Planning for a lifetime of love and dedication
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your upcoming nuptials, I mean-who doesn’t love a good celebration? But, there’s so much more to being engaged than just that. The time ahead of you is wonderful opportunity to work WITHIN your relationship as you prepare to take the next step together. Now, for every couple, “work” means something different, but, there’s always a place that one can focus a little extra love and attention. I’ve created this “Engagement to do list” in order to provide you with some inspiration on working WITHIN your partnership as you strive towards a successful marriage.
#1 Have an open and honest discussion with with your partner about what areas of your relationship need a little extra work and support. Then formulate a plan to make strides in the right direction.
I’ve found couples who are preparing for marriage benefit immensely from attending some form of premarital class or counseling. I know it doesn’t sound like a blast and I’m sure my low drama couples probably wonder if this is even necessary. BUT, if you are committed enough to invest your life into this partnership, why not take the time to learn how to be the best spouse to your person as they do the same for you? I feel like there’s a stigma in our society surrounding counseling, but, there’s no shame in working to better yourself and your relationship. As marriage will teach you, it isn’t always daydreams, it requires A LOT of work and there’s always something to be learned so, reach out to the professionals who are trained to help your union succeed. I mean think about it, if one of you is resistant to martial help now, when times are good, whose to say that party will be willing 8 years from now when life gets tough and you need to shoot up a flare?
One way to keep going to sessions positive is to make date nights out of it! Check online for pre-martial classes, therapists and programs in your area. It’s helpful to look for one that seems to fit the vibe of the couple you are– Ex: If you are interested in taking a class that is more religion based, check with your religious establishment to see what they suggest. For those in the Cincinnati area, I’ve heard wonderful things about the program Crossroads offers for couples. Even my non religious brides have said there is a lot to take away from the “Building Blocks” course offered. I provided a link at the bottom of the page for those interested.
#2 Take on a challenge together.
Life is full of twists and turns, much like a new challenge or adventure. As you take on a task together you will be focusing on your sense of team and kinship ( the “us” mindset). Your challenge can be anything that is going to push both of you towards growth. This could be training and running a 5k together to spending the week camping in a new place. . Use this opportunity to build stronger communication skills, perseverance, and determination in your relationship. You know how businesses have team building seminars to strengthen their company? Equate this to that as you strengthen your marriage’s foundation.
#3 Practice mindful presence
In our busy day and age, some couples reach a really good point and then, they go stagnant. In order to avoid plateauing in your future, it’s important to be present with your partner. Take time every day to hone in on this skill. I know you are busy and that sounds like a commitment, but so is your future! I’m not saying drop everything and stare at each other for 30 minutes straight, I’m saying find opportunities to intentionally focus on being present with one another. This means putting your phones away, making eye contact, and actively listening. (No, turning on your favorite Netflix show together doesn’t count-that’s bonding,but, not necessarily presence.
Be creative on where you can find your time together! Maybe its found when you guys are folding laundry or carpooling home from work. I often find my fiance and I really working towards bettering our presence when we brush our teeth together. It sounds silly but, we’ve incorporated it into our daily practice and it means a lot to us both.
#4 Clean out your closets (physically and figuratively )
We all would much rather be doing something else than cleaning but, as you are preparing to move forward, its good to dust the cobwebs out of the corners of your life. Physically, a clean, organized home leads to a more peaceful living environment. When you take on this project together, both of you will see the contributed effort. Take pride in your work and the home you share! You are more likely to keep each other accountable so the space will stay tidier, leading to less chaos and stress in both of your minds. A major cleaning project will allow you to practice shared responsibility and decision making- where things should go, whats worth keeping and what needs to be gotten rid of..etc.
Then, comes time for the mental clean! Is there something your partner did years ago that is still getting at you? Or maybe they keep hinting at the time you made a choice that they didn’t agree with- stop making passive aggressive comments and hash it out!
You want to enter your marriage with honest, loving, hearts, not pent up aggression or any excess frustration. It’s time to put it all on the table, and move forward through the muck. This can be a challenge for couples, because it has the capability to become volatile. It’s important to the lines of communication are open and as well as your ears. Meditating on the conversation before it takes place or writing down your thoughts will help you chose words that keep the tone respectful and diplomatic.Remember, you are a team now, this isn’t about “I” or “You” this is all about “We”.
If there is a particularly tumultuous topic, I advise involving a third party professional. They will act as guide to both of you through the topic and find the underlying issues in order to promote the most healing and growth, because at the end of the day, that’s what this exercise is all about.
This a time in your life where there will be an abundant of focus on your relationship. Use it wisely, keep your heart and your focus in the right place and meet every challenge together. Until next time!
Trust the process and pour some Prosecco!
Building Blocks Crossroads Course: https://www.crossroads.net/care/weddings/building-blocks-for-marriage/