I don't think anything can really prepare you for marriage. It's equally amazing and frustrating at the same time. My marriage has been complete blessing to me in so many ways, but its also been the most challenging thing I've ever done. I am now directly or indirectly responsible for the man standing next to me, and its exciting. I wanted to share what I've learned in my first year being married, and hopefully help make your transition from single to married a little bit easier.
1. Patience Grasshopper
I know, cliche. Patience is a virtue, I get it. But man is it hard to practice. I tend to be a very high strung, impatient individual to begin with. But if there is anything I can stress, it's be patient. Be overly patient. Both people are going to need to feel out what it's like to live with each other. There are going to be differences in opinions on how the marriage is going to progress. The only way to get through this time without beating each other silly is to just be patient in explanations and expectations. Which leads me to my next point:
2. Manage Expectations
And be sure you discuss those expectations with your significant other. Let's just be honest ladies, there aren't going to be a multitude of surprises or gifts. If you want to have flowers or be doted on, your husband is going to need to be aware of your expectations in the marriage. It might be good to sit down and talk through what each person expects in the marriage from the other. For instance, I expect support in any of my crazy ideas. I expect him to take care of calling support for anything (I just hate talking to someone about my bill or complaining about something I got in the mail). I expect him to tell me he loves me everyday and kiss me when I leave for work. I think this can tie into the conversation about love languages, and how the other feels loved.
These all tend to relate to each other but its amazing how many times people look at one and disregard the others. Communication has never been more important than now. This is a learning phase with your hubby, and the only way either of you will continue to grow is by communicating everything. I don't think you can over communicate at all. Tell him what makes you happy. Tell him what infuriates you, how you feel, and what your dreams are. Even if it's small. I think a lot of this can be done before the wedding through pre-marital counseling. It's so important that if you plan to get married, you should go to pre-marital counseling. It will help this first year run 10x's more smoothly! Pre-marital counseling gets you in the mood of sharing, and will help work into communication.
4. Manage Finances TOGETHER
One of the major causes for divorce in America is finances. Money is such a hot button issue, and can tear a family apart. Please please please budget with your significant other. If you haven't heard of Dave Ramsey yet, look into his program. It's amazing how managing money together can ease so much friction in the relationship. It helps with the communication above, it manages the expectations of what you can afford, and it makes you work as a team. And you can do SO much when you work as a team. Mountains will move and the ground will shake when you both work together as a single unit.
Make it work. This is marriage. This is for life. It's amazing and wonderful, and while not easy, it definitely is the most rewarding thing ever. Marriage has made me grow, and it has given me the most precious partnership I will ever have in my life. It takes work, but that work yields the juiciest fruit of life and happiness. Love you baby!