As someone who has been in a very happy a long-term relationship, I’ve started to notice that some of my friends are in relationships and they are absolutely miserable. It’s unbearable to watch people I care about stay in relationships that make them so unhappy.

After reading Dr. Meg Jay’s “The Defining Decade”, which is about why our twenties are an important decade for shaping our lives, one chapter stood out to me; a chapter on relationships in your twenties.  Dr. Jay goes into great detail about why it is imperative to start taking your relationships seriously, stating that “the best time to work on your marriage is before you have one.”

Finding that special someone in your twenties may or may not happen, but it’s important to start to looking for someone and paying attention to whom you will end up with.

Below are 4 tips to help you work on your marriage before you have one:

1. Get to know each other. Spend time really learning about each other. One of the most important things I’ve learned in my years of dating is ensuring that you are on the same page when it comes to important values. My previous relationship failed because of exactly that. When it came to marriage and children, we couldn’t meet eye-to-eye. Regardless, of the fact that we were both young, it took a toll on the relationship and, in my opinion, eventually led the its demise.

2. Talk about the tough stuff. The money talk is never an easy one to have, but it’s imperative to have it before you commit to a relationship, especially marriage. Finding out what financial position you and your partner are in and where your money priorities are is important if you ever want to consider having a successful future.

3. Work on your communication skills. Communicating in your relationship is something that is so important if you’re even hoping to make it to the marriage stage. Learning to effectively communicate allows you to mitigate arguments that could potentially break down your relationship.

4. Learn how to fight. Fighting is bound to happen in your relationship, and learning how to do it properly is important. Screaming and yelling and insulting each other doesn’t get you anywhere. Learning how to properly express your feelings and effectively express your thoughts is the only way you and your significant other will make it through the tough stuff.

These are important conversations to mark of your relationship to-do list before tying the knot, regardless of how long you have been a couple.

What topics do you think are necessary to cover before getting hitched? Tell us in the comments below!