published Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Baumgardner: Going to the chapel, gonna get married

By Julie Baumgardner

More than 2.3 million couples will say "I do" in the United States this year, and 391,000 of the weddings will take place in June. The average cost of each wedding is $28,000.

"Couples are increasingly less concerned with the economy and are comfortable investing more than ever in the once-in-a-lifetime experience of planning their wedding and making it a fabulous experience for their guests," says Carley Roney, co-founder of theknot.com.

In the midst of planning for the big day, it is hard for most couples to believe there could be a time when they are at odds with each other. However, if you have been married for any length of time, you can testify that it does happen.

When people were asked what advice they would give their younger self as they prepared to walk down the aisle, the words of wisdom were incredible. Here are some of the nuggets they shared:

• Laugh together. Look for the good in your spouse.

• Pay attention to the vows. The music will inspire you. The reception will be fun. The pictures will bring occasional memories, but the vows get you through over the course of a lifetime.

• You love someone despite, not because -- as in "I love you despite the fact that you don't put your clothes in the hamper," not as in "I love you because you're so (fill in the adjective)!" The "despites" are usually more enduring than the "becauses."

• Put your whole heart into everything you do. Expect pain. Embrace the chaos. Moving through those things will create the best you that you can be.

• There will be rough patches, but know that those times will make you stronger. Always assume the best about the other person.

• Never, ever skip good pre-marital preparation.

• Never speak negatively about your spouse to anyone. Always be their best cheerleader no matter what. Love them unconditionally.

• Time outs are for adults too. Use them wisely. Remember that hurtful words can never be unspoken or unheard. And when times get tough, sit close to each other and hold hands. The conversation you need to have will come.

• Embrace the imperfections in yourself and in your partner. Resistance is futile.

• Saying "I'm sorry" can be just as important and endearing as "I love you."

• Remember to continue dating. In other words, keep doing what you did to win him or her throughout your marriage.

• You're on the same team. If you are working together toward a common goal, you will have more strength and less arguing than when you oppose one another.

Wise couples will take these words to heart and approach their wedding day prepared for the journey.

Julie Baumgardner is president and CEO of First Things First. Contact her at julieb@firstthings.org.

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