This is a post I wrote for The Nantucket Chronicle. Find the original Here.
I’ve been married…almost…A few times…Whoopsie. Almost being the operative word. There’s a reason I never made it down the aisle as of yet. I have learned my lesson on numerous occasions, please learn from my mistakes. Here are just a few suggestions from my experience you should do before saying “I will” or “I Do”.
1. Meet each other’s families and friends. This may sound like a no brainer but when you’re in love and happy, sometimes we forget to come up for air. I had a wedding dress packed for Vegas and I realized, “He’s never met any of my friends or my family.” We knew each other as “Us”. We didn’t know each other outside of our bubble. We all can change personalities when we encounter our families, friends and co-workers. It’s a good thing to know your significant other’s various personalities as well as them knowing yours. Plus, they should know the people you love and care for and visa-versa.
2. Travel together. For me this includes at least one road trip and plane ride. You want to see if you’re compatible with someone, travel with him or her. I remember dating someone that was a terrible traveler. He was miserable the whole time. I quickly saw this wouldn’t do, at least for me. I love to travel and I’m pretty easy going. If he had a problem traveling for just a few hours, how was he going to be traveling for a few days? Hell, if he has such trouble traveling, how was he going to be traveling through life together? Life is full of ups and downs…Marriage is chock full of bumps along the road.
3. Go to a large event, party or wedding together. Preferably one where they know most of the people in attendance and another event where you know most of the attendees. This is a great chance to see how you and they interact. I was dating someone for two or so months when he took me to his friend’s wedding. We had an incredible time and found we were quite a good match because of this trip and event. I didn’t need him by my side the whole time, which was good for him, since he was running around catching up with friends. If there’s a dance floor, I’m on it! When I took him to my friend’s wedding, we had an even better time. Same situation, I had things I had to do for my friend and my date made nice with my guy friends fast. No one ever felt alone or out of place, even when we weren’t by each other’s side. I think being able to hold your own and not be dependent on someone continually is important to any healthy, long lasting relationship.
4. Have a fight…Or two or three. Do you fight fair? Fighting, having a difference of opinion is natural and it’s good for the relationship. You need to be able to fight fair, feel safe and comfortable voicing your opinions, which is not always easy. If you fight too much, then I would rethink a long term commitment, unless you’re into that sort of thing. In my opinion, romantic relationships should be fairly easy in the beginning. Remember when you have a fight to forgive and forget. Don’t hold whatever the fight was about over their heads. Move on. Pick your battles. And sometimes being right is being wrong. Compromise when need be. Don’t let your ego get in the way of something amazing!
5. (If you’re planning on Children) See how they act around children. Hang out with kids. Do they freak out? Do they look relaxed? Do they have fun? Do they want any part? If you want children, more than likely you’ve already discussed this but just in case you haven’t, see how they feel and act around children. For some, the only kids they like are their own. Some didn’t realize they wanted children until they were pregnant. For others, they know they don’t want children. Divorces happen because someone didn’t want children but the other did. Respect someone’s decision but know it before you say “I will” or “I do”. It’s kinda a big deal and a deal breaker in my opinion. Be on the same page before marriage. And if you want children but your significant other does not, don’t compromise. Many people think they’ve found the perfect partner and feel they can live without kids. This only lasts for a spin and then your true feelings will sink in. You’ll realize you do want children. Best to know before you’re in too deep.
6. Complete your “To dos” before you say “I do”. I used to have a list of various items and adventures I wanted to accomplish before I got married. I'm lucky enough to have completed all of them. To name a few; Crash a wedding, Climb a mountain, Travel by myself, Kiss a celebrity, live by myself, have a summer of watching sunrises and sunsets. Once one is married, life changes. Once children are in the picture, life will never be the same. Make your list of “To dos”. Get them crossed off before walking down aisle.
7. Discuss Pre-Cana typical topics. It’s a tradition in the Catholic Church to receive Pre-Cana counseling before saying “I dos” but I think everyone should have to go through some sort of course to get married. What is Pre-Cana? It’s a course for couples to complete before they are allowed to be married in the Catholic Church. Usually six month sessions led by a priest. The course touches on finances, conflict resolution skills, spiritually/faith, careers, family, children, communication and commitment. It’s not exactly easy or romantic but this course would certainly show the couple where their strengths and weaknesses lie, as well as if they’re truly compatible. (I do strongly believe the topics need to be discussed and there is much a couple can learn from the Pre-Cana course. Not only about you as a couple but also individually.)
8. Move past old relationships and get closure. How can you start a new relationship, if you’re thinking or holding onto an old relationship? Move on from that relationship. Take the lessons you need to grow and learn to be a better partner, throw away old photos, major items that remind you of them. Leave the relationship where it belongs, in the past. Think of them of course but don’t dwell. As Cookie from Best in Show said to her lovable husband Gerry when she was talking about her 100s of ex-boyfriends, “He was my past; you’re my future.”
I’ve never been married but I have a cat. Because I have a cat, I understand that marriage can be an adventure full of twists and turns, highs and lows, joys and sorrows one could never imagine or foresee. The best marriages have two partners that take the good with the bad and want to travel along this fantastic adventure called life together. Make sure you have found the right travel partner before setting down the marriage road.