you up for long term success. Your views on some things will likely change over time, but your ability to work through your thoughts with one another will give you a solid foundation for a lifetime of celebrating long after your big party.