5 Things to Do Before You Get Married
Linda Collins - May 9, 2019
When love is in the air, it’s easy to get swept away. You may be so blissfully happy, that you refuse to believe anything in your relationship could ever go wrong. But since nearly half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce,1 it’s a good idea to take a step back and put some effort into determining whether you are truly ready to get married.
After sifting through advice from several experts, we found five common tips on things to do before you tie the knot.
1. Get Your Own Finances Together
Before you blend your finances with another person, make sure you are financially stable on your own. Money is often to blame for marriages falling apart. You don’t want to enter into a marriage with a huge amount of debt any more than you want to take on your partner’s debt.
Many couples eventually decide to have one person quit working to care for a child, but when you are just entering into a marriage, you don’t want to immediately be at the mercy of your new spouse. Chances are, your partner will respect that you don’t need their income to maintain your lifestyle.
You can eliminate many money problems by keeping a steady job and regularly contributing to a savings account. Once you get married, you can decide whether you are comfortable sharing those funds with your spouse, or whether you’d rather keep your savings separate so you know you’ll be okay even if the marriage ends.
2. Have an Argument with Your Partner
Most experts agree on the importance of learning how to constructively fight with your spouse. Even the happiest married couples are going to face conflict. Those who survive tough situations are the ones who understand how to communicate, even during emotional, high-stress arguments.
If you have never seen your significant other angry, you may be in for a real surprise. You don’t want to find out about someone’s temper after you have already agreed to spend the rest of your life with them.
Now, you may be wondering how to go about learning how to argue with your partner. We certainly aren’t recommending that you start a fight over nothing just to check it off your pre-wedding checklist. In the unlikely event that you and your fiance simply can’t find anything that you disagree on, try asking them about an argument that they have had with someone else. Ask how it made them feel, and how it was resolved. It may give you a better idea of how they do or do not resolve conflict.
3. Talk About Kids
Believe it or not, some couples make it all the way down the aisle without ever discussing having children. Whether you both want kids, don’t want kids, or neither of you feels strongly one way or the other, it’s an important conversation to have.
Having children isn’t just an enormous financial commitment, it changes the dynamic of marital relationships. In addition to discussing whether you want children, you should also talk about how you would raise them. Everyone is raised differently, and may have very different ideas about how they want their own kids to grow up.
In an article for Psychology Today, Dr. Scott Stanley, a research professor focusing on marriage, cohabitation, and commitment, wrote: “I think people are more likely than ever before to slide into important relationships — including marriage and parenting — without making clear decisions about a future together.” Stanley points out that since having children has become less of a “default expectation in marriage,” it is more of a potential negotiation that could lead you to discover complete incompatibility.
4. Divide up the Chores
When a writer for The Knot asked six couples what they wish they had discussed before they got married, delegating responsibilities was a common response. The couples wish they would have cleared up things like who would handle paying the bills, who would do most of the cooking, and who was responsible for laundry.
The Pew Research Center found that 56 percent of married adults name sharing household chores as being “very important” to a successful marriage.2 It makes sense that when both partners feel they are contributing equally, they both feel supported, and all of the day-to-day domestic tasks get done efficiently.
Even if you decide that one spouse will take care of most of the household tasks while the other works outside the home, having the conversation and reaching an agreement ahead of time could prevent many fights throughout your marriage. You may also determine that your ideas of marital responsibilities are too different, and that you should each continue searching for a more compatible match.
5. Thoroughly Vet Your Partner
Before you make your marriage legal, be sure to at least search for your future spouse on Google. An intriguing news article or membership association that you didn’t know about may surface.
You can also do a more thorough search using a reputable people search tool, like CheckPeople. We provide instant access to background checks, and public records such as marriage and divorce records. You may find out about a violent criminal history, or even that your partner is still married to their ex. Marriage and divorce records can be sealed, but few people go through the necessary court proceedings to make it happen.
While we hope you are in an honest, trustworthy relationship, it is far too common for people to hide a dark past — even from their spouses. No matter how much you love and trust your significant other, it’s worth finding out for sure. A quick online people search may help you dodge a dangerous bullet.
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to guarantee that you are marrying the right person. But there are plenty of tools to help you narrow it down. While falling in love and celebrating your engagement, it is wise to keep in mind how challenging marriage can be. It definitely takes effort, and you won’t regret taking these five steps if it means the difference between a long, healthy marriage, and a bitter divorce.