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11 Valuable Lessons to Learn Before You Commit to Marrying Your Partner

What do you need to know before you say I do?

Marriage is one of the biggest decisions we can make in life. It’s a major commitment to choose to spend what should be the rest of your days with one partner. 

According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 1.7 million marriages took place in 2020. In that same span, there were almost 650,000 divorces reported. That means there was an almost 40% divorce rate at that time!

Infidelity, financial issues, lack of communication, and declining intimacy are commonly cited reasons people choose to divorce their partners. Furthermore, divorce often happens in the seventh to eighth years of a marriage. The Seven Year Itch is very much a real thing, it would seem.

It’s easy to build a dream together when you’re looking forward to getting married to each other. The honeymoon phase can carry you through marriage’s first year or two while you both are at your happiest. But any relationship, whether marriage or friendship, can be tested and broken under different strains.

There’s good news, though! Many couples that can keep their relationship solid through this period tend to stay together long-term. So what can you do to give your relationship the best chance to last? 

Here are 11 valuable lessons to learn before you commit to marrying your partner:

#1: Know Yourself

While it can be hard to find someone, once you do, it can be easy to fall in love with them. You want to learn anything and everything about them to know them better. It’s exciting to hear their stories and discover what led them to where they currently are in life.

You even get to do the same for them by recalling childhood memories, family history, and more. In the early stages of a relationship, you can feel like an open book willing to answer any question or share any tidbit of information about yourself. But are you really as open as you could be?

You have to be able to ask yourself: What are my goals in life?

As a relationship progresses and the possibility of marriage increases, you need to be able to answer that question. Even more, you and your partner need to be transparent with each other about your individual goals as well as your goals as a couple.

Communication is the key to any healthy relationship, and before considering marriage, you need to ensure that you have open lines of communication with each other. Before committing to marrying your partner, you need to know what your needs and expectations are and share those with them. You can’t truly do that if you haven’t taken the time to figure out what you want for yourself.

#2: Build Strong Lines of Communication

It can’t be stressed enough: Communication is the key to a healthy relationship! Lack of communication is one of the most cited causes of divorce. There are things couples should talk about before marriage to make sure both partners are aligned. If you can’t be fully open and honest in your discussions, your relationship will suffer.

If you or your partner wants children, but the other doesn’t, and you haven’t talked about that before marriage, odds are good that your relationship won’t survive such a disconnect. Not knowing each other’s love languages or being able to meet those needs for each other is another potential pitfall.

Open and honest communication is the best way to build trust with your partner. If you can’t address issues and concerns with each other as they come up, it can lead to resentment or disengagement. Marriage is a partnership, and you and your partner have to know that you have each other’s backs.

Before even considering marriage, make sure you and your partner build strong communication lines. Nobody likes to have an uncomfortable conversation, but you have to be able to have them to keep your relationship strong — sometimes, conflict can even be productive. The key is to allow each other to be vulnerable by respecting each other and working to resolve any conflicts together.

#3: Pay Attention to the Small Things

Part of knowing your partner best is paying attention to the little things they either like or that drives them crazy. Nothing can mean more in making someone feel loved and appreciated than knowing something that seems small matters enough for you to remember it.

It can be as simple as surprising them with their favorite treat, a card with a sweet message, or taking a chore around the house they normally do off of their plate, like doing the dishes or laundry. Give them a night where they control the remote, even if it means having to watch a sporting event or rom-com!

If taking your socks off and leaving them on the living room floor drives them up a wall, take care to put them in the hamper. What may seem like a minor inconvenience to you might make your partner feel like you’re doing something to spite them. In a relationship, it can be as much about what you don’t do as what you do.

#4: Never Stop Dating

Don’t confuse complacency and apathy with simply being comfortable in your relationship. As we get deeper into a relationship or marriage, we tend to hit points where we go through the motions. As life goes on day after day, we can fall into routines that never seem to vary. 

When we first start dating someone, we strive to do anything we can to romance them. We’ll take them out for dinner, to a movie, or do any other activity to build a connection with them. So why do we forget to do these things once we go from dating to being in a relationship with them?

If you’ve been in a relationship long enough to consider marrying your partner but you’re not still dating them, you should take time to reassess things. You wouldn’t just marry your roommate, so why are we willing to treat the person we love and supposedly want to commit to the same way we would a roommate, content just to cohabitate with them?

With declining intimacy and infidelity being two of the common causes of divorce, maintaining romance in a relationship is a necessity. Nothing will reduce intimacy faster than someone feeling taken for granted by their partner, and a lack of intimacy can become a slippery slope that can lead to infidelity by either person in a relationship.

But don’t think of romance and intimacy the same way because they are entirely different things! Romancing your partner isn’t trying to find a way to get them out of their clothes. It means doing things to make them feel special and appreciated without expectations of anything more in return. 

#5: Talk About Money and Finances

The last of the four biggest reasons cited for divorce is financial concerns. Money is important in life, but it can take on greater significance in any relationship, especially marriage.

Before committing to marriage, you and your partner need to have frank conversations about money. Having and sticking to a budget can be difficult enough when living on your own, but those challenges can grow exponentially in a marriage. Having a combined household income makes finances seem greater, but there are also greater household expenses that need to be considered.

You can see where you’re at money-wise when you’re on your own. Maybe you’ve saved up a bit of disposable cash, and you want to buy a new TV or gaming console. You only need to justify that kind of purchase to yourself. But in marriage, you must consider your partner in purchasing decisions, especially if you have children.

You can’t just buy that TV without talking to your partner about it, especially if they’re the one who primarily deals with finances. You have to be aligned on what matters most. You may see you have plenty of money in the bank but not know the house or rent payment is due in a few days.

Establishing agreements around finances is vital to a relationship before committing to marriage. You and your partner need to figure out if you’re going to have one household account, keep your accounts separate, or even compromise and have a joint account while maintaining individual ones for each of you to use at your discretion. 

#6: Consider Your Family and Friends

There’s a lot of truth to the saying, you don’t just marry someone, you marry their family too. Unless you’re not in contact with your family, you should take them into consideration before getting married. This goes for your friends, too.

When we say consider your family and friends, we don’t mean put their feelings first. We mean that it’s important to take their opinions and feelings into consideration along with your partner’s feelings about them, too. Not doing this can make you feel isolated a few years into a marriage.

While the choice to marry is ultimately yours and your partner’s to make, if your close friends and family don’t care for your partner, it will strain your relationships with everyone. You can find your friendships growing distant, reducing your support system. Your parents could become meddlesome or treat your partner coldly at family functions, making your spouse resentful. 

When we’re in love with someone, we might not see any of their red flags. We’re too close to the situation and have love blinders on. Our family and closest friends should know us the best, care for us the most, and (hopefully!) have our best interests at heart. If they don’t seem to like your partner, they may very well be seeing something you’re not.

#7: You and Your Partner Don’t Want to Change Each Other

Before committing to marry, you and your partner should be able to say that you wouldn’t change each other. This means major, life-altering changes. Everyone should strive to improve themselves and be a better partner, but knowing the difference between growth changes and fundamental changes is essential.

Taking steps to become a mature, supportive, and dependable partner is an admirable goal. 

Wanting your partner to take their dirty plate to the sink instead of leaving it on the table isn’t asking for a fundamental change. Your partner asking you not to leave laundry in the dryer for a week isn’t them trying to change you unreasonably.

Suppose your partner has certain spiritual beliefs or philosophical ideals. In that case, you can’t expect them to change because their beliefs are not the same as yours, nor should you want them to. You both should know and accept these types of things from each other in a relationship that has spanned a significant enough time to be considering marriage. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that your atheist partner doesn’t want to convert, get baptized, and have a religious wedding ceremony when you discuss getting married. If you expect something like this from them, that’s a major issue that points to communication problems.

#8: You and Your Partner Trust Each Other Deeply

Trust is a pillar of any relationship and especially in a marriage. If you don’t trust your partner, you can find yourself stressing about what they’re doing at all times. You’ll find yourself asking them endless questions and turning conversations into interrogations.

On the other side of the coin, imagine how you’d feel if the roles were reversed. Imagine coming home from meeting a friend for a drink and feeling as though a detective was questioning you. Where were you? Who were you with? Why are you late? 

No relationship can survive distrust!

No one wants to have their integrity called into question or feel like they have to justify every second of their day. There are massive issues if you or your partner ask to see each other’s phones or emails. Infidelity is a prime reason for marriages ending, and a lack of trust contributes to it.

You and your partner need to trust each other deeply, and good communication is the best way to build that trust. 

#9: You Can Make It Through Hard Times

Every relationship will have good times and bad, and making it through the struggles can strengthen your bond with your partner. How someone deals with challenges says a lot about them.

If you and your partner have faced adversity and overcome it together, that’s a good sign that your marriage would be able to do the same. Marriage can be a test of endurance, and after all, you’re committing to each other for the rest of your lives. 

If you find that every minor thing turns into an argument, that’s a big red flag. But if you’ve made it through one of you losing a job, a loved one, or similar troubles, odds are good that your relationship is solid.

Pressure creates diamonds might be overused in the business world to excuse workplace stress, but it holds true for relationships. 

#10: You Can Be Yourself

There’s nothing better than being so comfortable around someone that you can truly be yourself. You can laugh at stupid jokes shamelessly. You can sing or dance (even though you can’t do either well) without feeling embarrassed or self-conscious.

If you can feel the most like yourself when you’re with your partner, you’re probably ready for marriage. Your partner should be your best friend who shares your hopes, fears, and long-term plans, and you should be the same for them.

Suppose you feel like you need to tone down aspects of yourself or, worse yet, your partner asks you to. In that case, you need to consider committing to marriage carefully. Nobody wants to feel uncomfortable in their own home, let alone their own skin. Feeling as though you can’t be true to yourself around your partner is a problem. Accepting each other, warts and all, and even finding ways to love each other’s quirks is a sign of a healthy relationship. 

#11: You Know You Want a Marriage, Not a Wedding

Weddings are awesome events where friends and family are gathered and celebrate together. There’s usually dancing, a delicious meal, a few drinks, and a lot of happiness. Everyone is usually dressed their best and has a good time for hours.

Maybe your social media has been filled with pictures or videos from others’ weddings. Perhaps your friends or parents are asking when it’s going to be your turn, or you and your partner have been together for a while, and they’re dropping hints that a proposal is to be expected.

If any of these is the driving force in your decision to get married, you might want to reevaluate things. While a wedding might be a party, a marriage is a commitment that (hopefully) lasts forever. 

Think hard about why you want to get married. Is it just so you can say that you are, or is it because you can’t imagine not spending the rest of your life with your partner? How would your relationship with your partner change, for better or worse, by getting married? 

A wedding is just one day, and one of the happiest days you can have at that. But marriage is every day, all filled with ups and downs, successes and challenges. If you’re only considering the event itself and not years down the road, you might not want to commit to marriage just yet.

Weddings Are a Sprint, Marriage Is a Marathon

You should never commit to anything on a whim. Marriage is a commitment you should make sure you and your partner are genuinely prepared for before taking the plunge. But if you know your relationship is ready for the next step, support each other every day of your marriage and stay kind, loving, and respectful toward each other. Sometimes you might have to agree to disagree or make concessions for each other, but the greatness will far exceed the tough times!

The School of Greatness offers more lessons on relationships and marriage. DeVon Franklin discusses some of the biggest myths about relationships here. Gary John Bishop explains how you can let go and fully love in your relationship here.

To strengthen your relationship, you can also check out 10 Questions to Inspire Romance and Connection with Your Partner, and How to Spark Deep Connection in a Stagnant Relationship can help you rekindle your strained relationship.

Marriage is something that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Before committing to marrying your partner, make sure you, your partnership, and your relationship are ready to take that step. Hopefully, you can take the lessons we’ve shown here and use them to gauge how ready your relationship is to move towards marriage.

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Greatness Authors is a collection of writers, thinkers, curiosity experts, and students of the world who are committed to bringing you the most up-to-date, impactful, and inspiring information surrounding Greatness topics.

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