If I could send a memo to all the Disney princesses of the world, it would read something like this: “The bird thing isn’t sanitary. Also, things get a hell of a lot harder after the first kiss.” In fact, there are tons of marriage milestones and experiences that can happen before a couple gets married, and no cartoon thus far (that I know of, at least) has adequately displayed what it’s like to have to grab toilet paper for your significant other when he or she forgot to check under the sink beforehand.
All kidding aside, it’s not the '50s anymore, and no one expects you to stay together if things don’t work out. That being said, it turns out that marriage statistics are a little more optimistic than we all thought. Divorce rates are declining again, insinuating that the onslaught of marital breakups that happened in the '70s and '80s was a phase rather than a trend. Even better, if it continues, two-thirds of marriages are likely to survive.
Granted, I’m not a marriage specialist, but I’m guessing that’s because it’s now acceptable (normal, even) to live with, get to know, and grow alongside someone before the question gets popped. If you’re in a serious relationship that you suspect might blossom into a marriage sometime soon, try checking off these experiences beforehand. Perhaps they'll help you understand where the two of you stand on issues that can challenge a relationship.
Learn How Your Partner Reacts In An Argument
This 500-piece card game presents you and your partner with ridiculous hypothetical situations (like a kindergarten class that breathes fire and wears jetpacks versus a pirate swinging on a shark while riding a Segway), and it requires you to have a solid debate. While it might seem trivial, it reveals a whole bunch about your partner’s reasoning abilities, thought processes, and tactics, and it allows you to battle things out in a relaxed and hilarious way. Because occasional fighting is a sign that you’re both willing to discuss conflict rather than ignore it, this game could provide insight into your partner’s communication tactics when the next real one rolls around. Also, laughing together is always a huge plus.
Ask All The Important Questions
You should know someone inside and out before you tie the knot, but believe it or not, some stuff just doesn’t come up until after the fact. This book, 1001 Questions To Ask Before You Get Married , makes sure that you’ve covered all the bases (everything from financial habits to some lingering parental issues), so you can relax knowing you've gotten the big questions out of the way. It’s also a great bonding exercise — and an awesome way to prompt trust, as well as deep conversation.
Share Your Space Together
If you’re as #blessed as I was, the only time you’ve ever shared a bedroom with someone was in college. Sharing your space with someone is no easy feat, and that’s why this bathroom set makes things a little easier. With three shelves and four hooks, it helps you organize your things alongside your partner’s, so you can coexist without anyone losing track of a blow-dryer. It’s made with a durable steel frame that transforms any bathroom from a “mine” to an “ours,” and reviewers say it’s sleek, easy to assemble, and a great way to implement the "sharing is caring" rule.
Get On The Same Page With Finances
If your significant other can’t last from January to February without blowing all of the rent money on sushi and T-shirts, it’s probably something you should know about before giving them access to your bank accounts. Filling out this monthly bill planner together is a great way to figure out where you both stand in terms of money as well as how successful you’ll be at making ends meet. It helps you track the money that’s going out in the form of bills as well as chart your expenses on a monthly basis, and its beautiful matte exterior and organized (but spacious) interior helps you stay positive about your living costs.
Share (And Gently Remind Each Other Of) Responsibilities
We had a chore chart in my college apartment, and I’m pretty sure it was the only thing that kept me from full-on mothering out. I will never again live with someone who’s sloppy or lazy, and this simple bulletin board provides a platform to ensure household tasks are shared equally between partners. It has 12 pushpins to secure gentle daily reminders, and because it’s entirely magnetic, you can also secure pics from your last vacation to keep the good vibes going strong. Having a place to keep track of shared responsibilities is an essential tool in any relationship.
Learn To Compromise Your Styles
Designing a space together is a great bonding experience. That being said, my boyfriend thinks my taste looks like an old lady’s barn, while I think his looks like an abandoned warehouse (and we’re both super happy we figured this out ahead of time). The Elements Of Style book is a great way to find out what both of you love and dislike, as far as interior design. It has full-color, beautiful illustrations, as well as expert design tips to help you create a home and a life together. Plus, because it’s organized by rooms of the house, you’ll learn about everything from counters to throw pillows along the way.
Cook Together Regularly
Believe it or not, cooking a meal together is a good indication of how a couple works together, as it requires both learning and coordination. This personalized cutting board is an adorable way to motivate yourselves to spend some time in the kitchen together. It’s handmade from your choice of bamboo, beech, cherry, maple, or sapele, and the names and dates are totally up to you. However, don’t let the cute little pea-people design deceive you: this board is durable and fully functional for cutting, chopping, and slicing on the reverse side.
Remember To Travel Together
Traveling as a couple forces you to compromise, plan things out, and step out of your comfort zones. Plus, odds are you’re tired, dirty, and in pain, so your partner will see you (and love you) at your worst. This scratch-off map is an awesome way to inspire a little adventure anywhere in the world. The chic black and brown design transforms into vivid colors as you scratch off the places you’ve been, and because it’s very visual and easy to hang, it’ll both prompt your sense of wanderlust and remind you of all the places you’ve seen together.
Set Goals Together
You want to know that your relationship is going somewhere, and in order for that to happen, you need to know that both partners are making plans for the future. This metal bucket list makes it easy and fun to write out your goals with your partner, displaying them in the open as a stylish little reminder. There’s also a tiny check box on every card, so that when you’ve completed something, the two of you can check it off together. The bucket itself is made from durable metal, and the set comes with 30 cards, so you have plenty of life-altering experiences to look forward to in the future.
Grow Something Together
One of the most satisfying things about a relationship is creating something together. This sprouting, growing window plant lets you two raise beans and peas from seed to harvest, observing every step of the way through its easy-to-see clear window. It comes with wonder soil for optimum growth, as well as a step-by-step guide for anyone whose thumb is more of a bluish tint.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.
Images: Amazon (10)