These Are The 5 Important Relationship Milestones You Must Have Before You Say "I Do"

by Anjali Sareen Nowakowski

My husband and I got married exactly two months from the day of our first date. We had a non-traditional courtship, so I don't believe you have to do the exact same things as everyone else before you get married. For example, I don't think those lists that state you "have to" take a trip together before you get married or you "must" have spent a certain amount of time with each other's families are 100 percent correct. Sure, the advice is good overall, but each couple is unique, so they'll handle their relationship timelines differently.

My husband and I didn't take any big trips together before we got married. And we didn't spend a ton of time with each other's families. But we're still happily married and glad we did things our way. That said, marriage is a serious commitment that involves molding two lives together. So while the shallow hallmarks of things you "have to" do before you get married don't mean much, there are some serious things the two of you should focus on as a couple before getting married.

1. You've Discussed Your Finances

Talking about money is something most couples don't do easily and freely, and for good reason — it's hard, sometimes! And it's also not the most fun thing in the world.

So when you do finally sit down and decide to talk about your finances, you'll know it's because your relationship is going somewhere really serious. Conversely, if you're already engaged and planning on getting married, and you haven't had even one conversation discussing money issues, you should correct that immediately.

As a couple, even if the two of you aren't planning on sharing bank accounts, you will both be contributing to your household. You'll need to figure out how you both want to do that and how can you best work together to build your future.

2. You've Talked About Your Space Needs

Having a conversation about space and what that means for your relationship is also not everyone's favorite thing to do, but it is very, very necessary before you get married.

I'm a big fan of personal space, and I need a lot of it to feel like I am functioning well. This was one of the last things I wanted to talk about with my husband before we got married, because I knew that his space needs were different than mine, and I really didn't want to upset him.

That said, I sucked it up and had a serious talk with him about it before we got married and moved in together. I knew that once we shared a living environment, it would be harder to negotiate the space needs I had, so I thought it was important to discuss this with him long before we got married. And I'm glad I did.

Before you get married, you should be able to sit your future spouse down calmly and maturely and tell them you need space of your own in and out of the relationship. The best, healthiest couples will be able to do this with no problem. If you can't, though, that might be a sign that you have something to work on.

3. You Are Super Comfortable With Each Other

In any long-term, committed relationship, it's natural that the couple will start to feel comfortable with each other. But before you get married, you should make sure the two of you are comfortable enough not just to wake up next to each other in the morning, but also to seriously discuss everything you need to make a relationship work — from your partner's flaws, to your flaws, to being able to gently say, "Honey, you need to stop doing that."

Comfort doesn't just mean the surface-level comfort of seeing each other when you are gross after the gym or going days without showering together. It means really being able to sit down and face any problem you might have as a couple head on.

True comfort in a relationship means that you are never worried about approaching your partner with anything because you know they will always love you and you will always love them. So before you get married, make sure you have the kind of comfort needed to have all the open, honest conversations for the rest of your life.

4. You've Both Decided Getting Married Is What You Truly Want

Think this one feels like a big "duh?" Well, you'd be surprised how many couples rush to the altar because they think it's what they "should" be doing.

Marriage isn't a good "next step" in a relationship just because you've been together for a while and you think that's what you are supposed to do. Marriage should happen exclusively because the two of you love each other so much that you can't imagine your life as anything other than partners forever. Marriage should happen because you want to make the other person happy forever.

Before you get married, you should make sure that it's what the two of you want because you genuinely want it, not because you have some preconceived notion about what a relationship — or a life path — is supposed to look like.

5. You've Had A Conversation About What Marriage Means

Too many people go into marriage with the idea that they know exactly how marriage works. But all we really know about marriage before we get there is the way we've been told it's "supposed" to work in movies, books, and other people's relationships.

The truth about marriage is this: It can be whatever you want it to be. Marriage doesn't need to follow anyone else's set rules or path. It can be exactly what the two of you decide you'd like it to be. One of my favorite things about being with my husband is that he also doesn't subscribe to anyone else's rules or regulations. He thinks we should be doing our own thing all the time, not giving a damn about others.

Before you get married, make sure you have a conversation just between the two of you about what you think marriage means, what you want it to mean, and how you want yours to look. Getting married is a super important time in anyone's life, but it's not just about the cake and the dress and the guests. It's about two people coming together because they can't think of anything else they'd rather do for the rest of their lives.

Each couple is different, but hitting at least some of these milestones before you get married will ensure a smooth transition into married life.

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