You don’t need us to tell you that getting married is one of the biggest decisions that you will ever make – as individuals and as a couple.
You’re effectively entrusting the rest of your life into the care of another human being and sharing everything forever is a big commitment to make.
So here are the things you must do with your potential spouse before you walk up that aisle.
1. Have a big argument
Seriously, this couldn’t be more important. You need to know that you can handle the inevitable rows and be able to move on from them.
Arguments are never pleasant but are often necessary to air things and can actually make a relationship stronger. But if you’re with someone who handles them in the worst possible way, marriage could be tricky.
2. Meet the parents
Take on a husband or wife and you take on their whole family too.
It’s very rare that situations play out as awkwardly as the Ben Stiller film but it’s always best to iron out any differences or awkwardness as, let’s face it, these people will become a huge part of your life. It kind of helps that you get on.
3. Have a pet together
If you’re marrying someone, chances are you might want a family too someday. Start small – get a cat or a dog.
If you disagree over which brand of pet food they eat and whether the animal can go on the bed, imagine the wars you will have over baby rules.
4. Get to know each other’s friends
When you have your differences, your other half is likely to discuss things with their mates.
You want them to jump to your defence not urge them to dump you so it’s best you make a good impression.
5. Experience a financial stress
We’re not advising anyone to get into debt, but have a tricky month where things are a bit difficult.
Money worries are the top reason for marriage breakdowns so you need to practise how you will overcome these things as a team first.
6. Show your bad habits
There’s no point in pretending to be someone you’re not.
Ensure your partner loves you for who you are. If they can’t cope with your snoring, belching or toenail chewing then it’s best that you find out now.
7. Play ‘have you ever’
No marriage should have secrets so start how you mean to go on.
Get all of those skeletons out now so that you are on the same level. Entering a marriage with a secret from the past still not shared is a big no no.
8. Have separate nights out
Compromise in marriage is important and you must ensure you get me time too.
So have those nights out with friends where you don’t take a plus one and check how you both handle it. If there are jealousies or insecurities to be sorted out, get them fixed before any commitments are made.
9. Apologise and mean it
You have to know how to say sorry.
Make sure you can prove to your partner that you are man or woman enough to hold your hands up when you are wrong. The respect you will win will be massive.
10. But if you disagree – stick to your guns
You also have to show your partner that you will stand by your views too.
Of course you should compromise, but no one wants to be with someone who always backs down. It’s all about respect again.
11. Understand your partner’s life goals
If you don’t know them, then ask.
Enter marriage knowing what you both want out of life – both individually and as a couple. And remember that while marriages always involve some form of sacrifices on both sides, no one should be giving up their dreams.
12. Discuss kids’ names
Seriously, this can really show how polar opposite a couple can be.
13. Do a food shop together
You don’t want to be that couple that has a massive fight in Tesco.
It’s a stressful experience so test yourselves and see how you handle it together.
14. Explore each other’s sexuality
Sex isn’t the be all and end all of a relationship but it’s pretty important.
We’re in the 21st century so even if you don’t want to have sex before marriage, you should at least discuss it. If you’re not sexually compatible, you could be signing up for a pretty tense marriage.
15. Go on holiday together
The difficulty of planning this is second only to planning a wedding. And even when you’re out there it can be a nightmare if done wrong.
A holiday can be the most romantic thing you can do or the most stressful. Make sure you know which side of the spectrum the pair of you will experience before you have the major one – the honeymoon.
16. Live together
Not necessarily full time but at least for a few weekends. This is where you will REALLY get to know your future spouse.
All the good and bad bits will be here. This is what the registrar is talking about in those vows – this is what you’re agreeing to take on. If it goes well and you’ve ticked off the above and are still in love, get ring shopping now.
17. Find out your other half’s stance on divorce.
You know – just in case.