Marriage is the most important step you will take in your life, even more important and binding than your career choice. The partner you choose is immensely important, but the way you approach the commitment of marriage is even more important in creating a happy and fulfilling life.
Always remember that happiness is not something you “find,” but rather it’s something you build together as a couple, brick by brick. This requires a plan, tolerance, respect, compromise, pain and the understanding that commitment is even more important than love.
Hopefully, you will always have love in your marriage as well, but there will always be times when love abandons you, if only temporarily. It is at those times that you must depend on your commitment to get you through and keep your marriage a stable and positive force.
If you’re starting a business, building a house or preparing a business presentation, you will sit down and carefully craft a plan, rework it, consider the weaknesses, shoot bullets at it to make sure it can stand the tests of practical application and hone it to perfection.
Marriage deserves no less, but it is often entered into blindly with the assumption that “all you need is love.” With half of all marriages ending in divorce, it should seem obvious that you really need much more.
1. Prepare yourself mentally.
Understand that you will walk away from the altar a different person. You will take vows you should get familiar with ahead of time. Think about what they mean and how they will change your life.
Get comfortable and excited by the fact that you will be a husband, which is really more than the man you were before. This new dimension comes with exciting powers and benefits, but it also comes with certain responsibilities.
You will have a woman to cherish, protect and support emotionally and perhaps financially. You will have a household you should plan to become the head of. You will need to be a leader, a partner and a man.
You will need to find a way to delicately balance your role as the head of the household with her role as a modern, important and independent woman. You will have to know when to hand her the reins and how to take charge without rocking the boat.
A husband is a man who is wise, strong, fair, kind and generous. Once you have your head in order, talk to your fiance — about everything.
Nothing can cause bitter arguments or break up a happy home like money. We all say it doesn’t matter, but you can’t have a life without it.
Sit down together and make a household budget. You will need to know what kind of tastes you have in homes and how freely you each like to spend or save.
- Will you rent or buy?
- Do you want a big house or a modest home?
- Will you have one joint bank account or each have your own?
- What kinds of investments are best for your needs?
- Who will pay the bills?
“Make sure you go into marriage
with your eyes wide open.”
3. Social lives and leisure time.
You will need to discuss the kinds of vacations you want and how to save for them. You need to know how your hobbies will affect your lives and your budgets — gym memberships, weekly golf games, tennis lessons and even beer and billiards at the corner pub with friends.
- How often do you like to eat out?
- How will you assign chores, cooking and shopping duties?
- Will you still go on dates?
- What about your time with the guys and hers with the girls?
- What about family visits and holiday meals?
All of these things have the potential to create hard feelings and problems that don’t rise to the surface until it’s too late.
Too often sex is pushed to the side when the reality of a busy married life kicks into full gear. A household is a big responsibility for both of you, and you are likely to find that you work harder and get tired earlier.
A date night and two or three sex nights should be planned into your schedules, and you should both treat them as part of your vows.
Sex is the glue that keeps you close and holds your relationship together. Sex is part of the commitment of marriage. Don’t fight about it.
Understand that there will be times when a rain check might be reasonable. But never ignore it or underestimate the importance of sex in the long-term success of your marriage relationship.
5. Children and religion.
Your lives have to follow a single path if you want to stay on the road to happiness. The number of children you want and when you want to have them is a very important part of the marriage equation.
Make sure there is agreement and accord on this issue when you begin your married life. Career moves and other personal factors can sometimes change the timing, but try to have a plan and stick to it.
Problems can also arise if you and your wife have different religious backgrounds and beliefs, or even if one is a devout church-goer and the other is not.
The religion in which you plan to raise your children should be discussed and agreed. And you should agree to a church schedule you will both keep, or agree that there will be no arguing or guilt trips laid on the less devout partner.
You both need to be shooting for the same goals throughout the course of your marriage or there will be much disagreement and disharmony along the way.
If you’re saving for 20 acres and horses in the country while she’s saving for a downtown penthouse condo, you’re going to run into problems. These kinds of irreconcilable differences that are plain to see from the start cannot be ignored, and love will not overcome them.
A married couple has to follow a single path to a common goal or the marriage will fail. Hammer out a goal you can both agree on, or find a partner who shares your dreams.
Make sure you go into marriage with your eyes wide open. Expect difficulties, and be prepared to weather any storm.
A realistic plan, a flexible spirit, a positive outlook, the resolve to overcome obstacles and plenty of preparation are your keys to a successful marriage.