June… the month of love and weddings. There is anticipation in the air. Our hearts are open, our hopes are high. How do we turn the wedding high into a successful, long lasting marriage?
A lot of planning goes into a wedding. There are guest lists to be made, invitations to be sent, venues to be selected, food, cake, flowers, a dress and much more. We hear a lot about those items. We hear far less about the planning that goes into a successful marriage… the planning that leads to happily ever after. And how about the wedding vows? What does the marriage commitment mean to you? Did you ever talk to your partner about that? Are you committed until death do us part? or until things get difficult? Do you plan to be there through thick and thin? in sickness and in health?
Without a clear understanding of your commitment to one another, there cannot be a firm foundation for a marriage. Making a commitment clarifies your intention. A friend explained it this way: “for me, it removed the burden of making decisions alone. All important decisions that affect my relationship are made with my wife. Also, it removed the option of leaving. Even in the worst situations, it is never a matter of whether or not the marriage will last. The question becomes: how do we work this out together?”
When wedding plans start, discussions about relationship questions and concerns usually take a back seat. Those all important talks about how to handle money, how often to visit family and friends, child rearing, splitting of the chores… all become background noise compared to the big event. Don’t let this happen. Before the wedding, plan an evening where you sit down with your partner (and maybe a good glass of wine), google pre-marital questions, and answer those questions with one another. It’s a good beginning to a successful marriage and it builds a framework for future discussions.
Here are our top four tips to happily ever after:
1. Commitment to the relationship – You want to know that you and your partner are on the same team and that he/she will be there for you, no matter what.
2. Communication skills – Poor communication is the number one reason that couples come into therapy. Either they do not know how to talk to one another, do not feel heard, or have no conflict resolution skills. Learn how to talk to one another with love and respect, letting go of the need to be right. Let the relationship win.
3. Laughter… a good sense of humor – The ability to laugh will get you through many difficult situations. There are some arguments that cannot be resolved. Your love for one another and a good sense of humor are a must in those situations.
4. Create a vision for your marriage – What is your dream? What are your expectations for this union? Write them down and share them with one another. In times of distress, take out your vision and remember the fun you had creating it together. At the very least it will ease the tension.
When you marry you are creating a union that you and your partner get to define. Make sure you spend as much time and effort ensuring the success of your relationship as you do planning the wedding.