post written by: Marc Chernoff

7 “Before the Wedding” Steps that Initiate a Successful Marriage


Before the Wedding Steps for a Successful MarriageMarriage can be wonderful, but only if you are entirely aware of your individual, unique circumstances.  Angel and I have been married for a full year now, and honestly, the transition to married life has been remarkably smooth.  I do not believe our initial success with marriage is based on luck either.  We took it slow and completed the following 7 steps in an effort to ensure a successful new beginning with each other.  I would recommend these 7 steps to every couple considering the commitment of marriage.

  1. Live Together for a Full Year First – There is no realistic way you could possibly know everything about someone until you live with them.  The step of combining your living space will have a dramatic impact on both of your daily routines.  This is something you do not want to put off until after the wedding.  You both need to uncover all the little surprises first, figure out if it works, and make an educated decision on your future living arrangements.
  2. Put All the Financial Cards on the Table – Financial trouble is one of the leading causes for divorce.  In order to build a successful bridge between your finances both of you need to be aware of depth and distance between your financial standings.  Put all the cards on the table, denote any discrepancies, and chart out a blueprint that makes sense to both of you. 
  3. Become Friends with Her Close Friends – Initially this one may seem unnecessary or even a bit strange, but mutual friendships are a vital key to the long term success of intimate relationships.  Her friends are a big part of who she is, just as your friends are a big part of who you are.  It is foolish to assume that close friendships with third parties will have no impact on your relationship.  If you two are as compatible as you think you are, it makes sense that you should be able to get along with her closest friends.  The flipside should hold true as well.  It may be a red flag if this is not the case.
  4. Agree on the Details Related to Children – The idea of having children may seem distant right now, but time flies.  Some people are very passionate and firm when it comes to their outlook on raising children.  Do you want to have children?  When?  About how many?  Are there any other expectations or assumptions in relation to raising them?  These are some of the questions that need to be answered at both ends.  It’s impossible to work out every detail now, but there should be some obvious overlap in your views on having children.
  5. Be Honest with Both Her and Yourself – Relationships are built on a foundation of honesty and trust.  No relationship, and therefore no marriage, can survive without both parties involved being honest about how they feel.  Don’t just be honest with her, be honest with yourself too.  If something is bothering you now, your distaste for it will only inflate as time evolves.  Make sure you head into marriage with a clean slate of honesty as it relates to both your feelings and your feelings for her.  Make sure she does the same.  This should be an open discussion.
  6. Discuss Personal and Career Goals – Everyone has a different set of goals pertaining to their personal life and career.  Some of these goals may have been written in long before you two met each other, long before marriage was under consideration.  Neither one of you should have to give up your unachieved goals, but there needs to be a mutual awareness of what these goals are, how well they mesh, and how they impact your future together as a married couple.
  7. Think About the Possibilities of Change – Change is an inevitable element of life.  Life changes with success, it changes with failure, and it changes with time.  Nothing in the future will ever be exactly the same as it is right now.  Marriage is a commitment that must be flexible in coping with the influences of change.  There needs to be proactive discussions now about the possibilities for change and a reciprocated consciousness of the uncharted waters that lie ahead.

Successfully completing these steps should reveal any hidden inconsistencies in your relationship that might draw a negative affect on your marriage.  It should also clear your minds of any confusing marriage myths that may have concerned either of you.

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20 Comments

  • Great post, Marc! Thanks for sending folks my way. You are a doll.

  • Can I add one more piece of advice? This comes from someone who has been married nine years this July. Figure out where you stand on what role the in-laws will play. Whether you think so or not, you are marrying his/her family as well. And you need to think about how much you like them or not, how often you want them to call or come over, and what kind of say they will have in your marriage or child-rearing duties. And if they are the nosy or interfering type, do you have a commitment from your spouse that they will stand up to them and make them back off? I lucked out with my in-laws. Other people I know, not so much. :-/

  • Tim, thanks for the insightful addition. Nothing could be closer to the truth. Hopefully there is adequate time before the wedding to bond with your in-laws. If not, a common understanding needs to be established with your spouse.

  • Thanks for participating in this week’s Carnival of Family Life: St. Patrick’s Day Edition at Colloquium!

  • […] and Angel present Seven “Before the Wedding” Steps That Initiate a Successful Marriage published at Marc and Angel, inviting readers pondering or planning marriage to consider their […]

  • Today morning I became so depressed after having a fight with my hubby. That’s why I am putting a comment over here just to get rid of my tension by sharing some thoughts. The above information or the information given in another article can be beneficial, but we can make our marriage successful only if we are able to apply these tips practically. It’s easy to give advice or receive advice, yet sometimes very difficult to apply it.

  • @Jazz:
    You are right. Advice in life is always easier said than done. The key is to be fully aware of the challenges ahead, prepare, and then work through them. Relationships are tricky at times. Just make sure you are being open and honest with your significant other. Communication is essential for a successful relationship.

  • The hardest thing that my wife and I had ever had to do was the most rewarding. We paid off our debts or should I say my debts. We worked hard and didn’t keep up with the Jones’s, still don’t even though we live next door to them, but when we sent the last check to VISA…we hugged each other and had a triumphant dinner, and paid cash.

  • Unfortuantely living together before marriage is not allowed in my country, but I agree that it’s the most important factor. When you are not able to live with a person before marriage your choice has the chances of lottery, either you lose or you win. I was lucky by the way. The worst thing is that in countries like mine one has to leave to a chance something you can keep under your control in this particular case

  • @Elly:
    It sounds like people in your country need to spend a great deal of time evaluating their mate’s habits ahead of time. Since you can’t live with them, you may even need to do a little snooping into their living space. I’m glad to hear everything worked out for you.

  • Nice Post MARC Keep It Up
    Thanks :)

  • […] was doing some blog surfing this morning and found this great article on 7 “Before the Wedding” Steps that Initiate a Successful Marriage. It is, for the most part, a very logical look at the “when”, “how” and even […]

  • very good post - my future husband and I are getting married in April and have been living together for over a year now … coming from a Christian background, many of our friends raised their eyebrows and pronounced we were doomed for divorce, but living together has been the best thing we could have done. Not every day is perfect, but it has taught us a lot about each other. And we’ve been friends for 10 years - so that’s saying something.

  • I have to say that I disagree with step 1. I’m studying sociology, so I often find myself learning all the statistics about marriage and divorce rates. Living with someone before marriage is a BIG red flag that has a very positive coorelation with divorce rates. Couples who live together before marriage have a much higher chance of divorcing.

    My fiance and I spend loads of time together, cooking dinner, doing laundry, taking naps, having sleepovers… but I still live in my own apartment two buildings over. The numbers don’t lie!!!

    :+)

    (We’re also working on paying off the remaining credit card debt we have before the wedding… this is a very good idea!!)

  • Sarina - thank you for posting this. I saw step 1 and was going to write about the correlation of living together before marriage and divorce rates and you beat me to it ;)

  • SK, I completely agree. It’s tough being a Christian and explaining to your parents & friends why you think it’s a good idea to live together before marriage. I think it’s necessary to experience that part of someone before getting married. I moved in with an ex prior to this experience and I’m glad that I did it. Otherwise, I’d be married to a complete slob with no respect for himself.

    Statistics can never be completely solid. There are always unseen factors that contribute to the statistic…

  • Sarina and Kate, I moved in with my boyfriend and his parents when I was 18, and he was 19. Less than three months later we were engaged. I lived with him for close to a year and half, prior to us each moving to different states for schooling (though I’m moving out to where he is in July), and I agree with number 1 a lot.

    By living with him it made our relationship stronger, and we each got to learn more about one another. Sure, I found things that annoyed me a tad, and I’m sure I do things that bother him too, but we work(ed) through them. That’s what loving someone is all about: loving them for all that they are, annoying quirks and all. If you truly love them and want to be with them, you’ll find a way to work through your differences.

    The divorce rates are scary, and I feel that living together prior to marriage doesn’t necessarily mean that couple will get divorced. Communication is the key to a successful relationship. Couples who did live together and divorced probably didn’t speak up about issues when they first arose, kept them bottled up inside until they couldn’t take it anymore, and bam, divorce. In today’s world communication, though we have things like Facebook and texting, is deteriorating. People don’t know how to talk to people face to face, and it’s destroying relationships. If you want a successful marriage, be open and honest, talk about your problems and work through them together, or you won’t be happy.

  • Regarding the statistic about living together and divorce: it’s important to keep in mind that correlation is not causation. Couples who make a conscious decision to live together for a trial period before marriage, with a goal to end up together, are more likely to understand what life together really means. Many sociologists have theorized that the divorce correlation has more to do with live-in couples getting married for the wrong reasons, such as to avoid the hassle of finding independent places to live and take on extra costs once alleviated by a partner, etc.

  • I always thought that the reason couples who live together before marriage have a higher divorce rate is because of the “want-it-now/get-it-now” factor. By not waiting, there can be an immaturity going into marriage as far as patience goes. Learning to wait is a great character builder, and if, down the road, one of the partners feels like they are “not getting what they want”, may they be more likely to bail out?

  • The article that includes “statistics” on higher divorce rates among couples who lived together before marriage has been misinterpreted for many years. In the study the divorce rates were higher among couples who moved in together out of convenience as opposed to lower divorce rates among couples who chose to live together with the intention of getting married in the future. The importance of intention cannot be overlooked. I am very happy with my decision to move in with my boyfriend two years ago and we are getting married this October!

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