It will take you months to pick a wedding venue. It will take you weeks to pick the dress. It will take you days to address the invitations.
Whether you are engaged or engaged-to-be-engaged or simply dreaming of the day your man gets down on one knee, you have probably thought more than a minute about wedding planning… the venue, the flowers, the dress, the feeling when you finally say, “I do.”
But how much thought have you given to marriage planning?
Like many couples, you may have not thought about whether or not you are prepared for marriage. Yes, you know it is going to be hard work. You have seen friends, family and even your own parents deal with the stresses of marriage, and you know the challenges that come with commitment. You have likely come to one conclusion: Marriage is going to be tough, and there is no way to prepare for the hard work that comes with it.
And you are partially correct. There is no manual for marriage. However, that doesn’t mean you simply ignore the potential pitfalls and instead focus on the flower arrangements and bridesmaids’ dresses. You must look at your relationship truthfully and ask yourself some serious questions.
When you discover whether or not your partnership can handle the stresses and strains of a life post-wedding, you must look at the two most important aspects of a healthy relationship
The emotion and soul.
The Anatomy of a Relationship
Chances are you have thought about the emotional part of your relationship. It’s probably one of the reasons you are with your partner in the first place. How do you feel? Are you in love? Does your partner make you happy? Is the sex satisfying? Does he make you smile, laugh and feel all tingly even when he’s not trying?
Those emotional aspects are extremely important. They are essential to any solid relationship.
In my practice, I see couples most concerned with the emotional aspect, but there is something deeper and more enduring that you also must consider when you are deciding to get married. I call it the soul part of the relationship.
The soul covers your intention for the marriage as well as its beliefs and values. It is the navigation system. It points you in the right direction; it guides your happily ever after.
When you examine the soul part of your relationship, the questions become more complex: What type of partnership will you have? How will your spiritual life be? How do you communicate when you are angry? What are your goals for your marriage? How do you support each other? What hurts your partner? What brings your partner joy?
See what I mean by complex?
When you look into the soul, you begin to see the essence and the character of your partner and your partnership. You see how they value family, communication and spirituality. Thusly, you discover if you and your partner have the same vision for your marriage. You see whether or not your partner is indeed ready to start this journey with you: a journey of two people growing, loving, evolving and overcoming with the same intention of having a sacred partnership.
True Love & Truth in Love
Having a healthy pre-wedding partnership comes down to honesty and trust.
If you pretend to be the person you think your partner wants or the person you think you should be, your relationship is built on falsehoods. Sooner or later you will get tired of pretending and you will stop playing the role.
For example, a husband stops going to church because he is not religious (he just did it in the beginning to please his partner), or a wife tells her husband she doesn’t want to have children after years of allowing the assumption that she did because she knew her partner wanted a family.
Initially, they likely thought these lies would work themselves out. But they never do. The only thing that will work itself out is their unhappiness. It will surface, and they will finally have to face the soul and emotional aspects of their relationships.
I know you may say: “No relationship is perfect! My partner doesn’t need to be exactly like me.”
That’s true. However, looking into the emotional and soul aspects of your partnership is not asking for perfection — but asking for truth.
In Sickness and In Health: What It Means to Be Ready for Marriage
As you prepare for your happily ever after, you must ask yourself a few questions: How honest have you been in this partnership? How honest has your partner been with you? Trust me, communication skills, connection, getting along with in-laws, creating intimacy, balancing work and home are all great to have in a marriage. But none of that will matter if a foundation of truth is not there. None of those skills matter if you are not in alignment.
So let’s say you look into the two aspects of your relationship and you are honest about who you are and what you want. You realize there are differences between you and your partner.
Do you become runaway bride? Does this mean you are not ready for marriage?
Of course not! Differences don’t mean you need to dump Mr. or Ms. Right. They don’t mean you aren’t right together.
This is when the good stuff happens. This is when you get to talk about how you can compromise and how you can find common ground and solutions that make you both happy. This is when you dig in and see the true meaning of sharing your life with someone. You discover the give and take of your relationship.
It will be challenging — but of course, you already know that.
Just listen to yourself. Listen to that voice that says, “This doesn’t feel good, that hurt my feelings, I don’t feel like myself when I do this.” This voice is your soul trying to tell you to speak up, to tell your partner the truth. You also must allow your partner to tell you the truth. Give them a chance to show you who they really are.
This is a part of the sacred partnership, bringing a 100% of yourself to the relationship so that your partner can learn from you and you can learn from him or her.
If you are not honest, you will never know the capability of your relationship or partner. Don’t be fearful of asking the questions because you don’t want to hear the answers. As you know, the truth will always come out.
As a couples therapist, I know it is best that the truth comes out before you say, “I do.”
If you need help preparing your relationship for a marriage of honesty, I can offer plenty of support and insight. You can contact me at (864) 559-8181 to schedule an appointment. I can help people in Greenville, SC, and surrounding areas.