Are You Ready For Marriage?
Have you been day-dreaming of little gold rings, enormous white cakes and Pachelbel’s Canon in D? Are you and your soul mate heading toward the altar?
Before you are ready to be married, take a moment to answer these questions. Once you do, you’ll learn whether you two have what it takes to go the distance.
Answer These Questions If You Plan To Marry
#1. What are your expectations for a family?
It’s very important to talk about whether or not you and your fiancé both want kids. If you do, how many do you want? What will you do if you can’t have kids naturally?
When you do have them, will you both keep your jobs? If not, who will stay home? Will parents come to live with you for a while?
Also, discuss with your would be spouse the relative importance of your marriage with respect to your kids. Couples who prioritize their marriage over their kids have a stronger bond, which in the end is better for the kids.
But many parents are tempted to put children’s needs ahead of their own and find themselves with an empty marriage at the end.
#2. What are your financial expectations?
Are you both expecting to keep your jobs? If you have kids and one person quits, how will you make up the lost income? Are you planning to save for a home?
If so, how much will you save each month and will you need to give up some luxuries to do it? Do you have enough money to pay for raising children when you have them?
Determine if you will combine your bank and credit accounts or keep them separate. If you keep them separate, decide how you’ll split up the bills. Couples who agree on how to handle finances avoid one of the greatest threats to marriage.
#3. How do you prioritize work?
How ambitious are you? Do you put work goals ahead of growing a family? How many hours a week do you typically work?
Do you plan to keep working the same number of hours? More? Fewer? What will you do if your career takes you to a new city?
Also, talk with your fiancé about your dreams. Do you plan to go back to school at some point? Do you dream of quitting your job and going freelance? Be sure you are aware of each other’s dreams and think of ways to make those come true.
You don’t want to look back on 20 years of marriage and feel that you’ve been cheated out of your life goals just because you never spoke up about them.
#4. How will you share the chores?
Who will clean, cook, shop, fix the plumbing, or maintain the car? Is it OK for the apartment to look cluttered or do you prefer living in spartan spotlessness?
These questions can be fraught with politically incorrect attitudes. You may feel that women should do the cleaning and men should be responsible for the car. It’s true these are stereotypical gender roles, but you need to be honest with your mate if you expect him or her to conform.
If you don’t have gender-based expectations, then break up the chores based on what each of you prefer to do. Maybe he makes the soufflés while she changes the oil on the convertible.
#5. Where do you expect to live?
Once you agree to live together as a couple, you’ll face the question of where to live. Does one of you have a career which dictates where you can live? Do you prefer country or city? Do you want to live in a suburb to raise your kids? Are there areas of the country that you will not move to? Do you need to be close to family?
Moving to a new city can be very stressful on a marriage. One person may have given up a job to accommodate the move, but they will feel at loose ends in a strange city with no job and no friends.
Couples need to be aware of the difficulty that a move can present and be especially supportive of each other. If the move is temporary, agree on how long you’ll stay and honor that agreement.
#6. How will you take care of yourself?
A marriage means that you two now depend on each other, not just for love, but also for the basics of life. If kids come along, even more people are depending on you. How will you take care of yourself? Will you stop smoking? If so, when? Do you use recreational drugs? Will you continue to do so? Will you exercise regularly?
Many couples gain weight once they start living together. There’s less pressure to look great when you find someone who loves you for who you are.
However, when you commit to each other for a lifetime, you need to think about your health. Couples who exercise and eat healthfully together have an easier time staying strong for the long haul.
#7. What are your spiritual needs?
Are you religious? Do you expect your partner to participate in religion with you? If you have different religions, how will your raise the children? How will you handle religious holidays and observances?
For many people, their religious beliefs form the foundations of their lives and worldviews. For others, religion is more of a cultural tradition or a personal practice of introspection. Successful couples are very comfortable with the role of religion in the marriage and family.
They don’t need to hold the same beliefs, but if they don’t, they stay open and understanding toward each other’s religions. Make sure that you two can honestly discuss religion without judgment and you’ll be able to navigate any spiritual challenges that come along.
#8. Will you keep your “single” friends?
You both have friends left over from your single days. Will you have girls’ nights out or boys’ nights out? Will you be expected to give up the Saturday afternoon pickup basketball game? Do you expect to spend more time with other couples?
Discuss your friends with your fiancé and make sure you both understand how important it is for you to be with them. Don’t feel bad if your love wants to spend time away from you with friends. A little time off can actually strengthen a marriage.
#9. What are the rules of the fight?
When arguments come up (and they will), what is off limits behavior? Do you agree to refrain from shouting, from bringing up past transgressions, from devolving into insults? Do you agree to see a therapist if needed? Do you let family get in the middle of a disagreement? Do you allow your parents to weigh in?
Successful couples have basic rules for arguments in relationships. Even as they disagree, they never lose consideration for each other. They never lash out just to hurt the other. They don’t let family or friends take sides. They stay focused on the issue, get third party help if needed and always stay open to each other.
If you and your fiancé don’t have good rules for arguments, start developing a few right away. No marriage is free from conflict, but the ones who can handle conflict without denigrating each other will go the distance.
Marriage is a big step. No one makes it lightly, but couples who take the time to iron out big issues before they commit will be much happier and stronger after that big white cake is all gone.