Jumping off the deep end and getting married is a big deal. It takes commitment, money, and time.
Did I mention the money? An average-sized wedding costs $33,900 and you’ll be lucky if your divorce costs anything less.
Getting it right is key. And yet today, about 40% of us get it wrong.
So, apart for the obvious safeguards of introducing your partner to the family and living together (which has become the norm today) — what four critical things can you do to ensure that this really is the person for you?
Well, here is my list. I’ve done all these activities and gotten my friends to do the same. Why? Because doing these things gave me a great idea of who I was hitching myself to.
So, if you are looking to take your relationship to the next level, try these out. Not only are they a fun way to stress test your partnership, but they will also provide you with a great understanding of whether he/she is really the one for you.
Golf. Really? You may be scratching your head if you have never been out playing before. But trust me on this one — you learn a lot about people on the golf course.
My husband and I are not golfers. Not even close. But that’s not the point.
Jim Murray, a famous sports-writer once wrote of golf, “it is the cruelest of sports. Like life, it’s unfair. It’s a harlot. A trollop. It leads you on. It never lives up to its promises. It’s not a sport, it’s bondage. An obsession. A boulevard of broken dreams. It plays with men. And runs off with the butcher.”
I’ve seen sweet and demure women break down and throw their clubs. I have seen men curse and stomp. I’ve seen cool cucumbers go pink with rage. It’s not unusual to hear a string of expletives ringing out through the air.
This is largely because golf reminds us of our failures. It’s a walk down a boulevard of missed opportunities and intentions gone wrong. It has a penchant for making us feel helpless and inept. And how each of us reacts to all of this cruelty-well that can tell us all we need to know.
Head into the great outdoors for a weekend of backpacking and camping. And no-I am not talking about glamping where you set up shop right outside your car. You’ll need to strap on your packs and walk out into the wilderness.
What’s more-I recommend you leave the tent behind.
According to experts — camping holidays are responsible for approximately a third of all break-ups. Even more than cheating.
One expert even went on to say, “You still have your dignity after you’ve been cheated on. No one is left with dignity after they’ve gone camping.”
While I love camping and backpacking — it is not for the meek or faint at heart.
There are bugs — lots of them.
The bathrooms — well there aren’t any.
You get dirty.
You get cold.
The light wakes you up at the crack of dawn.
You can sometimes hear wild animals calling out in the night.
And there is not a whole lot to do when you are not hiking, eating or sleeping.
But it’s these times — when we are dirty, tired, cold and bored- without all of life’s usual distractions or creature comforts- that we can see how well we really get on. So, while you may not love the great outdoors, be sure to take the plunge-it will reveal all you need to know.
Babysit for a week
Take your pick — animal or child. It doesn’t really matter.
Children are better — but not everyone feels warm and fuzzy with children. So, pets will do. Ideally the younger the better. But round one up and commit to babysitting for the week.
According to experts, about 30% of couples break up after the birth of their first child. Anyone who has had a child understands why. I certainly do.
Not only are you so sleep-deprived that you feel like a member of the walking dead, but your sole focus centers around caring and entertaining for your newest addition.
This of course means less time for everyone else and a whole lot of added stress.
You may be saying — well I don’t even want children. It doesn’t matter.
It’s about seeing how you and your partner cope and communicate when it comes to caring for others in an all-consuming way. It’s also a great window into how empathetic and adaptable your partner is to the great little surprises that life throws our way.
We did this with a couple of our friend’s kids. And boy oh boy did I learn a lot about the kind of father my husband would be. It turns out, he was completely at home with diaper duty and baby food and I was hooked.
So, carve out some time and space and prepare to turn your world upside down — for a short but super insightful week.
Imagine playing the lottery
Everyone has dreamt of winning the lottery. My kids always laugh when I buy tickets, because they know how dismal the odds are. But I love to imagine what I could do with the proceeds.
And this is exactly what you and your partner need to do.
Imagine you have won $2M. Take some time to each come up with a plan for how you will spend/save the money. Next share this between you. This will give you great insight into the money habits of your partner. Are they a spender or a saver? Are they a giver?
Now do this same exercise again — but imagine you only have half of what you need to pay for everything you usually buy/save in a month.
You will need to make some hard choices. What do you cut out and what do you do differently?
Money is the cause of many a breakup-so figuring out just how compatible you are in this area is key. Using the lottery as a proxy makes having this difficult yet insightful conversation a little easier.
In the end
Being married is awesome. But no one ever said it is easy. It’s stressful. It requires give and take. And it often means putting others first.
So, before you take the plunge, try out these four activities and see how you do. I guarantee you will learn just about everything you need to know.