9 Critical Things You Must Do Before You Get Married

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Pre-Marriage Bucket List: 9 Critical Things You Must Do Before Marriage

By Michelle Garrett

Recently, an old friend asked me what were some things she should think about and do before getting married. She thinks her long-term boyfriend is preparing to ask THE question. Her biggest fear is not a lack of trust or love — it is a lack of positive relationship role models in her life. She comes from a family that has a history of divorces, settling, adulterous relationships and just plain unhappy couples.

Yes, I recall the advice to never go to bed angry (Has anyone successfully done this?) and to have date nights monthly when we were celebrating our reception and my bridal shower, but as we got seriously serious, it would have been great to have someone share things to think about before even saying "I will" when the man of your dreams gets down on one knee.

I decided to reach out to some family and friends who were both single, engaged, married and divorced to get their views on what pre-marriage bucket list items someone should do before getting married.

1. The first response I got was "Make sure there's no one else that you may want." At first thought, it seems simple enough. Why would someone even consider marriage if they weren't 100% sure, right?

Wrong! Especially with divorces seemingly commonplace these days.

2. One of my male friends quickly chimed in with "As far as men are concerned, say good-bye to your own opinion."

Of course, that got a few chuckles, but it rang some truth. A relationship should be give-and-take. As the years have passed, I have found myself automatically "thinking like" my husband — from dinner choices to vacation getaways. It's important to really know your partner and be willing to appreciate and accept their opinions — even if they're different from yours.

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3. Have a weekend to reflect on the person you are.

Write about the person you want to become and learn that saying "I do" doesn't mean the end of life, but the beginning of a journey that you are taking with someone who you love. This takes me to one of my favorite pieces of advice...

4. Before saying "I Do" be comfortable with your own company.

Your future spouse is not responsible for curing boredom or providing you with constant entertainment. Please don't get married because you feel it's time, your biological clock is ticking or everyone else you know has. Settling or rushing to the aisle will not bring you the happily ever after you're wanting.

5. Make sure you love yourself 100%... 

...and know that this person is not coming in your life to complete you, but to complement you. You must already be complete within!

6. Make sure you actually know the person you are about to marry...

...and ask lots of questions beforehand. If he wants children and you don't, guess what? He'll most likely still want kids when you become Mr. and Mrs.

7. Get to know your in-laws.

It makes a big difference. They are now your relatives, the people you'll be sharing holidays, special occasions and family dinners with. They are also your children or future children's grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. They have the potential to make a huge impact on their futures.

Make sure there's clear understanding on how you'll spend your holidays. I have seen some serious marital issues stem from this seemingly simple request.

8. Take a long distance road trip together, just the two of you.

If you can't handle each other in a car for 18 hours, you may want to evaluate spending the rest of your lives together.

I can personally attest to this. Right before we got married, my husband and I traveled from Fort Hood, Texas to Columbia, South Carolina. That was one of the longest road trips ever! Were there some heated conversations during that trip? Oh yes! But at the end of the day, we still found ways to make each other laugh and enjoy the situations. I knew he was a keeper!

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9. Give yourself an opportunity to miss them.

Your partner's absence reminds you how much of you and your life is impacted by them. More than just another step in a logical progression, marriage becomes a heartfelt, even craved state. I'll let you marinate on that one for a moment.

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This article was originally published at BlogHer. Reprinted with permission from the author.