Marriage is more than trying someone on for fit. A successful marriage needs sacrifice and compromise from both of you. As a couple, you may need new ways to resolve conflict and discuss important issues together. Marriage is a new life; everything that was once yours alone to decide is now a mutual decision. But if you and your future spouse are marrying because you love each other and are ready to sacrifice for each other, you’re starting on the right foot.

Creating a Home

First, you will need to know where you are going to live and how you will support yourselves. If you decide to live with family to cut costs, you will sacrifice some privacy. Newlyweds need time alone to develop their relationship, so privacy is important. Keep in mind that living with family is temporary; sooner or later, you will move out.

If you decide instead to start out on your own, ask yourselves whether you can afford an apartment and whether you both have to work. Next, compose a monthly expense list (rent, utilities, food, phone, clothing, baby expenses, etc.). If your monthly expenses are more than one of you can earn at a full-time job, you will both need to work.

Include surprise expenses in your budget like doctor visits or car repairs, which seem to turn up when you least expect them – or can least afford them. If you both have to work, plan for childcare. Will you use daycare? Do you have a relative who can care for the baby? Be sure to plan in advance because childcare will be a major chunk of your budget!

Government Assistance

While the government offers some financial assistance programs (food stamps, day care, Medicaid, welfare, subsidized housing, etc.), keep in mind these programs are intended to be short-term support until one or both of you gets a job or completes school. Because these programs were not designed to help you rise much above the poverty level, don’t expect to rely on these programs for long. If you or your spouse doubt your ability to survive in the foreseeable future without these government programs, perhaps you are not prepared financially. Maybe you should wait to get married or reconsider other available options.

Completing Your Education

Completing your education should be a high priority. If you have not finished high school, you may need to consider night classes, independent study or a GED. Some high schools even offer programs for young mothers, sometimes with daycare. Ask your school counselor about your educational options. If one or both of you wants to go to college, you will have to arrange your schedules so that you can attend classes, study, work and spend time with your child. You may even have to take turns completing your education.

Sacrifice and Understanding

If you cannot accomplish some of your goals because of the demands of parenting, it will be important not to blame each other or the baby. Your decision to marry and raise your child will mean sacrifice from the start. While this can be difficult for you both, try to be patient if your spouse feels neglected. It may be hard to find time for your husband when baby’s needs come first. He should be understanding, but you’ll want to find time for each other.

If you get married, you’ll want to know that you are marrying for the right reasons: mutual love and commitment. A successful marriage takes hard work and compromise, so you’ll need to work as a team to avoid becoming one of the 50 percent of marriages today that end in divorce. If you address some of these challenges ahead of time, you’ll be more prepared for success.