The topic of marriage comes up an awful lot for us college girls and twenty-somethings. Especially when spring rolls around, which you now know is actually ‘wedding season,’ not spring. At any rate, the desire to get married can be stirred up pretty intensely when you’re constantly around couples, attending weddings, and exploring dating more seriously. Wanting to get married is perfectly normal!
But marriage isn’t one of those things that just “falls into place” when you meet the right person. And the best way to prepare for marriage isn’t to look for the right person, it’s to become the right person. If you want to be a high-value woman who will have a lasting and satisfying marriage with a high-value man, there are a few things you can start doing now to prepare. And even if you’re not that interested in getting married anytime soon, these ideas will help you grow as a person, which is just as amazing!
Learn to work as a team
Marriage is the ultimate partnership. If you’re completely accustomed to flying solo, it can be a shock! Marriage means sharing chores around the house, joint checking accounts, putting your schedules together, potentially raising kids together… basically everything is done together from now on. That’s just part of it. And working as a team means working for the team’s goals above your own.
So how can you work in a team now? Contribute to your team at work. Take that group project seriously. Volunteer with a team. Play sports in casual city leagues or intramurals. Live with a roommate! The key here is to take your naturally-occurring relationships and be intentional about them. Find ways to help the team work toward a bigger goal.
Working as a team means working for the team’s goals above your own.
Learn to fight fair
News flash: you will fight with your husband. Every couple argues a little differently, but I absolutely think that we can use tactics that are absolutely not fair when we fight. You already know what i’m talking about if you’re honest with yourself…
- Digging up irrelevant past mistakes just to sting your partner
- Putting up a wall (so your partner can’t get it at all)
- One sided fights (one person screams and the other just takes it)
- Black and white, “you always” or “you never” statements
- Threatening to leave the relationship, harm yourself, or harm something else if the argument doesn’t go your way
- Throwing out insults on the person’s character
Those are just a few examples, but the main point is this: Arguments in a marriage are natural. Fair fights can usually be resolved, but manipulative and shame-inducing fights can be toxic to a marriage.My guess is that you might have gotten into a conflict or two in your life despite being married. It’s really important to start learning how to fight fair. My short version of how to fight fair is this: use this formula to express yourself during conflicts. I believe these tips work for any relationship, not just marriage.
- Observations- state the facts of what is happening in a non-accusatory way. For example, “I’ve noticed that a few of the chores on your list have not been getting done the last few weeks.”
- Feelings- state how this incident has affected you. Not assumptions on what the other person is feeling. Example: “I know the chores are a small thing overall, but when they are neglected, I feel disrespected and like I am expected to pick up the slack.”
- Needs- state what you need from the other person, or what you need in general. Needs must be realistic for your relationship. Example: “I need to know that we can work as a team and take responsiblity for our home.” Here are some awesome examples of magic phrases to use by John Gottman, via counselinglagunahills.com.
- Requests- this is where you directly ask for what you need from the other person. Example: “I’m asking you to complete your weekly chores.”
- Compromise- after both parties have expressed the first 4 steps, it’s important to look at both sets of needs and requests and offer a compromise. Example: “Why don’t we look at our chore list and make sure it’s do-able for both of us?”
Learn to forgive
You will likely need to forgive your husband more than any other person you know, and likewise, you’ll need to ask forgiveness from him the most. The most important thing about giving forgiveness is that it must be without expectations or ultimatums. You either forgive someone or you don’t. There’s no “I’ll forgive you if you _____.” That’s bargaining and manipulation, not forgiveness. And, on the other side, asking for forgiveness shouldn’t come with ifs or buts either. No “I’m sorry, but you ______.” NOPE! Apologize and ask for your part in what happened. You can’t control the other person. You can only control your own response.
The most important thing about giving forgiveness is that it must be without expectations or ultimatums.
Related Post: My Top Relationship Dealbreakers
Learn to manage your finances
I know it’s not romantic, but managing your finances is vital to a healthy marriage. Money is the leading cause of stress and arguments in marriage, so learning how to be responsible with money now can help save your marriage later! If you miss bill payments, never budget, and frequently overdraft your checking account, it’s time to get to work! Here are a few ways to get your finances on point.
- Create a budget. If you’re frequently overdrafting, you NEED to know where your money and need to prevent this from happening. And here’s the thing- budgets aren’t about forcing you to not spend your money on nice things. Budgets help you reach bigger financial goals and can help give you financial freedom! Here are a few helpful resources for budgeting:
- “Budgeting from a Minimalist Perspective” – Kattie at Professional Student
- “5 Reasons Why You Need a Budget” – Simply Finance with Brittany Marie
- “How to Budget for Beginners” – Natalie Bacon at nataliebacon.com
- Build and/or manage your credit. If you have zero credit, one good option is to start with a small balance credit card (maybe one that caters to students!), make 1-2 purchases on it per month, and pay it off completely every month. When you get married, you will also inherit someone else’s debt. The less debt you can bring to the table, the better you two will be to pay off your combined expenses. Manage your credit by making consistent payments. As you get older, you’ll likely have more types of credit…. Like car payments, student loans, different types of credit cards, etc. It’s good to have different types of credit, but you still need to only take on debts you can consistently pay off. Managing your credit helps in marriage because it’s important for little things like buying a house!
- Take advantage of Autopay. I am supposedly a responsible adult, and even i have missed payments simply because I forgot about them. Basically everyone has autopay these days…USE IT.
- Have a savings account and emergency fund. Use your budget to consistently put money into a savings account! You’ll be grateful you did down the line.
Learn to listen
Practice being a good listener. Practice with your coworkers, classmates, on coffee dates with friends, on real dates, anywhere! Practice asking questions about the conversation and the person you’re talking to, rather than always responding with something about yourself. Keep practicing every chance you get. You want your partner to understand your needs, right? You want him to listen to you? Listen first. Communication goes both ways.
You want him to listen to you? Listen first.
Learn to balance
Marriage combines two people’s schedules, not to mention any children or other family members involved. Your time and attention must primarily go to your marriage. That means you might have to say no to some of the less important things that you had time for when you were single or dating. How can you practice that now? Prioritize your commitments and think through what really, truly matters to you, as well as what you realistically have to do (i.e. your job). Do those things, and start cutting out the less important stuff.
Creating a work/life balance will help you now, because you’re cultivating an intentional life with space for what matters most to you. And it will help you in the future, because you’ll be practice at making space for your family and marriage.
Creating a work/life balance will help you know, because you’re cultivating an intentional life with space for what matters most to you.
Learn to compromise
I’ve already mentioned compromise through most of the other points in this post, but it deserves its own category! Compromise is essential to marriage! You will disagree, you won’t see eye to eye on absolutely everything, and you’ll need to compromise to resolve conflicts. Take the opportunity to compromise now, with friends, roommates, co-workers, or family. Marriage is not a one-woman show, it’s a team effort. If you act like you’re only accountable to yourself now, it will create self-centered habits that will be difficult to break during marriage.
If you act like you’re only accountable to yourself now, it will create self-centered habits that will be difficult to break during marriage.
Learn about yourself
I cannot stress how important self-awareness is for marriage. A few things to discover….
- Personality types- Both the Myers-Briggs (take it here) and the Enneagram (take it here) are tools to help you discover how you naturally respond to situations and how you perceive your world.
- Your love language – This is how you express love and what makes you feel most loved. Very helpful!! Take the test here.
- Your personal values– All of these tests are helpful ways to help you define your core personal values. Knowing your core values can help shape your purpose and direction so much!! In marriage, it’s so important to be able to know your partner’s values in order to understand where they’re coming from.
Learn about what makes a good partner
While most of this post is about YOU becoming a quality partner, you do need to know what kind of person you’re looking for as well. Some things to consider…
- Do his personal values align with yours? How do you two line up on important things like politics, faith, money, family, etc?
- Is he responsible? Does he have a job or a way to provide for a family someday?
- Does he have goals? Is he ambitious or on the lazy side?
- Is he authentic and honest with you?
- How does he treat other women in his life, such as his mother or sisters?
- Is he respectful? How does he treat others? You can usually tell by how someone treats a waiter or cashier.
- Does he make you laugh? Do you like his personality?
- Do you two have chemistry? You do NOT have to have a sexual relationship to test this. You can usually tell if there’s a spark pretty early on!
- What is he passionate about? What makes him tick?
- What level of commitment is he looking for? Don’t get yourself set on marrying someone if they aren’t even looking for marriage.
Any other ways to prepare that you would add? What do you think of these ideas? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, if you loved this post, share and subscribe below!