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Family life professor offers ’10 things you should do before saying ‘I do”

With the fourth-highest marriage rate in the country, (here’s looking at you, Utah County,) a Utah State University professor is offering some tips for those preparing to say, “I do.”

Naomi Brower, who has a master’s degree from Utah State University in Family and Human Development and is a certified family life educator, currently teaches at USU as an extension professor and offered some tips for dating and engaged couples.

And all Utah County jokes aside, Morgan County actually has the highest marriage rate in Utah at a whopping 71.6%.

1. Brower says to ask, “Am I ready?” While planning a marriage can be exciting, Brower points out that the happiest relationships are between two people that are healthy and happy and ready to take on the challenges of life together. She advises that they should not be looking at marriage as a “fix” to their problems or to fix somebody else’s.

2. According to Brower, couples should take their time, which might be tricky for some Utahns. People are on their best behavior when they first meet someone. It takes time for patterns of behavior to emerge and as Brower says, “this is a process that can’t be rushed, even if you spend a lot of time together.”

3. Be extra cautious in long-distance relationships, Brower says. While dating may have evolved to swiping up or down on someone, she urges people to avoid long-term commitments with people they have mostly been in contact with at a distance. Without lots of in-person interaction, it can be hard to really get to know someone.

4. Brower encourages people to “play detective” by asking important and meaningful questions to get to know someone and know their values and priorities.

5. Start to become part of the family. Brower says a lot can be learned about a person and what they will be like as a partner by observing and spending time with their family. If concerns arise about a partner’s family, it might be a good reason to wait before committing to a marriage.

6. Brower says to watch for personality compatibility. No couple will have everything in common, but positive relationships often have many compatible traits including sense of humor, intelligence, recreational interests, etc.

7. Be aware of each other’s values. According to Brower, the largest disagreements in relationships often arise over a difference in values. Values could range from things like spirituality/religion to finances and money spending.

8. Watch for daily life compatibility. Brower says, “While it may not be romantic, the truth is that most of the time we spend with someone in a long-term relationship will be in the everyday routine of life.”

9. Brower encourages couples to learn conflict resolution skills. Even in the happiest relationships, conflicts will arise. Fortunately, Brower says when handled in a positive way, working through these conflicts can actually strengthen the relationship.

10. Plan now to keep your relationship strong. Brower says that like cars, relationships need “regular preventative maintenance in order to run smoothly.” Finding things to do together can be this regular preventative maintenance.

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