Level-Up Your Relationship: Five Pre-Wedding Marriage Prep Ideas

Level-Up Your Relationship: Five Pre-Wedding Marriage Prep Ideas

Marriage Prep isn’t just for Catholics, friends.

I know this is really more of a wedding blog than a marriage blog. But we’re going to be rolling around in the marriage sphere from time to time, anyways. Because I think a big part of your wedding should be informed by what your hopes and expectations are for your marriage.

Most people view marriage as a lifelong commitment to a monogamous relationship with a specific person. However, this is isn’t the only interpretation of marriage. Marriage (and relationships in general) are very subjective things. And one thing that we can learn, especially from the polyamorous community, is that every relationship has its own static or ever-changing set of rules, conventions, and attitudes.

One relationship may be strictly monogamous, while another has no boundaries when it comes to romantic and sexual activity outside of the relationship.

One relationship may view divorce as an absolute last resort to be avoided at all costs, while another may view it as a valid and distinct possibility, ready to be discussed openly whenever appropriate.

One relationship may view marriage as a big, formal transition that will change the “rules” or expectations of the partnership. Another relationship may see marriage as the simple act of “making it legal” and nothing else- no new “rules” or renegotiating required.

Of course, it isn’t binary, either. Your relationship may not fit into one of the “all or nothing” categories. In fact, it likely falls between the two points, somewhere. Or maybe you’re off the linear spectrum, entirely!

There is no wrong way to do a relationship, just like there is no wrong way to do a marriage. However, it’s extremely important to communicate with your partner(s) about your expectations, your needs, your desires, and what being married means to you. That’s where marriage prep should come in.

Preparing for marriage doesn’t have to involve a patented, formal, eight-hour or four-week course. It can feel as simple as an occasional check-in with your partner(s), or sharing an activity together to provoke discussion between you.

Take the time to communicate and strengthen your relationship. Build a solid foundation and figure out your own marriage prep process! Do one of the suggestions below. Or do all of them. Or do none of them and try something else, entirely!

Do Couple’s Therapy. You don’t need to wait until breaking up is on the table to do couple’s therapy. You don’t even need to wait until something is seriously wrong! While it isn’t accessible for everyone, counselling can be a valuable experience that has the potential to improve your relationship and give you new perspectives to explore. Going to therapy often results in more intimacy, better communication, and healthier ways of handling and resolving conflict. No matter how long you’re been together, everyone is able to benefit from that!

Play a Game Together. Specifically, try a game that’s meant to foster communication between people and encourage vulnerability and deep discussion. Both {THE AND} by The Skin Deep and We’re Not Really Strangers are excellent ideas! They’re both card games that involve drawing a set number of cards, each with a personal, thought-provoking question to ask your partner. The questions range from light and fluffy to heavy and intimidating. These games are great to play at any time, but pulling them out before you get married is a wonderful way to fortify your bond before the big day!

Read a Book About Relationships Together. If you and your partner(s) don’t find reading too dry or tedious, this can be a beautiful way to explore your own relationship and ideas you might have about love, sex, marriage, and partnership. You can read something together in the most literal sense (curling up together and reading one page at a time), or you can read the same book separately and discuss each chapter or section as it arises! As far as the actual material goes, you can start by looking into works by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman, the minds behind the Gottman Method for couple’s therapy, or anything by Esther Perel, a fantastic Belgian psychotherapist.

Spend Time with Each Other’s Most Important People. Maybe this is family. Maybe it’s chosen family, or close friends. Maybe it’s a longstanding group or community of people that your partner has been involved with for ages. Regardless of who falls into this category, spending time with other people in your partner’s life will help you get to know them better, and give you a wider understanding of their world. A relationship isn’t about “two halves of a whole” or several “pieces of a puzzle” coming together to create one unit. We are already whole by ourselves, no matter who we are with (if anyone). Learning about and seeing the inner workings of someone’s life outside of your relationship to them can be jarring at times… But it can also be exciting and eye-opening!

Put Together a Check-In Process. Granted, this may not feel comfortable for everyone. As a detail-oriented, Type A person, I really like this idea. But people who are more laid-back or anxious about confrontation might find this idea intimidating. I mean, I get it- it feels a little like a Performance Review, but instead of hearing potential criticism at work you’re hearing it at home, from your partner. However, this doesn’t have to be scary. You’re the one calling the shots, here! Go online, look up “relationship check in questions” (or something similar), and find a set of questions you like or think would be helpful for you and your partner(s). Set a time or date to talk about the questions together with absolutely NO distractions- no phone, no TV, no video games or books, no work, no roommates or kids, etc. When the time comes, set the mood however you like. If you’re anxious or nervous about it, you can put some calming or light-hearted music on in the background. You can light some candles, put out some flowers, make a meal or put out some snacks to eat, and get into it! If you need to, you can always give yourself or your partner some comfort items or time before and after the discussion to de-stress. Your check-ins can be as frequent as you like- weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly are all valid choices.

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