Divorce rates are extremely high for the past years. In the US alone, statisticians estimate that 42–45% of first marriages will end in divorce. The numbers are even worse for second (60%) and third (73%) marriages.
But I’m an optimistic. I believe in love.
Even though there is no guarantee that any relationship will strive, there are some signs that help to predict the future of a couple.
And if you are considering taking the next step in your relationship, here are some things to do before the big day.
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Move in Together
I moved in with my boyfriend last year. It was the best decision for our relationship. While some friends told me this might be too impulsive, moving in together forced us to develop our own dynamic, including the responsibilities of a house.
I know that moving in together breaks the traditional relationship process: dating, getting married, moving in together, and having children.
But in my opinion, this process is an illusion. It may have worked well in the past, when women were satisfied with the housewife jobs. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with this decision. But the fact is: women’s independence had a huge impact on this process. This resulted in a different set of expectations for how relationships should be.
This is why I believe that moving in together is the ultimate trial for any relationship.
First, there are the routine tasks. Sharing a house is a daily responsibility. This means: putting things in place, cooking, cleaning, going shopping, fixing broken things, paying the bills. It can be quite stressful and it lasts for a lifetime. So knowing how the person who you want to marry feels about this is a great start.
Moving in together helps you to figure out your routine as a couple. It’s not the same as being married, but it’s a good baby step.
Secondly, moving in together is a fast-forward for intimacy. Even though it might break the “magic” of the relationship, it will show you the values of the other person. And, before making a lifetime commitment to someone, make sure you have the same values. This is so important because it expresses your priorities in life.
Are you family or work-oriented? How much do you value traveling? How many times per week do you need to go out with your friends? How risk-tolerant are you? Of course, not every couple needs to have the exact same values. But if most of them are conflicting, it may be a bad sign for the relationship.
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Get a Puppy Together
In my opinion, getting a puppy is one of the biggest responsibilities you can have in life. It’s definitely in my top 5. It’s a life that depends solely on you.
As a couple, taking on such responsibility will improve the relationship in multiple ways. To start, you will develop trust, so you can rely on one another when things get difficult. You will learn how the other handles pressure when the puppy gets sick.
Another skill that a puppy forces you to develop is planning. For instance, you should make financial plans for vet expenses, for toys, and any other costs. This includes planning your routine, such as taking the time to go for a walk. Likewise, a couple should make plans together and to dream as a couple. Having a couple’s life often means to go traveling, to have kids, or to buy a house. All of this requires some decent planning.
A puppy also requires that you sacrifice things that you like for someone else — like going for a walk when you’d prefer to watch Netflix. In exchange, a puppy gives you unconditional love. Being a couple also means to sacrifice things in order to get others. Some examples are: spending the weekend at the in-laws, doing the dishes when to other is tired, or going to a restaurant that you don’t like because the other does. There is sacrifice, but there is a great return of developing a solid relationship.
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Before you commit to someone else, take the time to commit to yourself. Traveling without your partner is so great because it shows you how independent you can be. You can make decisions on your own and enjoy your own company.
Marriage is a turning point in people’s lives. That also means that you replace your individual dreams for the couple’s dreams. This only highlights the importance of taking the time to make your own individual dreams. In many cases, this translates into traveling.
The final reason why you should travel alone is self-knowledge. When spending too much time alone, people often discover new things about themselves: their preferences, likes and dislikes, fears, and new dreams. Knowing who you are and what you want in life while you’re still single will likely help you to make a better decision regarding your partner.
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Being married nowadays is not an easy task. The fairytale relationships are exactly that: a fairytale. Real life relationships require commitment, sacrifice, and overcoming many obstacles. After all, relationships are all about a daily choice of staying together. But there are a couple of things you can do before you tie the knot that may increase your chances of success.
The best trial run is always to move in together. It’s the most effective way to live a married life without actually getting married. Besides, having a puppy together should help you to develop a set of skills needed to for every relationship. Finally, traveling by yourself and fulfilling your individual dreams before becoming an official couple is the best way to get to know yourself.
Previously published on “Hello, Love”, a Medium publication.
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