We’ve all spotted that inspirational quote while scrolling through Pinterest – ‘I want a marriage more beautiful than my wedding’. Sure, it’s a little on the saccharine side, but really does highlight how our priorities can get a bit skewed during this major life event. Couples counsellor, Natalie Claire King, knows the kind of challenges newlyweds can come up against in their early days of married life, and offers some sage advice on how to plan for a beautiful marriage…
Why you should plan your marriage, not just your wedding
Planning your wedding is no easy feat. Of course, you want it to be special, unique to you as a couple and a day to remember for the rest of your lives. But what about after the wedding? When the gowns come off and/or the ties are loosened? How do you ensure not only a picture-perfect wedding but a successful marriage to follow?
It’s a common belief that love and passion will be enough to carry you through the tough times that inevitably come with marriage. This representation of relationships, born from Hollywood, is a long way from accurate and can leave many feeling ashamed and disappointed when things don’t quite work out that way. The truth is, while love is certainly important, building a strong marriage also takes some work and a little planning. Being willing to put in time, effort and preparation for your marriage now, prioritising your future together, means lowering any risks of things turning hairy later down the line.
Three key areas to consider when planning your marriage
There’s a lot to consider when looking ahead as a couple. The below can be a good place to start.
1. Resolving conflict
All couples have differences and disagreements. Studies show the amount of disagreements are not related to marital happiness as much as how they are handled and the way in which they are resolved, or the efforts made to repair. As you may have heard, communication is the most important element for a successful relationship. As much as we’d like to think it’s possible, we cannot read our partner’s minds. A lot of the time the reason behind the way they react is very different to what we’ve assumed or how we’ve interpreted their behaviour. It’s not just communicating itself that is important, as much as sharing the fears and vulnerabilities that drive our reactions that is key to building a successful relationship.
2. Managing Finances
Discussing money can be uncomfortable for many people, even couples in long-term relationships. Money operates metaphorically in our lives, representing security, nurturance, opportunity, trust, and the relationship between dependence and independence. It’s no surprise that money is a major cause of conflict and a multilayered problem for many couples. In order to discuss this topic comfortably, it can help to first start talking about what money means to each of you. Our early experiences help shape our values about money and when we become aware of these, as well as share them with our partner, we can gain a greater understanding about our habits and how to change these for the better.
3. Sex and affection
Couples who have a good emotional relationship and feel loved and appreciated have the best physical relationship. How you and your partner respond to any sexual issues or problems will be the critical ingredient that determines what happens next for you. Awkward silences, unresolved arguments and unspoken hurts and fears will keep you feeling distant from each other as you struggle to avoid the sensitive issue at hand. You and your partner can overcome many difficulties by working together, asking each other for help, and being willing to be open.
Make things simple with some support
If the idea of having these conversations seems slightly daunting, you don’t need to go it alone. Signing up for a Pre Marriage Counselling program is a really useful way to approach these topics with the support of a professional relationship therapist. A Pre Marriage Counsellor will help you to plan for your marriage by guiding you through these conversations, as well as equipping you with the necessary skills to talk honestly and openly together in a way that brings you both closer.