17 Lessons Divorce Teaches You About Marriage

11/18/2013 05:21 pm ET
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Sometimes it takes the wake up call of divorce to gain some perspective on what works -- and doesn't work -- in a marriage.

That's a bittersweet truth HuffPost Divorce readers know all too well. On Sunday night, they drew on some of their biggest marriage regrets to offer up the relationship advice they believe all engaged couples need to hear before tying the knot.

From waiting to have kids until you've built a solid foundation with your spouse, to instituting date night once you're wed, scroll down to see what they had to say. Then head to the comments and weigh in with your best marriage advice.

1. Spend more time planning your marriage than your wedding.

2. Know that being married takes dedication, love, commitment, work, honesty, trust, friendship, selflessness, understanding and a desire to make things work. Every relationship starts off good and things can easily go downhill, but you do have some control over that.

3. Keep your relationship fresh and alive. When you become boring and complacent you are no longer honoring the vows of your marriage.

4. Wait to have kids. Spend some years together building your bond and careers before having children. Once you have kids, have date night at least once a week. Trust me on this.

5. Keep your finances separate.

6. When you get mad -- and you will -- communicate and don't yell. Tell them how whatever they did made you feel and what you would like them to do differently next time. It's about educating your partner, not yelling at them.

7. Talk in depth about your vision for your marriage. House or apartment? City or country? How will you divide chores? Who is good at what? How many kids will you have and when will we have them? Where will we spend the holidays? How much of a say will your families have in your marriage? These are all important questions.

8. Don't believe someone will change because they love you -- and don't expect yourself to change simply because you love them.

9. Make sure you live where there is at least some family or friends nearby for support. You need to know that you are close enough to travel to them within a day or you will regret it.

10. Remember: No one HAS to love you; act accordingly.

11. Get counseling first!

12. If you're marrying in a religious ceremony, make sure you understand what you're agreeing to: For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do you part. If you cannot live up to this, don't get married.

13. Never stop dating. You need to work on cultivating your relationship every day. Nurture it. Constantly remind each other why you're together in the first place. Always strive to retain your couple-ness.

14. White lies can turn into major whoppers in some marriages. Always be truthful even if you are afraid -- deceiving your spouse is not worth the pain of divorce.

15. Don't stop doing things that make you feel separate from your partner. Having a life outside of your spouse will bring you closer and give you things to talk about later.

16. What works today may not work in the future. You and your partner will continue to grow and mature -- that in and of itself means there will be changes ahead. It is impossible to be completely aware of how your partner will be affected by life circumstances. Parenting, if nothing else, will show you how different the two of you are.

17. Respect each other, communicate and never let outside forces come between you. Your marriage is a lifelong partnership between the two of you and no one else.

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