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Things to Do Before You Get Married

9 Things I'm Glad I Did Before Getting Married and 1 I Wish I Had

The following post was originally featured on Where I Need to Be and written by Marissa Vicario, who is part of POPSUGAR Select Love & Sex.

Last week I breathed a sigh of relief as I finally got my Save-the-Dates in the mail. I went the DIY route on them to save a little money and there were a couple of minor snafus along the way that held things up. Sprinkle in a 2-week vacation and not realizing just how long it would take to collect all the addresses and a month later, I was finally able to tick the box. Let's just hope we've given everyone ample time to plan for our Cabo wedding in March!

Now that these are out of the way, on to tackle the rest of my list! There always seem to be a million little things in addition to all the big ones, but the Save-the-Dates were a huge one for me and I'm swearing up and down no more DIY!

All this wedding planning has got me thinking about my journey to the altar (and yes, it will be an altar because we are getting married in a beautiful Mexican Church). I could say that I'm completely fine and comfortable with the fact that I'm getting married for the first time in my mid-30's, but that's not 100 percent true. Mostly because I would have loved for us to enter mother-and father-hood earlier than we will.

But you play the hand you were dealt and on the flip side, there are a TON of reasons I'm glad I took my sweet time finding — and choosing — the man with whom I would spend the rest of my life. Mostly because I've had experiences that I may not have otherwise and these are what shaped me leading up to this moment:

  1. Living alone: No parents, no roommates, no boyfriend, just me. After college, I was finished with sharing my space. I loved living alone and the sense of independence it gave me, not to mention the ability to create a quiet place to retreat that was all my own. Sometimes, when my introversion kicks in, I still dream about that little studio apartment on Lexington Avenue.
  2. Learning to be comfortable with being alone: I think this is where living alone really helped me. I'm perfectly happy in the solitude of being physically alone. I don't mind doing most things by myself. So when I found myself without a partner at various times in my life, I learned to be OK with that. This didn't happen overnight but through the years, it became easier and helped me establish a sense of self that I'm proud of.
  3. Dating. A lot. I went on no less than hundreds of dates and no, that doesn't mean I kissed every single one of them. I just dated a lot and got to know my likes and dislikes extremely well. This helped me choose the best partner for me. I knew when I met David it would probably be forever and I'm certain I can owe it to all those dates. He, on the other hand, would like to pretend he's the first man I ever dated.
  4. Having my heart broken. This was never easy, but gosh, am I glad it happened. It made me stronger and of course, freed me up to meet my true love.
  5. Traveling. I never knew how much I loved to travel until I dated someone who did, which sparked my interest in it. Since then, I've jumped at every chance to go somewhere I've never been before. One of my most memorable trips was a yoga and surf retreat I took in Costa Rica. I traveled alone and didn't know a soul on the trip but I made new friends, did a lot of yoga and discovered surfing is probably not for me. Now I can share that love of travel with David, too.
  6. Discovering myself and my true purpose. My long-time friends tell me I'm a completely different person today than I was 10 years ago and I have to agree. My 20's were a time of self-discovery. I had so much fun, but I was also a bit of a hot mess. Looking for love, feeling unsettled, knowing that my corporate job wasn't my true calling wasn't always a pretty picture. I'm glad that time is over and I emerged knowing who I am and what I want. David fell in love with me and all my many flaws, but at least I got a lot of the messy stuff out of the way beforehand.
  7. Learning to cook. All of the women in my family are wonderful cooks, but I felt like I missed the cooking gene. I simply wasn't interested, until I realized that taking care of myself meant eating better, more nutritious food and that meant cooking it. I got into my little kitchen with those hand-me-down pots and pans and learned to cook. I followed recipes. I didn't follow recipes. I grilled. I steamed. I spilled things. But I learned to cook and now it's one of my favorite things in the world. I'm happy going into a marriage where I can cook for myself, cook for my husband or we can cook together — so many options!
  8. Solidifying my faith and finding a spiritual path. I was raised Catholic but I always felt more spiritual than religious. I've been able to find a place where my faith and spirituality meet in the middle. I guess I used to think you were either spiritual (i.e. you meditated) or you were religious (you went to church). It was a huge relief to find I could do both!
  9. Getting an education. The nerd in me is obsessed with learning and I really value education, so let's just say I used my unmarried time wisely getting a master's degree and also a health coaching and nutrition certification. I may not be finished getting letters after my name but even if I do stop there, I'd say those were some years well spent before getting my MRS.
  10. Owning my own home. The one thing I wish I had done is bought my own home. I moved to NYC when I was 25 and had I lived almost anywhere but here, I probably would have. I never thought I'd live here this long nor was I brave enough to play the real estate game. All that's about to change as David and I prepare to buy a someplace together, one that's ours and we can call home.

I have no regrets, looking back on my life and all the experiences that brought me here today, I know I wouldn't have been ready for a commitment like marriage until now, until David.

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