1. Living Together
3. Get a Joint Checking Account
4. Couples Counseling Classes.
I actually think this is a pretty good list given that it represents the common pitfalls for couples in marriage: household duties, children, money, and long-term relationship health.
But I have a slightly different list, although I am going to co-opt their #1 for mine. I understand completely that some people don't believe in this, and that is of course totally your prerogative. But I think for most couples, cohabitation is imperative to really understanding how your relationship will progress. When you each have your own corner to run to when things get tough, it's just not the same as having to be in the same space and work it out. You can read my opinions and recommendations on this here.
2. Travel Apart and Travel Together. When Scott and I first met, I took off for four days with my friend to Rome. It was important to me to have this time away and be on my own a bit. I missed him like crazy and it took our relationship to a more serious level when I returned because I realized I missed HIM, not just having a relationship. So then we also traveled together. And one of the highest compliments Scott has ever paid me was "you're the only person I can travel with for more than a day or two without getting totally sick of them." Though I don't like the thought of a "test", traveling together is definitely a good indicator of the foundation of a relationship. Before I met Scott, I had traveled with a guy who liked to get to the airport 30 minutes before the plane takes off (I'm a 2-hour before girl) and planned a million things to do right off the plane (whereas I like to settle into my hotel, get organized). Don't believe me that it's a test? Just look at the Amazing Race.
3. Live on Your Own. Yes, living together is crucial. But living on your own before that is crucial, too. You don't know who you are until you're paying your own bills, cleaning your own place, cooking your own meals. You start to separate your needs from your parents and roommates. And then when you go into a relationship, you go into it with a solid idea of who you are and your wants and needs.
4. Make and Keep Your Own Friends. I can't tell you the number of people who "joked" that Scott would never be "allowed" to go out once he got married. I was horrified. Why should a piece of paper and a name change alter the fundamentals of our relationship with each other and our friends? Keeping your old friends and making ones outside of your marriage is crucial to a healthy separation of church and state when it comes to coupling. But also?
5. Have Stuff That's JUST for You Two. My first fight with Scott was over hobbies. He was afraid we didn't have much in common because I wasn't into the outdoorsy things he was. BUT, we found common ground on cooking, reading, watching the same movies, and even kind of silly things like UFC (I freaking love UFC, I have problems). We like to spend our spare time doing the same types of things. And even more long term we agree on how we want to spend retirement.
So, tell me, what are your 5 things you think need to happen before someone gets married?