August 28, 2014

10 Tips to Prepare for a Successful Marriage

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Tips For a Successful Marriage 

Planning for your wedding takes time & effort but so should planning for your marriage! So many couples put all their efforts into the wedding day and little thought to preparing for a marriage. With some planning and effort, you can start your marriage off with a strong foundation and here are some ways to do that! 

Plan Your Marriage

This weekend I helped my brother propose to his girlfriend.  We spent hours brainstorming the ways to make the moment special and making all the arrangements. When the big day arrived, everyone involved was so nervous that everything would go as planned, but most of all we were so excited! I hid around the corner ready to capture every moment on camera as my brother waited on bended knee for her to arrive. It was exhilarating and it was perfect. Everything in his well-planned proposal went according to plan and she said “Yes!”

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The thrill of this special moment brought back so many memories of the day my husband got down on one knee. Watching my brother look at his future bride reminded me of the hopes, dreams and expectations I had for my future marriage. Unsure of what marriage would entail, our engagement began the journey of not only making all the wedding preparations, but preparing for our marriage and life together. 

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The engaged couple spends months, sometimes even years, planning the perfect wedding. Many brides start as a child dreaming of what their wedding day would be like. They even can have the dress picked out before they have a groom chosen! All the wedding preparations are time consuming and even stressful but my big question today is -

How much of the couple’s time and energy goes into planning the actual MARRIAGE?

How many couples plan and plan and plan for the wedding day, say “I do!” and then start their marriage saying, “Now what?”

My point? Think about this:

If couples invested as much time and energy into preparing their MARRIAGE as they did in planning their WEDDING – what types of marriages would result? 

For those couples getting ready to tie the knot, consider this idea of preparing for your marriage now in every way possible so that you can start your marriage off right and have a strong foundation for the future.

To help you out – our Diva Team has collected our

5 Things Couples Can Do BEFORE They Are Married to Prepare For a Successful Marriage. 

I asked my fellow divas to share their advice for starting a marriage off right! I asked them: What are you glad they did before getting married? and What do you wish you had done prior to getting married to prepare?

Here is what they said:

Preparing For Marriage

#1) Talk About Expectations 

Courtesy of Misha Hettie Photography

Courtesy of Misha Hettie Photography

Communication is key in marriage and it starts when you are dating. Since you will soon be a team, it is important that you are able to talk openly together about anything and everything! As a couple you will need to communicate about finances, intimacy, household roles, expectations, inlaws, religion, children, and so much more!

When my husband and I were engaged, we lived apart and would often spend time traveling the 4 hour distance to see each other. I purchased a book called 300 Questions LDS Couples Should Ask Before Marriage by Shannon Alder. During our long drives, we would ask questions from the book. These questions led to important discussions about things we had never even thought to talk about. More importantly, it provided a safe opportunity to open up to talk about things that are difficult or uncomfortable {like intimacy!}.

Here are just a few things you will want to talk about with your future spouse to get you started: 

Future Family: 

  • Do you want to have children? If yes, how many? 
  • How long after getting married would you want to wait to have children? 
  • What kind of parent do you want to be? 
  • Will one of you stay home with the children or would you use child care? 
  • How do you plan to split holidays with each other’s families? 

Finances: 

  • What are our financial goals? 
  • Together, how much do we owe in debts? 
  • How should money be budgeted in our family? 
  • Would you have joint banking accounts or separate? 
  • Are you a saver or a spender? 

Expectations in our Marriage: 

  • How do you plan to divide up the household chores? 
  • What are your expectations or each of your roles in marriage? 
  • How do you feel about maintaining relationships with friends of the opposite sex? 
  • How much time should be spend together vs. time spent with friends or family? 
  • Will religion play a part in your married life? 

Intimacy: 

  • What do you consider “cheating” in a marriage? 
  • How often do you expect sexual intimacy? 
  • What boundaries do you have when it comes to sexual intimacy? 
  • If physical attraction were eliminated, what would be left in our relationship? 
  • What would you need to feel wanted and needed sexually? 

These are just a few or MANY questions. Get started with these and start an open communication in which you can express yourself to your partner openly and honestly. 

#2) Take a Marriage Class 

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Many communities and religious groups offer free marriage classes. Even though you are not married yet, why not learn the skills for a successful marriage NOW? Many couples wait until there are problems to seek counseling and learn techniques to improve their relationships. If you can learn BEFORE you are married, the pitfalls and struggles many couples face you can avoid repeating them in your own marriage and/or use your learned skills when the issues surface.

One of the best marriage classes out there can be done online. It is called the Marriage Masters Program and it includes activities, dates, content pieces, marriage forum dialogues, quick and easy challenges and TONS of free printables. It is a 6 month step-by-step program that you and your partner can do at your own pace and according to your own schedules. This would be a fantastic thing to start with your future spouse to really learn what marriage is all about. 

Similar to a marriage class, you could even start going to counseling together. It is all about investing in your relationship right from the start! Counseling can bring growth, learning and improvement to your relationship at an early stage. Counseling does not have to just be for couples with problems. Attending something like this together will only strengthen and improve your marriage.

#3) Read Marriage Help Books

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There are so many wonderful books out there about marriage that you can start reading together as a couple. Read the books together and talk about what you are learning. Again, don’t wait until you run into problems to start learning about successful marriages! 

Here are a few of the Diva’s favorite marriage books:

Books about Intimacy:

Books About Communication:

Books that Aid Communication:

Books About Strong Marriages

Other Favorites:

#4) Determine a Budget 

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One of the top causes for divorce among couples has roots in budgeting money.  Being on the same page when it comes to managing finances is so important to a successful marriage. Before you even get married, make sure to talk about finances. Sit down and create a budget together factoring in all of your expenses and income. I personally use and recommend mint.com for my budgeting. It is an amazing tool, easy to use and free!

Discuss with your future spouse where you are currently at financially and where you want to be.  You will also want to make financial goals and a plan to achieve them. If you have any debt – establish a plan now to get rid of it and, of course, determine a savings plan. Finally, you will need to make critical decisions about how (and if) you are going to join your bank accounts and who will be paying what bills.

Most importantly, talk about all of this BEFORE you get married so that there are no surprises after the honeymoon! Having open communication about finances and money early in your marriage will help to alleviate unwanted stress and prepare you for a strong financial foundation for years to come!

#5) Make and Set Goals Together 

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When a couple gets married their life changes from “ME” to “WE” and so do their goals. Your future is no longer just about you, but about your future family. Before you get married, you will definitely want to sit down with your future spouse and really talk about goals that you hope to achieve together.

First, what is the marriage you hope to have? Really talk about what you expect from the marriage and what your ideal marriage would like. You may even want to create your own  Marriage Mission Statement. You can include your marriage goals and promises to each other and sign it and hang it somewhere where you can both see it often throughout your marriage. I have a Marriage Manifesto on my fridge to remind me daily of the marriage I want to have.

Next, what goals do you have as a couple? Maybe you want to have date night once a week, take a trip somewhere, or purchase a home. Whatever goals you decide, Julie has a great printable goal sheet for writing your goals down and reminder cards too! You can set short, middle and long term goals.

More than just writing your goal down though, you need a plan to accomplish it! One diva shared that after writing down their goals, she and her spouse then listed any obstacles that may arise that would prevent them from achieving their goal. Once those potential obstacles are identified, they listed ways to overcome those obstacles. Writing goals like this really sets you up to achieve those goals! 

Finally, make sure that you review these goals often. You may want to have a set time (like every Sunday evening, or the last day of each month) that you review how you are doing and adjust as necessary in order to help you reach your goal. You can also put reminders in your phone to help you remember to review your goals often!

One of the greatest things about goal setting in marriage is that you have someone working towards the goal WITH YOU! You are held accountable and can help encourage each other along the way! Enjoy it!

5 Things Newly Married Couples Can Do To Start Their Marriage Off Right! 

Planning for your marriage will give you a great start and now it is time to implement those plans in your married life! The first few months of marriage can be the best years of your life, but they can also be extremely difficult. Adjusting to sharing a life with someone can be tricky. I asked my fellow Divas to share what advice they have for newlywed couples during their first few months of marriage. Here is what they shared with me:

Starting off Strong

#1) Establish Good Habits

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What are things you’d LOVE to do your entire marriage? Eating all meals at the dinner table? Working out at the gym a few times a week together? Discussing your weekly events every Sunday? Going on walks in the evenings? etc. Start doing these things right away in your marriage and they will become GREAT habits that will continue throughout your whole marriage! 

One of the BEST habits you can start early in your marriage is establishing a regular date night. When you are newlyweds, every day can seem like date night, but it is important to get in the habit of regularly scheduling and blocking out time for each other BEFORE kids come along and it gets much more difficult. One great way to establish a regular date night is to put together a Year of Dates Binder so you have a plan for the entire year! This would be a great gift to give your spouse or another newlywed couple! 

#2) Make Traditions

One of the best parts about starting your marriage is that you can establish your own family traditions! Take time to learn about your spouse’s family traditions, share your own and then together decide what traditions you want to have for your OWN family. Maybe you make pizzas every Friday night or have a waffle breakfast Saturday mornings. My personal favorite marriage tradition is sharing one thing we love about each other each night before going to bed. We call it our “I Love You Today Because” tradition. We also have a post that has over 60 Tradition Ideas you could have in your own home!

#3) Talk About Intimacy

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Intimacy is an important aspect of marriage and should not be ignored, ESPECIALLY in those first few months of marriage. Adjusting to your partners sexual needs, desires and expectations won’t come without honest communication with your partner. Understandably, many couples can feel awkward or uncomfortable discussing these intimate aspects of their relationship and could feel afraid they might embarrass or offend. Using conversation starters like our Sexy Survey or A Private Affair can help facilitate these needed conversations in a safe and honest environment where you both can feel comfortable. Having these conversations will only help establish a strong, healthy and amazing love life right from the start!

#4) Establish Living Expectations

Once living together, you’ll need to decide who wants to do what, and when? Will laundry be done once a week? How often will you clean bathrooms and who will be doing that? Who is handling finances and HOW will you be doing that? How much will you put away each month? Figure it all out at the beginning as SOON as possible. It’s easier to kick things off that way than to  go into marriage NOT having a plan and trying to set up responsibilities later.

Establishing a pattern for who does what early on will lead to less unspoken tension that emerges when one spouse feels overly burdened with tasks. If both spouses know what tasks are “theirs” then one spouse isn’t constantly nagging the other. For example if the husband knows he agreed that taking the garbage out is his responsibility, if the wife reminds him, she is only reminding him of something that is already his own responsibility (rather than the husband feeling like the wife is always giving him jobs to do, because it already is his job). Taking the time to establish these living patterns early in your marriage will save a LOT of tension and arguments later!

#5) Ban the “D” Word

Be united in the idea that Divorce is NOT an option. Decide now that marriage is a commitment that you will prioritize until the end of your days. When the option of divorce is taken out of the equation, suddenly a drive to fix issues and resolve problems becomes the only option. Rather than turning to an attorney to fix a marriage, you work together to fix your marriage. There is a beautiful quote that I have seen floating around social media that hits this point exactly. Here it is:

Divorce is not an option

Unfortunately, we live in a time when the word divorce IS tossed around casually and divorce is all around us. Many statistics say now that HALF of marriages end in divorce. Decide now what half you and your spouse will be on. When times get tough (and I say WHEN not IF) fight for your marriage and give everything you can to fix it rather than throw it away. Look your spouse in the eyes and let them know Divorce is not an option and that you plan to work for your marriage. 

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Some Final Marriage Advice 

Finally, some last marriage advice! As I mentioned before, I sought input from the other Divas and their advice was right on! Here are just a few last tips from the Divas for a successful marriage:

“The last thing to remember is that we do things in marriage not because we have to, but because we genuinely love the other person. Whenever I feel like I am doing a ton of work, I just remind myself why I am doing it. If I constantly remind myself Im serving those around me because I love them, then I am so much happier to do even more. Serving others increases your love for them anyway!”  -Diva Emily

“I think the important part is remembering that marriages are hard, they are always changing. They take work and they aren’t about you. Marriage is about the person you are saying yes to. It is about making them happy. It is about serving them. When you take YOU out of the picture, your spouse becomes your first priority. Service has a way of making everything amazing!” -Diva Michelle

Getting married is an exciting time in your life. It is something that you may have looked forward to for some time and that day is finally here! As you are swept up in the wedding plans just make sure that you take the time to plan your marriage with as much enthusiasm as your wedding and you will have a great start to what will hopefully be a successful marriage!

For more marriage advice AND adorable printable reminders check out our

50+ Secrets of a Great Marriage 

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Recent Comments

7 Responses to “10 Tips to Prepare for a Successful Marriage ”

  1. Tara Tara says:

    LOVE everything about this! The tips, the quotes, the fabulous advice!!!! And those pinterest pics are GORGEOUS!!! It has Courtney written ALLLLLLL over it! lol XOXO

  2. AnnetteH says:

    Awesome!
    Thank You

  3. Neng Yang says:

    Yes, you have some great article on how to prepare oneself for a successful marriage.
    I enjoy to know the facts that there are so many young singles like myself, who knows so little about how to prepare for a sucessful marriage, in terms of intimacy, budgets, how others will effect the marriage life, like friends of the opposite sexes. It is true because this is America in the 21st century, and if marriage partners are not prepare for unexpected things when it comes to marriage, they should see it as extremely important. II’ve always read about living happily ever after, and of course, topics such as finding that one spouse, how to prepare for a successful marriage, and other topics involved, does not need to involved only marriage couples, potential welders, yet, it applies to the singles and never married also. By never really been in a real and serious relationship, when I ponder on who I would most likely want to get marry to, who I would like to date and be in a long term relationship with, how to prepare myself for a successful marriage, kids, finances, and everything else that can happen in life, it’s a responsibility that really takes a guy and a lady to prepare for. Thinking about it, I also want a sucessful marriage. Finding that partner is obvious at times because of religion, etc., and it is true that these things will make the difference.
    Then again, anything can happen in life, and eventually, people just find their true love somewhere.

  4. Kate says:

    This is fantastic! I have been following you divas for months…since I got engaged. We are SO looking forward to the wedding, but I have been SO excited to plan for our marriage, too. I’m thrilled that you ladies are also including things every so often for the soon to be married! Great tips!

    Thank you!!!!

  5. Shanelle Rose says:

    Thank you sooo much.. the information i read is very helpful… i love it!!!! I’m going to take the advise!!!

  6. Aaron says:

    Marriage is said to be sacred! Thank you for the tips you have shared. Couples should read this because they can absolutely get great ideas.

  7. Hi . I am a event planner in Long Island . I find your post very helpful to me for planning my first project wedding. Thanks a lot for easy-to-follow guide.


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