5 practices you need to learn before you say 'I do'

Happy marriages don't happen by accident; they take work. Practice these healthy habits now to make your future marriage strong.

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  • Before you get married you may say or think, "when I get married I will (such and such)," or "I'll never do (such and such) when I'm married!" But are you doing or not doing those things now?

  • They way you act, treat your significant other and how you spend your time is a pretty good representation of what you will be like after you are married ... unless you make some positive changes now.

  • Lasting, healthy and happy marriages require work, with both spouses working together. "[S]tarting healthy habits before marriage can mean the difference between a marriage that thrives and lasts and a marriage that crumbles and ends in divorce. Cultivating healthy habits builds a strong foundation so that when issues come up, both individuals are more skilled at resolving them in a respectful and considerate manner," according to Janet Ong Zimmerman, a relationship coach.

  • Work on these practices now, regardless of your relationship status:

  • Communicate

  • Whether you are hurt and angry, happy and excited or frustrated and annoyed, it's necessary to establish healthy lines of communication. You need to be able to discuss important topics with your partner. If you can't communicate with respect, love and with intent to understand, you will carry the same struggle into your marriage. Communication clears up misunderstandings and miscommunications, which can lead to marital problems. Establish healthy communication practices now.

  • Put your significant other first

  • In a marriage, nothing should be more important than your spouse. Practicing this before you get married will make it easier to do after you are married. Your marriage and your companion should be your first priority before friends, work or other aspects of life.

  • Take some time to do what you enjoy

  • In healthy relationships, you need to have some time to yourself. Hang out with friends, play sports or do other things you enjoy. Don't be excessive with your free time to the point that your girlfriend or boyfriend is not a priority, but find a healthy balance. You bring your individual experiences into your relationship, which helps to enrich it.

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  • Forgive and apologize

  • If you are not willing to learn how to forgive and say sorry when you have hurt or wronged someone, your relationships will suffer. Everyone has regrets about something they have said or done, which often hurts another person. We must be willing to let go of pride and genuinely apologize. Even if you don't think you did something wrong, you may have inadvertently hurt your spouse. You also must be willing to forgive in your relationships and be willing to let go of negative feelings, rather than harboring resentment. Strong marriages rely on forgiving and apologizing often.

  • Even when life is busy, make time for each other

  • This kind of goes back to making your partner a priority. Even if you have busy weeks or months, you should make it a point to ask how your significant other is doing. Make a quick call or send a text message. Schedule regular date nights. These are equally, if not more so, important after you get married. If you can't make the time before you get married to connect, you sure won't be able to keep it up after — when the demands of work, children, house care and other things demand your time.

  • Starting healthy relationship practices now will make it easier after you're married to the love of your life. Working on it now will help you form habits you can bring to your marriage — even if you end up marrying someone different from who you are dating right now. Strong and happy marriages are built on good communication, putting your spouse first in life, forgiveness and apologies and making time for one another.

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Wendy is a regular contributor for familyshare.com and does media reviews. Website: https://survivorshopeandhealing.wordpress.com/ for victims of sexual abuse. Blog: https://wendyejessen.wordpress.com Twitter: @WendyJessen

Website: https://survivorshopeandhealing.wordpress.com/

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