Those two words, 'I do', should remain the focus of your day throughout your wedding planning process. While hosting a party for your nearest and dearest is certainly the icing on the cake, your journey as a couple to this point, and your future wishes and plans together, is ultimately what your wedding day is about.
Angela Rennie of Intimacy Counselling suggests we consider the following nine questions before starting any big-day planning:
ARE YOU GETTING MARRIED FOR THE RIGHT REASONS?
Are you being realistic about marriage? A good relationship takes constant effort and there will be tough times. Life and relationships are not always a fairytale; we often have issues that prevent us from having healthy relationships and cause us to be attracted to the wrong people, or get into a relationship for the wrong reasons.
Another person can’t save you or rescue you. You need to be in a good place inside yourself and have worked through past pain to a certain point.
ARE YOU AWARE OF WHAT PLACES STRAIN ON A MARRIAGE?
The first year of marriage is often extremely tough. Once the wedding is over, it seems the romance has gone and ‘life’ (with all its ups, downs and stresses) sets in. It can be a bit of a downer after all the excitement and build-up of a wedding.
It’s important to remember that the wedding is just one (hopefully amazing) day, but what your marriage will really be built on is how you manage life together daily.
Children also place a huge strain on a relationship. It is one of the hardest things you will face as a couple. You need to be prepared for hormones, lack of sleep, no ‘you’ time etc and you need to know how to stay connected through it all. Staying connected is easy at the start of a relationship but life can quickly get in the way.
DO YOU HAVE THE SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS WORK?
Relationships are often sweet at the start and sour at the end. It takes constant effort to keep things on track. Do you know what to do to maintain love, affection, appreciation, and intimacy? We aren’t taught these things in school, our parents often don’t know these things and we don’t learn these skills from them. Our relationship histories are often not enough to teach us new skills.
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO BE FAIR, AND TO MANAGE DIFFERENCES AND CONFLICT?
Criticism, contempt, and stonewalling are predicted to end relationships. Blame and excuses get you nowhere. You need to keep working as a team and you need to keep communicating. Do you know how to repair conflict? You both need to be open and receptive to each other’s attempts to repair conflict, otherwise it will never be resolved. You need to learn how to face conflict with a team mentality, listen carefully to your partner’s perspective and show empathy and understanding towards them.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR PARTNER'S WANTS AND NEEDS FROM YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
It is important to not only know these but to constantly do your best to meet them. If you continue do this for each other you will happier, more connected and feel appreciated.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR PARTNER'S LOVE LANGUAGE?
Do you know what you do that makes them feel loved? We are often very good at making our partners feel loved at the start of the relationship, but over time people often start feeling unloved. Every person’s languages of love are different. You need to know what they are so you become aware of maintaining them throughout your marriage.
HAVE YOU DISCUSSED HOW YOU WILL MANAGE DIFFERENCES?
How you will manage differences in religion, culture, age, raising children, money and goals? Too often people are so in love they forget to talk about the realities of life. They feel blindsided when their partner’s views are completely different to theirs. These areas can cause major conflict and end many relationships.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR PARTNER WELL ENOUGH?
At the start of a relationship we often present the best version of ourselves, or we pretend to be the person we wish we were. After time our partners often get the worst version of us. Have you known them long enough or are they still presenting you with a version they want you to see? Are you seeing the reality of who they are or the ideal of who you want them to be? Have you met their family and friends to help collaborate who they are with who they show you they are?
DO YOU COMMUNICATE WELL REGARDING INTIMACY?
Sex is a small part of a relationship when it is going well but a much larger part when it isn’t. You are going to have different sex drives and different wants and needs sexually. A healthy sex life reduces stress, anxiety and depression. It has multiple other health benefits such as heart disease prevention; it also releases chemicals that keep you connected and make you feel more positive and affectionate towards each other.