Planning a wedding is just the beginning of the long list of things you and your future husband need to agree on when starting to build a life together. Seating charts and color schemes are quickly replaced by how big of a house to buy and whether the savings should be for an amazing vacation or a new washing machine.
Use this checklist to cover the non-negotiables now, so they don't become the deal-breakers of the future.
The Power of an Intimate Conversation: Communication is for marriage like the highway system is for cars. A good conversation is the path to get us from where we are to where we want to be. What's the difference between an intimate conversation and a regular-everyday chat? According to the world's leading marriage researchers, The Gottman Institute, it has three ingredients and one rule. First, put your feelings into words, ask open ended questions, and express empathy. Then follow this rule, "understanding must precede advice." This means don't try to solve the problem, listen for the purpose of understanding what your other half is trying to communicate. Once everyone feels understood — then you can tackle the problem together.
Sex: Studies show that there are countless benefits to a healthy sex life including stress reduction and boosting your immune system. Happy couples prioritize intimacy and sex. It's that simple.
Money: Money stress can be a huge romance-killer. Happy couples decide on their financial goals and then make plans together. Having ongoing conversations about money is nonnegotiable if you want to keep your marriage strong.
Family: Inlaws, cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles — everyone has family they love and some family members they would rather not spend major holidays with. At some point you have to decide the new family you're creating together takes priority over the family you came from. There is a delicate balance of sharing time and energy to create your new family while you honor each other's extended family. Taking the time to decide how you will handle family situations now will save misunderstandings later.
Accept Each Other's Differences: Research shows that almost 70 percent of the conflicts in a relationship come from perpetual problems. The Gottman research team defines these as either fundamental differences in your personalities that repeatedly create conflict, or fundamental differences in your lifestyle needs. Either way, these are the types of problems that don't go away. You can manage these problems by getting really good at intimate conversations and then finding where you can compromise and where you can agree to disagree.
*Maggie Reyes helps newlyweds plan their marriages with the same delight and devotion that they plan their weddings. She is a life coach, writer, and the founder of ModernMarried.com. *