If you want your marriage to be successful, you need to be prepared.
It's time to add a few things to your pre-wedding to-do list. Because, according to our experts, the months before you get married should be more about discovering your true desires and setting yourself up for success rather than picking out a color palette.
Here are eight things you must do before the big day.
1. Figure out what you want from life.
Christine Arylo, motivational speaker and author of Choosing Me Before We, warns that it can be difficult to choose the right mate before we've had the chance to clearly define what we want our own lives to look like.
"The truth is," she says, "it's easy to fall in love but much harder to find a partner who supports you. When you know what you want from your own life, however, you are much more likely to choose someone you love and who is a good match to help you create that life."
2. Get on the same page with your significant other.
Everything from how to handle your finances to whether you want children, and what kind of lifestyle you crave — now is the time to talk it out and get on the same page with your significant other, says Janet Ong Zimmerman, relationship coach and creator of Love for Successful Women.
"These areas are fundamental," she says, "and when both people are on the same page, this increases the probability for a long and happy marriage. When couples assume things will work out without having these conversations, life and marriage become more challenging."
3. Create a strong social circle.
You may not realize it, but your female friends have a strong impact on the success of your relationship, says Arylo.
"If you go into a marriage without a strong, supportive tribe of sisters, you'll set yourself up to over-rely on your spouse and look to him or her to be everything to you," she warns. "No one person can be everything. A strong circle of friends will keep you connected to yourself, out of isolation, and out of the potential to lose yourself in your marriage."
4. Set yourself up for financial success.
It's not uncommon to come into a marriage carrying debt. But, says Zimmerman, the more debt you can eliminate and the more money you can save before your marriage, the better off you will be. Why? Not only will it reduce the potential for financial fights, but also, "if something were to happen to your spouse or if your marriage doesn't last, it's always in your best interest to be able to take care of yourself," says Zimmerman.
5. Travel to another country.
Says Arylo, "There is something about world travel that is different from flying to another part of your own country. It expands your horizons, heightens your independence, and instills within you a confidence and a sense of the world being a much bigger place than just what you know." With those emotions and experiences under our belt, she says, you will also a sense of infinite possibility.
"That means if you hit a rocky patch in your marriage or you find yourselves stuck in a rut, you have the tools and perspective within you to realize there are way more opportunities in the world," Arylo explains. "It gives you freedom."
6. Learn how to be okay with uncertainty.
Do you believe that once you tie the knot everything will fall into place? If so, it may be time to realign your thinking.
"Marriage is the start of a different journey, one that requires being content with the uncertainty that comes from a disagreement, from not knowing what's going to happen, and from dynamics that can change as months and years go by," says Zimmerman. "Being OK with uncertainty will help every woman experience more ease, embrace change, and allow things to unfold naturally."
7. Ask yourself why you want to be married.
And be honest with your answer, Arylo cautions.
"There is a lot of social pressure to get married," she points out. "And if you are getting married to achieve the next milestone or to lock in the guy or girl, it's a reason that is full of future misery. If it's about anyone other than you and the person you are going to marry creating a life you both love together, it is potentially a mistake that could cost you a lot."
8. Know who you really are.
Says Zimmerman, "You must know yourself at the core of who you are. This means honoring your values, what's most important to you, and your boundaries. Keeping a strong sense of what makes you you," says Zimmerman, "will make sure you stay true to who you are, maintaining your self-confidence and self-worth. And when you're confident and know your worth, the energy you radiate is extremely appealing and irresistible to your partner."
This article was originally published at BRIDES. Reprinted with permission from the author.