There is nothing sexier than living with someone who is working with you in partnership towards a common vision for a life well-lived. The act of working towards a common vision creates a bond that is the essence of a lasting, fulfilling relationship. And it doesn’t even matter if the couple experience failures along the way; the act of working on an agreed-upon plan together is what matters. When plans go wrong under this scenario, both partners can take mutual responsibility for getting back on track because they were co-creators in the plan.
Unlike the whirlwind marriages we read about in romance novels, moving from casual dating to a serious relationship to the final stage of getting married is a gradual process in reality. But that is if you are serious about making the marriage last. Dating someone, even being engaged to them is a lot different than being in marriage itself. Suddenly you’re not just sharing your lives together in the most intimate manner possible; you’re also sharing a lot of other things you may not have counted on. You can’t keep something to yourself anymore, because if you do and your spouse finds out, he/she may take offence and then little cracks might just start to surface in the marriage, and will turn to bigger cracks overtime.
So before you say “I DO” and commit your life to the other person totally and expectedly forever, you may find it helpful to ask these questions and discuss these topics.
It’s a good idea to talk about children long before you get married. What is your partner’s idea about children? Does he/she want children? If yes, how many, and how should they be raised? What are your thoughts about discipline? Would they consider the marriage to be over if there are no children? Or would they take it in their stride? I know some people who don’t want to have children (or more children if it’s not their first marriage) if you are marrying such a person, you probably would need to know ahead of time.
Until recently, sex is often a taboo topic both inside and outside of a marriage. Nowadays, religion is teaching us not to have sex before marriage. While that might be a good thing; (depending on who is looking at it) talking about your sexual needs before marriage is important to ensure both of you are sexually compatible. And if you are already having sex in your relationship, what about the long term, when you are now officially man and wife? What are the expectations for sex long after that initial passion has worn off? It’s not just about frequency (twice a week? twice a month?), but also about sexual and romantic styles both in and outside of the bedroom. Do you switch off being the initiator, or is it expected that one person will always do the initiating especially the man? How do you let the other person down tactfully without hurting their feelings if they want sex and you don’t? Ask these questions and figure these things out before, and not after the honeymoon.
- FAMILY PATTERNS
History constantly repeats itself especially in families. We have a saying in my place that “A bad spouse can be managed; but one can’t manage bad in-laws” While we’re not doomed to repeat negative family patterns, being aware of what to expect ahead of time will allow you to enter into the marriage eyes wide open. Are your in-laws fetish? Would they ask you to consult a family oracle if you don’t conceive on time? Do they have some practices that don’t go with your own belief? While I believe some unhealthy family patterns can be broken, it takes commitment and effort in order to do so. And you need to discuss it with your intending partner and ask yourself if you both are ready to face things the way they are.
- APPROACH TO FINANCES AND MONEY
Two individuals may never even talk much about money when they are dating. But suddenly when the marriage makes things official, money becomes a hot issue, because it was rarely directly discussed ahead of time. Truth is we all have different approaches to money. Some people are savers and misers, while others are carefree and don’t give it as much thought. How money was handled when you were growing up often has a big impact on how you deal with it as an adult. If your financial and spending styles are not on the same page, now’s the time to discuss how you will get them on the same page because a big part of marriage is the fact that it’s a legal contract that binds the two of you together financially. You don’t have to wait till after the honeymoon to discuss this, you should know before tying the knots if you would expect to manage your finances separately or both of you will jointly manage your finances after your wedding.
- RESOLUTION TO DISAGREEMENTS AND ARGUMENTS
The frequency or pattern of disagreement and argument of two people who are in love can tell you as much about the health of their relationship as anything else. If the arguing seems bad before you get married, it’s only going to get worse after you’re married. You may attribute the arguing to outside factors — like the stress of planning a wedding, moving, the other person’s family, or changing jobs. But guess what? You’re both going to experience similar stress throughout your lives, because stress is constant in modern living. Do arguments get real personal, real fast? Does one person always seem to veer off-topic and bring up other, unrelated things that derail the arguments, or turn them back onto you? Do your arguments just become a blame game? Or does one person always need to be right about everything you argue about? All these questions are important. But the good news is, all relationships have arguments and disagreement, it’s how they are resolved that matters. You only have to improve the way you communicate and argue with your partner, and you need to make a concerted effort in order to do so. Remember, it’s all about compromise and forgiveness, and getting better.
Finally, try to have direct discussions about your partner’s outlook on life, because your feeling for them might not allow you to see those things, so it’s better you hear them directly. Optimists and pessimists can live happily ever after together, but for compatibility’s sake, it’s often easier to stick with those who share your philosophical approach to life. Does the person see areas of improvement they’d like to work on in their lives? Or do they see themselves as the “this is who I am, take it or leave it” kind of person? Remember you can’t go into a marriage expecting to change the other person. That’s why these questions are important before you get married.
So, sit down and ask these questions and discuss the topics before you get married. If you find yourself incompatible with your partner on two or more of these questions, it’s a sign. Either you’ll both have to work harder than you probably imagined to finding common ground in the relationship/marriage; or you may be better off taking a step back and reconsidering your options. In either case, you’ll be far better prepared for your future than if you hadn’t asked. Stay Safe.