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Designing a Life You love

(Not just a romance)

Over the years, I’ve been blessed to be a part of a lot of amazing weddings; beautiful events that were intricately orchestrated. Brides and grooms will put a year or more of planning into those ceremonies, agonizing over the smallest details and working hard to ensure everything goes off without a hitch.

The irony is, very few people put the same amount of effort into planning their lives together.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a big wedding. I get caught up in the excitement of it all just as much as anyone, and I truly appreciate being there, having the opportunity to capture it all.

I just think that if more people would put the same amount of effort into planning their lives, they might find they are capable of so much more happiness than they even realized.

Most couples plan out the basics. They have an idea of where they want to live, how many kids they want to have, and what each will do for work. But they don’t think beyond that. They don’t ask each other, “If you could do anything, or be anywhere, what would make you the most happy? And how can we help each other achieve that?”

They don’t sit down and plot out the more intricate details of their lives, discussing dreams and goals and preferences beyond the basics.

If people planned their weddings like they plan their lives, you would have a bride and groom standing in front of only those guests who were able to make it at the last minute, a favorite radio station playing in the background, and a non-descript cake sitting in the corner.

And if people planned their lives like they plan their weddings, saving for what’s most important to them, mapping out the sequence of events, and bringing in the help of experts in order to achieve a specific vision; they might just surprise themselves by what it turns out they are capable of.

Of course, plans change. Nothing in life is ever set in stone. But before you embark upon this life as a pair, I would highly encourage you to sit down and discuss what the happiest version of that life might look like—and what it would take to get there. Be honest with each other about what you want out of life, about what your priorities might be. Would you like to go back to school? To pursue a promotion? To write a book? Do you hope to spend a few years traveling together before settling down with kids, or do you want to add to your family right away? Do you prioritize weekly date nights, or do you both need one night a week to pursue independent activities?

What does your perfect union look like? And how does that vision align with your partner’s?

A recent New York Time’s piece outlined 13 questions all couples should ask each other before getting married. There are definitely some good ones in there, and I especially like the inclusion of the Love Languages. But one I would add might be: What do you need out of life, beyond this relationship, to be happy?

Because the truth is, sometimes, love isn’t enough. Knowing what makes your partner tick, what gives him or her satisfaction beyond your romance, can help you to build a life together in which you are both fulfilled.

Of course, as with any good plan, this is one you will have to revisit often, addressing changes that may come up along the way. But if you enter into this new life stage with the goal of building a marriage, not just planning a wedding, you can design that life you both want together.

A life you love almost as much as you love each other.