You feel really happy with your relationship right now. You and your girlfriend of three years are so in love, and so you proposed. However, therapists advise that couples need to take a long pause before deciding to hit the altar. Amidst the strong love, the closeness, and the passion that you and your partner have for each other, you must consider all things, including seeking the help of a marriage therapist, to be able to fully understand the changes that you both will undergo once you have tied the knot. As what Dr. John Gottman, PsyD said, “A good marriage must have a rich climate of positivity” and advises that we make “regular deposits” to our emotional bank accounts.”
A few celebrity couples revealed in their interviews that they agreed to see a therapist before they decided to get married for the purpose of learning how to best communicate with each other. According to them, couples therapy had been ‘super helpful.’ But if, in the first place, you’re the perfect match, should you just go ahead and wed? No is the answer of Liz Higgins, a certified marriage therapist who specializes in advising young couples. She adds that there are principles that healthy couples try to follow that can help strengthen and create a rock-solid foundation. But do remember that no matter how happy and emotionally healthy you both are, there will always be existing conflict sooner or later.
Here are some of the best pieces of advice from seasoned marriage and family therapists – just some things that you and your partner should know before you decide to get married.
- You can’t always say you’re in love with your partner.
You may think that you are currently with the perfect partner ever, but there’s a time and place where you won’t feel as in love and balanced. “That’s where it is vital to ground yourself with the values that you used as a couple.
- Your relationship with your family is relevant to your marriage.
Is your partner closely attached to her family and relatives? Does she find comfort in them? Are they in conflict or not? All these are very vital, Higgins explained, because these themes in the family tend to repeat in one’s marriage. So if your partner is comfortable talking to her family about anything, then she won’t have difficulty doing so with you.
- You – not your partner – complete yourself.
Jerry Maguire’s ‘you complete me’ sounds so intense, but fortunately, it’s not true. Don’t find completeness in your partner because you and only you can do that. Focus on valuing yourself and remembering that taking care of yourself will enable you to give your best to the relationship. A relationship must have time for togetherness as well as separateness, with the trust that the love remains. “Being married is about joining two lives together, not giving up one. Being content in your own skin means you won’t be looking to your partner to fill voids in your life.” said Lesli Doares, M.S.
- Be aware of your partner’s financial status.
Before deciding to get into marriage, you must be agreeable to disclose each other’s finances. This is so that you can discuss the most efficient ways that you can manage the family’s financial situation. These days, couples have decreased conflict on money by having a separate account aside from their one joint account. Finances are among the most popular reasons for divorce, and at times, it’s an even more sensitive topic compared to sex. It would best be handled if both you and your partner were open and secure about it.
- Conflict is unavoidable. Be ready to resolve it.
The honeymoon stage is probably the only stage in a marriage that is without or with very little conflict. After that, there will be a lot to argue about – your different habits and traits, the way you handle issues, keeping the budget under control, so on and so forth. Here’s a rather different view of Higgins regarding conflict: “The things that you later dislike in your relationship have more to do with you rather than with your partner.” Thus, to effectively handle conflict is realizing and acknowledging that it begins with you. You should find ways to deal with your worries and anxieties and just practicing a healthy way of reducing your stress levels. According to Eli Finkel, PsyD, “partners should get perspective from a third party who sees things from the “outside.” Bringing that objectivity helps to simmer down escalating arguments.”
- When it seems like things aren’t going to get fixed, don’t give up just yet.
Most young couples separate very early in their marriage, perhaps because today’s mentality is if something doesn’t work, you just have to throw it away. Conflict, on the other hand, is something that needs to be resolved because it is an opportunity for couples to grow and strengthen their relationship. So if the issue is not domestic violence or any type of extremely negative behavior, try your best to find a solution before finally calling it quits.
- Show your love in big and small ways.
This is crucial in every relationship – be it your partner, your parents, siblings, or significant other. Making your partner feel loved helps her stay in a good place where she is confident, secure, and emotionally stable. You can plan a romantic trip to the countryside, or maybe just serve her breakfast in bed, with a matching kiss that tells her how much you love and appreciate her for simply being your better half.