6 Steps to Achieving Your Goals

I have set and achieved some lofty goals throughout my life. Yet as many times as I’ve achieved a goal, I’ve failed as well. A lot of lessons came from those failings though. First and foremost, that failing does not always mean a definite end to a goal. Failing at something might mean a change needs to happen before a retry.

Many of my failures were not due to a lack of trying, but from lack of planning. With this in mind, I’ve compiled six steps I  take to help me stick to my goals:

Visualize my goal.

Not only do I write my goals down (I love me a list!), but I also design vision boards in my bullet journal to make my goal seem more significant. Mostly motivational phrases, my vision board is something I can refer to daily in order to keep my goals and vision aligned.

Choose a SMART goal.

The tried-and-true approach to creating goals, I always make sure my goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Oriented. I also try to think about why I have the goal by creating meaningful goals. If my goal has more depth and specification, I tend to accomplish it.

Break it down.

Now that I have a SMART goal visualized before me, I break it down into a series of smaller steps. For example, I have a goal to run a half marathon in August 2020, and I have a training plan to get to that goal. However, first I have a milestone goal of running a 5k, 10k, and then a half marathon — all leading to the BIG goal. I like to think of my plan as a strategic stepping stone to my full vision.

Assess my progress.

I love timelines, and they are so beneficial when it comes to evaluating my progress towards a goal! Timelines make measuring success a breeze. As I tick off each milestone along my plan, I tend to stay motivated and push forward towards the finish line. If I tend to be falling behind my plan, I can also readjust my approach rather than giving up entirely.

Hold myself accountable.

The hardest step for me — accountability. I’ve made sure to tell friends and family on Facebook, over the phone, in-person about my half marathon goal in order to hold myself accountable to train properly. I’ve also joined a run training group, a local running club, and paid for the half. Now I’m obligated to follow through on my goal, and this motivates me on those days I’m not quite feeling up to the task.

Organize a plan.

It can be difficult to conquer BIG goals all on my own, so I enjoy finding new methods and better resources to help. Once I commit to a goal, I like to ask: what do I need to succeed? That may mean making a little investment in myself, but that should pay off. For my run training, my husband and I decided to invest in a home treadmill. Now I have no excuses to not train even during poor weather conditions.

It is possible to achieve anything you put your mind to, so don’t be afraid to take the plunge and begin creating your next goal to become the best version of yourself possible!

6 Lessons I Learned In 6 Months Of Marriage

Today marks a half-year since G and I said “I do” in front of our loved ones and God. Honestly, I cannot believe it has only been six months. A lot has happened during that time including a career shift for G, both of us enrolling into coursework, a new truck and house, an adorable nephew, and all the other thrills of being newlyweds with busy schedules. While enjoying sushi at our favorite restaurant on Friday, we reminisced about all of our milestones since the wedding. The ink is barely dry on the marriage certificate, but we are excited for the next memory we’re able to make in this adventure.

One thing we had fun talking about over dinner was what we’ve learned so far as newlyweds. Some were foretold during marriage counseling and illuminated during our few months as newlyweds, others we’ve uncovered on our own. We have learned a lot in this short amount of time, and I can only imagine how much more we have to discover.

1. Eat At the Dining Table together

When we married, G and I had set a goal to eat at our dining table together for the majority of our meals. Though this has not been a priority as of late, we still aim to sit together when we eat. With our hectic schedules this means we may not technically eat together but we try to make sure when one of us is enjoying a meal the other is sitting down in “active togetherness.”

I am a big proponent that relationships flourish over food. When you’re sitting down with your spouse, family, or friends, you are savoring every flavor and topic of conversation. Sitting together at our dining table/coffee table/counter top allows G and I to catch up on the day’s happenings and weekly goals. Or maybe vent, rant, and what have you, which is also just as important. Make sure you opt for open time to discuss any and every topic while having dinner — or any available meal — together.

2. Remember You Are Always Team Number One

Marriage means having a teammate in every situation. Are you having issues with work or maybe with a friend/family member? Your spouse should be your key point of communication when needing to talk things through. That may mean giving some tough love and providing valuable insight when your partner is in the wrong. Or maybe its being emotional support as your partner works out a solution. Either way, you are one another’s team members first and foremost.

Luckily, you probably have more than your spouse as your “Life Teammates.” However, sometimes you will need to narrow your team to only two people: you and your spouse. Do you have family members giving advice on how to handle a situation with your kids? Maybe you are giving too much time to an extracurricular activity outside your marriage? Whatever the case, if you see (or are told) by your spouse that they need you to take their side, DO IT.

Being a good teammate comes in a variety of circumstances too. You may need to voice your spouse’s opinion for them to an opposing team (i.e. telling a family member that you appreciate their advice, but this specific situation is strictly between you and your spouse.) Or it may mean putting an extracurricular on the sideline to be present for your spouses’s needs. There are a lot of different reasons your partner may need you to step up your “marriage game” so be on the lookout for red flags and pull your weight.

3. Pick Your Fights

I know this is one I mentioned back during our marriage counseling days, but it is still so good! Little arguments are bound to happen in any relationship. However, not every squabble needs to be a blown-out smash. Consider if making an offensive or defensive statement will help or hinder the issue at hand. If you’re saying or doing something to cause harm to your spouse, then you don’t have the best for your relationship in mind. The same goes if you’re attempting to elevate yourself or your objective. Remember, you are a team!

Some fights are better off just letting go for the benefit of everyone involved. Ultimately, you and your spouse have the same goal(s). Learn to choose your battles well and let any unnecessary issues drop to the wayside.

4. Be One Another’s Cheerleaders

One of the best parts of marriage is knowing you have a personal cheering squad in your spouse. Whether you achieve your goals or fall a bit short… Your spouse is behind you to encourage and uplift all your endeavors. Be open to sharing all your achievements with your loved one, and also freely share those little goals you haven’t quite reached yet. More likely than not, your spouse will provide the motivation, encouragement, and advice needed to reach all your milestones.

This is particularly necessary in those instances you are being hard on yourself. Take the love and adoration your spouse gives you to heart! He or she chose you and continues to choose you every single day, and that in itself should be praise enough even when you might not be feeling especially high in self-esteem.

5. Learn To Be Selfless

One of the biggest learning curves both G and I have struggled with in our marriage is something I think humanity as a whole struggles with: putting someone else’s needs before your own.

Personally, it is so easy to get caught up in my own schedule and bucket list that including my husband into the equation took a lot of self-control and mindfulness. G praised me on Friday for my effort though, and I was proud to hear I’ve been making headway in this arena of our relationship. (Insert pat on the back.) It took some practice to eliminate criteria off my weekly planner, but I did so knowing time with G was more important. In the same respect, G has gotten so much better at putting aside his perfectionism and goal-oriented mindset to sit back and relax every now and again. We compromise and enjoy common interests much more often than we go do something only one of us enjoys. It really has become the best of both worlds!

Actively attempt to put your spouse’s needs above your own while not forgetting to be an individual. You’ll be amazed at the new things you gain interest in and the adventures you and your partner can share when you prioritize your time together.

6. Enjoy the Little Things

Last but not least, my last piece of advice is a common phrase from one of my favorite movies: Zombieland. Enjoy the little things in life. Together.

G and I are still in the process of organizing our new home. We don’t fold the laundry every weekend, and we forget to dust sometimes. I don’t spend as much time reading as I’d like, and G isn’t able to work on his truck during his free time. Though that time might be a quick 30 minute viewing of my latest cooking-show binge or lounging on the couch playing cards, G and I make time for each other every day. While we certainly have our separate activities and we make time for our friends and family, finding quality time together is our number-one priority. And one we take very serious.

Fellow newlyweds, do you have any lessons to add to the following list? Everyone has different experiences, and I would love to hear yours. Please feel free to share in the post’s comment section below.

Until next time, friends,

5 Things I Would Do Differently While Wedding Planning

For those of you who have been following Uncorking Peonies since September 2017, you know I had big dreams when it came to my wedding. Having coordinated and planned over 100 weddings and events, it was finally my time to plan my own Big Day.

My color palette was dusty rose and navy with silver accents. I’ve always loved the more rustic and laid back parties, and my wedding was no exception. I opted to have my bridesmaids choose their own dresses to fit their personal styles and budgets. I created my own decorations with hodge-podge findings and borrowing from family members and friends. I utilized my resources to design the look and feel of the perfect wedding. And the perfect wedding it was.

I loved our wedding day down to the very last detail. But would I do anything differently? Yes. Now that I am past the sparkle and glamour that made our wedding so spectacular, here are five “bigger picture” details I would consider changing should I ever happen upon a time machine:

1. I would change our ceremony location.

G and I met through our 20’s and 30’s Bible study group at church. We are both very active in the church and center our lives around our love for God. Most of our closest friends are from our church and we even hired a band made up of our fellow church members. You could say our church is pretty near and dear to our hearts.

But I never envisioned getting married in a church. I’m not sure if it feels too traditional or perhaps church ceremonies seem too romanticized for my own personal liking, but being married in front of an altar was not my forte. Instead, I had always pictured myself saying my vows under a blue sky or in a meadow surrounded by trees. I love the natural settings which more and more ceremonies are taking place in.

Compromise is a beautiful and necessary part of any relationship though. Being married in a church was important to G and to many of our family members. So that is what we did. Looking back, I would make the same decision for the sake of our family’s wishes, but I might also push for the natural setting a bit more. After all, our church cost nearly $1000 to rent for the ceremony, and simply the price differences in holding the ceremony elsewhere might have been persuasive enough to break tradition.

2. I would have made a Thank You speech.

One of the little pieces I loved about some of the weddings I coordinated is when the bride and/or groom got up during the reception to give a thank you speech to their guests. It was a rare occurrence, but a memorable one each and every time.

In the rush of wedding planning I completely forgot to plan a quick ‘Thank You’ myself! We spoke with our best man, man of honor, and fathers about their speeches, but this little gem skipped over my head as other wedding details took over. It would have been nice to tell our family and friends how much we appreciated having them at our wedding and in our lives. That was definitely a missed opportunity!

3. I would have bought and worn a reception dress.

Before my wedding day I actually had never heard of a reception dress, but I guess they are quite the trend nowadays! A reception dress is, obviously, a dress the bride dons after the ceremony to be more comfortable for dancing, eating, moving about, what-have-you.

Now, I really did get my dream dress and it only cost me $150! I felt beautiful and confident in this dress and it photographed incredibly well. But it was floor-length, had a long train, and turned out to be quite heavy and difficult to dance in. Plus the temperatures for our outdoors reception were high into the 90’s along with boasting Michigan June humidity. With the low price of my gown, I easily could have found a cute, white reception dress to change into once we finished pictures and headed to the festivities.

Unfortunately, no one mentioned this trend to me until I was walking around after dinner and visiting. “I can’t believe you’re still wearing that dress!” “Aren’t you hot?!” “How will you ever dance with that thing?”

But dance I did — and I had a blast even with the river of sweat flowing down my back all evening.

4. I would have spent more time working out.

Don’t any of you @ me! I’m not talking about starving myself to fit into my dress, or spending every waking moment in the gym to tone my arms. I had good reasons for not making my health and fitness a bigger priority during my wedding planning days, but I wish I’d recognized those various reasons as excuses. The biggest being that I was more stressed with planning every detail than I felt I was at the time. Looking back, I realize I gained 25-30 pounds while working on wedding plans because I allowed myself to “treat myself” whenever I felt a bit tired, stressed, or celebratory.

I was not at my happiest weight on my wedding day, and I know I’ll be able to see that tension and discomfort in my wedding pictures. Even if no one else can. And since these are the pictures documenting one of the most important days in my life — meaning they will be hanging in my home for years and (hopefully) passed down to my kids in the future — I wish my instinct wasn’t to cringe when looking at some of them. I felt beautiful and extremely happy at my wedding, and that is apparent in the pictures as well. I just think that with a little more effort and cognition, I could have felt even better in my own skin.

5. I would have lived more in the moment of the day.

One thing G and I agreed to do on our wedding day was take steps back, breathe, and enjoy the little pieces throughout the entire experience. There are moments I remember verbally saying this out loud to him, “Let’s stop for a second to remember this.” And we did.

However, looking back, there were so many missed moments to do this! The entire day is a blur to me, a very happy blur, but a blur nonetheless. I never worried about having a perfect day but I also didn’t focus on the little details of the wedding. I wish I had. I wish I had taken the time to go around and look at every table of decorating for the wedding. I wish I had taken a moment to step aside and do a panorama look at the entire reception. I wish I had forced myself to slow down, because maybe that would have made the day slow down as well.

At the end of the day, though, I really wouldn’t have changed a thing. Our wedding was an absolute dream and even if I went back in time, nothing could have been more perfect than becoming the wife of an amazing man in front of God and our closest loved ones.


Hopefully some of these thoughts are helpful to you if you’re debating between details of your own wedding. Is there anything you are considering changing in your wedding plans, or perhaps you wish you had been able to change? Feel free to share in the comments below!

xoxo, 

Advice To Myself At 18-Years-Old

Last Friday G and I were leaving the county clerk’s office to apply for our marriage license when we ran into one of my high school teachers. Even though I graduated eight years ago (O.M.G. has it truly been that long ago?!) we recognized one another right away. Partly due to me working for him at summer camp for several years, but also because I come from a high school boasting an average of 30 graduating students each year. In other words, there aren’t that many students to forget.

After a bit of catching up, I asked him how his school year had gone and how many more days until summer break. I don’t keep up with my old high school so I was surprised to hear the senior class would be graduating the next day. The whole encounter had me vaguely reminiscing on the past and all the changes which have happened since I stood on the stage myself in my cap and gown.

Then today my Facebook’s daily memory was of my graduation. Looking through my FB photo album of that day in 2010 had so many memories flowing.  I could recall the feelings on that day: the fears of the future, the thrill of college looming, the excitement of my first summer as an “adult.” It was like looking into the life of a stranger. There have been many lessons learned since that day. So many experiences have brought me to where I am today and molded me into this 26-year-old Ashley.

The memories continued as I was lazily scrolling one of my nightly go-to apps and came across a great question posted by RobbeVermont. The user asked,  “What is something you wished you knew when you were 18 years old?” And as I read through the vast majority of the 10,800+ comments I realized so many of the life advice being provided were 110% on the money. Pulling all three discoveries together — the run-in with my teacher, the flashback of my graduation, and this Reddit question — I started listing a few key topics I wished I’d known upon leaving high school and considered what difference hearing that advice as an 18-year-old would have made. Perhaps none, but then again, maybe some…

You’re going to make mistakes, and that is okay.

Mistakes are a daily way of life for everyone whether they want to fess or not. Every day you are going to make a decision that may or may not work out in the way you intended. You might hurt someone’s feelings or say something without thinking or forget an important to-do item that causes stress to you or someone or something further down the line of time. The only daily guarantee is that every single person on this planet is not omniscient when it comes to how Life works.

This can be a humbling thought: that no matter how much experience or knowledge you receive, there will always be something you know nothing about. However, this can also be empowering. Use your lack of skill to better yourself, better those around you, and better the world. Making mistakes teaches you a new lesson every single time. Don’t get down on yourself for not being perfect because no one in this world is! Learning and teaching is an ongoing struggle, so throw yourself into the fight.

Apply yourself in the present and let the future worry about itself (especially if you choose the college track.)

I was that student in high school who skated through. Every class was easy for me and I excelled. By the time I made it to college though, I was tired of school. I was tired of homework and reading textbooks and listening to boring lectures that did not apply to my future aspirations. I was just plain tired of the norm I’d played for the past twelve years.

College could care less if I was tired though. College is the metaphoric high school bully who beats you up, laughs at you, and steals your lunch money. Except the beating lasts at least four years, the laughing can follow you through your career path, and your lunch money is thousands of dollars for a paper certificate. High school can never fully prepare you for what college is about to do to your health, sanity, and wallet.

Looking back, I realize I held a high disregard when it came to college. I was tired of school so I did not care about my college career. I didn’t apply myself while in college. In high school, I was the “the know-it-all” who could study five minutes for an exam and pass with flying colors and I expected the same results once I started at my university. However, college requires you to actually apply yourself and study and work hard. My main concern became my future — what would be my career, where would I end up, who would I be with, and how would I pay for it all. My current courses, and ultimately my present grades, took second seat to the future because I relied too heavily on my past successes.

If I could go back in time, I’d do everything differently. I would apply myself completely in every single one of my classes because each adds up in the long run. If you drop or fail one course in your early years of college, it is a big deal. Not only do you lose GPA status (which is incredibly important when job seeking or applying for graduate school), but you also lose credits necessary for graduation AND money for those credits. Can I express the importance of money in adulthood? The vast majority of college students come into their minimum-paying careers with $50,000 or more in student debt. Do not increase that debt by giving up credits or prolonging your graduation by forcing yourself into more semesters of college. Seriously. Be mindful of your present situation and go into college knowing every credit, class, homework, exam, extracurricular, etc. are preparing you for the best future possible.

Time moves at an alarming speed, so enjoy what moments you have.

They say time flies when you’re having fun. These last nine months of my engagement have flown for sure. But before I was engaged, time still flew through both the good and bad times. It seemed once I graduated high school, time started to slip by faster and faster. Sometimes I wonder where that time has gone, but then I reflect on all I’ve gone through and am thankful for each and every minute. Some were happy, some were sad, but all have helped me become who I am today.

Do not rush anything in your life. Enjoy the good times, learn from the bad times, and embrace everything in between. Everything shifts and changes, people come and go, and the memories we have of our time spent in this world are what we have to hold onto.  Remember we’re all given only a certain amount of seconds during our lifetimes, so why push any faster than another? Relish every second!

And relish every person who shares your time with you. Those in your life are what are most important, not the adventures, toys, or anything else. Tell your loved ones you love them because today will never come again and you are not promised tomorrow.

Heartbreak is a part of life. Use the situation to better yourself and your life.

Another constant in Life: you’re going to be hurt. Again and again and again. One of the pieces of marriage advice which G and I have been told multiple times (and depresses me each time I hear it) is even in marriage you’re going to have your heart broken. In any relationship where two imperfect individuals interact there is going to have differing opinions, beliefs, and backgrounds. You will never see eye-to-eye on every subject and that means someone is bound to be hurt somewhere along the line.

When I graduated high school, I also entered into a new romantic relationship. My first relationship actually. And over the past eight years I have had my heart broken by my first love, my second love, my third, and so many others. Heartbreak sucks, but heartache is a very real part of Life that we all must pass through.

One of the best pieces of advice I could give my 18-year-old self is each time your heart is broken use the situation to better yourself and your life. It was not until after my first break up that I began to discover who I am as a person. I was forced out of my comfort zones to make those discoveries, but that shove into reality was exactly what I needed. I found my courage and flexibility and fierce independence. I learned what I wanted for myself without the shadow of someone else in my mind. I tried new hobbies and met new people and placed myself into new situations all to discover who I wanted to be and what made me tick.

And most of all, I learned to love myself, something which you must do before you honestly and unconditionally love someone else.

In the same way I fell in love with myself, I also learned a lot of my faults through reflection of failed relationships. It is easy to look back on your exes and call them out for what they did wrong, but it’s much harder to reveal your own mistakes and failures. But you know what? You have them.

When I look back on my relationship with X, I realize I was too dependent on my significant other and was demanding on my expectations for him. When I look back on Wilbur, I see how I allowed myself to be quiet on topics that deeply hurt me and cast a blind eye to the reality of the relationship. Light has been shed on issues I had never noticed during the relationships. Issues either in my own personality or in the make-up of the relationship. As I’ve come to take responsibility for my own faults, I can work to better myself to not only have a happy life but also a healthy relationship with G. And that is worth the heartaches of my past, and the heartbreaks of my future — knowing I’m continuously growing and moving forward to be the best person I can be for my loved ones.

Also, remember relationships do not necessarily mean romantic. Relationships can be friendships, partnerships, colleagues relations, etc. All of the above are going to break your heart in some way and it is on you for your reactions and transformation. (Which brings me back to #1 above in that we all make mistakes. Live and learn, friend, none of us are perfect in this process.)

High school really isn’t that important.

In the end, I wish I would have known at 18 that high school doesn’t have a huge impact on the person I am today or the position I am in now. I was the stigma of a nerd in high school, but I was also a hopeless romantic with low self-esteem and no clue on where I wanted to go in my future. My closest friends in high school contact me maybe once or twice a year nowadays with the exception of Saki, who is my monthly wine date. I have no urge to return to my high school for alumni sporting events or host a class reunion or any other nostalgic reason. High school is strictly a short, four-year blurb in the past. A blink in your life, honestly.

Once you leave high school, you begin again. You start fresh in college or trade school or a career. High school labels stay in the past and you can create the persona for which you want to be known for the future and the things you did in high school no longer matter. If you were homecoming queen or a spectator in the stands, if you were valedictorian or 150th in your class, if you shot baskets or skipped classes or played trumpet or, or, or… None of that matters once you graduate. You’re now a nobody who can make a new name for yourself and become who you want.

So enjoy the celebrations and your summer before launching into the next stage of Life. Make memories, make mistakes, and most of all, make yourself who you want to be.

And for my personal favorite piece of advice shared on the AskReddit thread:

It doesn’t get easier. You get better. – mastercadium

Life never gets easier. The trials you had in high school will be replaced with trials of college or work or relationships or simple Life. It’s just a fact. So work with what you have and learn from every experience to become the best person you can. That’s the Human Project after all, right? We’re all just rambling through Life with no clue on how to obtain the ultimate goal, but we’ll get there though, friends. We aren’t alone in our attempts and we all have people to help support us, encourage us, and teach us.

Love the Life you have and know high school were not the best years — those are yet to come!

Is there anything you wish you could tell your 18-year-old self? What is it?Please feel free to share here or on RobbeVermont’s growing thread. You never know who is reading and who may need that little nugget of advice as they begin their adult life.

Warmest wishes for a happy Life, blogosphere, 

4 Wise Tips on Preparing for Marriage After the Wedding

I know I’ve said it before, but here I am saying it again: the wedding is only the beginning of what should be the rest of your blissful married life. As husband and wife, you’ll be embarking on years of new adventures after the one day of festivities. Your wedding day is only a grain of sand in the grand beach of your entire life. It is best to prepare for life following the Big Day and not only the day itself.

I am a big believer that if you adequately prepare for something — that is, to prepare mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, all of the above — then your chances of success increase substantially. Though I know there will never be enough wisdom and information I can gain to fully prepare for marriage, I do feel I’ve gained a few gems of advice in which to set a firm foundation as a newlywed.

These four gems include advice on communication, clarification, adjustment, and agreement between both the husband and wife in order to have a happy marriage. They touch on possible challenges once you’re married and encourage you to invest in your partner following your vows. They are all examples of how G and I plan to enter our marriage, and I would love to share them with you!

1. Learn how to resolve conflicts with a team mentality.

When it comes to mentors granting marriage advice, resolution of conflicts and investing in your partner are the two tips advised from every role model. For conflict resolution, the healthiest way to do so is with a “team mentality.” By this I mean that each individual approaches the conflict with an “other-first” way of thinking. You want to understand the other person’s perspective, relinquish the need to be right, and extend both grace and understanding while you communicate the issue.

Marriage is hard work. I’ve witnessed the hard work put in from my parents, grandparents, and other role models. I cannot predict specific problems in my future, but I do know hard times will roll through. Sometimes it may be your partner’s fault, but it’ll be yours just as often. Look inward before pointing the finger and always try to look at things from both sides. Compromise is key, and never be afraid to apologize.

“You can have peace or be right, but seldom both.”

This is a quote one of our dearest friends and mentors has said to us several times while giving advice on marriage and happiness. G and I have actually taken to quoting it to one another when we are having a disagreement. It reminds us to stop, think, and consider what the other is thinking before jumping to conclusions or fighting for our point. Perhaps creating a similar “pauser” with your partner may help cool heated situations in your future as well.

2. Make your relationship the priority.

This little tip was exceptionally difficult for me at the beginning of my relationship with G. Since college I have kept my schedule busy, penciling in this-or-that every evening in order to never have a second’s rest. I spent more time in group meetings, going out with friends, leading discussions, playing sports, and sitting in appointments than I did actually sleeping. If I wasn’t moving, I wasn’t happy.

Then I started dating G and I realized why I kept myself so busy: to stop from feeling so lonely and unsettled. I was continuously searching for more in my life, but once I met G I realized he was the more I needed.

As our dating became more serious, my to-do list became less scheduled. And in my free time I found not only more time for worthy relationships in my life but also more time for myself. Even if evenings were only binge watching Netflix, making dinner, or sitting around reading a book. I no longer felt like I needed to be so active in order to be happy. Instead, I found contentment in my downtime which always seemed to involve G.

Nowadays, I’m almost a homebody. If I have more than two evenings occupied by responsibilities, I will be sure to leave all others empty in order to enjoy time with my fiance. We agreed early in our engagement to make boundaries in our schedules and actively build our friendship and love every day in order for our dreams to come true.

Looking back, I could not be happier with this decision. Opting to invest in our relationship rather than continue on my own path allowed me to truly get to know the man I’m going to marry. G and I do not only go on dates — actually going out to movies and dinner are rare for us — but we do LIFE together. We grocery shop together, cook dinner together, do book and Bible studies together, exercise together, do errands together, etc. We spend more unplanned time together than “penciled in” time. This has allowed us to get to know what each of us does when nothing in particular is planned, which (we’ve been told) will be what married life is like.

3. Talk about your finances.

I know it’s usually taboo, but when you’re blending your life with someone else, finances must be discussed. Especially since finances are the top reason for couples to fight in marriage and the number one culprit for divorce. Be open on all financial topics with your partner and start venturing into the idea of merging your lives in this capacity as well.

It might be a smart idea to create a budget together and a savings schedule before you’re married. G and I were given this advice and though it was new to both of us to include another person in our financial affairs, we are so thankful to have this started! Not only can we visualize what a blended financial life will be, we also can set goals as a couple in which to work towards following the wedding. (Because, you know, we’d like to buy a house someday…)

There are also the topics of taxes, insurance, and debt settlement. You’ll now be checking the “married” box when it comes to tax season, but you need to decide whether you’re going to file together or continue to file separately. Your various insurances may also change with a marital status update. Will you be sharing health benefits through work? Will you be including your partner as a beneficiary for life insurance? All of these things should be discussed before marriage.

If you’re just as confused as me by the possibility of so many changes, there are endless tools for you to use to scout out the best offers. One such tool is Reviews.com which allows you to search for the best car insurance options now that you’re married and moving out from Mom and Dad’s house. This is something I am facing since I am getting married within the same fiscal year of turning 26-years-old and Reviews.com provided me a listing of all options in my area for the best auto insurance rates — something which I am so grateful! Or perhaps advisory tips like this one when it comes to health insurance and wondering what options are best. Do you join your partner’s business’s benefits or find another choice? Blogs and advisory articles across the Internet may assist you with your decisions.

Another not-so-fun topic is debt. Yes, this means you need to discuss that $80,000 school loan you plan to pay off when you’re 90-something. Or that credit card you say you use only during emergencies, but emergencies usually involve Starbucks and Charming Charlie. Debt does not have to be a “way of life” nowadays, and discussing a plan with your partner to create a debt settlement schedule is crucial for a happy beginning in marriage.

Also, watch your partner’s money habits. Is he careful with money or does he not care about debt? Does he work hard for his money and is motivated to provide? If he spends money he doesn’t seem to have and doesn’t like to budget, this will definitely continue into your marriage. Discuss both your financial situations now before you marry and start making movements to blend your finances gracefully.

4. Know you have a lot more room for personal growth and that you will both evolve over the years.

There’s something that gets under my skin while watching movies and it’s when an unhappy husband or wife say, “He/She changed.”

Well… yeah!

Every single person in this world changes over the course of their lives. Life experiences, hardships, and evolving opinions and beliefs mold a person on a yearly basis. Think of the person you were in high school/college/a year ago; have any of your habits or thought processes shifted? Mine definitely have even within the past year! I am proud to not be the woman I was a year ago and I am excited to meet the woman I’ll be a year from today. 

However, it is not enough to recognize change in yourself and to be happy with those results (or unhappy and choose to shift for a better future.) You need to realize this is occurring in your partner as well. So keep the conversation going and share the experience together over the years in order to not grow apart. Instead of being ignorant to this fact, embrace it and embrace your changed partner on a daily basis. That is one of the best things about marriage — you can continually fall in love with the same person! It is all about constant investment and wanting to lean on one another through those changes which truly captures what Love means.


To summarize all these points: learn to communicate and understand your fiance(e) prior to the wedding day so you’ll begin marriage with a steady foundation built on two lives becoming one.

Doing so is a great way to open your mind to the changes, adjustments, and challenges that are bound to occur in marriage.

Heck, I’ve never been married. I don’t honestly know what I’m talking about when it comes to preparing for marriage. I’m as lost as the next bride-to-be who’s scratching her head at why she loves this farting, burping, heavy-metal head-bashing, leaves-the-toilet-bowl-seat-up-EVERY-TIME man so fricken much.

It is all a process.

And I am so blessed to have been granted some awesome role models when it comes to married couples and been given great advice on marriage. I am soaking in all this wisdom like a sponge, hoping to keep a few key snippets in my mind once the wedding is complete and I’m a new wife.

In the end, that’s all I can do and I’m happy enough to think I might be able to stumble through marriage just as gracefully as I am with wedding planning…

Best of luck to us all,