From the time you get engaged to your big day, with every decision you make and hurdle you overcome, you're putting all kinds of wisdom into play. You're also fine-tuning skills that can help build a successful marriage, such as sticking to a budget, navigating family politics and knowing when to take a de-stressing break from it all.
Apply these learning experiences from your wedding-planning journey to your future together:
1. Don't let money fights tear you apart.
Financial disagreements can strain even the happiest of marriages. According to a study by The National Survey of Families and Households, couples who argue about money once a week are 30 percent more likely to divorce than couples who report fighting about finances a few times each month. In order to protect your marriage, take your family budget seriously and be patient for those big things that you want, whether it's a new car or maybe even a baby.
If you went over-budget for your wedding (many couples do!) make it a goal to live within your means now. Start by recording everything you spend over the course of a month — and we do mean everything — in an easy program like Quicken or Mint.com. Next, see what you can take a break from or scale back on, like going out to eat two times a month instead of six. Even little things like choosing affordable cuts of meat when grocery shopping and filtering water from the tap instead of buying water bottle cases can add up to big savings.
As you may have already learned with unexpected wedding expenses, it's also crucial to have an emergency fund, especially if you own a house or car that could need pricey repairs.
2. Make time for your other favorite people — they helped make you who you are.
During the wedding-planning process, you likely involved your parents and siblings somehow, whether it was inviting them to your gown-shopping appointment, honoring your family history with a photo table, or other thoughtful gestures. During your marriage, make a plan to connect with both of your immediate and extended families on a regular basis.
If you live far away from them, set up a Sunday Skype date and send thoughtful emails or texts just to see how they're doing. Share family traditions with your spouse: holiday traditions, recipes, great stories, visits to your families' favorite places and any other insights into your family life before this new life you're sharing.
Let go of family drama. Just like a squabble over the budget or guest list may have stressed you out, family dramas can also create tension in your marriage. Stay out of the fray, forgive what you can and don't get sucked into attention-seeking ploys. Embrace the happier, more positive people in your life, whoever they may be.
3. Gratitude is essential to leading a happy life!
Just like you sent thank-you notes for wedding gifts you received, it's just as important to say "thank you" to anyone who adds light and laughter to your world during your marriage. It might be for a dinner your parents took you to, the wheelbarrow your neighbor lent you when you were putting in your garden or anything sweet your husband does for you. Everyone wants to feel that they are appreciated.
Keep a gratitude journal in which you record five things that made you happy that day. This will ensure that your mindset stays balanced even during challenging times. It makes you a happier person to be around, which is contagious!
4. The couple that plays together, stays together.
One of the biggest wishes among engaged couples planning their weddings is that the entire event be a ton of fun. A great band or deejay. Interactive food stations. Photo booths. Weddings are unforgettable experiences for guests.
Make your marriage stronger by incorporating lots of play, inside jokes, and new activities, as well as making time for the things you already love to do together.