So you did it….you took the plunge and decided to get married. It’s a big step, and realizing you are soon going to be married to your partner for the rest of your life (let’s hope!) can feel overwhelming. Marriage is a commitment, so these feelings are normal. The good news is, there are a few simple guidelines you can follow in order to prepare yourself for this momentous step.
1. Live together first, or at least live together for some extended periods (long weekends or weeks) in advance of getting married. Let’s face it, the marriage itself is sort of just a label, symbolizing your joining and commitment to one another. It’s the actual joining of your households that can feel more like a shock to the system. If you’ve already lived together first, or know what it’s like to share the same bedroom, then it won’t feel so shocking when the U-haul pulls up.
2. Have a conversation about what marriage means to each of you. This will help you and your partner feel like you’re on the same page, and that the reasons for getting married, anxieties, fears, hopes, etc. are all out there and being discussed. That way, you aren’t entering into something with as much anxiety, because you’ve discussed the things that could come up, and you and your partner aren’t alone in this.
3. Get your own personal affairs and finances in order. You may have been used to being single for a long time. You never had to answer to another person or needed to know exactly what assets you have, what money is in what account, how much credit card debt you REALLY have. Since two are soon to become one, it may make sense for you to survey your financial situation, and make note of what you really have (debt, assets, etc.) so that you can be transparent about all that. This will help ease the anxiety of merging your life with that of your partner.
4. Talk to an accountant or financial planner. An extension of Number 3, it could help to talk to an accountant before the wedding about what might make sense for you and your spouse to be after you get hitched. Your tax situation may change, and it might even make sense to share benefits. Getting expert advice on this can be useful so that you’re not figuring out all of this yourselves. These are often complicated issues, so give it over to someone who understands the nuts and bolts.
5. Breathe, stay present, and enjoy the ride. I personally believe that your spiritual and physical health is just as important (or more) than figuring out your financial situation. You want to enter into this new phase in a good place, without fear, feeling as settled as you can. You should take extra time to do things for yourself that keep you calm, from meditation to exercise to allowing for good quality sleep. You’ll do no service to your partner in marriage if you haven’t first taken care of yourself. You’ll be much more equipped to join in love on good solid ground, if you take care of yourself. Marriage isn’t two halves joining together to make a whole, but two wholes that have chosen to spend their lives together. Nurture yourself so you are whole and complete before joining, and enjoy the journey.