. Do not make any big decisions just yet. Not even your venue or bridesmaids. Just take a few weeks to let this amazing new phase of your life settle in. Its a huge change for both of you and a moment that slips by all too quickly it took me too almost two years to even pick a date Alice du Parcq, Brides Beauty Editor
Back to Basics
. When youre ready, think of the most basic thing first what kind of wedding do you want? You do not have to make specific choices, just aim for a general mood, for instance boho vintage, traditional, quirky, city glam or even just simple countryside it will help you in the long run.
Pick a location
. Work from the outside in: think about the ideal location for your family and friends, whether its a big hotel that everyone can stay in, a marquee in your mum and dads garden with plenty of B&Bs nearby, somewhere abroad with lots of easy accommodation and so on. Once you've chosen the right fit, finding the venue will be so much easier
. Looking after yourself is essential to relaxed planning. Mark in your diary regular evenings dedicated to you, where you take a long shower, exfoliate top-to-toe, do a face mask, moisturise with your best body cream, curl up in front of something silly on TV, have a glass of wine and give yourself a manicure. Its good for the soul, for the mind, for your skin and for your relationship with your fianc
What s important to you
. Think about the best weddings and parties you've been to and why they worked so well. This will help you prioritise whats important to you, whether it is loads of dancing time and great food like me, a romantic church ceremony like Brides' Astrid or guaranteed sunshine like my friend whos getting married in Greece. Suddenly, everything will have more direction. Alice Du Parcq, Brides Beauty Editor
. Be prepared: everyone will have an opinion and a suggestion about what you should do and when grit your teeth and be as gracious as possible, thanking them for their ideas and for being so exciting about your wedding. Then lock the door and turn on that shower!
Start a scrapbook
. Yes it sounds a bit school , but its a great way to create a visual idea of your wedding. Do not worry if nothing matches to begin with. Eventually a pattern will emerge and you will gravitate towards a recurring style.
. Look around your own home inspiration mementoes of your relationship will create a fun, relaxed atmosphere at your reception.
. Prior to making any decisions about anything wedding-related, figure out what budget you are working with it will guide the rest of your decisions.
. Avoid succumbing to a tacky night out for your hen-do and opt for a stylish alternative instead. Isnt a night of wine, cheese and chocolate with your hens what you really want?
Gift List Tip
. Make your wedding list as varied as possible. Do nt worry about putting too many things on it, it is better to put a variety of prices and items on your list. This way fewer of your guests will go off-list.
. Do you have a set of aunties you are not sure whether to invite or not? They might be a bit old, or live quite far away, perhaps you do not want the added spending of a few extra guests? When deciding whether or not to invite them consider your budget and the emotional cost involved
. Check the hotels before recommending them to people especially the bedrooms so you arent condemning Aunt Sally to nylon sheets and a communal bathroom
. She who pays the piper calls the tune. You can't insist on chartreuse tablecloths if you are not the one paying for them.
. Put RSVP by followed by a date on your invitation. You might be overly excited about your wedding, and while some of your guests will share your enthusiasm, they won't drop everything to RSVP to you the second they get the invite. An RSVP by date will serve as a deadline for your guests.
What about him
. Remember, its your husbands Big Day too. While you are having a champagne breakfast, getting your make up and hair done, getting dressed what is he doing? Make sure he gets a chance to relax and enjoy the build-up as much as you.
Little touch big memories
. The little details are most often the most memorable. Try writing personalised questions for each guest to ask their neighbours at dinner as conversation starters. It is guaranteed to get people talking and make it even more memorable!
. Pre-warn your friends, family, bridesmaids and groomsmen that should disaster strike, you wish to remain utterly ignorant , it is better this way.
. Do not be afraid to experiment with your decor. The most visually intriguing weddings are those where the bride and groom have incorporated all the things they love.
. Take time to think of the pictures you want the spontaneous pictures will take care of themselves but make a list of the pictures you want and speak to your photographer about capturing those moments. You will be too busy (and too happy) on the day to remember to get a picture with your great aunt Maud
Talk to him
. Enjoy every second of your engagement because as soon as you mention we were thinking about next summer or we thought we might like a city wedding everyone will have an opinion. Keep your mouth smiling and shut until you've had a proper thought and discussion with your fianc
. Venues, photographers, make-up artists and pretty vintage cars all book up early. And bridesmaid frocks and wedding dresses always take longer to make/be delivered than you think. You have enough to stress about without being told you've left it too late.
. Delegate and ALWAYS get the mothers involved. It's a win all round: you'll have less to worry about doing yourself, the mothers will feel happy and involved in the day plus it might distract them from any intervention into areas you'd rather they stayed out of.
Bold and Brave
. Be brave with colour - not too wacky, not too bright, but shades that tie in with your theme - something to add a bit more personality and a personal-touch to your Big Day.
. Think of your cake. Now, go bigger! Add foam dummy tiers for extra height - it will be worth it for the pictures alone.
Make it yours
. It's your wedding day after all, don't forget that. Add personal touches that will remind you of that - from your stationery through to your decorations and favours
Get him involved
. Include your man in the planning. And find things he will be interested in - odds are he won't care about what napkin linens you choose, but he might be more interested in the bar set up, the photography and DJ
. When picking your date make sure you factor in time for any travel arrangements your guests may have to make and look out for the bank holidays too! It will give you (and your guests) a little extra recovery time after all the celebrations.
. When deciding how to dress up your tables do remember that socialising is part of the evening - so keep your floral arrangements, candelabras and details under 20 inches high, so that guests can view and converse with each other across the table.
Enjoy the build up
. I wish I'd allowed myself to enjoy the build-up a little more. Foolishly - but mainly because the wedding was supposed to be a secret - I only took the day before off work. All my friends had said this wouldn't leave me enough time to do the ridiculous pampering that probably makes no difference to the way you look but how you feel you with excitement anyway - and they were right. - Celia Walden
Are you covered
. Are you covered in case anything goes amiss? If you are worried, you should get insurance. (And even if you aren't worried, you should still get insurance)
. Look for inspiration in unconventional places. You can get inspired by the classics - flowers, decorations, your dress - but why not try something a bit different and take inspiration from films and other non-wedding related places?
. Don't, whatever you do, look at the weather forecast. Nothing good can come of it, and what is more: you can't change it. By all means have a Plan B, but love it as much as Plan A.
The name of the game
. No matter what you may think, you can't handle everything by yourself - as amazing as you may be. Weddings are major endeavours, so enlist friends and family to help make place cards, tie bows onto favours, and run errands - delegation is the name of the game. Play it!
. When it comes to choosing your bridal party make sure you pick wisely: the work that comes with being a bridesmaid is more than it may seem at first. And don't feel you must choose an equal number of men and women. Loved ones don't come in boxed sets, and neither should your wedding party!
. Love your pet? There are all sorts of way you can involve in the Big Day - including making them the ring bearer! Or include them in your wedding day pictures - so cute!
Sign on the dotted line
. When signing any contract with suppliers check that everything you want is included. And ask at least two people to take a look at it too - sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to see loopholes!
Take it easy
. Do you have an enthusiastic wedding helper? If you find yourself disagreeing for the sake of it take a step back and count to ten. Your life will be 10 times easier with their aid, you just need to find out how to work together
Wedding Day Look
. Road-test your dress with underwear. You don't want to find that any and all kinds of underwear can be spotted through your dress on the Big Day. And you don't want to spend your entire wedding day hiding the straps of your bra, either
. Remember: you have to be able to move in your dress! A body-skimming, silk sheath dress, slashed to the thigh, may be beautiful but it will not be practical. You want to be able to dance the night away, don't you?
. Think of your shoes and your setting - are they a match made in heaven? Of course you want to wear champagne-silk Christian Louboutins, but if you are spending a long time in a grass area - is that really going to work?
. Going dress shopping? Go with your mum or with a close friend who will be honest and will be able to make various appointments with you - that way they can comment on different dresses. If you take more than one person be prepared for a plethora of opinions
Take a Chance
. Go for the wedding day look you've always dreamed of, but be ready to take advice and give new ideas a chance, too - they could be the key to your perfect look!
Rework the traditional
. Even if you aren't a traditional bride, it's worth considering wearing a veil. There are lots of different way to wear them and you can add flowers, brooches or hair slides to add a modern touch if you so please. Bring all the elements together to give your look strength and personality
Don t forget the accessories
. Don't forget the details: ask the bridal boutiques you visit for suggestions on accessories. Sometimes we can concentrate too much on the dress and forget about the little details that bring it all together
. Don't want to stick to a single look? Change your accessories throughout the day. A cathedral-length veil can easily be swapped for a quirky birdcage design at the reception
. If you can't indulge in seductive lace for your wedding day then when can you? Go all out, get the full designs we always covet and succumb to. Agent Provocateur, Damaris, Carine Gilson and Fox & Rose - watch out!
Time to adjust
. Did you get your dress months and months in advance? With all the stress and wedmin worries you might find it doesn't quite fit as it should. Make sure you try it on again beforehand and leave plenty of time for last minute adjustments to be made if necessary.
. Always have spare hairpins with you. You never know when you will need them
Make it natural
. Avoid dramatic changes in hairstyle and make-up before your wedding day - you want to feel and look like you on the day!
Make like Middleton
. Stick with your usual make-up palette. The Duchess of Cambridge didnt deviate from her sultry smokey eyes just because she was entering to royalty. And if the future Queen of England can do it, why cant we?
. A good nights sleep will leave you feeling like you can take on the world. To help you catch those extra , cut out caffeine and sugar after 2pm every day the week before the Big Day and make your beauty sleep a priority.
. Your hair and make up matters on the big day, of course. But take time to think about your wedding day fragrance. Our sense of smell is one of the strongest senses, evoking memories, thoughts and feelings that linger in our minds for years, explains Jo Malone. So take time to find something that will be distinctive and serve as an olfactory reminder of your wedding day for years to come.
. You will be smiling a lot on the big day and nothing like a clean set of pearly whites to show your happiness. Consider having your teeth whitened three months ahead of your wedding.
. Do not underestimate the high street particularly when there is a sale on! Your bridesmaids will appreciate having a dress they can reuse, and you will appreciate the cost
. Fact: No one is born with radiant, smooth and spot free skin. But the good news is that just like corsets and control pant there are many clever bridal buys to fake your flawlessness. Get your top bridal tips from our beauty blog!
. Have a backup photographer. It can be a friend, but it should be somebody who will dedicate themselves to taking photos. So often the official photographer becomes fixated on the girl in the sexy red dress who wasnt invited but came as somebody's arm candy, while ignoring the relatives who travelled thousands of miles to be there
. Put little flower posies in the loos - it keeps the magic going in a very un magical place
. At your wedding breakfast, it is usually better to place guests in particular seats rather than letting them choose their own tables otherwise the shy and the vulnerable end up sitting alone and feeling miserable
. If you go to your wedding feeling hungry, the chances are you will develop a huge tension headache. Also, keep hydrated. If you are thirsty that glass of champagne will be drunk as though it were water. And that on an empty stomach is not ideal
Scared you might fall
. Dont worry too much about tripping your way down the aisle chances are you wont fall. And if you do, you will still have a smilling husband to be standing at the end of the aisle waiting to marry you!
. Try to spend time with all your wedding guests for unforgettable memories of your wedding day
. Block off the front seats at the ceremony for your bridal party and make sure the ushers know where to direct people.
Guard your gifts
. Appoint someone to collect your gifts and transport them safely home after the reception. This also goes for any hired suits; ask a trusted family member or friend to return these for you while you're away
Schedule your exit
. At the reception make sure guests know when you are leaving. If you intend on partying the night away say so, but if you have a getaway vehicle planned it is also nice to let your guests know. That way they can plan their departure too.
The Importance of Food
. While you are getting ready, do not forget to have lunch , or you risk the reception drinks going straight to your head
Feed your staff too
. Do not forget to feed your suppliers too: a hungry DJ wo not thank you at midnight! And ask someone to save you a favour and a piece of cake you want to ensure you get a taste of them.
Pre wedding Jitters
. Feeling a little jittery? Relax, its normal, healthy even. You are just concerned about a lifetime commitment ,its hardly the end of the world and it doesnot mean you do not want to get married. Acknowledge your nerves, discuss them with a trusted friend, and move on.
10 minute break
. On the day have a bridesmaid or the man of honour take you and your new husband aside so you can just have 10 minutes alone together. Your vows may be the most important part of the day, and despite it being the first day of your lives together you will be surprised how little time you will spend with him on the actual day. This way you can be sure to have a minute to take it all in before the guest-welcoming-and-thanking beings!
On the day coordinator
. Have an on the day coordinator so you do not have to worry about all the details.
. Your wedding day goes by really quickly, so make your preparations part of the whole celebration. Really enjoy throwing yourself into every detail and savouring the creative process
. Take a collection of ribbons with you incase anything needs a bit of upgrading. A little ribbon can go a long way!
. Hang on to all printed paraphernalia such as invites, order-of-service sheets, menu cards, etc. these things become precious mementoes later.
Think about the morning
. Were you a DIY Queen? Do not forget to think about the next day the hired crockery, glassware and cutlery will need to be packed and collected. Do not get caught at 9am the next morning unaware
Personal Thank You
. Do nt forget to thank everyone who took part in your big day. How you do it is up to you but why not print your favourite bride and groom photo and write personal messages to those you want to thank the most?
. Make time to put together your the honeymoon trousseau I used to love reading about women in Edith Wharton or EM Forster novels going to Paris to assemble their trousseau for the honeymoon (and the start of their married life) and it felt like such an enchanting idea. Celia Walden
. Where are you going on your honeymoon? Make sure it is somewhere you both want to go remember it is meant to be the best holiday of your life!
. Pick the right destination for the right time. Its no good to be in a beautiful destination if its the wrong weather even the most romantic beach in Mexico can be miserable if its raining all the time or even worse: mosquito season!
. Like all other wedding related-planning, make sure you stick to your budget and plan accordingly. Being realistic is the most important part of planning your honeymoon
Honeymoon Gift List
. Instead of asking for pots, pans and blenders why not get your guests to buy you activities on your honeymoon as gifts? It will give you the chance to do interesting things and open up your honeymoon to your friends and family!
. If you are combining beach and activity or safari, plan some relaxing beach time at the beginning to unwind.
. Be brave and haggle negotiate with the venue challenge them on corkage, catering, bedroom packages and room hire all of which should be flexible in some way. They want your business as much as you want to have your day there.
. The night before the wedding and the day after (and throughout your honeymoon, if you can be bothered), write a diary. Its amazing the things you forget that mean so much in a funny way like the fact that the revered who married us had a small plaster on his index finger that I kept staring at wherever I felt myself getting emotional, or that my six year-old nephew spilled a glass of red wine down my dress the night before the wedding. In years to come, all those little details will help you form a clear picture of those days. Celia Walden
Beware the bridal bore
. Ever feel like you wedding day is taking over your life? Dont let it be everything you talk about - you do not want to become a bridal bore!
. When packing for your honeymoon think of few clothes but plenty of accessories that way you can pack light but still transform your look to fit whatever happens!
. After the big day be sure to pack your morning with a healthy breakfast and smoothie to put right all the toxins and excesses of the night before - your head will thank you later!
. Less is more when it comes to a wedding reception, so consider ditching the 30 minute video montage or the fireworks display for something less elaborate. Even a gesture as simple as distributing sparklers at the nights end can charm guests and keep them from feeling overloaded.
Don t forget about mum
. We all hate staged photos, but make sure you take time to get a snap of just you and your mum its a picture you will both treasure forever.
Bag it up
. Pack a small essentials bag with lipstick, face powder, tissues, nail polish, cash , mobile phone and mints. Ask your maid of honour to carry it for you when you cant.
Wedding Planning Notebook
. Not all of us can afford a wedding planner to sort out the lilies and playlists, but we can all get a dedicated notebook or file to write down all you wedding ideas and inspirations. It is the perfect place to stick in tear sheets from magazines, and print outs from the web. It will help you define themes, colour etc and keep your receipts, contracts and suppliers phones in order.
Modern Flower Girl
. Instead of classic posies, pick a beautiful style with a difference to give your flower girls and bridesmaids a modern look. Why not try flowers in a small terracotta pot, a foliage wand or a wreath?
. Generations of brides are always looking to their mothers and grandmothers for wedding day memorabilia. Let your father or grandfather have a role by making your something borrowed theirs why not wrap a bow tie around the base of your bouquet?
Stencil or Stamp
. Do you want something to bring everything together? Consider taking a stencil incorporate it to you stationery, your cake and decorations, it will gather everything into one beautiful theme!
. Wear waterproof mascara. Even if you do not usually. Even if you don't like it. You will be grateful you did when you start crying for the tenth time in an hour, trust us
Stick to the plan
. Have a clear vision of what you want from the beginning and dont keep thinking I want that, oh, and that. Stick to the game plan.
. Tensions can run high between you and your groom when theres so much work to be done, so plan ahead and make time to spend together without the wedmin getting in the way. Its important to remember that you are in it together.
. Act naturally and everything else will fall into place.
. Its easy to get bogged down by dreams of perfection but if you are having a good time and all your guests are too, nothing else matters.
. Not everyone will exhibit perfect, selfless behaviour: your bridesmaids might refuse the position if they don't like the dress you choose, your friends baby might cry through your vows. Just try to retain a sense of humour and perspective.
. Among all the madness, the table plans, the dress fittings, the family feuds, the tensions and tiaras, there is an oasis of clarity at one point during the event the vows. Do not worry about anything else, because when you say those words, the rest seems so insignificant.
Seek pre marital counseling
. If you are thinking of getting married be sure to seek pre-marital counseling. Most pastors will require it before performing the ceremony, but dont be afraid to seek counsel from multiple sources.
Get advice from your elders
. In addition to actual counseling, your parents and other older adults who have marriage experience could be a great resource for you.
Consider the big questions
. Talk about subjects that you may not want to. Discuss children, sex, and finances. Its important to not leave any stone unturned because once you say I do you need to be on the same page.
Plan the wedding together
. Wedding planning is fun but stressful. In many ways it is your first project as a married couple. Use that time to learn more about how to please each other and deal with tough situations.
. Budgets arent romantic, but money is important. It can either be a non-issue or the biggest issue. Be sure that you both know how you will handle this topic in your marriage.
. You are making a lifetime commitment, be sure to pray your way through it!
Enjoy your time alone
. Marriage is wonderful, but nearly all couples struggle with getting enough time alone. Take advantage of the time you have prior to marriage and enjoy it.
Consider the Holidays
. Its no secret that figuring out how to spend the holidays with family is one of the most stressful parts of marriage. Discuss this and make a plan before its too late! Talk it over with your family so that they know the plan and it will make your first year of marital bliss even more blissful.
Dont keep secrets
. If there is anything you havent discussed, now is the time. Certain things are difficult to bring up when dating, but when you are preparing to make a lifetime commitment it is important to know as much as you can about each other.
. Wedding season can be stressful, dont forget to enjoy it and enjoy each other! Marriage is wonderful and the right attitude can make the difficult times easier!
Get your money handling under control
. Whether you are dating or have been married for 20 years, we can all get better at how we handle money in our relationships. Money is a tool. In our marriages, we have to be on the same page about how it is used. It is critical that you set guidelines about money. Who will pay the bills? How much money will you spend and on what? How will you make decisions about big expenses? If you both dont agree on a big expense, then wait to purchase it. Money cant be more important than our marriages. If you are able, take a financial class together to learn about how to be wise with your money. Do You Make More Money Than Him?
Learn better communication skills
. In school we were taught many things: how to write, how to count, how to spell words but I dont remember a class on relationship communication. Learning how to effectively communicate with your spouse is extremely important. It is something that we really have to work on for most of us it doesnt come naturally. I suggest you read books, listen to podcasts, go to conferences anything you can do to improve yourself on both sides of the communication process, better listening and better speaking, so your mate will understand you.
Have a relationship with God
. The foundation of a good marriage is one that includes God. Our pastor made a great statement: You dont know who you are, until you know who God is. If we get our identities from our past, our occupations, our families or our spouses, then our marriages will be much more difficult than they have to be. Everybody knows that line from the movie Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise says You complete me. Well, thats just bogus. I cant complete my beautiful wife and she cant complete me. We can complement each other, we can each bring different strengths to the marriage, but I have to know who I am first . And I really cant figure out who I am until I have an understanding of the person who created me.
Put in the work
. Love is a way of being that takes consistent work to master. If you are still swept up in the emotional side of love you may not have had time to step back and work out if this person is really right for you. A pre-marriage course can help.
Beyond the wedding
. Remember to have a marriage, not just a wedding. They are two different things. Too often all the focus is given to the external event details, and the reason for the wedding the pledge of love between two people is completely lost.
What are you committing to
. Marriage used to be about having children or a lifetime union. These days it means different things to different people. What counts is that you take the time to decide what marriage means to you.
. Each write down what is important to you in a relationship and then spend a weekend away to share each other's ideas. This helps establish what marriage means to you both and creates the foundation for a life together.
. The wedding ceremony will symbolise the love you are committing to. Dont be ruled by tradition. Make it your own. Write down key words that sum up the essence of the marriage, then think of ways to symbolise them at your wedding. Allow for fun!
. Get emotional support in the lead-up to the marriage. Have people around you to whom you can speak honestly. Allow for doubts dont push them away. It is better to address them. Make sure this really is right for you.
Different phases of love
. Take the time to remind yourself that marriage is not about being in love. Be prepared for the in-love phase to pass it doesnt mean anything is wrong. It just means you have to get down to the business of really learning how to love.
Know your partner well
. If there are any skeletons in your closet, speak up now. You will feel better, and you will see if your partner accepts you completely. They might have some secrets to share too.
Dont expect to know what to expect
. Nobody is entirely prepared for life strapped to another person.
Dont go into it thinking We can always get a divorce
. Life is crazy and people change but marriage is a commitment.
Do not marry someone who is abusive
. if you suspect infidelity or if you cannot agree on big issues like religion, finances or child rearing.
Be yourself from the start of any relationship
. If you begin the relationship by putting on the front of a perfect hybrid version of you and some sort of Stepford wife, what happens when the cracks begin to show? Be yourself from day one, and your spouse will have proven that you are accepted and loved for who you really are, not who you are pretending to be.
Forgive forgive forgive
. The three most important words for a good marriage.
Give each other the benefit of any doubts
. You have built a relationship based on trust. Don't assume that your spouse is doing things for the purpose of irritating you maybe she and he just doesnt realize something she and he does is bothering you. Let your spouse know about things that bother you without assuming the worst of him or her, and once its out in the open give your mate time to make adjustments and corrections.
Try to let the little annoyances go
. Ask yourself if something irritating you is really worth fighting over. Is something wrong, or is it just different from the way you would do it? Allow differences to go by without comment. If something is really bothering you, talk about it in a non-accusatory way, and see if you can work it out without arguing.
Find ways to share responsibility
. If you're both working 80 hours a week, why should the wife still have to do all the cooking and cleaning? Try to find a mix of jobs you both do better, e.g. dishes and lawn mowing, and share responsibility. Find ways of creating a routine that involves everyone, If you take the bins out, I will bring them in, You wash, I will dry, etc. This will avoid the nagging housewife syndrome. Remember, you will be living together forever( til death do you part) save some for tomorrow. The world wont come to an end if you don't finish all the laundry today.
Make time to sit down together once a day and share time together
. Even if its only 10 minutes before bed, talk, cuddle, and share each others company.
Don t expect perfection
. Remember, your spouse is human, and so are you. Make allowances for the human condition: tired, overworked, over stressed, family illnesses, personal illnesses, and simple frailty.
Do something nice for your partner during a rough patch
. Cold shouldering or constant arguing about a contentious issue will likely just drive you apart. A thoughtful gesture can go a long way in helping you feel closer to each other, making it that much more likely that you will work through your problems. This works especially well if you feel like your partner does not compliment or do nice things for you often any more. Start complimenting them and make it a point to be nice they'll WANT to do something nice for you!
Try to find something nice about your partner every dayand say it to them
. Whether its a compliment on his or her outfit or a thank you for just taking out the trash, it always feels good to get a little boost from the person you love. And you will feel good doing the boosting.
Learn from your mistakes
. When you say I m sorry , mean it!That means you wont repeat the action. Apologizing and then repeating the behavior shows your mate that you werent that sorry after all, and it erodes trust over time.
Keep no secrets and avoid even the appearance of any hanky panky
. Being transparent with your partner is important, because it shows you each trust one another with every detail of your lives. If you are harboring secrets, they will eventually be found out and that will spell trouble for your marriage. Keeping things clear and open prevents suspicion and jealousy. Donot do things to get a rise out of your spouse, and if someone at the office is hitting on you and wont stop, tell your boss about it and ask that one of you be transferred. If you maintain a clean appearance and an honest, open communication with your partner, you will be trusted when its truly imperative.
Remember that marriage is a nuts and bolts arrangement
. While you are planning your wedding, you may entertain fairy tale notions of a life lived happily ever after. The reality of marriage is that sometimes, its just a day to day grind one or both of you may be tense, on edge, bored, not happy with the other one, not feel so warm and fuzzy. Its not all about your feelings. Repeat: it is not all about your feelings. Its about your commitment to one another. Whether or not you feel like you are in love, feel you are getting your needs met, or whatever, the reality is, you have sworn a vow to one another. A lot of the time, marriage isnt romantic at all its about teamwork and getting the job done every single day.
Plan for down times
. You will have much less stress to deal with if you work together to plan a budget, accumulate at least a small savings account , and prepare for the times when things go wrong, life will be much smoother.
Act like everything s okay
. If you are having a rough patch, feeling like you just cant remember what attracted you to him in the first place, wondering what possessed you to marry her. just smile and behave yourself in a kind, genteel way. Act like everything is normal. In fact, go out of your way to be kind, thoughtful, and caring toward your mate. It may sound weird, but if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and act like nothings wrong, eventually, everything really will be normal, okay, and even better.
Don t be afraid to go to bed angry
. A lot of well meaning people say that you shouldnt let the sun set on a fight. But its far better to simply come to a point in the argument where you can stop fighting actively and sleep on it. Instead of continuing an argument that is escalating out of control and going in circles, stopping, resting, and waking refreshed can give you new perspective, and help you come to a better and more satisfying resolution than just fighting it out until you are both battered, bloody, and after you have said things you can never take back. Sleeping on it will also help you allow residual negative feelings to dissipate you dont always just say, Okay, thats it, argument over, and return to those warm, loving feelings sometimes resentment lingers awhile. Let it go get some rest. You'll both feel better in the morning.
Ask yourself what you can do today to make your spouse s life happier
. By finding one way each day to make your partners life just a little bit nicer, you will never forget that you truly do care for him or her. Doing nice things for your mate makes you think nice thoughts about him or her. Its a good habit.
Compliment each other every day
. It doesnt take much to make your spouse feel good. Be sincere and when youre given a compliment, even if you dont agree, just say thank you
Shut up and listen
. You do much more learning with your mouth closed and your mind open. You have one mouth and two ears so you can listen twice as much as you talk.
. How you say things can have a larger impact that what you say. Remain calm and speak in a normal tone of voice.
Be cautious and think before you choose the words you use
. Before you speak ask yourself this: if you or your spouse died that moment, would you want what you are about to say to be the last words you shared?
At least once a month have a special evening out with another married couple so you can laugh and learn from each others relationship
. Have at least one romantic night out per month and bring the romance home with you
Take a class together
. There are some restaurants that will teach you how to make a meal from start to finish or you can both learn to play a musical instrument. Its a great way to spend time together and see how each other learns.
Take turns making decisions
. Its no fun when someone asks you for your opinion and you say, whatever you want. If all they wanted was what they wanted, they wouldn't have asked you. Be polite and give a complete and honest answer.
. Being healthy and taking care of yourself shows your partner that you want to be around for a long time and will be able to care for them if they get ill.
Appreciate your partner s strengths as well as their weaknesses
. They chose to be with you because there are aspects of your personality that they can learn from and absorb. Show them how much you love them by being supportive when they are weak and proud when they are strong. Listen to what they say, you may learn something.
Do the little things
. Waking up to a hot cup of coffee or an ironed shirt, or coming home to lit candles are little ways to show that you care.
Laugh at the little mistakes in life hold the drama for major crisis
. Do not make an issue of the toothpaste tube, laugh at the small nuisances and you will be a happier person for it.
Accept responsibility for your actions and choices
. Be honest in all aspects of your relationship. If you have not been, start now
Go on a walk together
. The exercise is not only good for your physical health, it gets the blood pumping through your brains and helps you think more clearly. The views and smells of nature will help relax both of you. The clear minds and the soothing affects will create a great environment to be open and honest and talk about everything.
Go dancing with your spouse on weekends
. its great exercise and fun. If you cant dance then take a lesson together and learn a dance to enjoy with each other.
. Perfectionism leads to unnecessary guilt and shame, both of which destroy relationships. The truth is that we all have limitations. This is part of being human. Love is about accepting and loving each other despite the disappointments. You cannot have a healthy, honest relationship with your spouse if you are always trying to prove that you are superhuman. You will be too exhausted to be nice if you are busy putting on a daily performance At times, you must be able to say, Im sorry. I just cant do this. You may not make the kinds of special meals, be as cheerful or as organized as he would like. He will disappoint you in some ways as well. Practice accepting your own and other peoples limitations, such as roommates and family members, without getting angry at yourself or them for not being perfect.
SEPARATE YOUR INITIAL RESPONSE FROM YOUR SECONDARY RESPONSE
. We all have a primitive animal brain, located at the back of the head, which contains violent, immoral and irrational responses to events the kind any one or two year old experiences when frustrated, hungry or over tired. Thankfully, we also have a neo cortex, located behind our forehead, which is responsible for controlling these urges. For example, you may sometimes experience the urge to attack because your spouse has hurt your feelings or was not available when you were in distress. Notice when you do not follow these initial responses. Be proud of these victories. Self-control is the basis of self-respect. You'll have endless opportunities to practice! One of the biggest acts of self-control is to be silent when you cannot think of a respectful way to talk about your feelings.
ACT POSITIVE EVEN IF YOU DO NOT FEEL IT
. The greatest antidote for depression, anxiety and rage is positive action. Women tend to have more mood swings than men. Learn to ignore them as much as possible; they all eventually pass. Do not over share, as this can bring you both down. Instead, walking, cleaning or even smiling can put you in a good mood. You do not have to feel good to act good! No one likes a bossy person, nor a clingy, depressed individual who is too focused on her moods to function.
GIVE UP TRYING TO CONTROL OTHERS
. You start off your marriage with love for each other, but will kill those good feelings if you try to change each other You may not realize it, but when you give advice, the underlying message is,You are stupid and inept. I dont respect you. So refrain from giving advice about what to wear, what to say, how to clean the dishes or how to think or feel, as this destroys self-confidence! Unless your spouse is doing something dangerous to your physical or mental health, resist the urge to criticize. Whenever possible, tell your spouse,You make great decisions. I trust that you to know what to do. Practice now, complimenting the people in your environment for doing their best, even if it is not up to your standards. And if people give you too much advice, practice saying,I m building my self confidence by making my own decisions. You did not get married in order to be fixed. You married in order to experience unconditional love; to feel accepted and respected as you are. Criticism destroys love.
GIVE UP THE DREAM THAT YOUR SPOUSE CAN UNDERSTAND YOU 100%
. No one understands anyone 100%. You dont even understand your own self completely Men and women have different needs, values and interests. Men like to solve problems; they generally do not want to dwell on feelings, as this makes them feel weak and needy. Therefore, men bond by talking about facts or their successes. Women, on the other hand, bond by talking about their problems, frustrations and disappointments. Rather than advice, they generally just want a soothing, empathetic response, such as, I understand. Few men like to talk about their feelings at least, not for long. Unless he voluntarily supplies the information, do not ask your husband, How do you feel? He may take your question as an attempt to control, probe and belittle. Help your husband understand what you want by stating clearly, I need empathy, which means that you just need to say Im sorry you are in pain. Or, say, I need advice. Men love to be in the role of rescuer.
TALK ABOUT YOUR SUCCESSES
. Men and women have a need for both closeness and independence. These two needs are essentially contradictory. You need closeness, which requires that you be able to be vulnerable and share your deepest feelings. On the other hand, you need the independence to develop your own personality and talents. Both men and women hold two major fears: a) marriage to a bossy, dictatorial type who destroys their sense of self-worth, or b) marriage to a clingy, depressive type whose needs are so great that their own growth is stifled. The best way to avoid being overly needy or overly dictatorial is to build yourself up in your own eyes and the eyes of your spouse. Talk about your successes. After all, if you keep putting yourself down, you are implying that your spouse made a poor decision in deciding to marry you. Tell each other about your difficult acts of self-discipline how you went to work even though you were tired, controlled the urge to eat junk food or said a firm No, to the demands of a difficult person.
DO NOT SECOND GUESS
. In the Talmud, we are told that, No one knows another persons thoughts. When someone is in a bad mood or disappoints you, you may be sure that he or she trying to hurt you intentionally. Unless abusive or mentally ill, assume that the person is doing his best, but simply does not have the emotional maturity or skills to do any better. What distinguishes healthy guilt from unhealthy guilt is intention. We all inevitably hurt people, because it is impossible to fulfill all their needs or always know how to please them. And we all have annoying habits. If you accidentally cause pain to your spouse, simply apologize and say, Im sorry. I had no intention to hurt you. Practice now by forgiving those who have no intention to hurt you. If necessary, clarify what happened.
Three Stages of Marriage
. According to researcher and practitioner Jeffrey Larson , most wedding going through at least three general stages of development: (1) romantic love (2) disillusionment and distraction and (3) dissolution, adjustment with resignation, or adjustment with contentment. In the first stage of marriage, according to Larson, couples tend to be so caught up in passion and physical attraction that issues like sacrifice, selfishness, expectations, and crises are not faced or dealt with. When the honeymoon begins to wear off, then these issues begin to influence and impact the relationship. Daily life stressors and other crises often occur that require sacrifices to be made, selfishness to be checked and given up, and expectations to be discarded or modified. Such disillusionments and distractions can lead to less time spent together, less time spent on the relationship, a reduction in a couples sex life, and sexual boredom. When a couple reaches the end of this second stage, according to Larson, they often feel disappointed and unfulfilled. It is then that a couple moves into the third stage with at least three options available to them: (1) They can dissolve the marriage relationship; (2) They can adjust while resigning to the fact that their marriage will not improve and that they will continue to grow apart; or, (3) They can work hard on their relationship and experience growing contentment and satisfaction as tools are gained, issues are worked through and resolved, and increased companionate and altrusitic love are developed with a little romantic love added to the mix. One of the toughest things for men and women to sometimes understand is that as the relationship develops and moves through these stages, intense and passionate love tends to diminish as it moves more fully into these other two styles of love - companionate and altruisitic love. Larson concludes by saying that every couple must make the decision whether or not they will dissolve the relationship, adjust in the relationship with resignation, or adjust in the relationship with growing contentment and satisfaction. His point is that many marriages could adjust with growing contentment and satisfaction if they would commit to recognizing their marriage needs help, become aware of strengths and weaknesses, understand the contexts that influence marital adjustment, gain the tools to improve traits that help or hurt the relationship, and commit to a plan for improving the relationship.
. Never go to bed angry at your spouse or, If my partner and I have a disagreement, our relationship is doomed are just two of the many myths that we can dispel before we ever get married. Sometimes, because we are tired and stressed, the best practice is to settle down and to get some needed rest before we deal with the issue the next morning. Other myths, according to Jeffry Larson , include the following: 1.If my spouse loves me. 2.he should instinctively know what I want and need to be happy. 3.No matter how I behave, my spouse should love me simply because she is my spouse. 4.I can change my spouse by pointing out his inadequacies, errors, and other flaws. 5.I must feel better about my partner before I can change my behavior toward him. 6.Maintaining romantic love is the key to marital happiness over the life-span for most couplesMarriage should always be a 7.50-50 partnership . 8.Marriage can fulfill all of my needs.
. Larson and Holman have identified three general domains of important predictors of marital quality and stability : Marital quality is defined by these authors as a subjective evaluation of a couples relationship. Marital stability is defined as the status of the relationship as intact or nonintact . These domains are : background and contextual factors, individual traits and behaviors, and couple interactional processes . Larson calls these three domains the Marriage Triangle. According to Larson , the Marriage Triangle highlights these three domains and focuses on the interactions between them.
Contexts or Environments
. Contexts and environments are the settings in which individual and couple traits are developed. These influential contexts are placed at the bottom of the Marriage Triangle because they form the foundation of the development of individual and couple interactional traits. Larson divides these contexts into two general domains personal contexts and relationship contexts. According to Larson, personal context characteristics include family of origin influences, such as the degree of love and unity in the family in which you grew up, the quality of your parents marriage, and your degree of autonomy in your family of origin. Relationship context refers to the situation or environment in which your relationship currently exists. Examples of relationship context factors include support from in laws, chronically unresolved marital problems, and stress caused by spending too much time or energy in raising children, dealing with financial problems, and so on.
. Individual traits that influence marital satisfaction or dissatisfaction include a persons personality, attitudes, and skills , Larson identifies difficulty coping with stress, dysfunctional beliefs , excessive impulsiveness , extreme self-consciousness, excessive anger and hostility, untreated depression, and chronic irritability as the major liabilities toward the achievement of marital satisfaction.Conversely, Larson identifies extroversion , flexibility, good self-esteem, assertiveness, commitment, and an ability to love as the major assets toward the achievement of marital satisfaction.
. Couple traits that influence marital satisfaction and dissatisfaction include communication and conflict resolution skills and several other traits specifically pointed out by Larson , that include the following:Cohesion time spent together compared with time spent apart that leads to a perception and feeling of emotional closeness. Intimacy the combination of selfdisclosure, affection, sexual relations, and cohesion.Control or power sharing ,the ability to influence another person to go in the direction you want. When there is give-and-take and the power and control is equitable and shared, then a feeling of satisfaction generally occurs. When one spouse tends to exercise too much power or control in decision making, then dissatisfaction can occur.Consensus ,the degree of agreement you and your partner experience on a variety of marital issues such as proper behavior in public, religious matters, decision making, and displays of affection. Similarly, Larson states that consensus can be realized in one of three ways in marriage:(1) you accept and appreciate that you are already similar,(2) you accept your differences without resentment or despair, or(3) you reach consensus through healthy conflict resolution
Change Yourself First
. Douglas A. Abbott (2003) shares three principles that can lead toward greater marital satisfaction: (1) Change your behavior: Change first. (2) Change your attitude. (3) Change your heart. He also includes three ways to change ourselves first as follows: Exercise patience with your partners faults and annoying habits. Drop the insistence that he or she must changeTake responsibility to change yourself and improve the relationship. The focus becomes you not your partner. You change first. Assuming there is good will and love between you and your spouse, your partner may then desire to also change. As you act in loving, forgiving, and benevolent ways, your spouse may reciprocate.
The Eighty Twenty Rule
. Dr. Abbotts , 80-20 rule was developed from a story he read several years ago called 80 percent I love you, 20 percent I hate you. From this story he concluded, to avoid overfocusing on the spouses negatives, you can train your mind to focus on the positives. Overlook the few small things(20 percent) that you dont like about your spouse and continually remind yourself of the 80 percent you like.
Change Your Heart
. Dr. Abbott cites C. Terry Warner in his article who discussed the following about the need to change our hearts in our relationships: A Change of Heart Without a change of heart whatever we do will carry the smell of manipulative, selfish, or fearful intent, and other people will readily discern it .The self-help movement that began in the latter half of the twentieth century suffers particularly from this flaw, for the personal and interpersonal skills it seeks to cultivate are almost always designed to get us more of what we think we want, rather than to bring about a change of heart.To the extent that we can come to see others differently, we can undergo a fundamental change, a change in our being, a change of our emotions and attitudes, a change of heart.We do not control the timing of a change of heart. We make ourselves available for it by faithfully doing the right things for the right reasons; that much does lie within our control.There is no better means of promoting another persons change of heart than allowing our own heart to change
Seek Marital Therapy
. Most relationships get stuck at some point and they need a little help to get unstuck. Therefore, one of the best ways we can prepare for wedding is to overcome the stigma sometimes associated with seeking marital therapy. Couples who are proactive and who seek therapy early, before their relationship is falling apart, are wise.
. Rather than just the stock discuss your expectations for money, consider writing down and comparing some specific numbers. What do you expect your combined income to be five years from now? Will you have separate or joint bank accounts? How much do you each think should be saved for retirement? What percentage of your income should be spent on vacations or travel? How much can you each spend per month without consulting the other?
Frugality Define it
. Some pre marital exercises have people describe whether their partner is frugal or lavish. But as one married friend pointed out, her husband
Plan ahead for holiday traditions
. The first few years may be easy, splitting or alternating holidays between your family and your spouses. When kids enter the picture, though, your presence will become more sought after by the grandparents. Will you want huge extended family gatherings that may require travel? Or would you rather establish quiet holidays at your own home? Do you need snow underfoot, or does a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day sound just as nice? Now s the time to think ahead about what traditions you did like to maintain or establish.
Trade off chores
. Running a household is almost like running a business, with a surprisingly wide variety of tasks to be performed. Theres vacuuming, cooking, laundry, bill paying, grocery shopping, doing dishes, car maintenance, home repair, yard work, cleaning bathrooms, taking out garbage, filing taxes and managing gadgets, for starters. Make a list of those chores, plus any others that come to mind. Circle the ones you like to do, and X the ones you prefer not to. Have your partner do the same. Compare lists. Negotiate.
Establish better conflict habits
. Talk about how arguments were resolved in each of your families and what you might like to do differently. Agree on some ground rules. Some basics: talk it out, lower your voice, and do not use the silent treatment. Also, never threaten to withdraw love or sex. And although you will hear other couples do it, do not embarrass each other in front of others.
Spell out quirks
. Several couples have told us the biggest challenge of the first year of wedding was simply getting used to each others quirks. And a moment of truth during our official marriage preparation class underscored that. Around noon, I got hungry. Knowing myself, I had snacks in my purse, but the talking went on without a break. One o clock came. And when we were finally let off for lunch, we didnt know the neighborhood. This looks trashy, I complained. We will never find a decent place to eat on such a trashy street.
Exercise your sense of humor
. A good, stout sense of humor is indispensable for a great wedding. Try to see the humor in difficult situations, it will help you both roll with tough times much better.