My intention is not to add yet another overwhelming list to the internet ethos. However, I do want to take a few minutes to shift the focus away from the details of party-planning and instead highlight the stuff that helps us prepare for the marriage.
Of course this isn't a you-must-do-this list. There's no such thing. Rather, these are a few ideas of ways to prioritize our relationships alongside our weddings:
- Figure out how to fight in constructive rather than destructive ways: Disagreeing is inevitable, and reaching compromise and shared understanding takes work. When we fight, though, we have to do it in ways that build our relationships rather than tear them down. After a fight, we should have new insight into our partners that will prevent a fight later on. Or we should have a new strategy for dealing with conflict. Or we should be able to look at each other and say, "That was really cathartic. I feel a lot better. I love you." We should fight in ways that don't leave us bitter or festering or armed with ammunition that we will use against our partners later on down the road.
- Create a shared budget: Money is a huge source of tension in a lot of relationships. It's important to figure out what your individual spending styles are and decide how to mesh them. Also, it's good to come up with an action plan for paying off debt.
- Discuss how to share tasks equitably: A lot of work goes into running a household (doing dishes, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, cleaning the toilet, calling the repairperson when something breaks, paying bills, mowing the lawn, finding fun things to do on Friday nights, sending holiday and thank you cards, etc.). Figuring how to share these tasks equitably can help lay a foundation for equality and mutual respect.
- Delineate your needs and wants: It takes a lot of self-work to bring healthy selves into a relationship. An important piece of introspection is figuring out what we each need and want and to share those needs and wants with our partners. Sometimes we have needs that aren't being met while we're dating but we think they will magically start being met after we're married.
- Reach agreement about the state-of-our-home: Different partners tolerate and crave different levels of cleanliness and order. It's important to discuss these differences and find ways to deal with them.
- Agree on a sketch of your life together: I'm not suggesting you set your life path in stone, but I do think it's wise to talk about the big rocks: how many kids you think you might want to have, what kind of place you want to live in, how you want to spend your vacation time, how you want to balance work/family/hobbies/friends/exercise.