I was thinking of the best place to put this list- when you are about to go through a big life change such as marriage, getting pregnant, giving birth, moving, etc. it pays to find out as much as possible about the risks/consequences of your actions ahead of time. The following is a list of things I wish I’d known before the major events in my life:
..Before I Got Married-
No one remembers the details, and so therefore no one cares about the small things that went wrong that only YOU would notice.
You CAN have a wedding on whatever budget you want, and have it be beautiful- my wedding only cost in the neighborhood of $5000 and that included a beautiful dress that I fell in love with ($100 sale at David’s Bridal), excellent quality catered food in buffet form, and I’m a pretty harsh critic of wedding food, a picturesque and serene venue (married on a Sunday for discount- $300 to have ceremony on deck of venue overlooking water and reception in “observatory like” building off the deck), professional photography ($500 by an independent professional), top knotch DJ and MC ($500 for ceremony and reception by independent professional), the most beautiful flower arrangements I’ve seen ($500 from a small family shop with high quality merchandise), handmade heartfelt favors (cost about $50 total), handmade elegant table decorations (cost about $20 total because venue supplied some for free), and pretty much everything else you could want from a wedding. The only thing I will say is that in order to accomplish this successfully you have to be willing to put a lot of effort in, be well organized, and be willing to spend time on each decision.
Who you invite, where they sit, what they eat, and how long they stay does not measure how great your wedding was. First of all, a time will come when it is not your wedding anymore, and then none of that will matter anyway. Second, most people ultimately won’t care (or possibly even notice) who’s missing, who they sat next to, what they ate (though it might matter if it was edible), or how long they stayed. Third, how great your wedding was depends greatly on how much you enjoyed it. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you don’t sweat the small stuff and focus on what makes your wedding special for you.
Don’t let your relatives get you down- you know who I mean. It may be your over helpful mother, your insistent mother-in-law, your opinionated aunt, your obstinate grandmother, your controlling best friend, your uninterested husband, or someone completely different. At the end of the day, it’s still your wedding, so you are entitled to honor your opinions over those of your family and friends, and you are entitled to say “thanks but no thanks” anytime you want. You won’t enjoy your wedding if you spend the whole time trying to please everyone else but yourself.
It takes awhile to feel a difference between dating seriously and being married- especially if you live together beforehand. But, when you notice the difference, it will be something that sneaks up on you and touches your heart in a subtle but profound way.
Living together before getting married (as long as it complies with your beliefs) is NOT a mistake. The reason the divorce rate is highest among these couples is because it is an easy out for all the individuals who are afraid of commitment, never intended on marrying the person they were dating in the first place, or felt trapped in the relationship for one reason or another. What it CAN do however is teach you about yourself, your partner, your relationship, your capabilities, your comfort zone, and your faith in your life together. Bear in mind, it’s still not the right decision for everyone.
Joining bank accounts is necessary for a balanced, respectful relationship. However, you have to be able to discuss your finances and how they will be handled openly BEFORE doing so, and frequently afterward.
Although it sounds overused and cliche, communication really is key. Think about this logically- if you are going to marry someone that you can’t even be open and honest with when it counts, you might want to re-examine your choices. In a successful relationship, one member shouldn’t be constantly worried that bringing up a topic or opinion will scare away, turn off, or shut down the other member. If you want to talk about marriage, talk about it. If you want to talk about a house, or kids, religion, morals, plans for the future, money, habits, jobs… do so unprompted and confidently. Not opening up to your significant other unfairly regulates them to arm’s length, breeds discontent, mistrust and often times even resentment, and keeps your relationship from ever reaching its true potential for involvement and intimacy.