There are 8 things you should do before saying I do. Well probably more than 8 but these are the ones I know for sure after some life experience. Unlike many girls growing up, I didn’t think about getting married and having children. The thought didn’t cross my mind until I was in my thirties. I focused on college and my career. After graduating with a journalism degree, I worked as a television reporter and traveled the world. That made me a little commitment-phobic. OK, a lot of commitment-phobic. I didn’t want a boyfriend blocking my path to becoming the next Oprah Winfrey. I enjoyed dating handsome, humorous and intelligent men. I’m sure several guys were marriage material. Those who weren’t even boyfriend material still taught me important life lessons. I was young and free and not smothered by rigid routines or other people’s expectations. I didn’t regret not wanting to get married, but I did feel guilty for having premarital sex. 

When I became a mom, I wanted to get married. It wasn’t for the right reasons. Nonetheless, I finally wanted to settle down. Selfishly, I thought if I was married, my husband could magically make my life better. I wouldn’t bounce checks or move back in with my parents. I wouldn’t shovel snow-covered steps, take out the garbage or carry the grocery bags in late at night. Someone would pick me up when my car broke down, which happened a lot. A husband would wipe away my tears at child support and custody hearings. He would rub my feet after a long day at work and would be waiting for me when I came home from a girls’ night tipsy and horny. I would feel desired and content, not alone and unhappy. Those feelings didn’t last long. When I got over the initial shock of being a single mother, I had to own my actions and emotions. Although I didn’t want to marry for my temporary selfish reasons, I did, in fact, want to get married. And I knew there were…

8 Things I Should Do Before Saying I Do 

Determine why you want to get married. 1. Determine Why I Want to Get Married

My parents had a very traditional marriage. My dad was the protector and provider. My mom was the nurturer and caregiver. They lived out the vows, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish. They bent over backward to keep a smile on each other’s faces. Their marriage is still going strong 50+ years later! My grandparents had similar stories. On both sides, they celebrated long-lasting unions, and even when times weren’t so great, they remained committed and fought for their families. When I determined why I wanted to get married, I looked at their relationships for inspiration. I wanted that level of love, the kind of love you see in the movies. One of my favorite movies is Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? Mostly because my ex-boyfriend and prom date Lamman Rucker was the main character. For the first time in my life, I seriously asked the question–why did I want to get married? And for the first time, I truly knew the answer. It wasn’t for a ring or a wedding. I wanted to love someone like 1 Corinthians 13. You know, that love that’s patient and kind. That love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Funny that I began to understand marriage more when I became a single mom. I received a flood of grace from God. He didn’t shame or condemn me for having pre-martial sex (with my daughter’s dad or anyone for that matter!) He simply loved me, and I wanted to mirror that type of love and experience that close companionship in marriage.

Heal and become spiritually strong. 2. Become Spiritually Strong

Drawing closer to God taught me to lean on Him, no matter what happened in life. He is my source, not child support, a job, or even friends and family. His love overflows, so I don’t look to fill a void. Even though I desire marriage, I am quite content being single. Until I meet my husband, I can strive to be a Proverbs 31 woman. I can turn to the Bible instead of society to determine what marriage means. I also started a meditation practice using the Abide App. 

Discover your purpose before you say I do. 3. Discover My Purpose

A few years ago, I left my job and took a giant leap into entrepreneurship. I started two businesses–a communications and marketing firm and an online and in-person support group for single mothers. I actually did this when I became a single mother. I built a baby blog to pay for my daughter’s daycare. The blog later turned into a money maker, allowing me to work from home. Your purpose may not be connected to your career. Perhaps it involves volunteering, connecting to the community, or discovering your passions. 

Before saying I do I had to discover my purpose. 4. Love Me First 

In order to love someone else, I love myself first. Sounds selfish, but in reality, it’s the best wedding gift I can give my husband. He won’t be required to fill a void because I don’t need to be half of a couple to be a complete person. Although I feel insecure from time to time, those times don’t last long. I am comfortable in my skin. I embrace my curves and my curls. I remind myself that I am amazing. I am worthy. I am loved. I am imperfectly perfect. Loving myself means I am less likely to be jealous, desperate or needy in a relationship. 

Heal from your past before saying I do.

5. Heal From Past Heartbreaks

After my daughter’s dad dumped me, I didn’t date anyone for a year and a half. I needed that time to heal from heartache, learn from mistakes and move on mentally. I refused to take baggage packed with anger or envy into a new relationship. Also, I analyzed my previous relationships. What went wrong? What went right? What did I learn from my experiences? What qualities do I want in a significant other? What won’t I tolerate? Although people don’t usually change, they can improve. Yes, some things are personality traits and habits you’ve developed over the years. But if you examine yourself, there may be negative or even toxic behaviors you can work on. Spend this time filling up your toolbox. Go to therapy. Journal. Reconnect with friends. Get a massage. Take a nature walk. Forgive yourself and your child’s father. 

Get a passport then get stamps for yourself before you say I do.

6. Get A Passport. Get Stamps.

When I first became a single mom, I couldn’t afford to travel. That didn’t stop me from taking a vacation from stress or work! I explored my city and visited botanical gardens, museums, art galleries and parks. I ate at restaurants serving international cuisines and attended various cultural festivals. I took belly dancing and cooking classes. I even booked a staycation and took my daughter swimming. Now that she has a passport, we’re saving up to go to Paris to celebrate her 13th birthday. Once I got back on my feet financially, I took her on a cruise and to Disney World–twice! I also took myself on vacation. Each summer, I take a solo trip. Last year, I went to a wellness resort in Arizona, and the year before, I went to Hawaii. 

7. Get A Makeover. Get A Headshot.

A makeover always makes me feel good about myself. As a new mom, I neglected self-care. Over the years, I started taking better care of myself. My daughter and I have spa days in the dining room. We set up a relaxation room with candles, books, and pillows. We give each other facials using the masks we pick up on Dollar Tree trips. And we watch YouTube makeup tutorials together. When Single Mom Defined held photo shoots for our art exhibition, we hired a professional makeup artist for the moms. They each received a makeover, headshot and family portrait. 

8. Cleaned Up My Credit 

As mentioned, my dad was the provider, the breadwinner. My mom was the shopper. She worked but spent more than her paycheck. Growing up, I had unrealistic views of marriage since my dad paid for everything. Although I love when a man picks up the check, I had to take responsibility for my personal finances. I made a plan and paid off my student loans, car and credit cards. It took some time, but I am finally debt-free and have a really good credit score. If I decide to get married, I can enter the union financially free. We can focus on building wealth and leaving a legacy behind for our children. 

Hey mamas! Which of these 8 things before saying I do is a must for you?