The Do’s and Do Not’s of Saying “I Do”
You and your mate seemed to have so much in common- before you got engaged, that is. Now, you’re on the verge of spending the rest of your life together. And trust me, your relationship will change as you say “I Do.” Here are some of the best ways to improve your relationship and resolve issues now so you can have a strong start to your forever.
1. Do Not: Expect Too Much
As your daily routine sets in, the honeymoon phase will fade. If you expect too much out of the gate, you will only end up disappointed and frustrated. Problems are inevitable, setbacks happen, and real life will put a strain on your marriage. Unrealistic expectations will drive a wedge between even the strongest couple.
Do: Be Realistic in Your Expectations
When things go wrong in a marriage, it might be easy to assume you have made a mistake. Instead of being quick to assume the worst, be quick to put your differences aside and freely forgive. When you do not set your expectations unrealistically high in the first place, you can face any disappointments that may come your way, together.
2. Do Not: Nitpick
When you first start dating a person, you notice every good quality they possess. They might even seem perfect, larger than life. The earlier on in a relationship, the more likely couples are to overlook differences. Once engaged and married, you might discover just how different you are. Things that seemed mildly annoying before might start to feel like deal-breakers. For example, that ‘cute’ little thing your fiancé does when he asks you to hold all his junk in your purse might soon turn into an argument if you focus on how much it annoys you and assume he is too lazy to carry his own things.
Do: Focus On and Appreciate Their Good Qualities
Try writing down a list of positive qualities your mate possesses. Keep your list accessible throughout the day and look back at your list as a reminder. You could even keep the list by a picture of your mate or as a note on your phone. Focusing on your mate’s positive qualities promotes peace and will help you to settle any differences that come along the way. So, if carrying his stuff around in your bag is a truly big deal, talk about why it bothers you. And if not, try to assume he has good intentions. Of all the helpful things he does, this is one slight nuisance that you do for him. When you focus on the reasons you want to marry your boo in the first place, your relationship will grow stronger. This will create a strong, positive base of respect and love for all the good things about your relationship.
3. Do Not: Look for Reasons to Leave
A buildup of unkind words and actions or unresolved conflicts can quickly add up. Every argument might seem like a check on a list of reasons you should leave your mate. If you are looking, you will find things wrong with your relationship. But rather than viewing these problems as permanent, think of problems as something you can work together to resolve, creating a stronger relationship.
Do: Look for Reasons to Stay
Set aside the necessary time to stay close to each other. Focusing on what is good in a relationship will help you get through the times when you aren’t as fond of each other. Talk about what is going well, as well as things that could use improvement. Try assuming the best of your mate, not concluding that their intentions were to hurt you. Thoughtless words and actions can feel purposeful, but trust the good things you know about your mate and look for reasons to stay with them.
4. Do Not: Focus on Yourself
Displaying selfish traits in a marriage will only lead to problems. Some examples of selfish behaviors are not listening, insisting on your way, always expecting your partner to be the one to change, and putting in less effort than your partner. When you insist on having things your way, you diminish your partner’s opinions. Selfish people are also less likely to celebrate other’s accomplishments. If you notice any of these traits in yourself, it is likely that you are focusing on yourself instead of putting your mate’s happiness first.
Do: Put the Other Person’s Happiness Ahead of Your Own
Step one to becoming less selfish in a relationship is to listen. Listening helps you learn what makes your mate happy and how you can make them happy. When you are facing problems, put yourself in their shoes. See the situation from their perspective to see why they may be feeling or acting the way they are. Let go of prideful thoughts and don’t hold on to negative feelings about each other. Being understanding and quick to forgive fosters good feelings in a relationship that will be reciprocated. A wise person once said “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
5. Do Not: Forget Your Wedding Vow
A wedding lasts one day, but a marriage is meant to last forever. The vow that you make to your spouse on that day is a binding promise, but what do you promise each other? It may interesting to note that you do not promise to love your mate in your wedding vows. The classic vows state that you take your mate, “to have and to hold…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death.” Do not be quick to forget those words. And try not to dwell on how your spouse is living up to their vows! If you focus on fulfilling your vows, you will love your mate forever.
Do: Live Up to Your Vows
Look at the ways in your life you are living up to the promise you are about to make/have made. The vow you make is a promise expressing how you want to express your love for your mate forever. Review the words you promised regularly. When you each focus on living up to your vow, both of you will benefit.
“When You Are Disappointed With Your Marriage.” Awake!, Mar. 2014, pp. 14–15.