As the flowers begin to bloom and the sun shines all day shower and wedding invitations are filling my mailbox! I consider marriage to be an amazing vocation and I thank God daily that marrying Matt was His plan for me. Over the past 4 1/2 years of marriage I have come to the realization that no one not even the church's "Pre-cana" class prepared us for marriage. On our own we have discovered resources that have helped us figure out how to work on problems that come up instead of fighting over these problems over and over. None of these are in particular order.
First off finances and finance fights are the number one reason for divorce. To avoid this we turned to Dave Ramsey. We read the books and follow the plans that Dave sets out. I really think all engaged couples should be required to go through Dave's classes Financial Peace University. From there my advice is to meet weekly about the finances. Write a monthly budget. All this advice is coming from an avid spender and shopaholic so I will be the first to admit I am the problem. So being that I am trying to become the solution.
Second discuss chores. Whose going to do what. Although you may do the budget together whose is pressing enter on the bank website to pay the bills? Who is mowing the lawn? Who is doing the ironing and scrubbing the toilets? Two people live in the house two people do the chores. Because I am a teacher I take over more of the chores in the summer instead of splitting them in half. I rather have summer nights and weekends for us to have some fun so I don't mind at all. However during the school year it is both of us who pitch in. This is another discussion at the weekly meeting. Who will take care of what by the next week?
Third discuss your family planning. Now this is a Catholic site so you are not going to read me telling you to get on birth control and pick a date to stop. Learn Natural Family Planning (NFP). I would recommend learning this while engaged not after getting married. Otherwise you do have to abstain for 30 days. So it is easier if you are not living together yet. But if you are not comfortable discussing these issues then you are not ready to be married and intimate with your partner. I personally use the Creighton Method. However there are a variety of methods and phone/tablet apps. Another great site is Couple to Couple League. I could spend a whole other post on why you should not use birth control without even bringing up the Catholic view point of it. Just don't start taking the pill. It is better for your health. This is another thing you can discuss at your meeting. Maybe not weekly but when you get to the week where fertility and conception has a chance discuss whether a baby or not is appropriate for your growing family.
Fourth discuss your long term goals. This can go along with your finance discussion. Where do you see yourselves in 5 years? 10 years? Discuss these things. Unhappy at work? One day of unhappiness is one thing but long term unhappiness is something to discuss. Never change or quit jobs without discussing and praying with your spouse! Although this also does not have to be discussed weekly bring it up often if your goals change. Otherwise I would suggest the wedding anniversary is a perfect time to reflect on the year and the future.
Fifth discuss your calendar! This goes with a lot of things already discussed but when we first got married we had no system to share with each other our schedules. Thanks to Google Calendar that has all changed. We share our calendar weekly to help us meal plan and chore plan. Also if we know that a lot of birthdays are coming up in the month we can budget accordingly.
Lastly and most importantly discuss your feelings. Be honest about how you feel. Where your feelings hurt by your spouse? Pray together. Prayer can open up discussions on what you or your spouse are worried and concerned about. Pray for your spouse. Pray over them. Pray to their patron saint. Dedicate your home to a saint. Pray to that saint. A couple that prays together stays together.
I am not pretending to be perfect. We are far from it. But these are things that have worked for us. I wish I had learned them at marriage prep. Some day my dream is to help couples with marriage prep. I hope I will have the courage to dig deeper with couples to solve these issues before the wedding bells.
Check out some of these helpful titles which would make great wedding gifts! Who needs another gravy boat anyways?!
The Total Money Makeover
The Juggling Act
The Sinners Guide to NFP
Edit: I just found this website on Pintrest. Although its not just about the wedding day but about the marriage I look back with such joy on our beautiful Mass we had for our wedding. Hopefully this site can help others plan theirs: Catholic Wedding Help