Divorce doesn’t have to be a drama-filled ordeal, even if you feel like your heart’s been torn apart. Read More...

“Sarene had never married — it was illogical to believe two people could remain compatible for a lifetime …” (Robert Jordan, Lord of Chaos, pg. 489).

Even if you know that your person and you will both change over time, the reality is that you don’t get married expecting a divorce.

Almost no one does. Even if you sign a pre-nup, chances are you don’t really plan to divorce. It’s just a precaution.

Unfortunately, sometimes a divorce is just the way things shake out.

Divorce almost always comes as a surprise — to at least one of the parties.

Even though I had noticed some incompatibilities between my husband and me over the years, it was a shock to me when he asked for a divorce.

I was truly surprised. In fact, even though we’d had some problems over the years, I thought we were working through them better. Things had seemed smooth for a while. Then, one day as we were making plans for some quality time together during the coming week, he just sort of blurted out that he wanted to split.

I felt hurt and betrayed and a number of other emotions. As was natural.

But those feelings didn’t stop me from deciding that it was important to learn how to divorce like an adult — and do it quickly for the sake of our son and our own sanity.

Let it out and let it go.

You don’t have to bottle everything up when you divorce like an adult. I cried every morning for two weeks. One day, I lost it and went on a rage-fueled, profanity-laden tirade at my husband. That was the least adult interaction we had, and he was gracious through it all, letting me get it out and apologizing that his choices put us in this situation. (Our son was nowhere near, which was important.)

After letting it all out that time, I realized that I also had to let go. Let go of the hurt and anger and sadness, and replace it with purpose. It’s not always easy, even two and half years later.

Sometimes I feel angry or upset. There are times I feel a little bitter when I think about what should have been my life. I look at the things I’ve had to accept and do and settle for because of this situation, and I feel angry. But I acknowledge those feelings and let them go.

Besides, I look around and realize that I have a pretty great life right now. It’s not perfect (whose life really is, anyway?), but the bitter feelings well up much less often than they used to. Time has helped. And so has letting go of the feelings after I’ve experienced them.

Being angry doesn’t help anyone, and it holds me back. Plus, it’s not healthy for my son to live with me if I’m negative. Letting go is one of the most important things you can when you are ready to divorce like an adult.

Your kids aren’t bargaining chips.

It’s tempting to bring the kids into the situation.

This is a terrible thing to do to the people you love.

Your kids need love and support — and they need to see a united front. Even when you are divorced, you still need to coparent. Just because I was angry at my ex, it doesn’t mean that he’s a bad person. He’s still my son’s father, and they need to have a good relationship.

Unless there is actual abuse involved (and you need to do what it takes to protect them), your children will be better off if you both act like grown-ups and are kind to each other.

My ex and I consult on major purchases related to my son. I’m not buying him a laptop until I discuss it with my ex, and we regularly talk about consequences, and school, and other parenting issues. Staying on the same page keeps the kids from playing you off of one another and helps them see that you can handle the situation like healthy adults.

Your friends aren’t bargaining chips, either.

The same is true of your friends. Don’t make them pick sides.

In the last couple of years since the divorce, my ex and I have done things together with friends. We went to a basketball game with one couple. We also got together with another group of friends for a New Year’s Eve party.

Don’t pump your mutual friends for info about your ex, either. While I’m pretty reserved in what I say to our mutual friends, I also acknowledge that he probably needs a safe place to go.

Besides, unless what my ex is doing will affect our son and those visits, it’s none of my business. He’s got his own life, and there’s no reason for me to pry. Especially if it will make things awkward with my friends.

Keep calm and communicate.

How to Divorce Like an Adult: Keep Calm and Communicate

Other than The Incident, my ex and I talked calmly throughout the entire process, even doing our research to figure out how to divorce in the most cost-efficient manner.

It helps that we are both reasonable, grownass adults who aren’t trying to destroy other people’s lives.

We sat down and talked through what would be the best way for us both to get a fresh start. We were calm when talking about the issues, and when one of us started feeling stressed about it, we took a break to regroup.

Dragging it out and trying to “stick it” to the other person doesn’t help anyone. The only people that benefit are the lawyers. We saved money on the divorce by divvying everything up on our own, and acknowledging that we were both working toward the goal of a good start.

Do I sometimes wish that my ex’s desire for divorce didn’t come with the current results? Sure. Am I going to try to ruin his life? Nope.

I’ve got better things to do. Like get on with my own life.

Can you remain on good terms?

Learning how to divorce like an adult isn’t just about settling it like grownups and moving on. If you don’t have any of the same friends or you don’t have children together, you may never have to see your former S.O. again. And that’s cool if that’s the way you want it.

But I’ve got a child with my ex, and I have relationships with members of his family because we were married for 13½ years. So he’s part of my life. Permanently.

Actually, we’re pretty good friends. We text and talk regularly. Our relationship is the best it’s been in probably three years. The first Christmas after the divorce, when I went to collect my son after holiday time with dad, we got together with his parents and had dinner. Like normal families do. We also enjoyed a pretty kick-ass family vacation (just the three of us) to New York in July.

We’ve spent Christmas together since, and had some solid family time together during summer months. My ex even came and stayed a week with us here in Idaho.

While things are changing a bit as my ex gets involved with dating and I deal with a situationship, we still remain on friendly terms.

In fact, even though I won’t be staying over the summer for as long, we’re still planning a nice family dinner. I’ll be out there for business anyway, and my son is spending most of the summer with his dad, so we’ll all hang out for a day or two.

Real talk: divorce.

Divorce doesn’t have to be toxic and drama-filled. We seem to have this idea in society that divorce has to be terrible, and you have to go around trying to ruin each other’s lives.

Or we have this idea that someone is an awful person for asking for a divorce. But that’s not the case. Sometimes it just doesn’t work anymore. And because relationship dynamics are increasingly equal, there’s no reason to stick out a marriage if you’re unhappy.

Divorcing like an adult doesn’t mean that it will be all unicorns and rainbows. There are hard choices to make, and emotions can run high. It’s not fun.

But, at the same time, a divorce also doesn’t have to turn your life into a pit of despair. There are ways for you to approach the situation in a mature manner, and come up with a way to give you both the best potential start in your new lives.

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Don’t sabotage your relationship with trash talk about your S.O. No matter how tempted you are to rag on your partner, keep it to yourself. Read More...

It’s a common TV and movie trope: there’s a woman sitting around with her girlfriends complaining about her husband. Each woman takes a turn talking bad about her man, all the while refusing to talk to him about it.

While it looks like harmless fun, this behavior is actually destructive for relationships.

Talking crap about your S.O. isn’t a fun pastime to do with your best friends. It’s a toxic habit that can destroy the foundation of your relationship.

Talk to your spouse, not about them.

You reinforce negative opinions.

You ever notice that the more you complain about something, the more negative you feel about it?

I’ve noticed there’s a huge difference between how I feel about something depending on if I’ve ranted about it for an hour or if I’ve simply let it go. Every sentence I say reinforces the negative thoughts in my head.

Marriage is also susceptible to negative talk. The more you complain about your spouse, the more your brain will reinforce those opinions — and the harder it will be to see anything positive.

If you want to have a happy marriage (or any relationship), you can’t inflate the negativity.

It’s O.K. to ask for advice from your friends. But it’s another thing altogether to trash talk your S.O.

Remember: this is the person you chose to be with. If you have respect for them and your relationship, you should keep quiet.

You make other people dislike your spouse.

Have you ever had a friend share something bad about their partner? What was it like the next time you saw them together? Did you think about what they’d told you? Were you able to look at the person the same way?

Every time you complain about your spouse to your friends or family members, you tarnish their perception of your partner.

Not only are you hurting your own opinion of your spouse, but you’re also ruining their relationships with other people without them knowing it.

That isn’t fair to your spouse, especially if you’re not bragging about them getting a raise at work or making a delicious cheesecake.

You’ll hurt their feelings.

Everyone has experienced finding out that someone they trusted was talking bad about them behind their back.

I can still remember every time someone close to me has done this. Imagine how your S.O. would feel if they found out what you were saying? Would they feel hurt, embarrassed, angry, ashamed?

If you think your spouse wouldn’t mind what you’re saying, then go ahead.

But if you have even the smallest inkling that your words could hurt them, you should stop. Long-term relationships are built on trust, and knowing that your partner is betraying you behind your back could destroy it completely.

When you get married, you enter a partnership that it’ll be you two against the world. Don’t break that agreement with trash talk.

It doesn’t help you figure it out.

There have been a few times when talking about my relationship problems with a friend has helped me see my husband’s point of view.

But unless you’re actively looking for a solution or a way to understand what they’re thinking, talking openly can make it worse.

The next time you feel tempted to dish about your S.O., question your motives. Are you trying to get an honest perspective from your friends or do you want someone to agree with you? Are you looking to see their point of view or for someone else to shit talk?

If you do get a friend’s advice and they disagree with what you’re thinking, don’t try to convince them. They might be seeing things from your partner’s point of view.

Talking crap to talk crap doesn’t help you work through the relationship issues. Any committed relationship takes work. And you don’t need to make that work harder.

What to do instead.

When I’m feeling upset, the first thing I turn to is my journal.

Writing out how I feel is the easiest way to let out my emotions without them affecting anyone else. I try to write down specifically why I’m feeling upset and then examine if what’s bothering me is worth bringing up.

If you’re having trouble articulating your problems, talking to a counselor can help. You can see one individually or as a couple. An objective third party can help you decipher what’s going on and how you can fix it together.

Anyone struggling to avoid complaining about their spouse should tell their friends why they’re trying to avoid it. Asking other people to help keep you accountable can make it easier to stay on track. Plus, it might help your friends to avoid repeating the habit.

If you’re complaining about the same topics, it’s likely time you discussed them with your spouse.

It’s easier to let them stay in the dark about what’s bothering you, but that’s a fast way to build a marriage full of secrets and lies. And that’s not a relationship that’s fulfilling on any level.

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How well do you resolve differences in your relationship? Talaat and Tai McNeely share their story of conflict and resolution and offer great relationship advice about communication. Read More...

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Harlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit welcome Tai and Talaat McNeely. The guests open up about their struggle with communication about finances early in their relationship, and how they overcame obstacles as a couple. Their story is inspiring, and the guests are candid in their sharing of their mistakes as well as the lessons they’ve learned.

Communication is the most important piece of any relationship, and in this episode, our guests share the tools that have helped them — and others they’ve coached — survive and thrive within a relationship.

This episode is essential watching for anyone in a relationship, and the tools and tips are effective for resolving more than differences about just money.

Talaat and Tai McNeely, “America’s #1 Money Couple,” are financial educators that are on a mission to get individuals and couples on the same page financially, and to experience the joys of financial freedom. They are co-authors of Money Talks: The Ultimate Couple’s Guide To Communicating About Money. They are also the hosts of the top rated podcast, The His and Her Money Show. Talaat and Tai McNeely (His and Her Money) have been featured in numerous publications such as T.D. Jakes Show, FoxNews.com, MSN.com, Essence, and Business Insider.

Watch the video above or listen to just the audio by using the player below.

Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteven Flato
Music bybensound.com

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We all have arguments with the people we love. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok to fight dirty. It’s much better if you fight fair. Read More...

There’s nothing quite so disorienting as fighting with someone you love.

It’s easy to imagine a civil disagreement in the abstract, but actually remaining calm and collected in the heat of the moment is a tall order.

Even the best relationships break down under the weight of petty disagreements. No matter if everything else about a partnership is in good shape, communicating poorly during a fight is a recipe for disaster. Navigating conflict is just part of the deal when you decide to link your life with someone else.

As obvious as that might sound, it’s an issue that multitudes of people struggle with.

How can you fight fair while still asserting yourself?

Stay on message.

Getting off track is easy during an argument. Emotions are running high, and it’s easy to start bringing up every single thing your partner has done wrong. Don’t.

You shouldn’t pile on during a disagreement. Stick to the discussion at hand no matter how mad you feel, and try to encourage your partner to do the same.

Bringing up past issues only derails the conversation and makes it harder to move forward. It also creates an element of distrust, a seed that can destroy even the strongest relationship. If your partner feels you can’t truly forgive them for something they’ve done, how can they trust you going forward?

Keep your emotions in check.

The more you restrain yourself during an argument the less work it will take to mend hurt feelings. It’s never ok to name-call, yell, or throw things at your partner.

Part of loving someone is being respectful at all times – especially when you’re fighting.

Keep your guilt and shame in check. If the argument is about something you did, don’t let self-pity take over. Negative thoughts only make you feel worse about yourself, which isn’t a productive attitude to have during a fight.

The argument or discussion you’re having is a separate incident. It shouldn’t represent you or your partner as a whole. Learn to understand the difference and you’ll feel better when disagreements crop up and be better equipped to fight fair.

If you feel emotional, it’s ok to ask for a few minutes to cool down. Write down your thoughts in a journal or take deep breaths can help you decompress, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Taking time to settle down can be the difference between a fight that’s resolved quickly and one that drags on for days.

Assume the best.

Often, disagreements start because one person makes an unfair assumption about their partner. For example, an old boss of mine told me how every morning his partner left his dresser drawers open. It drove him crazy that his partner couldn’t bother to do something so simple.

He mentioned it once in passing, and his partner said he didn’t close them because he was worried the noise from the squeaky drawers would wake him up. It turns out that when he thought his partner was being lazy, he was actually being considerate.

Even if you’re sure your partner did something wrong, start the conversation with a non-accusatory tone. You might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Plus, your partner will appreciate you giving them the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst.

Put yourself in your partner’s shoes.

Feeling defensive and ego-driven is normal during an argument, but it can hinder real resolution. Instead of trying to defend your actions, try to understand your partner’s perspective. This is essential if you want to fight fair.

For example, if you promised to register the car, forgot, and your partner ended up getting a ticket, imagine what he or she is thinking. They might be wondering if you’re truly dependable, and whether or not they can count on you when it matters.

Now imagine you’re on the other end of that argument. Maybe your partner was swamped with work, and registering the car got lost in the shuffle of appointments and assignments. Maybe they misunderstood who was responsible for getting it done.

Being more considerate of your partner during a conflict will only lead to a stronger connection and clearer communication. Plus, embracing someone else’s perspective will make you more humble.

Own your actions.

One of the best ways to resolve an argument quickly is to recognize when you’ve done something wrong – instead of trying to deflect blame and criticism.

The quicker you own up to what you did, whether it’s burning the cookies or forgetting to walk the dogs, the better off you’ll be. Fighting fair involves being humble in the face of your mistakes.

Consider going to a couple’s therapist if you or your spouse are having trouble understanding or following these guidelines. An objective third party might help you see your communication problems and figure out how to argue more productively.

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You’ve got an opinion about your friend’s wedding? Keep it to yourself. Read More...

Planning a wedding is stressful.

Typically, in our society, most of that pressure falls on the bride.

Sadly, the general public adds to the stress by asking brides-to-be awkward, overly personal and downright embarrassing questions. I experienced this in the lead-up to my own wedding, and it made me realize I’ve probably been on the opposite end without realizing it.

We all mean well, but most people don’t realize how often brides hear the same inappropriate comments and questions – and how annoying it can be. Here are a few things you should never say to a bride:

1. Do you plan to lose weight?

I joined a boxing gym a few months before I got engaged. When I announced my happy news, some of the gym regulars asked if I was “sweating for the wedding.”

Despite saying I’d continue to exercise after I got married, most refused to believe I was there to work out for anything but the big day. Many assumed, out loud, that I’d let my membership lapse after the wedding.

I admit that looking and feeling beautiful on my wedding day was important to me, but I didn’t need others reminding me. Getting married is about joining two lives together, not dropping a dress size for your wedding photos.

2. Wow, what an unusual ring!

I told my husband months before our engagement I didn’t believe in engagement rings. When I announced my engagement to my coworkers and friends, they immediately asked where my ring was.

Some women are happy to show off their rings, but others are more reticent – especially if they have a small diamond, a non-diamond, or no ring at all.

We’re all aware what a traditional engagement ring looks like, and no one wants to be reminded their ring is “different” or “interesting.” Those are all euphemisms for, “Wow, your fiance couldn’t be bothered to buy you a real diamond, huh?”

One coworker even asked me if I was engaged, months after I’d started planning my wedding. I’d talked to her about it multiple times. She said she couldn’t remember because I didn’t wear a ring.

If your friend offers to show you her ring, say it’s beautiful and move on. If she says she didn’t want one, respect her decision.

3. When do you plan to have kids?

The floodgates of inappropriate commenting open when you get engaged. Previously respectful people become nosy, asking questions that should be reserved for a private dinner or family gathering.

That brings us to the question of children.

Why is everyone in a rush to know what happens after the wedding? I just decided to commit myself to someone else for eternity and now I have to think about kids?

Most recently engaged couples are too busy thinking about cake flavors and wedding playlists to even consider the possibility of kids, much less answer questions about it. If the bride in question has firm plans to get pregnant, it will probably come up organically over the course of conversation.

4. You’re not doing what at your wedding?

I’m convinced that wedding announcements bring about more rude behavior than busy travel times at the airport. Suddenly, everyone has to share their opinions about your wedding.

No matter what you think, don’t tell a bride what she should or shouldn’t do at her wedding. I appreciated the suggestions people had about ways to save money or how to handle the guest list, but firm opinions about my specific situation made me feel uncomfortable and judged. Most of the time, I nodded politely and changed the subject.

Don’t assume brides want to hear your opinions about their wedding. Wedding planning involves bringing together two people, two families, and two distinct ideas of what a proper wedding entails. Fortunately, I married into a family who didn’t feel strongly about how the wedding should look – but not every bride is so lucky.

5. You’re not changing your name?

This is at the top of the list of things never to say to a bride.

My fiance knew I wouldn’t change my last name before we even got engaged. He was, and continues to be, fine with it.  Not everyone was so comfortable with my decision.

One boss told me it was “disrespectful” to my future husband and his family. Others asked, “Is your fiance OK with you not changing your name?”

Taking on a new last name is one of the most personal decisions a bride can make – which means it’s nobody else’s business. People who judge me probably don’t know I immigrated with my family from Ukraine, and my last name is an important tie to our journey.

Even if you think I’m slighting my future husband, the only opinion that really matters is his. Again, he’s fine with it.

6. I can’t wait to come!

The most awkward experience a bride-to-be can have is with friends and family who presume, wrongly, that they’ll be invited to the wedding. No one wants to tell an excited friend they won’t need to save the date.

Don’t assume you’re coming to the wedding until you open the invitation. You’ll risk embarrassing yourself or forcing an invite out of guilt. Don’t put the bride – or yourself – in that situation.

What are some of the things you think you should never say to a bride?

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A healthy relationship isn’t about being together all the time. In fact, your marriage could probably benefit from quality alone time. Read More...

It’s Thursday night.

I’m probably at a bar with some friends playing trivia.

At some point in the night, I’m probably answering this question in some shape or form: “Where’s your husband?”

No one means to be nosy, and it’s not a question that offends me. But it has led me to question why people are so surprised when I’m out and about without my significant other.

Don’t couples spend time apart?

There’s an expectancy when you get married that you are now a package deal. It’s why the cliche of a bachelorette slowly losing all her once-single friends to marriage exists. It’s the way things are.

But is it the way things should be?

Unfortunately these days, codependency is the norm. Maybe that’s always been the case. But in the time I’ve been married, I’ve come to the conclusion that couples focus way too much on being together, and not nearly enough on being apart.

I need more social interaction.

I’m an extrovert — a big one. Want proof? Multiple bosses have told me I spent too much time talking to other coworkers. Whoops.

I love seeing my friends and catching up. I can be on the phone for an hour without realizing it, and I start to go stir-crazy when I don’t get a significant amount of personal interaction.

My husband is an introvert. He doesn’t need as much social time as I do. Actually, when I leave the house he’s often glad to see the back of me. Finally, he gets some alone time.

I have more fun hanging out and he has more fun with the house to himself. Plus, when I do bring him around, I worry that he’s not having a good time or that his social quota is overfilled.

We spend all day together.

My husband, Sam, and I are both self-employed. We work together at home – often in the same room. After we’re done working, we usually watch an episode of a TV show together. We walk the dogs a couple times a day, usually for an hour or so in total.

In other words, we spend most of our day within a few yards of each other.

It’s hard to understand that dynamic unless you work with your spouse. Fostering a healthy work-life balance requires time apart, so I really don’t feel the need to bring him to my weekly trivia meetup when we’ve just spent nine hours together.

Our marriage thrives.

I love my husband, but he isn’t my everything. Too many romantic movies make it seem like all you need to be happy is a good spouse. Reality check: that’s not nearly enough. I need work, friends, and hobbies to feel complete. I don’t want to rely on my husband to complete me, and he feels the same way.

Reality check: that’s not nearly enough. I need work, friends, and hobbies to feel complete. I don’t want to rely on my husband to complete me, and he feels the same way.

I need work, friends, and hobbies to feel complete. I don’t want to rely on my husband to complete me, and he feels the same way.

Turns out, our way is best. A study from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research found that having enough space in a marriage was more important than a good sex life. Space keeps us sane and balanced so we don’t lash out.

Having time without Sam reaffirms my independence. It clears my head and makes me appreciate the time we spend together more.

It’s not for everyone.

Our dynamic is unique and probably not suited for everyone. Couples who work odd schedules should find more time to spend together, not more reasons to be apart. Couples who have kids or parents to take care of also need more one-on-one time. Plus, being around friends together makes it easier to form couple friends, which we sorely lack.

Couples who have kids or parents to take care of also need more one-on-one time. Plus, being around friends together makes it easier to form couple friends, which we sorely lack.

But there are aspects of our approach that can benefit everyone. No couple can truly thrive without personal boundaries, and fostering a sense of independence and self-reliance within the relationship is vital to long-term stability. A relationship should be

A relationship should be a foundation built upon strong, well-made bricks. You don’t want a homogeneous slab of gray concrete.

How to ask your spouse for space.

Even though Sam and I allow ourselves space these days, it wasn’t always this easy. I struggled to understand his introverted tendencies and why he didn’t feel like socializing as much as I did.

Asking for space is hard and can offend your partner. Why would you need space from someone you love?

That’s why it’s important for introverts to explain clearly: “It’s not that I need to get away from you, I just need to take some time for me.” Your partner should understand it’s not about them if you explain that having time for yourself will strengthen your marriage.

The same is true from the opposite perspective. If your introverted partner is pressuring you to stay in and nest when you want to spread your wings, it’s time to have a talk. Opposites may attract, but that doesn’t mean they understand each other. That’s where honest communication comes in.

There’s no reason to be together all the time. And, in the long run, you might benefit from spending some time apart. Just because you’re soulmates doesn’t mean you’re never apart.

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Basing a marriage on dating bliss is a bad idea. Before you commit to marriage, you need to have these uncomfortable conversations. Read More...

The road to marriage can be fraught with uncertainty. Getting hitched is often the biggest decision a person makes in life. It’s easy to wonder if you’ve made the right decision – even as you walk down the aisle.

Much of that uncertainty can be avoided by with frank (read: probably uncomfortable) conversations in the early stages of your engagement. Here are five questions to ask before you start sending out wedding invites:

1.   What’s your credit score?

Studies indicate that couples who have high credit scores are less likely to divorce, while those with divergent scores are more likely to split up. Money, stress, and infidelity are the top reasons for divorce, so it’s necessary for couples to discuss finances before they walk down the aisle.

A credit score can reveal how your partner handles their finances and how much they care. Credit reports show delinquent accounts, unpaid bills, and more. Your credit score reflects what’s in a credit report. It’s what lenders use to gauge a person’s creditworthiness. Think about it: if a bank won’t trust them with their money, can you?

2.   Do you want kids?

In an era where being child-free is no longer as unusual as it once was, deciding whether or not to have kids is a conversation you should have before you tie the knot. If one of you wants kids but the other isn’t sure, that insecurity can spell doom for a relationship.

It’s also important to discuss how you want to raise your future children. You don’t need a dissertation on your parenting philosophy, but it may be helpful to talk about it beforehand. Fighting about the right way to parent is common for married couples and can lead to unnecessary dissent.

3.   What do you want your future to look like?

Marriage is a decision you make for the present and the future, so it’s vital to know what kind of future you and your partner want. Do you want to move across the country or spend your youth traveling across the world? Do you want to settle down now and start your own business?

These questions can also depend on your significant other’s career. For example, if you’re married to someone in the military, your life may involve several cross-country moves or deployments. If your job is hectic, your partner may have to spend years waiting for you to get home at 10 p.m. That may not jive with an idea of a marriage where both people enjoy dinner together every night.

And what about retirement? If one of you just wants to have a house with lots of land and do a lot of sitting on the porch during retirement, but the other wants to get out and travel, things could get pretty strained with your relationship. If you’re working toward different life goals, it’s hard to work as a team.

4.   Are you religious?

While millennials are less religious than older generations, religion can still be a dividing line for couples. This may seem minor while you’re dating, but you may encounter trouble if one person wants to spend Sunday mornings at church while the other sleeps in.

This problem can be compounded if you have children and differing opinions on what kind religious upbringing they should have. These are questions to ask when your religious traditions might be different enough to cause confusion for your future children. You need to be on the same page, and ready to give ground to the convictions of your partner — and your partner should be willing to do the same for you.

Couples who celebrate different religions should also discuss the possibility of conversion. Some partners may assume that their significant other is willing to entertain the idea, even though they may be blissfully wrong. Discussing this beforehand is essential to starting a marriage off on the right foot.

5. What bothers you about me?

In every relationship, there are qualities about your sweetheart that drive you crazy. Sometimes it feels easier to keep those comments to yourself instead of sharing them, but holding back can make you resentful and passive-aggressive.

Ask your partner what bothers you about them and share what you find annoying. The ensuing conversation will show how compatible you are, as well as how you deal with conflict and different expectations.

Asking these questions does not guarantee you’ll stay together forever, but maintaining an open line of communication can ensure a happier, healthier marriage. Talking about the important things is a good habit to cultivate throughout your life. What better time to start than now?

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Encourage your partner’s inner groomzilla.

Your wedding day is a big deal. Some even say it’s the most important day of your life.

With reality TV shows like TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress and ABC’s The Bachelorette, it seems like everywhere we go people have wedding fever — and most of those people are brides. (Sidebar: what’s up with the Bachelor and Bachelorette never having people of color as the main love interest? I’m just saying.)

Anyway, our culture places the focus of the wedding day on the bride, her wishes, her wedding dress, and her family.  We even coined the term “bridezilla” for extremely self-absorbed brides.

But what about the groom?  I can’t help but wonder how often brides actually take their groom’s opinion into consideration. Since I married a “groomzilla,” that definitely wasn’t an issue.

Although it seems traditional for the bride to plan everything for the big day, from the flowers to the music, there’s nothing in the wedding rule book that says the groom can’t help out. Unless you’re my husband. He thinks he should be in charge of planning everything.

There’s a scene from the popular TV sitcom Friends where Monica and Chandler are planning their wedding. Monica says to him, “Just stick to your job.”  When someone asks Chandler what his job is he replies, “Staying out of the way.”  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Who says the wedding day can’t be special for both of you?  Who says men haven’t also been planning their wedding since they could walk?  No one.

Here are four ways to compromise with your partner to make your wedding special for both of you:

Ask his opinion.

Often grooms want to stay out of the way in fear of running afoul of their  bridezilla.  If you want him to help plan or take care of some of the tasks, an easy way to let him know his efforts are welcome is to ask his opinion.

Ask him about the cake flavor and photographer.  His answer may be “Whatever you think is best honey. I just want you to be happy.”  That may be true, and he may not want to give an opinion, but at least you asked and he can’t hold it over your head later.

Give him tasks.

Delegating some of the work when planning your wedding can help make the whole experience much better and less stressful.  After all, this is the first day of the rest of your lives together. Why not make it a joint effort?

Ask your husband-to-be which tasks he would like to help out with and give him things to do. Not in a bossy way, but in an it’s-not-all-about-me kind of way. Even if you really don’t want him to help, it’s always a good idea to make him feel like he’s made a real contribution. My hubby liked pointing to things that I made at the wedding so I’m sure that yours will like pointing to things he did as well.

Make an effort to include him.

If you want to include your groom in the wedding planning, schedule appointments at mutually convenient times. Don’t expect him to drop everything to meet you for dance lessons or to choose centerpieces. Instead, ask him if he has free time and book appointments that fit both your schedules.

It’s probably a bad idea to force your sweetheart to do things that he won’t enjoy, such as picking out your bridesmaids dresses, but he may want to help choose the food, the venue, or the music. You never know until you ask. My groom wasn’t really into the planning until we toured the venue. Suddenly, his inner groomzilla arrived on the scene. Be prepared for that too.

Take his opinion into consideration.

You may have been planning your wedding since you were in elementary school, but that was probably before you met your fiancé. If he has an opinion on the colors or music take it into consideration. Give it serious thought.

If it means a lot to him, it should be important to you. That’s how to compromise. It may not be exactly how you planned, but at the end of the day you have your groom and this is the beginning to your happily ever after.  If you can’t compromise on the details of your wedding, this is a foreshadowing of your ability to compromise on many other things that occur after the wedding.

Honestly, at the end of the day, it’s about the two of you and your families coming together to celebrate your union.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.

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