You're about to make one of the most important commitments in your life. But before you take the plunge, there are a few things you should do with your fiancé to see whether or not you and your future spouse are ready for this thing called marriage.
1. Live cheaply.
Try living for a week on a zero budget. Cook all your meals at home, walk everywhere you need to go, find free things to do around town and don't allow yourselves to spend any cash on frivolous things like lattes, fancy exercise classes or Uber rides. This experience will give you an idea of how you might manage as a couple if or when money is ever tight. It will also give you a good sense of each other's priorities and expectations, according to Tasha H. Kornegay, Ph.D., a licensed professional counselor and family therapist.
2. Change your look.
If you're inclined to experiment with your appearance, give it a shot while you're still dating. If you and your partner can keep the long game in mind, hair will grow back, dye will fade, piercings can be removed, weight will be gained and lost, then you're probably mature enough to endure other superficial quirks. This might also prepare you for the more permanent changes that come with having children and aging.
3. Make new friends.
Try to meet a new group of people that you both enjoy. Join a local sports club, take a weekly cooking class or start chatting up the regulars at the dog park. It's good practice for if or when you move someplace else during your marriage. Plus, making friends as a couple means meeting people who think you're great together and want to see you thrive. "Building a strong support network can help couples during difficult or stressful times," says Kornegay.
4. Travel somewhere less than idyllic.
A beach vacation is easy and romantic but a month of backpacking through a foreign country or a week-long hike across rough terrain will challenge you to be flexible with one another's preferences.
5. Try house hunting.
Since you probably won't be spending the rest of your lives in a 600-square-foot apartment, do a dry run of finding a place you both might want to live in one day by visiting open houses and scouring online listings. Figure out what's essential to each of you and see where those negotiations might lead. "House hunting can be helpful in determining if your styles mesh and if you have the same idea of what is important in a home," says relationship therapist Rachel Needle, Psy.D says. "Being able to communicate in a healthy way about big decisions is [also] important."