A lot of people (especially girls) plan their special day from a very early age. We imagine white dresses, flowers, and nowadays, our Instagram-worthy wedding setups.
But for those of you who are in relationships and already eagerly awaiting proposals and marriage plans from your significant other, are you really ready?
Love isn’t the happy ending. Falling in love is only the beginning of your fairy tale. What you do to make it work is the constant ‘ever after’.
We’re not all princesses and our significant other is certainly not a prince all the time. (TBH, half the time they’re also the frogs we kissed and keep on kissing).
On that note, here are real-world challenges that’ll help you add the ‘happily’ in ever after.
1. Making a gourmet meal out of leftovers.
Knowing your way around the kitchen ensures survival, as love will not last long on an empty stomach. Trust me on this - basic cooking skills is a must for anyone contemplating marriage. Plus, it gets too expensive to always eat out. What’ll you do then when all you have is what you have in the ref?
2. Sharing a bathroom with someone without being grossed out.
Anyone who has shared a bathroom can attest that marriage is definitely NOT romance on a daily basis. From bodily fluids to olfactory assaults- the bathroom is where things get real. Learn to deal with it.
3. Loving someone unconditionally despite their MANY imperfections.
Marriage involves taking the good with the bad while striving to improve daily for your partner. People are complicated. Commitment involves loving someone through their periods of light and darkness and keeping love alive through the daily grind.
4. Packing for 2 on very short notice.
Quality time is the fuel of romance. Sometimes it's a good idea to break away from routine and surprise the other with impromptu travel plans. Spontaneity and fun keep the flames burning. But with that comes your ability to pack light for those spontaneous getaways. It could be a buzzkill if you don’t know how to grab and go!
5. Constantly putting the needs of another person above your own.
One of the challenges of relationships is forgetting the self and thinking of the two of you as a unit. One must constantly consider the other person and give due importance to their needs and preferences (of course, ideally, the other person is also thinking of you). There is no room for selfishness in a marriage.
To cover the bases, each of you should be putting the other first.
6. Apologizing sincerely for your mistakes.
A good apology involves sincerity, accepting responsibility and a resolution to do better in the future. Any half-hearted attempts at saying you’re sorry, any traces of sarcasm, sighs, or rolling of the eyes while apologizing is a no-no!
Can you resist the urge?
7. Having a “go-to guy”
Access to a plumber, an electrician, and a carpenter for emergency household repairs. Add a reliable car mechanic (or service station) and you're good to go!
When things break down (and believe me, they will) knowing who to call is half the battle. Sometimes this can be a source for arguments or petty fights. So rid yourself of this possibility by having a “guy”.
8. Living within your means
Money (how to make it, how to spend it, and how to save it) is a major area of disagreement in marriage. It is best to develop good financial attitudes before marriage to ensure smooth sailing later on. Better to resolve your money issues early or they will be a constant source of friction.
9. The ability to ignore the other person's annoying habits.
They say that the things you find cute in the beginning are things that will drive you nuts in the long run. Everyone has some annoying little quirks that are best ignored and forgiven.
Not everything has to be “talked about” or mentioned. Learn how to let these slide.
10. Keeping peace with the potential in-laws
The most important lesson to master before getting married is "LEAVE AND CLEAVE". Once you are married you are no longer someone's child or sibling but someone's wife or husband.
Establishing your own household is the first step in defining your new role. Mutual respect and healthy boundaries go a long way towards preserving the relationship with the in-laws.
11. Saying "no" nicely and the art of speaking gently.
Often it's not what you say but how you say it that matters. Speaking gently, with kindness and empathy, nips most arguments in the bud.
12. Making new adult friends who are in the same life stage as you
Part of being a couple is making "couple friends" who reflect your current values and priorities. You want to be around people who support your growth and development, and who share your interests and concerns as a couple.
Not that you can’t have friends who aren’t in your stage in life, but it helps to surround yourself with them.
13. How to lift your partner up when he is down.
It takes a conscious sustained effort to be a positive, life-affirming presence to your partner. A supportive and encouraging partner is a joy and a blessing.
14. Making your own money from doing something you are good at.
Life is long and unpredictable, and two income streams are always better than one. Knowing how to make money is a necessary survival skill. Bonus points if you actually like what you do for a living.
Be self-reliant (and this applies to other facets too, not just finances).
15. Letting go of the past so it doesn't interfere with the future.
Let go of all baggage that weighs you down. Negative thinking, negative ideas, negative people. Leave the past behind so you can go forward together.
Remember, if you keep living in the past, there’s no room to build anything else.
16. Sticking to an effective diet and exercise regimen.
Having someone fall in love with you is magic. Keeping them interested through the years requires hard work and maintenance. Always put in the effort to stay fit and attractive! Being married isn’t an excuse to let yourself go.
There are no shortcuts to looking good, but the results are always worth it.
17. Knowing how to run a household.
A clean, efficient, organized home requires housekeeping skills. Staff need supervision and instruction, so it's best to know the basics even if you won't be doing everything yourself.
18. The subtle art of negotiation and compromise.
Sometimes confrontations are necessary. Sometimes sneaky ninja moves are required. Sometimes tactful suggestions are called for. Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue.
In negotiations, timing is everything. Know when to talk and when to keep quiet.
19. Keeping God at the center of your relationship and remaining committed to your marriage.
It takes grace to keep a marriage going over a lifetime. There is no promise more difficult than "for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part". Yet nothing is more fulfilling than journeying through life and growing old with someone you love.
So, how many of these have you mastered?