Weddings are expensive—the average American wedding costs about $33,000. Between the refreshments, the perfect wedding dress, the venue, and the caterer, the costs add up quickly. After spending all that money, spending another $13,000 or so on a divorce a few years or even months down the road can cost you more than you can afford. Not only that, nobody wants their marriage to end in divorce, yet approximately 40 percent of marriages end that way.
Unfortunately, life is unpredictable and uncontrollable in many ways, and sometimes divorce is the only or best option for a couple or a family; however, there are some things that you and your soon-to-be spouse can do before you tie the knot to help prevent divorce and forge a stronger relationship. Here are eight things that you can do prior to your wedding to help you prevent a divorce later on:
1. Talk About Expectations
Unmet expectations are one of the biggest relationship killers. Everybody has expectations about what marriage will be like, about intimacy, how they and their spouse will raise their children or future children, how they will split the chores, and so on. If neither of you knows the other’s expectations, you’re both going to be hurt and disappointed.
Take the time to talk about the expectations you have of your partner in situations ranging from the kitchen to the bedroom. Remember that you’re both only human so try to keep your expectations of each other realistic. It can be hard to do, especially if you’re in the honeymoon phase, but it will save you a lot of hurt and frustration later on.
2. Don’t be Afraid of Confrontation
Although you shouldn’t be initiating confrontation at every turn, you shouldn’t avoid it completely either. If they haven’t already, your fiancé is going to do something that makes you furious. Whether now, or after marriage, if you keep it bottled inside and you don’t confront them to discuss your feelings or argue it out, your relationship could be over before it even begins.
You shouldn’t be fighting and on the defense or offense at all times—remember, you and your partner are working together, you’re supporting each other, and if you’re out to get each other it will only make things harder—but don’t be afraid to argue now and then.
3. Do Something Completely New (to Both of you)
Experiencing something neither of you has ever experienced before will both bring you closer together and let you see the other in unique (and sometimes stressful) situations. You could try visiting a foreign country or taking up a new hobby. Whatever it is you choose to do, make sure it’s new to both of you. As you learn together and work through challenges, you’ll see a new side of each other that can give you some insight into marriage.
Like it or not, marriage can be tough, and it is full of new experiences. No matter how many people you know who are married, your marriage is unique to you; you and your partner will be going it alone.
4. Spend Quality Time with Your Families
The saying that you marry your spouse’s family when you marry your spouse is true. For better or for worse, their family becomes yours, and your spouse becomes part of your family, too. Before you tie the knot, spend as much quality time with each of your families as possible. You might be surprised at just how much your family can affect your marriage.
If you don’t get along well or don’t like your in-laws, it doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed, but going into the marriage knowing full well what your in-laws are like will help you avoid any relationship-damaging surprises later.
5. Set Goals Together
Although you and your spouse will still be yourselves after you’re married, you’ll become one unit. You will be working together, supporting each other, and (hopefully) working towards common goals. Before you get married, sit down together and discuss both your personal and couple goals.
Does your spouse want to finish school within the next two years? Do you want to start having children within five years? Where do you want to be professionally within the next six months? Discuss all of the goals that you have and set goals together, then work toward them both before and after you’re married.
6. Make a Personal Commitment
When you get married, you’re committing to each other, together. That’s not the only commitment you should make, though. Before you tie the knot, you should make a personal commitment to your marriage, to your spouse, and to your future family—commit to forgive, commit to support, and commit to sticking it out even when things get tough.
7. Talk About How You Plan to Budget and Manage Money
Money is a huge point of friction for many couples. Whether money is tight or one spends it on something the other doesn’t see as important, it can cause some serious fights and some deep hurt. Before you walk down the aisle, talk about how you plan to budget and manage your money. Consider whether or not you will combine your accounts or will split the bills evenly.
It’s important to talk through and sometimes even put a plan into practice before getting married and going through the frustration of financial differences.
8. Be Forgiving
It’s no secret that marriage is hard—but it’s wonderful, too! There will always be ups and downs, and you’ve committed to this person for your entire life, so try to be patient and practice forgiveness. Forgiveness goes a long way and makes the tough times a little easier.
Nobody plans to have their marriage end in divorce, but marriage is hard work and takes conscious effort every day. While there’s no way to guarantee that everything will be perfect, you can start making efforts now, before you’re even married, that will help you strengthen your marriage and prevent divorce.
How do you and your partner strengthen your relationship?