For many of us, marriage is something about which we had an idea – vague or definite – since a long, long time. It is definitely a momentous, exciting life-changing occasion. Once you find your SO, you get excited and are ready to get to D-Day fast. But, take a moment before you rush into matrimony. Your life is going to change from being ‘all about me’ to being ‘all about us’. The ‘me’ might get easily lost in it all, and that is something you don’t want. You need to give yourself me-time that will help you be in a better position, emotionally, mentally, financially and physically in the long run. It will also help your marital relationship, and might just be the trick for a long-lasting, successful marriage.
You need to have some experiences of your own before you move on to have new experiences with your husband. Here is a list of things to do by yourself before you get married.
Live by yourself
In Indian families, the girl goes from living with her parents to living with her husband most times. This situation might lead to the woman being dependent on others – financially, emotionally, or mentally. Every woman, before her wedding, should live on her own – alone, or with non-family roommates. Living by yourself teaches you many things. Newly married PR executive Tanvi Deshpande, informs, “Staying alone definitely helps one grow up a lot. I would suggest that every woman (and even men) should stay on their own at some point in life, even if it is for some time. Buying your own groceries, paying bills, taking care of the house all of this makes understand the hard work that goes into building a life.” You become financially and emotionally independent; budgeting for the month and paying all of your bills can give you the sense of accomplishment. Spending a few weekends and weekday nights alone gives you strength. Soon-to-be-married senior business analyst Sneha Gurjar highly recommends it, “Having done it myself for almost 10 years, I would definitely recommend it! Living alone, outside your parents’ cocoon, makes you more independent and gives you more exposure to the real world.” Living alone might not be possible sometimes though. Shivangi Shah, a PR consultant who recently got hitched, informs, “Living on your own helps you gain more confidence on being independent, and doing your jobs without help, etc., but one can get that by living with family and taking more initiative at home too.” Marketing and communications manager Neha Bangale who will be getting married this year says, “Living on her own helps a woman understand to how she can manage life (work, studies, home) without anybody’s help. It gives her a good measure of how to go about life in the future. It also gives her clarity on who she truly is, and what she can or will or will not do. For example, I realised I can never do dishes even when living alone. So, I know I need to be with a partner who is ok with doing dishes or hiring maids.”
Be financially independent
Like living with yourself, you need to have a good grasp on our own finances. This will go a long way in making you feel ready to be married. Gurjar also points out, “Financial independence is of utmost importance. I see marriage as an equal partnership, which means the man and the woman need to be able and willing to handle both, career and family. Who actually does what is irrelevant.” Whether you plan to work or not post-marriage, you should get some work experience before the nuptials. It will not only make you think of things in a different way but also get you earning on your own, making you financially independent. Even if you’re not earning as much as you’d like at present, it will make you realise for yourself that you could be able to stand on your own feet and not have to depend on others for money. “Even if you are married to a man who’s providing enough, there is no security for yourself,” Shah points out, “For some reason, if you have to provide for yourself, how will you? I don’t think each woman should become work-orientated or be completely focused on career, but it’s good to have some security and the confidence that if needed you can be on your own and not have to tolerate anything that is against your self-respect.” Deshpande feels, “If women want equality in every way, then they need to be financially independent and also have knowledge about paying taxes, investments etc.”
Have a “good” fight
When things are all hunky-dory, it will be a smooth sailing in any relationship. But when the chips are down, and there is some trouble in paradise, it is then that you find out how a person really is and reacts to situations. Bangale notes, “Fights are vital to have. You get to know each other’s opinions, their fighting spirit (fair or dirty). How well/badly they handle disagreements and disappointments.” No two human beings can be in perfect agreement on every little thing. There will be intermittent disagreements, misunderstandings and differences of opinions, and that’s okay! But how such situations are dealt with is the point of contention here. “When fighting, a person brings out the worst side of themselves,” Shah believes, “If this side of his is something you can deal with; then you know it’s going to be okay. Each one has tolerance for different behaviours, some can tolerate anger, some can tolerate violence (like breaking things); so it’s best to know what is that your partner does when angry and whether you can handle that quality in him.”
And another reason to fight is the making up afterwards. Right? And you also know that you’ll be able to get through the problems and solve them together. Though fighting is not that much of an issue, as much as knowing whether you’ll be able to work out the issue properly together. Gurjar says, “I don’t remember ever having had a fight with my fiancé. We do have disagreements from time to time, but we have always been able to find a solution amicably.” Deshpande notes, “More than fights, I definitely believe a couple should face challenges in their relationship. Only then will they know how the other person reacts under pressure and overcomes the challenge.”
Travel by yourself
Post-marriage you will travel with your husband, but you will be making decisions based on the likes and dislikes of both. Before your marriage, you can pick and choose the places, what to do there, etc. yourself, and do everything you wanted to do or dreamt of doing without having to compromise. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes. The experience you’ll get during such trips will definitely be different then the travel you do post-wedding. You can also travel with your friends, which will also give you a different type of experience. Gurjar elaborates, “Travel, whether alone, with friends or with a partner broadens your horizons, makes you more open and aware of the people around you and creates memories for a lifetime! Whether it is before or after marriage does not matter much. But in general, the earlier the better!” Shah agrees, “When one travels alone or with friends, they discover the world with their own likes and choices. They are giving themselves the time to enjoy and make memories of a lifetime. A vacation before marriage will definitely give you time to self-analyse and that little pampering you deserve.” Bangale believes that “having your own travel experiences before getting married will enrich your vacation experience when you take them with the partner.” Don’t limit your travelling with friends to pre-marriage though, Deshpande tells, “Travelling with your friends is important not just before marriage but even after. You get to know a lot more about your friends when to travel. Also, the bond and experiences to share during holidays is something that you will cherish forever.”
Pick your own hobby
If you don’t have one already, pick a hobby for yourself. This will give you some much-needed me-time away from the daily grind. It will help take your mind of any stress from work or family. It will also help you post-marriage to be a better spouse, as it will give you an outlet to be able to express yourself and relieve some or all of the tension in your life. “Continue pursuing your own hobbies and maintaining your individual identity,” Gurjar tells, “Marriage should not mean having to give up everything you love and do.” Deshpande agrees, “While a husband and wife should be there for each other to love and support, they should still continue with their independent interests so that they aren’t dependent on each other for everything.”
Build your own support system
As a couple, you might have a set of common friends who will help you in times of need. But if ever you need someone to be in your corner completely without trying to be a friend to the both of you. Your own friends will be your support system in the good and the bad times. Once you are married though, you might find your time getting all involved in being with your SO, and the common friends. But don’t forget your own friends. Meet up regularly, or at least speak over the phone. Or you can plan half-yearly or yearly trips together. “It is very important to have your own set of friends,” Gurjar feels, “Sure, you might not see your friends as often after marriage, but that is a part of growing up.”
Shah explains it well, “I am very close to my husband, and we are best friends before partners. I discuss every secret with him, but I still need my friends, not to share secrets but sometimes you need a change in perspectives, you need to look at your favourite old faces and talk about the silliest things and laugh your lungs and each relationship in your life has its own place and value, a husband can’t become the only centre of your life. While he is the most important relationship you need to maintain, but every once in a while you need to give yourself a little break and spend time with friends who have been there even before your husband. One relationship can’t rule the others. And friends sometimes help you see beyond your normal life. That little break helps to keep your marriage going stronger and healthier.” Bangale reiterates, “Having your own set of friends is as important as having your own parents, siblings, gadgets, vehicles. It’s a part of a woman’s identity and independence. Having fruitful relationships not formed through the guy is generally strong on their own. They have a place and importance of their own.” “It even helps to have your own friends to do some mindless ranting about your spouse,” Deshpande says with a grin.
Face your biggest fear
Why you ask. Many times, we hold back and play it safe, in order to avoid looking silly, feeling embarrassed, being hurt, and/or facing rejection or a possible failure. The fear could be of anything – big or small. Doing this will help you in acknowledging your fear, facing it, and dissolving it. Why do it before your wedding? If you can overcome your biggest fear, then doing anything else will seem much easier and you’ll be able to face any challenges that you come across, post marriage, head on.
At the root of it all, you should understand yourself – what you truly like and dislike, what your beliefs are, etc. Sometimes, we don’t even admit to what we want from life and get influenced by the people around us. Understanding oneself will help you understand what you want from life and in turn your relationship with your SO. Shah believes, “Before getting married, you must know yourself and love yourself before you fall in love with anyone else. Because, people may leave you, or move away but the only person who will stay with you forever is yourself. Loving oneself will automatically make you a happier person and then people around you tend to love you more!”