Getting married is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. It is a very exciting time for you, your family, and your friends. Too often, many couples spend more time, money, and energy planning the wedding then they do preparing for the marriage. We want to help prevent that. Chances are if you are reading this you are engaged. Hopefully this article will help you think about some things to discuss with your partner before the wedding day.
Conflict is inevitable in a relationship. You bring two individual people together and expect them to live together harmoniously. So the challenge isn’t necessarily the areas of conflict, it is how the couple communicates about the conflicts. The biggest challenge we face as therapists is getting couples to communicate effectively. Too many couples are focused on only getting their point across and “winning” an argument. They forget to focus on what their partner is saying and really trying to understand them. Here are a few things to remember when discussing issues with your partner:
- Really listen to them. Reflect back to them what you heard to make sure you got it right.
- Acknowledge their feelings rather than immediately dismissing them because they aren’t the same as your feelings.
- Tell your partner your feelings without placing blame on them or attacking them.
- Remember everyone has his or her own perceptions and it is ok sometimes to agree to disagree.
The second problem we deal with regularly with couples is helping them understand how their partner feels loved and expressing to their partner how they feel loved. Our natural tendency is to love others in the way we feel loved. If we would feel special by receiving a card, we immediately assume our spouse would feel loved by giving them a card. When they react nonchalantly, we are surprised and sometimes devastated. This is especially challenging in relationships because men and women are so different, so they especially feel loved in different ways. One of the best things you can do for your marriage is to study your partner and identify how they feel loved.
Another challenge we help guide couples thru is unlearning unhealthy habits they created from their family of origin. Our families shaped us all for the 18 or so years we lived with and watched them. So it is natural to act in the same ways our parents did in our relationships. They were our models and taught us how to love each other. Some people swear they will never act the way their parents did, only to find themselves doing the same behaviors, just often in different ways. It would be beneficial before you get married to identify what things you learned from your parents about relationships. Then decide what you want to do and what you want to change. Write it down and review the list to remind yourself what you really want in a relationship.
There are so many issues that we deal with when couples come in that it would take an entire book to discuss them all. Just to name a few that you may want to talk about:
- Defining roles in your relationship- who does what in regards to working, cooking, cleaning, childcare etc
- Family planning- do you want kids, how many, child rearing
- Finances- joint accounts or separate
- Spiritual beliefs- what you believe, going to church, rituals and traditions you want to have
- In-laws- what boundaries do you want with them?
Again, these are just a few suggestions. The key is to talk about these before saying “I do”. Then you know what to expect and you won’t have any surprises.
We hope this has given you a good start of items to discuss and work on with your partner. We don’t mean to take all the fun out of the engagement. What an exciting time! But it is an important time to make sure you are starting on a strong foundation for a life long commitment.
Prevention really is the best cure! Our relationship experts know how to make this process fun and easy. We would love to help you and your partner get off to a great start together. We also recognize the engagement is a time of constantly shelling out money left and right for the big day. That is why we have designed a Premarital Package for engaged couples. We would love to work with you both on the challenges ahead. Give us a call at 317-569-0046 to set up your sessions today! We are the leading Relationship Experts in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas including Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.