More people than in generations past are now choosing to wait until they're in their 30s to get married. But, while older couples may be more mature, they also must deal with unique challenges as they merge their lives.

Here are some ways you can prepare well for marriage after age 35:

* Examine your expectations. Ask yourself honestly why you want to get married and how you hope your life will change once you do get married. Make sure you have healthy, realistic expectations. Don't expect your partner to make you happy, and don't try to change him or her. Understand that the best motivators are a desire for unconditional love and a need for lifelong companionship.

* Lay foundation stones for your marriage. Proactively build a healthy marriage by figuring out what activities make each other happy and pursuing them regularly, unpacking the emotional baggage from your past so you and your spouse can understand each other, developing a friendship in which you respect and enjoy each other, learn effective communication skills, commit to openness and honesty with each other, establish a mutually enjoyable sexual relationship, and forge an iron-clad union in which you each help complete the other.

* Discuss money. Fully reveal all the details of your financial assets and debts to your partner, and ask him or her to do the same for you. Talk about how you plan to manage money after you get married, considering such topics as: bank accounts, retirement accounts, property, life insurance policies, wills and trusts, and debts.

* Decide where you will live. Discuss whether you will move into a home that one of you already rents or owns, or whether you will move into an entirely new place. If one of you moves into a home previously owned by your partner, decorate it in a new way to help the newcomer feel more comfortable living there.

* Work together lovingly to try to blend your lives. Be willing to compromise as you tackle issues such as pets, home churches, possessions that need to be pared down, and any move that will separate one of you from friends and family.

* Be flexible. Understand that your marriage will be much easier if each of you are willing to be flexible with each other. Recognize that your way is not always the right way, and know when to let go and accept change.

* Discuss your careers. Get to know your partner's work requirements (including how much business travel is required). Be honest about the stresses you experience due to your workload or your paycheck, and decide not to take out your stress on your partner. Set clear boundaries between work and home and make time regularly to eat dinner together, attend church together, enjoy your friends, etc. No matter what your current work circumstances, write a joint mission statement that details why your work is important to you and where you would each like to be in your careers in the short- and long-term future.

* Have patience if you're creating a stepfamily. Set realistic boundaries. Help the stepparent to feel accepted and not so much of an outsider. Help the natural parent to stay connected with his or her own children. Help the children to feel some sense of control and be able to express their feelings of loss. Strive to build a home where everyone will eventually feel comfortable. Establish some new family traditions.

* Don't sweat the small stuff. Decide not to keep score of ways your partner has disappointed you. Acknowledge your own quirks. Realize that it's not possible to change your spouse, so you shouldn't even try. Learn to apologize and forgive. Make it a regular habit to do small acts of kindness for your spouse.