Hollywood Actress Bride's Guide to Becoming an Amazing Wife
Chapter One: “Getting On The Same Page In the Same Book”
By Alexis Carra
I have chosen to promise my heart, my love, my support and my ovaries to my dream man, Christopher. I hesitated to write about it because there are so many emotions, thoughts, ideas, and to-do's around my new role as a fiancé and bride-to-be that I couldn't pick just one topic to discuss. So here is my attempt to marry what I know about being an actress and dancer with being a soon to be wife—or at least what I'm learning.....
Consider this the Hollywood Actress Bride's Guide to Becoming an Amazing Wife.
If I were me I would stop reading right here. I mean how many marriages break up in Hollywood? It seems like all of them! The day Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson get a divorce I am definitely turning to a Cosmo martini, my fave “Sex and the City” episode. Let's be honest, why would anyone listen to an actress share about what she is learning about love, marriage and relationships? Not to mention the title. I cringe slightly at it, being a feminist, but the truth is I am also on a mission to redefine the role of being a wife as part of being my own woman. So what does it take to make a marriage last? I'm on that discovery path and here's what I've got so far:
My fiancé and I are starting pre marital counseling this week. We decided it would be a good idea to take an inventory of ourselves as individuals and as a couple. We wanted to get all the "stuff" out, share our fears, what we want and don't want, and get it all settled now. Well that deserves an LOL because I know we are in for the ride called life where you can't pre plan conflict. Trust me, if my fiancé could, he would--he's the ultimate planner! The PMC (pre-marital counseling) is really so that we can get on the same page in the same book, learn how we like to turn the pages of said book, and continue to learn how we process the information in this book. Ok we get the analogy. In other words it's a way to understand the man I am about to marry even more, and to deepen the understanding of myself.
What I love about the process so far is that it's not about the two of us fitting together, it's about growing and learning about each of us as individuals. We start where we are and who we are right at this moment. One of my fears is that I will change so much from the woman I am now that we will no longer be compatible or share the same book so to speak. My heart doesn't fathom this at the moment, so I tend to listen first to that instinct, but I am also aware that many couples grow apart when this type of inventory isn't done with enough regularity that each person recognizes as these big shifts and changes happen. So our other goal in PMC is to learn this "taking inventory tool" and to practice it throughout our marriage.
I have also learned in the process of merging our lives that planning a wedding is a great way to watch and learn how a person will react to just about anything. I read in a NY Times article that couples who are decisive together have much greater chance at having a successful marriage:
Couples who are decisive before marriage — intentionally defining their relationships, living together and planning a wedding — appear to have better marriages than couples who simply let inertia carry them through major transitions.
“Making decisions and talking things through with partners is important,” said Galena K. Rhoades, a relationship researcher at the University of Denver and co-author of the report. “When you make an intentional decision, you are more likely to follow through on that.”
So far practicing patience and kindness, two attributes that are not only great for a marriage, but for life in general (hello!), during the decision-making process are by far superlative if two people want to get anything accomplished--especially in a peaceful manner. Right now, both of us are in major growth periods in our careers and personal lives. I just started shooting a new series, and he just opened his first company. We have very full plates and yet we manage to juggle the decisions. Factor in a very strong, Latin Mother of the Bride, who is also invested in our wedding, and you've got a possible recipe for disaster. I am constantly recognizing how considerate Christopher is, and how much I value that more than anything. I learn from him and grow into a better person while we make decisions together. We choose to see each step of the planning process as a one step closer to the celebration and that no decision deserves to be an argument--so far, so good!
The last piece of knowledge I have derived since becoming engaged is that merging finances and getting absolute clarity around money is essential. Money can be scary—it can also be exciting or enticing, and how about confusing or disillusioning? Let’s face it most of us have some “stuff” around money. So what we decided to do may not work for everyone, but I recommend every couple opening up their books and showing that chapter called “Here are my finances.” Some say if you want to know a person see where he/she spends his/her money and time. I must say I agree. It was important that Christopher and I see each other’s spending habits and discuss our money values and financial goals as a couple and as individuals. We chose to sit down and do a line-by-line budget. That means looked at exactly what we spend individually each month, and then we put that together to make a total monthly budget as a couple. We then looked at our monthly net income, weighed in our expenses, and voilà—you have a clear picture of where your money goes and how much you have left—hopefully! It has opened up many more layers of discussion about where our money concerns and dreams originate from and has brought us even closer.