7 things every couple should prepare for

As a newly married couple, you thought about being ready for baby or retirement, but you might not have thought about a number of other life events that are likely. Here are seven things you and your spouse should think about being ready for.

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  • When you were newly married you looked ahead to the future with dreams about how your children would look, where you'd travel together, where you'd settle down and build that house with the white picket fence. Sure, you thought about being ready for a baby or retirement, but you might not have thought about a number of other life events that are likely. Here are seven things you and your spouse should think about being ready for.

  • That first big fight

  • Little disagreements over what kinds of meals to cook (or buy) or how to make that one-bedroom apartment accommodate all of your combined "stuff" can be disappointing, but The Big Fight(s) can knock the wind out of the honeymoon sails. Being prepared for conflict is vital because it will come. Learning effective ways to communicate and discuss differences is important, especially if either partner came from a home where those skills weren't modeled. Just as helpful, though, in keeping a marriage strong despite big differences is a couple's ability to continue showing love for each other. Counselor and author Willard F. Harley Jr. writes that couples who work at filling up each other's "love banks" will more successfully weather conflict. So consciously make deposits of kind and loving actions and words into your spouse's love bank even as you work on communication.

  • Your child's first big lie

  • Adults usually know how vital honesty and fidelity are to relationships, so when your children first lie to you, it can seem a betrayal of your moral code and your parenting skills. Get ready for this, because it's normal. Children lie for a variety of reasons at different ages, and it's your job as a parent to simply tell them lying is against the rules and to dole out an appropriate consequence.

  • Your child's activities

  • Soccer, baseball, band, cheerleading, gymnastics, football … children will inevitably get involved in some activity (or multiple ones), and parents need to have a solid plan for how they and the whole family will handle the challenges of scheduling and financing. Decide ahead of time what kind of time you're willing to commit to sports, extracurriculars or music lessons, etc., and start setting aside funds for fees. Even better, start researching effective and novel fundraising ideas.

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  • Your child falls in love … with a pet

  • It's hard to resist those big eyes looking up at you with such hope. Make that a couple sets of eyes: your child's and Fido's. "Can we keep him? Please? Please?" This is where you need to be prepared to rein in your knee-jerk response. Don't automatically say no, but immediately say you're going to have a family meeting. This is a situation that everyone in the family must agree on, and a plan for care should be spelled out. As much as children in the throes of puppy love insist they'll do all the work, it's likely much of the responsibility will still fall to the parents. Know this ahead of time and make rules of care that will be manageable and age-appropriate for everyone and consequences attached if children don't follow through.

  • Your child's first heartbreak

  • Of course, a time will come when your teen will fall in love with a fellow teen, and heartbreak will follow. We've all been there. This is the time to remember your younger days and act accordingly. Be available. Listen, more than anything, and then provide encouragement that he or she is strong and will get through the breakup.

  • Your dreams don't come true

  • As individuals and as a couple, you have plans, goals, ambitions, hopes and dreams for the future. Those could include careers or particular jobs in a career, a certain number of children, a dream home, or expectations for how your children will turn out. Over time, you will achieve some of those goals, and some will go unmet. The best way to prepare for the loss of a cherished dream is to allow yourself to feel your feelings. Share them with your spouse and with a trusted friend or therapist and be prepared to go through the stages of grief that accompany a loss. Then set some new goals.

  • Natural disaster or severe weather

  • No matter where you live, some kind of natural disaster can strike: some areas deal with hurricanes, others tornadoes, some earthquakes. Snow can pile up, floods can strike or electricity can go out. Having food storage and other emergency supplies will make it that much easier to deal with any of these events. Make small kits for each family member that include food for a few days, first aid, light sources, and a change of clothes. Store larger quantities of food that will last for a few months.

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Cathy Carmode Lim is the founder of RatedReads.com, a website that reviews books and gives them ratings according to content. She is also a copy editor and blogs at LifeandLims.com.

Website: http://RatedReads.com

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