1) Know Your Values and discuss them with your intended. If the two of you aren’t sure how to go about this I recommend working with a trusted counselor. Premarital counseling may sound like a drag but it can make the difference between going into your relationship with all kinds of assumptions and misunderstandings that can create major problems and having a great foundation of communication and mutual respect.
2) Make Sure You’re Over any Past Relationships. If you’re not, you’re probably not ready to commit. Do whatever it is you need to do (that’s legal and won’t hurt anyone) to release those emotional bonds so that you can fully commit to your new mate, heart, mind and soul.
3) Like Yourself. Seriously. You need to be in a good place emotionally and spiritually. If not, work it out before you tie the knot.
4) Give Compliments – sincere, honest, from the heart compliments to your beloved. She (or he, but I’ll be using she for the sake of ease of writing from here on out) will appreciate it. In my whole life I’ve only met one person that didn’t like compliments. Most people crave them and you want to be the one to satisfy your honey’s needs.
5) Love Unconditionally. Think about whether you have ever truly loved anyone unconditionally in the past. If not a person, then a pet. Have you done it? Can you do it? The best marriages really take the whole “until death do us part” thing seriously. If she gains 40 pounds, gets cancer or has outrageous PMS … can you deal with that and love her anyway?
6) Put Her Needs Before Your Own. Ideally both of you will do this and both of your needs will be met. I’m not advising you to be a doormat, but if you truly love each other you will strive to make sure you’re both meeting each others’ needs in as many areas as are practical and desired.
7) Savor Independence. This may seem contradictory, but I think that before you can really commit to someone else you need to have lived independently and enjoyed it, at least a little. You need to be able to take care of yourself if your loved one has to travel or gets sick.
8) Learn Basic First Aid. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if you do, you’ll be really glad to have the skills and you might just save your loved one’s life. What could be more heroic than that (most women love heroes!)?
9) Learn Basic Financial Skills. Balancing a checkbook, living within your means, establishing an emergency fund, saving for retirement, and setting financial goals are all important skills. Free materials on these skills are available through the USAA Educational Foundation (more information on this in my previous article: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5497330/usaa_educational_foundation_offers.html?cat=3)
10) Set Goals – both as a couple and individual. You want a plan and you both want to be following the same plan. Sure, life may throw you some challenges and you may have to totally revise the plan. But by planning together you’ll be more likely to achieve those goals together too.
11) Talk About Your Feelings. It’s a rare woman that doesn’t want to hear about the feelings, dreams and challenges of the man she loves. And most women want to hear a lot more than “I feel fine”. It may feel unnatural and awkward, but emotional intimacy is very important to keeping your relationship healthy so I advise you to make the effort.
12) Listen. This is such an underrated skill. I personally love that men are natural problem solvers and tend to offer solutions whenever I mention a problem. But, guys, most women really just want to tell you about their problems and have you listen and empathize. It’s not that they don’t appreciate your problem solving skills, but usually, unless they ask for a solution, they really just want you to listen.
13) Keep Your Commitments. No explanation necessary here.
14) Get a Bedside Manner. Be prepared to play nursemaid. Hopefully not for a long time, but sooner or later your sweetie is probably going to need some TLC. Whether she has your baby, gets the flu or something more serious, she’d really appreciate it if you do all those little things she does for you when you’re sick (and don’t want for her to ask – most women feel that you should just “know”… this isn’t logical but at least you know now and can work with it in the future!
15) Realize that Men and Women Sometimes Speak Different Languages. Some of those relationship books do have their merits. Communication may be the most important skill you can bring to the table. I recommend that you both read the Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus or Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti, The Five Love Languages and His Needs, Her Needs. I wish I’d read them all before I got married, but better late than never. Applying these communication skills can save you a load of misunderstandings and make for a much happier union.
I hope these relationship skills and tips help you and wish you every happiness in your upcoming commitment!