Growing up, we all imagined what our life would look like once we hit the big 3-0, once we had kids, or once we got married. There's a lot to love about reaching all of those milestones. But as I reach them, I'm realizing more and more that I wish I had been more conscious of how much there is to love about the lead-up, too. Even some of the darkest moments -- breakups, fights, you name it! -- actually turn out to be beneficial in the long-haul.
Given all the hype and hoopla around finding The One and getting hitched, we often forget to focus on all the awesome things we can and should be doing for ourselves and our relationship before we say "I do." For that reason, I feel like every woman should have a pre-marital bucket list.
Here, 20 things every woman should try to do before tying the knot.
- Travel with your sister(s) and/or closest female friends. Not saying you can't do this after you get married, but lots of ladies agree there's something especially liberating, eye-opening, and bond-bolstering about doing it beforehand.
- Travel with your future spouse. "Everyone can get along for a weekend, but see if you can stand each other for a whole week, dealing with travel dilemmas, etc.!" my wise fellow newlywed friend noted, and I couldn't agree more.
- Suffer major heartbreak. As one woman put it, "It not only made me a stronger individual coming out of it, but it also showed me never to take love for granted."
- Dump someone. Pleasant experience or not, it's empowering to be the one who called the final shot in a relationship at one time or another.
- Get your finances in order. One of my close friends made it a point to clean up her credit and make some serious sacrifices so that her future husband wouldn't have to carry around the burden of budgeting mistakes she had made while single. It's also not a shabby idea to do it for your own peace of mind.
- Talk about your finances with your future spouse. Make sure you know where you stand on long and short-term goals and spending vs. saving. Depending on how much either one of you is willing to bend on certain things, money matters can be serious buzzkills for marital bliss -- or, at their worst, dealbreakers.
- Live alone. Slash with roommates. But not with Mom and Dad. Autonomy is awesome! Plus, as one recent bride put it, having lived alone "makes you grateful for the things your spouse contributes" once they're in the picture.
- Live with your partner. Sure, if you're old-school, you may not be a fan of this one, but it can definitely serve as a "test drive" before buying the car.
- Have a summer fling. Even if it doesn't last past Labor Day, it's a fun memory to look back on -- and makes for a fun story to reminisce about.
- Learn how to cook. Not because you're getting ready to be someone's June Cleaver, but because it's reassuring to know that you can fend for yourself in the kitchen.
- Splurge on yourself. Because you can -- and you should!
- Have at least one big blowout fight with your future spouse. Then make up. It's good to know you can get through it.
- Date around. Serial monogamists often feel like they missed out on the experiences of going on both good and really bad/hilarious/cringe-worthy dates.
- Face one of your biggest fears. Be it skydiving, public speaking, or dining in public alone.
- Try having a friend with benefits. If only to make sure that friend you always had a crush on doesn't somehow become "the one who got away."
- Focus on your education. Not that you can't do this once you're married, but you may want to spend pre-martial time on getting one -- or several! -- degrees.
- Get started on making your career dreams come true. Same as #16.
- Decide how you feel about kids. Kind of like money, a majorly important thing to reflect on/discuss before getting hitched.
- Clean up your act. AKA drinking less, eating healthier, working out more.
- Get to know yourself. Should go without saying!