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Marriage Preparation 101

The best thing you can do is anticipate problems and try to solve them before they occur. You do this when you go to your doctor for a physical exam. And you do this when you take your car in for a tune-up. So why not try a little marital troubleshooting?

Unfortunately, many young people think marriage will solve problems, as if saying "I do" is a magical cure. But the opposite is true. Marriage only intensifies existing problems. That's why it's best to identify potential problems ahead of time.

Here are some ways to do that:

Thoroughly Discuss Your Expectations

Each partner carries into marriage a huge bag full of expectations. Men and women assume things will transpire just the way they imagine: "We will visit my family each Christmas," "My husband will be home every evening," "My wife will have a hot, four-course meal on the table when I come home."

Expectations are usually formed by what you observed in your home while growing up. But your spouse's family may have been much different than your own. Just because your dad helped wash the dishes doesn't mean your husband will want to. If your mother kept an immaculate house, don't assume your wife will be as committed to cleanliness.

If your expectations differ, conflict will result. So the more you discuss your expectations ahead of time, the better your chances of blending together happily.

Learn to Resolve Conflicts

Many young couples believe a happy marriage has no conflict. Not so! Disagreements, hassles and conflicts are inevitable – they will happen. Happily married couples are those who have learned to resolve conflict through communication, negotiation, compromise and sacrifice.

Conflicts must be resolved for a relationship to survive. Burying your hurts and struggles is like carrying around a sack of rocks. Every new hurt you stuff becomes another rock you drag around. Eventually, the load becomes too heavy and the relationship falls apart.

Resolving conflict is hard work. I'm the kind of person who's comfortable when everybody's happy. For me, it's only the commitment to my mate that keeps me working. I've learned that for the sake of my marriage I have to face conflicts, not run from them.

Go See Your Doctor

Most states require a premarital blood test, which detects certain diseases. Even if it's not required, it's wise to get a check-up and tests if you or your spouse-to-be have been sexually active. If a sexually transmitted disease does exist, your doctor will explain the ramifications and treatment.

Your physician can also discuss birth control options if you plan to delay having children.

Get Premarital Counseling

A lot of people are afraid of counseling, as if it means they're sick or have something terribly wrong. But many people seek a counselor to help avoid problems. And that's especially important for marriage. A trained expert can point out problems that may arise and guide you toward resolutions.

80% of couples who did premarital training stayed together.

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