Date night is non-negotiable!

Date night is non-negotiable!

Our time is limited and we have a whole lot of excuses! We can’t find a babysitter, our schedules are way too busy and our budget is tight. Still, date nights are not negotiable, says those who know.

Do you feel like you are always busy? Guess what – everyone does. Life is hectic! There is not even enough time to meet all our daily obligations, not to mention the pleasures of romantic evenings out or late morning sex… And if you think you are busy, can you imagine a Hollywood celebrity’s diary? But Chrissy Teigen and her husband, John Legend, make time to ensure that they have date nights. And if they can do it… well…

When was the last time you had a real date night? When last did you switch of your cell phones and tablets to spend time with each other?

“Date night is so important. In fact, it is critical,” says psychologist and relationship expert, Melanie Schilling in Australia’s The Huffington Post.

She believes that couples who have one screen-free evening just once every two weeks, are happy. It doesn’t have to be a fancy affair and it doesn’t have to include any of the romantic cliches. But it is so easy to take your partner for granted – one of the most dangerous territories for a relationship.

According to a study by The Marriage Foundation, couples who have a monthly date night, have a 14% smaller chance of breaking up than couples who don’t.

When you leave date night for “when we get time” or say “we will plan something closer to the time”, the chance that it will realize is very small. There is a saying: “You don’t succeed to the level of your goals, you fail to the level of your systems.”

Therefore, make date night part of a system. Put a solid plan and structure in place to ensure that date night happens – no matter what! To achieve a goal the goal must meet five requirements:

  • It must be specific.
  • It must be measurable.
  • It must be agreed upon.
  • It must be realistic.
  • It must be time-based.

Avoid phrases like: “We’ll have a date night later this week.” Rather say: “Let’s go to Burger King on Wednesday at six-o-clock and go and watch a movie at the Mall afterwards.” Make sure that you are on the same page and if it feels like you are aiming to high, adjust your plans to be more feasible.

4 Reasons why you should do date night

  1. It enhances communication.

There are so many things that demand your attention every day, that date night becomes essential. You have to keep getting to know each other. However, keep date night as light-hearted and positive as possible.

  1. It is an opportunity to relax and take a break from daily stress.

Couples often feel guilty when putting their own needs above those of the children, but every couple deserves to take a night off every now and then, without worrying about household chores. It is good to sometimes put the bills and difficult decisions aside and just have fun.

  1. It is a reminder of why you fell in love with each other.

If you don’t go on a regular date night, you might forget to focus on each other’s good qualities. One-on-one time can serve as a reminder of how things were before the kids arrived.

  1. It builds commitment.

The more good memories you create, the stronger foundation you have when going through a difficult time. Date nights are a good way to create “love reserves”. Being serious about date night shows your partner that you are serious about your relationship.

4 Types of date nights

  1. Combine a common interest.

If you both love history, plan an evening to research your family history together. If you both like exercise, go jogging together at least once a week.

  1. Be adventurous.

Do something that neither of you have ever done before. Move outside your comfort zone and do something that falls outside your normal framework. If you normally prefer a traditional home-cooked meal, then maybe it is time to try out Japanese cuisine.

  1. Have another “first date”.

The longer you are married, the more you become used to each other. Later on, it doesn’t feel like there is anything you don’t know about each other – but there is! Make this date night one where you get to know each other again. Do it interview-style, complete a questionnaire or do a personality test.

  1. Be romantic.

When planning a date night, think about all the facets that you desire in your marriage. Every date night doesn’t have to be romantic, but it is important to focus on romance every now and then to bring the butterflies back.

4 Systems to get in place every month

  1. The calendar.

Date nights are non-negotiable. View them as very important meetings that happen after hours. Get together and schedule time in your diaries for date night once a week. These dates can only be moved in extreme circumstances.

  1. A plan for the kids.

If you have kids, planning their care is a priority. Get someone that you can trust with your kids. If you have to use the neighbor’s sixteen-year-old out of desperation at the last minute, you might be so worried that you won’t enjoy your night out anyway.

  1. Who will plan the details?

If there isn’t a designated person responsible for planning date night, it won’t happen. If both wait for the other partner to do the planning, it will result in misunderstandings, half-baked plans and date nights that simply do not happen. For each date night scheduled, the planner’s name must be noted. Take turns, otherwise the one partner will feel as if the initiative is just coming from one side.

  1. The budget.

Date nights do not have to cost a fortune – it is, however, super important that you consider it a priority – so much so that you don’t neglect it. Set up a budget at the beginning of the month and decide how much can be spent on each respective date night. You can either divide it up equally, or plan for two cheaper and two more expensive date nights.

4 Places of inspiration

  1. Something old.

Borrow inspiration from earlier times. Older people didn’t have Pinterest and had to think creatively. They focused on old world charm and manners (such as opening the car door for a lady). If you don’t know much about this, ask people that are older than you.

  1. Something new.

This is where Pinterest comes in handy. Use the available technology to your advantage and don’t underestimate the value of Über, Booking.com and Cheapfligths.

  1. Something borrowed.

Chat to your friends or colleagues to get original ideas for date night. Borrow ideas from movies. Use phrases from songs and poems to woo your partner and google for ideas on chat sites.

  1. Something NOT blue.

Think red! Think passion! Think romance! Think sexy!

4 Don’ts for the planner

  1. DON’T plan a date night only one of you will enjoy.

Yes, it might happen that your date is scheduled on a day when “Your Team” plays rugby, but your wife might not appreciate a night out at the local rugby stadium just because you don’t want to miss the game.

  1. DON’T just go out for dinner.

Dinner can be part of date night, but there must be something extra. Dinner is the easy part. If, however, you choose this as the main event, then opt for an exotic restaurant.

  1. DON’T underestimate the value of catching a hint.

If you listen carefully to your partner’s comments, those will tell you exactly what he/she would like. Especially when they mention: “We must definitely do that someday!”. When you hear something like that, make a note on your phone’s Notes app.

  1. DON’T choose a child-friendly venue.

This is the one chance you have to go to a place without an age restriction. Watch the movie with the highest age restriction, sleep in hotels where children aren’t allowed and eat at restaurants with real white linen napkins (and without the waiters singing Happy Birthday).

4 Rules for date night

  1. You’re not allowed to talk about the kids.

Yes, we know you want to discuss little Ben’s new tooth (it is after all what your life at home revolve around at the moment), but restrain yourself. You had a life before little Ben and will have one after he leaves home one day.

  1. Tough issues are off the table.

Date night is not the time for serious discussions or marriage therapy. It is not the time to raise your frustration or to dig up old dirt. It is a time to get to know each other intimately and have fun together.

  1. Date night is only for you two.

It doesn’t include anyone else. Not even your best friends who are also having a date night and happen to arrive at the same restaurant. Date night is your time exclusively and other people aren’t welcome.

  1. Don’t put too much pressure on your partner.

Don’t expect too much but keep it realistic. Don’t expect your spouse to go into debt so that you can have a spectacular date night. And don’t get angry if your partner is not emotionally in the same place as you are that night.

Additional sources: www.gq.com; www.thechaosandtheclutter.com; www.nestingstory.ca

A Marriage filled with Gratitude

A Marriage filled with Gratitude

Live a grateful marriage. This is how…

Some experts believe that there is immense value in keeping a “gratitude” journal. Not only can this enrich your life, but it can change your mindset in such a way that your whole being benefits from it. Did you know that living a life of gratitude within your marriage can also bless you abundantly?

“I am so tired of his impulsiveness,” Elaine complained. Her husband, John, was one of the most exciting and unpredictable people in others’ eyes, but one could see that she was tired – emotionally utterly exhausted.

Early in their relationship, on a random Tuesday, he decided that he wanted to go and show Elaine the Eiffel Tower – and the next day, they were on their way. Another time, during his lunch hour, he walked past a jewelry shop where he saw a very beautiful ring, which he bought on the spot and that very same night, he asked Elaine to marry him. Even their wedding day was an impromptu affair – just three weeks after he asked the big question, they got married on the beach… barefoot. To outsiders, it looked like one of the most romantic marriages ever.

But John’s impulsivity was taking its toll on Elaine, whose nature is not impulsive at all. That morning, things just became too much for her to bear.  “Our finances worry me – he makes impulsive purchases and then the items just gather dust in our garage. In addition, last night he decided to quit his job and start building a 3D printer. I never know what crazy idea he will have next.”

Elaine’s concern was justified, but one thing was certain – she would never change John. Deep down, she knew that, and one day, a close friend reminded her about something very important: “Elaine, do you remember that day when you and Gerald (her former boyfriend) were together for about a year? You came to me, being very unhappy, and you opened your heart. You told me at the time that that you know Gerald was your parents’ ideal son-in-law, but that you could never marry him. He was a perfectionist and his entire life was planned to the finest detail. John knocked your feet out from under you…”

And that is when Elaine had a light-bulb moment. She was focused on the bad instead of the good.

The value of gratitude

Gratitude is one of the most important ingredients for a successful marriage. In the early days of your relationship, you appreciated each other with gratitude, but over time, it is easy to start taking each other for granted. We then become blind to our partner’s good traits and only focus on the things that bother us.

A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, entitled “Have You Thanked Your Spouse Today? – Felt and Expressed Gratitude Among Married Couples” involved couples that were married on average twenty years. It was found that if one partner is deeply grateful for the positive aspects regarding their spouse, or their marriage, they also experienced higher satisfaction within their marriage. Individuals that had higher levels of gratitude was also happier with their marriages. And where one partner actually expressed their gratitude, the other partner also showed more gratitude, without even being aware of the other partner’s specific opinion.

Dr Cameron Gordon, lead researcher of this study, labels gratitude as a positive characteristic, saying: “To create something positive in a marriage is very different from removing something negative. Negativity in marriage leads to the relationship eroding, but we actually know little about the effect of positivity on the maintenance of a marriage.”

This is true, and gratitude indeed leads to laughter, fun, grace and a better understanding of each other.

In another study, published in the journal Personal Relationships, researchers from the University of George interviewed a total of 468 married couples and questioned them about finance, communication strategies and how they expressed gratitude towards their partners. Again, it was found that gratitude remarkably indicated marriage quality. Couples who showed gratitude towards one another was also less likely to divorce. Feeling appreciated has a huge impact on how a person feels about his/her marriage and the individual’s dedication to make it work.

Co-author of the study, Ted Futris, says that all couples disagree and argue. “What distinguishes the marriages that last, from those that don’t, is not how much the spouses argue, but rather HOW they argue and how they treat each other on a daily basis.”

The study also found that financial stress can negatively affect marriages, but that, just by expressing appreciation for one another, this stress can be relieved. “When couples are worried about how to make ends meet, they are more likely to act in negative ways – they are more critical and defensive towards each other and can even stop talking to each other and withdraw, which then results in a lower quality marriage,” says Ted. “Gratitude, however, can break this cycle and help couples overcome negative communication patterns in their relationship, patterns which could be the result of current stress factors.”

It is not always easy to live with gratitude. Sometimes we simply don’t feel grateful and other times life is just moving too fast to focus on gratitude. But in a New York Times article, entitled Choose to be Grateful. It will Make You Happier, Arthur C. Brooks wrote that choosing gratitude can make us feel even more thankful. This is due to the fact that when we express gratitude, our brains release chemicals that reduces our stress, and make us more grateful.

In his research center, marriage expert, Dr John Gottman, also discovered that successful couples have created a culture of kindness and deliberately strive to view each other in a good light.

Habits of gratitude can start small, and in his article, Arthur writes that one should practice internal gratitude, external gratitude and then finally, gratitude for trivial things. The latter is the easiest. Being thankful for his smile, for the coffee that she woke you up with, gratitude for his warm breath in your neck on a cold night…

How do you do it?

  1. Be intentionally grateful.

Become more aware of the things that you appreciate about your partner and change your mindset. Instead of thinking that it is your partner’s job to do something wonderful so that you can feel grateful about it, rather see it as your responsibility to look out for something to be grateful for.

  1. Be generous and selfless.

Do something for your partner without them having to ask and without making a fuss about it. Have new tires fitted to her car, but don’t expect her to praise you for it. Pull the weeds out of his favorite flower bed without expecting thanks.

  1. Recognize and appreciate the intention and effort.

Sometimes things just don’t work out. He might have tried his best to prepare a “MasterChef” meal for your, but it had failed miserably. Respond kindly, for example by saying: “Don’t worry at all. I really appreciate what you did for me.”

  1. Be creative when you express gratitude.

Don’t just use the words “thank you” every time. Learn how say it in different ways. For example, say “I appreciate you”, or “I am so grateful for…” or “May you be blessed for this…”.

  1. Show your appreciation.

Use your body language and reaction to show your partner how much you value him/her. In the study led by Dr Cameron Gordon, it clearly emerged that couples who appreciate each other, apply active listening. When one partner is talking, the other one is clearly listening and processing what is being said (this is a way of showing your partner that you value his/her opinion).

  1. Make a conscious effort.

Set aside some time every day during which you pay specific attention to what is going on in your spouse’s life. Listen attentively when you ask him/her about their day.

  1. Focus every day on things that make your marriage work.

We are so inclined to complain about things that does not work. Make it a daily habit to move your focus to the positives and over time it will become easier to maintain this habit.

  1. Occasionally, express your gratitude in public.

Sometimes even the most confident of people feel insecure in public. Firstly, at home, make sure that your partner knows how grateful you are. But also make sure that he/she knows this when you are among other people.

  1. Keep a gratitude journal.

Write something in your journal every day and devote a specific section, for example the top right block on each page, to your marriage. In that block, write one thing about your partner that you are grateful for every day.

  1. The 60 Second Blessing.

Think about what you can tell your partner every day to encourage him/her. Then take one full minute (without any distractions), look your partner in the eyes and speak life. It is amazing what a simple compliment can do to make love grow. On the blog “marriage363.org”, Heather Christy wrote about one of the turning points in her marriage –  when she and her partner learned about the power of speaking words of encouragement over each other.

If something as simple as a mindset, words of encouragement or gratitude can make such a big difference in your marriage, why not seize the opportunity immediately? Live a marriage of gratitude and experience change in your relationship from today onward.

Additional sources: www.foryourmarriage.org; www.psychologytoday.com; www.bustle.com; www.relatable.com; www.gottman.com; www.soundvision.com

Are you spouses or just roommates?

Are you spouses or just roommates?

Are you roommates?

Every great marriage is rooted in a deep friendship, but what happens when you and your partner suddenly realise that you’re living as roommates instead of a married couple?

“Anton and I were always the best of friends. We could talk about anything under the sun for hours and we loved having a good conversation over a bottle of red wine. I used to think this was one of our marriage’s strengths, until I was watching a TV episode about roommates and realised that Anton and I were exactly the same as the roommates! The problem was that they shared an apartment and not much else,” says Danielle about her marriage.

“To my shock and dismay, I realised that I had been so focused on our friendship that our relationship was faltering. The romance and passion was gone – it was like it had somehow disappeared overnight.”

Danielle spoke to Anton about it and learned that the situation had been bothering him for quite some time, too. They decided they need to turn the situation around immediately and they were able to succesfully transform their roommate status back to one of husband and wife.

How does it happen?

Children arrive on the scene and bills pile up. So much time and energy gets dedicated to other responsibilities that intimacy falls to the wayside. Couples start taking their marriages for granted and believe that love will be enough to sustain the partnership in the long run. When this happens, partners stop really communicating with each other – they just tick the most important items off their to-do list. Sooner rather than later, they stop connecting emotionally.

Sometimes a marriage can seem so “normal” on the surface level that a couple thinks they’re in a good place because there’s no obvious drama or conflict. A rude awakening can happen when one (or both) partners wake up one morning and realise that they’re bored! According to Pepper Schwartz, a professor is sociology and psychology as well as author of Prime: Adventures and advice about sex, love and the sensual years, this can create a lot of distance between partners.

A couple in this situation can be the envy of their colleagues and friends because from the outside, it looks like a highly functional relationship. However, while the partners accept the responsibilities that go along with being married, they don’t get to experience any of the benefits. They don’t feel loved and the emotional intimacy is gone. So many couples start out as soul mates and best friends, only to turn into roommates who are consciously or subconsciously resentful towards each other.

How do you know you are moving into the danger zone?

  1. You use the kids as an excuse. There’s never any time for your husband because you have children and their needs and activities come first. You’re crumbling under all the kids’ responsibilities but you believe that you will be able to divert your attention back onto your husband again one day, probably when the kids have left the nest.
  2. You don’t spend time together anymore. Roommates don’t feel it’s necessary to spend quality time together because they see each other at home. This leads you to take turns babysitting so that you can attend your book club and so hubby can have a boys’ night out.
  3. You keep your hands to yourself. Roommates don’t touch each other. They don’t hug, kiss or hold hands. Maybe you feel like the kids are on top of you all day and you need a bit of personal space once they are in bed.
  4. You’ve forgotten how to flirt! There simply isn’t time for flirting. You don’t even laugh when he tells his old Dad Jokes… you’ve heard it so many times!
  5. You don’t sleep in the same bed. Maybe you’re sharing the bed with your little princess. Or your husband sleeps with Fido. Roommates don’t sleep together and regardless of the reason (he snores, it’s too hot), this forespells danger.
  6. You don’t make an effort. Due to all the abovementioned reasons, you’re not really in the mood for sex so you’ve decided your husband doesn’t need it, either. You wear your oldest sweatpants to bed and parade around in a green face mask in front of him.
  7. You keep your wallets to yourselves. Roommates don’t share money and you don’t want someone checking up on you when you want to splurge on that new bottle of perfume. Each of you has a separate bank account and credit card. For some couples, this financial strategy works well. For others, it creates a divide.

 

What do you do?

  • Be realistic. You can have great sex again, but all nighters might be a bit unrealistic if your youngest pops into your bedroom three times a night and your husband has to give a big presentation the following morning.
  • Schedule sex. Discuss your schedules and needs, then set time aside for sex. It might not be the hanging-from-the-chandeliers type of sex, but don’t stop doing it. Sex isn’t optional.
  • Create intimacy. Save information to share with your partner exclusively. Marriage is about the union between a husband and wife. If one or both of you shares your most private thoughts and dreams with someone outside of the marriage, then the intimacy between the two of you isn’t being valued highly enough.
  • Do something exciting. Don’t let boredom get you down. Take a cooking class or a surfing lesson together. Make sure there is at least one hobby that the both of you share. Embarking on a new adventure together will give you focus (and it’s good for your sex life!)
  • Discuss things that matter. Forget about shallow conversations topics for a while (“How was your day?”, “Do you want a cup of coffee?”) and focus on having deeper conversations. Create a ritual for the two of you, such as taking a 20-minute walk together in the afternoons when you can chat. Ask each other a meaningful question during those 20 minutes, like: “If you had to pick one goal to achieve before you turn 60, what would it be?”

You can be the best of friends and super comfortable around each other, but what sets your marriage apart from the relationships you have with friends is the type of intimacy that is shared between two people who are married. Be conscious about these issues and make sure that your partner feels like more than just a roommate!

Additional sources: www.thrivingcouples.com, www.webmd.com, www.jennyschermerhorn.com, www.yourtango.com, www.newspring.cc, www.marriedandyoung.com.

How to reconnect with your partner

How to reconnect with your partner

Have you and your partner lost your connection? Maybe you’re just stuck in a rut after picking up a few bad habits. Reconnect with your partner by establishing a new, strong connection. Here is how to do it:

To reconnect emotionally:

  1. Don’t let the gap between the two of you grow larger. It’s normal to feel a bit disconnected from your partner during our fast-paced lives and it’s understandable that you want a bit of space after the two of you had a fight, but don’t withdraw.
  2. Know how, when and where to show remorse. Did you give your partner harsh criticism or forget her birthday? Say that you are sorry. If apologizing is hard for you, tell your partner that you are feeling remorse and that you are struggling with a feeling of regret. This way, your partner will know that you are feeling remorseful.
  3. Don’t use dangerous fighting tactics. If you’re feeling compelled to threaten or blame your partner, or to set an ultimatum, don’t act on it. These are negative emotions that will have a damaging outcome on your relationship instead of a good outcome.

To reconnect spiritually:

  1. Discuss the intense topics and questions! Start a conversation about why you think you are on earth, what you think God’s plan is with your marriage, what the Afterlife looks like, and about your prayers that have already been answered by God. Don’t be afraid of having an intense conversation – not only could it give you new insights about your faith, but it can also help you to get a new perspective on your partner’s ideas and outlook on life.
  2. Embrace faith when you are going down the wrong road. On com, Tiffany Fletcher writes: “Many times we get derailed because we have forgotten where we are going. Our destination is muddled because our purpose for continuing is unclear. When we embrace faith, with it comes knowledge of why we are here and where we are going. We gain a clearer understanding of God’s purpose for our life and what we can do to better fulfill his plan for us.”
  3. Be graceful towards your partner. Remember that you are two individuals and each of you is on his or her own spiritual journey. Maybe the two of you are not feeling the same regarding your faith. In the same way that God shows mercy towards you, you need to also be merciful and forgiving towards your partner. Be patient and understanding.

To reconnect intellectually:

  1. When was the last time that you talked about the future? The future that you used to muse about may have already arrived and it could look vastly different from the picture you had painted for yourselves. Make time to sit down in a coffee shop with your partner and discuss your health, educational, career, business, financial and political goals for the year ahead.
  2. Set aside time to talk to your partner, and ask him or her the following questions:
  • What do you think would be a good investment for our marriage?
  • What do you love about our marriage?
  • What do you think is better than earth-shattering sex in a marriage?
  1. Stay curious about your partner. Forget the everyday questions like “How was your day?”, and ask open-ended questions that require a bit more thought, such as:
  • What did you do today that you really enjoyed?
  • How are things going with your team at work?
  • What do you think of Lisa and Ken’s decision to immigrate to New Zealand?
  • How do you think so-and-so’s fraud case is going to pan out?
  • Show your partner that you are really interested in him or her.

 To reconnect physically:

For you and your partner to reconnect physically, you need to spend time together and be completely present.

  1. Give each other proper massages. Learn how to appreciate the value of a sensual massage, but make it an act of love and service as opposed to a means to an end.
  2. Sleep naked. A recent study showed that couples who sleep naked have a more satisfying sex life. Even if there is no physical touching throughout the night, the skin-on-skin contact is good for you on an emotional level.
  3. Be sensitive towards your partner’s needs for physical affection. Remember that not everyone requires or wants the same level or amount of physical touch. While some people flourish on physical closeness, others feel ‘overstimulated’ by too much touching. You don’t need to be holding hands, hugging and kissing to be physically close. Body language like the tone of your voice or certain facial expressions, such as a secret smile, can also help you to connect with your partner on a physical level.

 To reconnect sexually:

  1. To establish a newfound sexual connection, start by flirting. Maybe you haven’t flirted for so long that it makes you uncomfortable, but the more you practice the better you will get at it.
  2. Initiate sex if you’re not the one who usually initiates it. By initiating sex, you are showing your partner that you are willing to make yourself vulnerable to be intimate with him or her. You will also be communicating that you desire your partner, and everyone wants to be desired.
  3. Give your partner a spoil session. This means that you take turns giving each other pleasure for a period (such as half an hour or an hour) without expecting anything in return. According to relationship coach Jordan Gray, this will help you to practice being selfless while it simultaneously teaches you to ask for what you want.

Being disconnected from your partner can be the catalyst to a growing sense of panic within you, but know that the situation can be reversed. To reconnect with your partner requires mostly small gestures that are born out of bravery to make big changes within your relationship. Start fresh – your marriage deserves it.

Additional sources: www.crosswalk.com, www.psychologytoday.com, www.hitchedmag.com, ourpeacefulfamily.com and “Emotional intimacy: A comprehensive guide for connecting with the power of your emotions” by Robert Augustus Masters.

Important lists for your marriage

Important lists for your marriage

It’s okay if he leaves his wet towel on the floor, but it’s not okay if he punches a hole through your door because he can’t control his anger. When it comes to choosing a life partner, how do you know which things to tolerate?

Instead of daydreaming about planning your perfect wedding, take some time to plan your dream marriage. When your big day is fast approaching, it’s easy to get caught up in all the arrangements and wedding drama, and to forget that a marriage is about much more than the ceremony and party afterwards.

Some couples’ honeymoon bubble quickly evaporates as the challenges of everyday life start to arise. It’s common to hear newlyweds saying that marriage is much harder than they thought it would be, and it seems to look like problems arose out of nowhere.

Pastor and author, Rick Warren, says a marriage doesn’t cause problems, but illuminates them. How can you weatherproof your marriage so that it not only withstands the first year of new challenges, but also the seven-year itch and all the other storms that may or may not follow? It all comes down to planning and preparation.

Start by making three lists for your marriage. Sit down with your partner and decide which things are important to you as a couple. Prepare a few leading questions for yourself, as well as for your partner, to determine what your biggest differences are and how you are going to overcome these differences if and when challenges arise.

To simplify the process, divide your questionnaire into three main categories. It’s important that your partner realizes how important these questions and lists are (and doesn’t attribute your efforts to some bridezilla streak). Here’s how to do it:

Red: Hard limits
The red-limit list will comprise of things that are non-negotiable for you. For your marriage to work, you must feel the same way about these things. Not only will it make your marriage exceptionally difficult if you don’t agree, but it could have a ripple effect on your families.

Religion and values are right at the top of this list. It can be a massive problem if you have different believes, and you will need a plan of action on how you are going to approach these aspects.

Consider how these issue will impact your family if you decide to have children. Do both of you want kids? How do you feel about the involvement of family members in your lives and the lives of your children? Decide how much influence your family members will have on your marriage and where you are going to draw boundaries.

Nothing is worse than a wife who needs to compete with her mother-in-law for the attention of her husband. Make decisions about the division of labor in your house. Does your husband-to-be have a problem with you having a full-time job and will it become a problem if you earn more than him?

Yellow: Soft limits
This list is for serious issues, but ones that you can negotiate about. You and your partner still have to agree on these topics, but there’s more room for flexibility. For this list to work, both of you must be prepared to give and take. If you can’t make compromises before the wedding, then it’s definitely not going to get easier after you get married.

Decide which battles you’re prepared to lose to win the war. Ask questions such as: How many children do you want? When do you want to start a family? Who carries the credit card with him or her? Who is responsible for different parts of the household?

Green: Unnecessary limits
This is the list where all the insignificant details are categorized. It’s the issues that you can and should disagree on, because it’s not healthy for couple to agree on absolutely everything. Sometimes it’s good to have a bit of a disagreement so that you can continue to grow as a couple and as individuals.

If you are disagreeing on what you want for dinner and whether My Girl is better entertainment than CSI, you’re not going to end up in a divorce lawyer’s office. How you approach these disagreements, will depend on you as a couple. The important thing is that you are able to communicate openly and honestly with each other. Don’t get angry and make a point of respecting each other’s opinions.

Remember that you are two individuals with different personalities, needs and opinions. If you are able to approach differences in the right way, you could end up being an inspiration for others.

Sources: marriagemissions.com, thellenlevy.com.

 

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