Getting hitched? Make sure you prepare for your marriage and not just your wedding day

Throw a great party but don’t forget to plan for the years to follow

Do we spend more time preparing for our wedding day or on the years of marriage to follow?

Weddings are great. They are wonderful occasions where we celebrate two people lovingly committing their lives to each other.

We spend thousands and thousands of pounds on this one day. Tens or even hundreds of family and friends are invited. Preparing for this one day can feel like a full-time job for one or two years in the build up.

But what about the marriage to follow? How much time do we spend investing in that and preparing for that?

The truth is that putting on the one day celebration is easy. Sustaining a relationship over multiple years, with all the inevitable ups and downs, is hard work. And it doesn’t happen by accident. The idea that ‘feeling in love’ will be enough to carry you through years—decades—of marriage is naive.

I know it doesn’t sound very romantic, but there is a practical dimension to sustaining a relationship. There are skills we can learn. Tools we can benefit from using.

Learning to communicate well, dealing with conflict, fully understanding each other’s needs, recovering when we hurt each other, handling the in-laws, developing greater sexual intimacy, dealing with money, united parenting…the list of areas we need to work through during a marriage is endless. But these are all areas we can choose to get better at and invest in enriching our marriage in the process.

It’s tempting to think it’ll all be fine. When we’re in the early stages of a relationship, it’s impossible to imagine that the feeling of being in love might not be enough. And though love is romantic, love is deeper than just romance. And for a marriage to last, we will have to tap into dimensions of love that stretch beyond romance.

One of the best things my wife and I did was a five week marriage preparation course. It forced us to step outside of our ‘in love’ bubble and think about the realities of a lifetime together. It’s not resulted in us having a perfect marriage, but it has helped us work through tough situations along the way.

So if you’re getting married soon, make sure you think about and plan for the lifetime together and not just the celebration. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo: Anne Edgar

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