Getting married can be fraught with feelings of fear and nervousness, or excitement and happiness, and sometimes, unprecedented drama. Many grooms have the simple task of showing up and saying, “I Do,” while others prefer a more hands-on approach, working together with their bride-to-be to create the wedding of their dreams. Looking back, what would you wish you would have known, or perhaps done differently? Timothy Bledsoe has graciously agreed to share his perspectives on what he wishes he had known before becoming married, as well as advice to share for those thinking of doing the same.

Tim and his wife, Michaelanne, recently celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary on the 23rd day of June. Leading up to their backyard wedding, Timothy held the responsibility of choosing a best man and assisted Michaelanne in generating a guest list. Outside of that, Timothy was “hands-off” in the remainder of the planning process. “I think it was just about perfect in regards to the amount of responsibility,” said Timothy, a perfect mix of not too hot and not too cold. Goldilocks approved.

The wedding day itself was marked with a lot of anxiety and a jumble of nerves for Tim, so much so that he began drinking at 11a.m. to help calm those nerves. “I will always remember looking out and seeing all of my friends who took time out of their lives to come, “ said Timothy. “I was scared because it is a huge deal. Looking back, I had no clue how life changing it would be.”

Living together was the first hurdle that Tim had to surpass on his journey to happily ever after. He and Michaelanne did not live together prior to becoming husband and wife. It is quite the adjustment to endure, having someone invade your personal space at all times. “I’ve always enjoyed doing my own thing and not thinking much about it,” explained Tim. “You learn so much about yourself, inside and out, when living with someone. You will notice your strengths and things you can improve upon.” The wise reflect back and change course appropriately.

Marriage should be, although not always, a permanent bond between two people. If you aren’t prepared in some way for that kind of a journey, you will find yourself dancing around an arena trying to avoid the angry bull chasing your backside. During those terrifying times, Tim has learned the art of compromise and communication. “Before marriage, I didn’t budge on anything at all. I’m stubborn. Once my wife and I, mostly me, learned how to give up a little for each other, life got a lot easier,” said Tim. One compromise that Timothy made during the planning stage of the wedding was the “First Dance” song. He preferred either “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles or “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues. Michaelanne’s pick, “You Are” by Jimmy Wayne won the spotlight.

Effective communication is elusive in the hands of the inexperienced and often times can be a slippery slope for two people that are not committed to making their marriage succeed. “Probably the hardest thing for me, for anyone, is the ability to listen to what your partner is saying instead of just waiting for yourself to respond,” explained Tim. This is a trait the vast majority of society could learn, active listening instead of thinking of what they are going to say next.

There is a valid reason why “for richer or poorer” is in wedding vows: finances, more specifically the lack thereof, can be a great source of contention for many couples. “This one hit me the hardest. I had no idea prior to marriage and moving out of my parents just how difficult it is in the world. We have had literately $5 in our savings account. Money can really affect your marriage by arguing over it and not thinking of what’s really important. It comes. It goes. Keeping your priorities straight helps in the lean times,” said Tim.

Along with “for richer or poorer” one will hear “in sickness and in health” exchanged during the wedding ceremony. “My wife and I have been through some very, very difficult health issues and it’s extremely hard to see your partner in a life risking surgery,” said Tim. When facing the prospect of loss, one quickly remembers the gold hidden beneath the never-ending chore list and overall now-benign issues of finances and in-laws.

Timothy also wants to make it a point to remind fellow grooms to keep date nights a priority. “The romance comes back and you remember why you got married in the first place. Go out, unwind, and fall in love again.”

“Marriage is a full time job. You can’t just come home, eat, shower and go to bed. I was stuck in this frame of mind for so long, but now I’ve learned to come home and have a good conversation with my partner. It does get overwhelming to come home from a long day of work, perform household chores, making sure your partner is OK, but it’s a labor of love. Keep everything else in check and it won’t feel like a burden,” said Tim.