So you're thinking about getting married? Maybe this doesn't apply to everyone right now, but it might come in handy some day. I've been giving the following simple, yet critical, advice to engaged couples for many years. I suspect someday that many of them will come back to thank me.... maybe...
1) Hang wallpaper together!
Doesn't sound interesting or valuable to you? Well, try it!! You'll be surprised at how telling the results will be. Tami and I have performed this task several times during our marriage. Maybe we should have performed this task BEFORE we got hitched. Usually it's me, balancing on a ladder, arms outstretched holding an 8 foot strip of wet wallpaper, listening to instructions (no, directions) from my loving wife... Comments like "It's not lined up", or "You don't have the patterns matching", or "I think you're holding it upside down", or "Are you sure it's wet enough?" or "Do you want me to hold something?" are a few examples....
Hanging wallpaper will surely test your patience and teamwork. It might unveil personality characteristics that you have never seen before - in both parties. For example, I might reply to my wife's comments with "It looks lined up from where I'm standing!", or "Trust me, I'm NOT holding it upside down!", or "I'm sure it's wet enough - it's dripping all over the floor!", or "Hold your comments please!!". (Maybe I really didn't say that last one...)
Anyway, hang some wallpaper... trust me, you'll get a kick out of it...
2) Play Monopoly together!
This will show you a side of each other that you never knew existed! They'll turn into ruthless, cut-throat, unforgiving, money & property monopolizers.... or, you'll see a no-accountability, poor decision-making, careless, in-debt player that will have no interest in competition, winning, or even playing. Maybe you'll even see someone somewhere between these two extremes. But nevertheless, their true financial and competitive traits and skills will be revealed.
Even picking which token you will each use may be telling... give Monopoly a try!
3) See each other totally wet!
Now, I don't mean naked... I mean, check out how each other looks on their "worst" day - not their "best" day. Be sure that you are not duped into actually believing that he/she always looks that good. It's not true! In fact, you had better fall in love with the "inside stuff", because the "outside stuff" is surely going to change (i.e., droop, drop, wrinkle, drag, fall out, hang over, etc. - you get the idea...). Seeing each other in their "authentic & natural" state is something you must discover BEFORE marriage.
4) Have a fight!
You must learn to fight fair! What?! You haven't had a fight yet? This is a red flag! If you are hanging wallpaper, playing Monopoly, and seeing each other on their worst hair days, you should be fighting... at least once! Each person fights differently and you need to understand and talk about those differences. Are you a turtle - hard shell, slow to respond, retreats easily.... or are you roadrunner - fast talker, drop a bomb and retreat fast.... or are you a porcupine - needles out all the time, ready to defend your position at the first attack? It really doesn't matter, you just need to know how to communicate with each other, given your fighting techniques.
It sounds goofy, but you must learn to fight fairly..... practice it.
There you have it.... words worth gold! By the way, I hate to hang wallpaper, I never win at Monopoly, I never have a bad hair day (no hair), and I've learned to master the art of fighting with Tami... finally, at the end of the fight, I end up saying the three words Tami always loves to hear.... "Let's eat out!" Try it, it works....