Love Life, Soul Food

Before I Marry…

Last year, I started a list that helped me gain some perspective in my life. It was entitled: “Things to do before I marry…” Last year was a great one to be honest. I achieved so much personally and professionally that helped me to grow as an individual. One of the biggest challenges for me had been trying to find Mr Right and although I am not married yet, I am one step closer to that goal. However, I don’t know what it is but I am surrounded by young women that just can’t wait to tie the knot! I mean, it is great because unfortunately, in our society today, statistics show, for the UK anyway that a lot of people in general have lost this goal. It’s fashionable to have several partners or to remain uncommitted.

I never judge anyone that tells me that they don’t want to get married because the reasons are endless and when it is all said and done, it is personal choice. However, what I always say to the people that do, is to make sure that they’re ready so that this step is the blessing it is ordained to be. I say this because my sister, Melissa, one day had this very chat with me. She was recently engaged and told me of all the extra responsibilities I would have when I entered married life. She told me of the good times and was also really clear about the realities of extra chores, extra understanding and extra humility to take some of the criticism LOL.

I came to the conclusion that relationships were a blessing – if you were ready for them – and so I started working on myself. All of a sudden I became so focused on becoming a better person that I felt like I didn’t have much time to change all that I warred to change before I “settled down.” 🙂 As part of my change process I started a list: “Things to do before I marry…” Okay, so I don’t want to come across as the kind of person that thinks that life is over when you marry – because it really isn’t! It is actually an exciting chapter and as with all things, it is what you make it – I truly believe that.

However, I am very inquisitive and like to talk to wives about the realities of married life so that I don’t think it is all fairies and roses! What I understood was that when you marry, your goals change – you aren’t just a singleton who can effectively do as she pleases, when she pleases – you have to consult someone else and think of what is best for you both collectively as a couple. If I commit to a relationship it means that I have to be prepared to make some changes to myself so that I can make that person happy and in turn, make myself happy.

Every list is personal but it is something that I highly recommend! I love writing lists and setting goals and I found that doing my list kept me focused and kept me busy! Another benefit is that it moves the focus away from what you think you are missing or don’t have and onto what you need to do before you get there and sometimes what you need to do to actually get there! What do I mean? Let me explain… Again, in my circle, when I speak to women about their anxiety about marriage, usually it’s because they feel that they are getting on in age or because they feel as though “everyone” is either in a relationship or getting married and they are, somehow, left behind. Last year the funniest thing happened to me! In my family all of my siblings started hooking up and getting married and guess who was still a single with no prospects? Moi. 🙂

I was actually okay with it because my family and close friends were so supportive and ultimately, I had this assurance that Mr Right would come along eventually. However, every now and then Mr or Mrs Insensitive (but concerned no doubt), would come along and ask me how I felt about “being left behind” and “being the ONLY person in my WHOLE family who was UNMARRIED”. Oh my gosh! Really! How could I ever put up with my singledom?!!!! These comments would take me off track and I kept on having to remind myself that I would find the right person and that it didn’t matter how long it took as long as I got it right – but I would be lying if I said it was easy peasy lemon squeezy!

It was hard. Some days were better than others and that is why I did my list. When I did it, I regained focus and control over my own life. After it was done, I realised that actually I wasn’t ready for marriage yet because there was still so many things I wanted to change and get better at before I started focusing on more grown up goals that I would need to focus on with my life partner! Every list is personal so keep it private and be honest with yourself. Some are ideals and some are necessary but ideally the plan is to become a better YOU so that you can have a better relationship. None of us are perfect and circumstances change but we need to try to give ourselves the upper hand as much as possible.

So, what kind of things can go on your list? Well… for example, I always think it’s a good idea to try to get out of debt if you have some, before you get hitched, simply because financial difficulties can put a strain on even the best relationships. I’ll go further… There is nothing like a lack of money to put a damper on the passion! When you are in debt it can be stressful and even quite depressing so it’s best to try to sort them so that you can try to build a future with your partner at ground zero rather than – £1000… if you know what I mean! I mean realistically, depending on the debt you may not be able to pay them all off but at least if you work towards it they can be decreased significantly – rather than just sweeping them under the carpet.

If you aren’t in debt then it would be good to start saving a portion of your income for the future. I think that this is wise. If you want to marry but have no money, it will be extra stress. Weddings can be pricey, finding a home and sustaining it can be pricey and sustaining yourself in general can be pricey and therefore savings are always good – especially for unexpected, rainy days… If you don’t have a job and want to marry, well, unless you have very rich parents or a rich hubby… LOVE WON’T PAY THE BILLS! For some of you this may sound obvious but I can’t tell you how many teens and 20 something year olds I have spoken to want to get married to their Prince Charming but haven’t thought about the boring details of how they will meet the rent…! It’s also about independence. Relationships are for adults and even if you are young, they do require some maturity and independence to make the right decisions.

Whilst I am on the subject of financial goals, one piece of advice that someone gave to me that I thought was so, so valuable was about starting on my personal projects now. She told me that if I wanted to try out a new course or a business venture then now would be a good time since I had no dependants and no huge responsibilities. She was right. When you enter into a serious commitment or even more when you have a partner or children depending on you financially, you think twice before you invest all of your salary or savings into an idea that may not work… I have tried many a venture or two and some failed and some worked – that’s life!

However, because I was living at home, with few outgoings and a bit of disposable cash, let’s say… I didn’t die! 🙂 Of course, this is something that can be done in a relationship also – as a couple you could even achieve so much more together or even start something jointly but it has to be spoken about whilst you are dating to ensure you are on the same page. What you don’t want is for your other half to have dreams that are so different to yours and a clash when you both want to start up two separate projects and can only afford to start up one. I am not saying it can’t happen but I know a couple that are both trying to do their own thing and truthfully starting up two businesses in one home is doubly stressful and doubly expensive. One of them had to compromise in the end and get a paid job because they just couldn’t afford it. Something to think about.

Health is something that we usually neglect until it doesn’t work for us! Yes, I have done that in the past… This is something I have tried to change recently to be honest and I am glad to say I am up to date with my checks! We all dream of the honeymoon period and great times right? So, health issues can be a major setback. I know people who have suffered immensely – even having to give up their jobs because of health issues. The truth is that we marry for better and for worse and inside of us we need to have this consciousness that should the worst happen, my partner and I are sticking at it. However, wouldn’t you feel so regretful if any health related problems you faced in the future could have been avoided just by going for necessary checks or making small amendments to your diet? We usually want to turn the clock back when it is too late… Depending on priorities, maybe health insurance could also be an option. Again, something to consider.

Organisation and housework is another. I mean ladies, I can’t tell you how many men I have spoken to that have said that they want their home to be a haven and we women do have the ability to make it like that. 🙂 If we are disorganised, messy and can’t cook, clean, or iron, it is sure to be a disadvantage to us – at some point. We could pay someone to do it but not many can afford that luxury! It’s best to master it and if it is a skill that doesn’t have to be used then that is fine – at least we know how. The whole idea is to increase our net worth so that when we become a couple we add as many positives as possible and take away as little as possible.

There are so many other things that I could add to this list such as personal projects for charity, tying up loose ends such as family dependants (if possible), working on character flaws such as selfishness or fiery tempers and even making sure you’re completely over any exes and past traumas that came with those relationships. Although, I mentioned these points last, it is one of the most crucial and sometimes can be overlooked. I believe that some marriages break down because people don’t know who they were before they committed the rest of their lives to someone else. In this list, we have to ensure to include internal goals also.

For example, for me, before I made a decision that I wanted to get married, it was important to know what I wanted from life, who I was, what I liked and what I didn’t, where I was heading to and what my goals were for a future family. I didn’t feel comfortable making a commitment to someone else for life when I wasn’t even sure of who I was. You see, knowing who you will marry is just as important as knowing the person your husband will marry.

Once you’ve completed the tasks on your list, don’t forget to check out your Mr Right to ensure that both of you are indeed compatible and that he is also ready for this commitment! Then, after a lot of thought, consideration and maturing, surely, you’ll be ready for marriage! 🙂

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