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Dr. Wendy Walsh
Engaged couples spend months and even years planning a beautiful fairytale wedding.
Prompted by a well-oiled wedding industry, generations of brides (and even some grooms) have become mesmerized by one enchanted event and sometimes lose site of the most vital wedding plan needed — the marriage plan.
Here are a few tips for those about to walk down the aisle and hear wedding bells chime. Ultimately, these tips will provide protection against divorce and the numerous conflicts that lead up to the big D-word.
Sexual heat and romantic love do not last forever, but be assured they can be replaced by something that bonds better than crazy glue: emotional intimacy.
Growing emotional intimacy requires vulnerability, trust and time.
If you haven’t had a few relationships bumps and boring patches where you have worked through them using conflict-resolution skills or relationship-building skills, then you may not have been together long enough to be planning a wedding.
These are serious things couples forget to do before saying I do.
This includes conversations about career goals, goals of becoming a parent, when you plan on having kids, where you plan on raising them, who’s going to help you raise them (yes, it takes a village), how long you will go on maternity/paternity leave and even your midlife second career and retirement dream.
Conversations like this help you become clear about who you are and help you understand your partner. Most marriages end because each partner’s secret expectations do not match the reality.
“Marriage is about
more than the wedding.”
Today women aren’t necessarily the homemakers and men aren’t always the breadwinners. In fact, some couples forget to plan on having any homemaker at all.
The role you’d like to play in your relationship should be thoughtfully expressed before your nuptials. You and your partner may want to balance the roles, both contributing an equal income and having equal household responsibilities.
If you both see yourself as the stay-at-home parent, one of you is going to have to make some sacrifices. Make sure this conversation occurs early on so you aren’t left with an empty bank account or constant battles over household chores and child care duties.
Marriages are bridges between families. When you marry a person, you also marry their family.
Simply avoiding your pesky mother-in-law for years to come isn’t a plan, especially when grandchildren arrive and you find you actually need her.
If your own family has brought you as much pain as pleasure, you’re going to have to find a way to erect boundaries without needless stonewalling, if only for the sake of your future children.
When marriages go awry, partners look toward their families for support, so it’s important you find a road that will help you and your partner bridge the families well.
Research shows couples who do not combine their finances have a higher divorce rate. There’s no greater sign of commitment.
In these desperate economic times, it does make sense to have a prenuptial agreement, with an intention to protect family assets or large assets you’ve earned before the wedding, but if wives and husbands can’t co-mingle salaries and make a common budget together, how will they ever walk the prickly path of parenthood?
Marriage is about more than the wedding. It is building a life together.
Despite what you hear about the high divorce rate, most marriages make it to at least 20 years. The single most important factor is an intellectual commitment to make it work.
Dipping a toe in to test out a marriage sets you up for disappointment. If you haven’t done the five things listed above, you probably shouldn’t be choosing flowers and dresses.
Photo source: ivstatic.com.