Young woman sitting on sofa, looking at distressed man at table

Listed below are five things I believe every couple should do before getting married. While checking them off your prenuptial to-do list is no guarantee your marriage will make it, avoiding any of them sets the stage for failure.

1. Fight.

If you never disagree with your partner, you’ll never learn how to handle disagreement. Stuffing it in and sucking it up only creates resentment, and resentment often leads to the passive-aggressive expression of anger. If you feel strongly about something, say so, and deal with the consequences.
Don’t fight over petty things, but pick something you care about and stand your ground. A little unpleasantness early on will prevent a lot of unpleasantness later.

2. Travel together to an unfamiliar place.

Marriage if it’s anything is an adventure, and you need to know how the two of you handle a journey to new and unfamiliar surroundings and the discoveries that follow. If you go somewhere one of you has already been, the dynamic becomes one of guide and tourist, which is not a partnership of equals.

3. Spend time with each other’s families.

When you’re married, your partner’s family becomes your family, and respectful interaction will make your marriage much, much happier.

The demands of families, their attitudes towards spouses, and the amount of time and interaction with them can all be major sources of conflict for married couples. You don’t have to like your in-laws or call them mom or dad, but you do have to respect the fact that they created and raised your spouse.

Seeing how your partner interacts with his or her family and observing whether there’s a healthy dynamic can clue you in to what this person will be like in your marriage.

Some marriages make it without the couples having done any of these things in advance. But if you want a better shot at the long shot of a marriage that lasts a lifetime, taking these actions before the big day will help you avoid becoming just another statistic and make it to the happily ever after.

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