1.Your spouse is not going to complete you.
That famous line from “Jerry Maguire” sounds romantic, but don’t expect your partner to complete your life, Higgins said.
“It’s really important for you to focus on you — not in a selfish way, not in a way that disregards your partner, but in a way where you understand taking care of yourself is going to help you bring your best self to your relationship,” Higgins said.
Couples need to be able to have a balance of separateness and togetherness, she added.
2. Be aware of the expectations you’re bringing into the marriage.
You probably want a lot from just one person: A companion, a passionate lover, good parent and more, so issues can come up after Higgins presents couples with “an expectation inventory.” Here are some sample statements — would you and your future spouse agree?
My partner will meet all of my needs for companionship.
I don’t believe romance should fade over time.
I don’t believe that my partner’s interest in sex should be different than mine.
3. You won’t always feel “in love.”
“You could be with the most perfect partner in the world for you and you’re going to go through seasons where you feel like you’re not aligned and you’re not in love,” Higgins said. “That’s where it’s really important to be grounded in the values that you identify as a couple, versus trying to follow the feelings that you think you’re supposed to be having.”
4. Your partner’s family relationships are key.
How did you partner get along with his family? Were they close or distant? Was there conflict? That information is very significant, Higgins noted.
“Many of the themes in our family of origin repeat or resurface in marriage,” she said. “When couples are able to talk about that stuff without judgment, are able to listen and tune into their partner’s experience, it’s so huge. It creates a deep level of trust.”
Couples say faith and love help marriages last
5. Know your partner’s finances.
Higgins believes you should both disclose your entire financial situations. From there, start to decide: What’s the best way to manage the finances? Many young couples today have one joint account, plus their own separate accounts.
“That’s fine, if that’s what works. But you want to talk about it to make sure that’s not because you are feeling controlled or you’re bringing in insecurities,” Higgins said. “Finances are where the mistrust and issues can surface. It’s one of the top reasons people divorce.”
Money can be such a touchy topic that for some couples, talking about it can be more uncomfortable than discussing sex, she noted.
6. Conflict is inevitable — recognize your role in resolving it.
When you’re in the honeymoon phase, it’s hard to imagine there will be arguments or that your spouse has annoying traits and habits, but all of that awaits. How will you deal?
Often, the things you dislike or despise later in your relationship have more to do with you than your partner, Higgins said. It’s all about the vulnerabilities, insecurities and discomfort you bring in.