Many of us have marriage as the end goal. Whether we actively admit it, or we just keep it in the back of our mind, we envision dating life as a path that will eventually lead us to the person we will spend our life with. I think it's really common to view "preparing for marriage" simply as dating people and actively searching for the right mate through trial and error. But I believe this is the wrong approach. Why? Because preparing for marriage is a lot less about who you're dating and a lot more about working on yourself from the inside out.
If you don't know who you are and what you stand for, you will not be able to recognize your soulmate when you meet him or her. If you do work on yourself first, when you are ready for marriage, the right person will appear in your life and you'll be able to rise to the exciting challenge of committing to building a life together.
There are a few essential things you should consider if you are looking to get married:
Know What Your Values Are
Do you prioritize hard work for the sake of hard work? Are you planning on raising your children with a religious practice? Who do you think should control the finances in a relationship? All of these questions are important things to consider before you commit to another person.
Values make up the fiber of who we are, and often they are difficult to compromise on because they play into our concepts of right and wrong. You probably have dealbreakers on at least some major issues, and it's very important to know what these are before you fall madly in love. As Roy E. Disney said,
"It's not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are."
Practice Compromise and Compassion
That being said….
You are never going to know someone 100% before marrying them, and you are never going to agree with another individual on every single decision and topic that arises in a marriage.
Not only that, but people change, especially over the course of a lifelong marriage. Who you marry may not be who you find yourself sharing a bed with ten years later. This is why practicing compromise and compassion is so important.
When you get married, you need to prepare for the fact that you will virtually never make any important decision by yourself again. You will always have a partner to consult, a team member to consider. This can be frustrating if you are used to doing whatever you want, whenever you want.
Before you get married, take a look at how you practice being flexible and coming to compromises with the other important relationships in your life like your siblings and coworkers. Mastering this skill, and using compassion while you do it, will come in handy when you have an imperfect, ever-evolving spouse that is counting on you for the long haul.
Ditch the Bad Habits
If you rely on bad habits to deal with stress now, imagine how hard it will be to abandon them when you have an exhausted spouse and a crying baby. Smoking, excessive drinking, emotional eating, angry outbursts...these things take a toll on your health as well as your self esteem.
Find healthy alternatives to deal with stress like exercise, natural stress relievers, and journaling. This will not only benefit you, but it will benefit your spouse, who may end up adapting some of your healthy habits themselves.
We all want to meet the right person. However, focusing on turning yourself into the right person first is a great way to take empower yourself on your quest for true love.