When my husband, Shane and I got married, we had been dating for over 10 years. We’ve gone through a lot together throughout our relationship… deaths, moves, vacations, jobs, high school, college, just to name a few… we’ve been through a lot of changes throughout the years and although it hasn’t always been easy, it has always been worth it!
We’re now coming up on our first marriage anniversary on October 20th and today, I’m sharing what we’ve learned about relationships over the last 11 years of being together. I’m sharing a few things we wish we would’ve known earlier on in our relationship and before getting married.
10 Things to Know Before Getting Married
1.Things Will Change
Not a whole lot changed for Shane and I when we got married because we had gone through a lot through out our relationship beforehand. Once married, the simple shift between dating and marriage somehow added an extra pressure to the relationship. Especially since Shane didn’t want ANYTHING to change! When the changes happened, we found ourselves butting heads a little and had to figure out our new roles as Husband and Wife vs. Boyfriend and Girlfriend.
Fortunately, we were able to work through our kinks and quirks over the 10 years prior. I’m sure for most, that’s not the case, especially, if you haven’t lived together. Make sure to keep an open mind and be open to changes because there will likely be some!
2. Changing your Last Names is NOT Easy
Obviously, not everyone changes their last name, for many reasons I’m sure but I’m sure for some it’s because, well, it sucks! It’s a process. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to hear Mrs. or Mr. and having the same last name as your new husband/wife, but the actual process is not easy, or fun!
Between trips to the DMV and the Social Security Office, not to mention the amount of companies you need to contact (credit cards, school loans, the state, your employer, etc.) the more you have, the more of a process it is, and it’s not exactly fun! I don’t regret doing it, but I’m glad I only need to do it once! 🙂
3. Keep your Marriage Certificate Handy
Weather it’s for updating your name with the state, your employeer, or to take along on your honeymoon, make sure to have a copy handy because you’ll need it. If you go on a honeymoon, bring a copy of it since you can get quite a few discounts if you ask, but some places will ask to see it.
4. Establish your Marriage Boundaries
Marriage has boundaries, weather you’ve established these boundaries already when dating or not, things change when you’ve made that commitment. For us, we had already created strong boundaries prior to getting married so not a lot changed in this area for us but make sure to discuss them prior to or right after getting married. One of our boundaries includes not having personal relationships with the opposite sex and we don’t drink without each other.
Throughout the years, I have received some judgement on these boundaries of ours and that’s ok! No one else needs to agree with your boundaries as a couple, except for you and your spouse. Your boundaries don’t need to look like ours, but you do need to discuss boundaries with your spouse! Better to knock out the conversations now before unspoken boundaries are crossed and that’s not good for anyone!
5. Discuss your Goals and Values for your Marriage
If you’re getting married, I assume you’ve likely already had this conversation but if not, make sure you do. Discuss your goals (children, careers, money, etc.) and values (trust, honesty, equality, etc.) for your marriage and future together. For us, we plan to both work until we have children and once we do, we’ll address me staying home with the children at that time. We each have our roles within our marriage and each do our part within the household. We value honesty, commitment, and open communication always.
As I said before, your goals and values don’t need to align with ours, and they can also change and are likely to over time, but make sure to discuss them so you have an idea of how your marriage will look. You don’t want to assume you have the same values and goals only to find out years down the line that they don’t align.
6. Your spouse is your #1, no matter what!
Your spouse is the only family you choose, unless you adopt. Once you get married, you’ve officially chosen them to be your number one. You’re choosing to put their needs before your own, you’re their number one supporter and encourager and don’t allow anyone to step in between that. Life is hard and it’s a lot easier when you have each other’s backs and fight through the hard times together!
Never talk down about your spouse to others, even when venting about frustrations. If you have an issue go to your spouse, not your friends and family, they can’t fix it! I learned this early on in our relationship and let’s just say it wasn’t good for anyone.
7. Have a plan for your money.
One of the leading causes of divorce is money issues. Figure out how you’ll manage your money. For us, this means we each have our own bank accounts and one joint account for bills. Many couples choose to combine all of their money into one account. Choose what works for your marriage but make sure to talk about it with your significant other early on so you’re on the same page. Don’t just assume you’ll do what your parents did!
And don’t lie about it, that’s a whole other topic that I could write a whole post about, but one lie leads to another and to another. I’ve seen other couples do this. It’s much easier to have them disappointed in your choice to spend money on something, than it is to make up some lie which leads to other lies and eventually you’re lying about bigger things than just money! Be transparent (about everything) even if it’s hard.
8. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
I can’t say it enough! It’s better to over communicate than it is to not say anything at all which leads to much bigger issues. And make sure to keep an open mind, let the other person grow and leave room for mistakes. Don’t forget that you’re on the same team (see my post Playing Offense & Defense in your Marriage). If you run into communication issues, try asking the other to repeat what they hear you say, this was a game changer for us! You’ll often be surprised at their response.
9. Learn How to Love Each Other
Learn each other’s love languages and love your spouse in the way they need, to feel loved! For me, that means quality time, we’ve established a weekly date night, so we can spend quality time together. Many weeks that means simply watching a movie at home and getting take-out. Other nights it means going out to eat and catching a movie. Sometimes we do something else. We also spend most weekends together.
For Shane, his love language is physical touch, which happens to be my lowest rated. This means, I need to consciously remember to hold his hand, give kisses, sit on his lap, and be intimate. We went many years without knowing each other’s love languages and it has moved mountains within our relationship. Go check out my post The 5 Love Languages – Learn How to Love to learn more about them and take the free quiz today (not sponsored, just love it!).
10. Love Each Other and Have Fun Doing it!
Life is short, and if you take it too seriously, you’ll look back and wish that you wouldn’t have wasted your time arguing about the small things. Believe me, we’ve fought about some pretty petty things, and still do from time to time. We try to remember that if we’re fighting, it’s most likely a misunderstanding and miscommunication.
Have fun, laugh together, and don’t forget why you started loving each other in the first place. Remember that your spouse wants what’s best for you and vice versa. When you’re in the heat of the moment, sometimes it can be easy to forget that!
Our marriage is not perfect by any means, we still have our struggles, miscommunication, and arguments. We’ve come a long way in our 11 years together, so much so that it’s actually embarrassing to look back at how we used to be. We still have room for growth today and always will! We have lived most of our lives together (together since the age of 17 and now 29) so we’ve had the opportunity to figured out what works for us.
Figure out what works for your relationship and know that there’s no such thing as a perfect marriage. There is no wrong way or right why, as long as you treat each other with love and respect of course, just find what works for both of you!
I hope you find this advise helpful and that you are able to take something away from this list to make a positive influence on your relationship. Let me know if there is something that you would add. Who knows… maybe it will be helpful to us or another reader’s relationship! 🙂
xoxo – Katie
“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.”
– Robert C. Dodds