Questions to Answer Before You Get Married
Marriage is a life-long commitment. You are no longer asking one person out on one date to the movies or out to a restaurant. You are in a relationship with one person and your lives will intertwine in ways you may not expect. Unfortunately, in the US the divorce rate is just below 50%. Many people jump into marriage without thinking or wanting to discuss any problems that can or will arise. Before you step into marriage, ask yourself and your partner some important questions.
This is the biggest issue that affects most married couples. A lot of people don’t want their partners to know about their financial background, especially if their credit is low or they have negative finance patterns. If you filed for bankruptcy in the past or if you have debt collectors after you, discuss all of it with your partner. You don’t want debt collectors calling you after the honeymoon and your spouse being confused as to what’s going on.
Will you share joint bank accounts or have separate ones? How will bills get paid? How much do you need to maintain your household monthly and yearly? What are your spending habits? Do you have savings or will you open a savings account together? How much of your combined income can you put towards a savings or money-earning account?
Talking about finances is difficult and can be very emotional, but it will benefit both of you if you discuss your financial situations now.
The decision to have children can be an emotional deal-breaker for many couples. Ask yourself and your partner about children — is this a commitment you both cherish and look forward to or does one of you have apprehensions, fears, and misgivings about having kids? This is a decision you both need to agree on.
If you do have children, how will this affect your finances? Will both of you continue to work or will one of you stay at home with your baby?
How will you discipline your kids? You both need to be on the same page so that you can be consistent with your child and not feel like your spouse is continually overriding or second-guessing you.
Do either of you have children from a previous relationship? Will they be living with you? Do they get along with your spouse-to-be?
What lessons do you want your children to learn?
Another touchy topic is sex. Even married couples have difficulty talking about their own sex lives. Your married life should be healthy and that includes your sex life.
How will different situations affect your sex life: pregnancies, moving, jobs? Do you have expectations of your partner? How frequently will you make love? Do you need to schedule love-making into your lives? There is nothing wrong with that — Americans are busy chasing after the American dream and we often don’t give enough time to ourselves, or to our spouses.
Religion is a major factor in many people’s lives and can easily dictate life decisions. What happens, though, when your partner does not share your same religious beliefs? There are many married couples who do not share the same religious beliefs, but who are successful because they are open about their beliefs, they respect one another, and they support each other. When these factors don’t exist in a relationship, it is difficult to flourish in the marriage. Religion should not be a burden on your marriage, it should enhance it.
Will you raise your child under certain religious beliefs? If you and your partner have different religious affinities, will your child have the opportunity to experience both religions? Will your child be able to make a choice, when he’s old enough and his comprehension about religion is more clear, about his own faith? How will you celebrate religious holidays?
Families are an incredible source for advice, happiness and support. They can elevate your married relationship, but they can also weigh your relationship down. Families are susceptible to over-zealousness, jealousy, over-protectiveness, and greed. Unwarranted advice and prying into your personal, married life can whittle away at your relationship so slowly sometimes that you’re unaware of any issues until it is too late.
Talk with your partner about the positive advantages of your family (great support, financial stability) as well as any short-comings (emotionally draining, bickering, meddlesome). If you have a nosy mother or a brother that is always in financial trouble and continually turns to you for help, you need to be able to set some boundaries. Boundaries aren’t meant to push your family members out of your life, but they will set up a perimeter so that you’re able to grow with your partner without having to struggle through unnecessary obstacles. As a married a couple, you have a responsibility to one another to work out your relationship and to make it as good as it can possibly be.
How do each other’s families play a role in your new married life? Will you allow them to interfere in your marriage or will you be able to set boundaries? Will you be able to be honest with your family if they push past your boundaries?
It takes a lot of time and work to maintain a household. If you have a child, a social life, and work, when will you have the time to clean out the refrigerator or do all those loads of laundry? Household work is an important issue to discuss. You don’t want your partner to perform all the chores because at some point they will feel over-burdened and will perhaps become bitter and jaded. Household chores should be divided, or perhaps you can take turns. Whatever chores you assign one another, know that your lines of communication should always be open. If you can’t or don’t want to cook dinner one night or two, then tell your partner. It’s not a big deal. There’s always take out. Waiting for an issue to escalate, like who is going to fold the laundry and take the kids to school, is a time-bomb waiting to happen.
How will chores be divided? Who will do the cooking, laundry, cleaning? Who will maintain the landscaping?
When you get married, two lives mesh into one and situations will arise that can be emotional for you and your partner. If you’re both living in separate homes now, what will happen after you get married? Where will you live? Will you move out of your separate homes and move into a new home? Or will your spouse move in with you? After years of being single, you can accumulate a lot of sentimental items and a lot of junk. Before moving in with one another, take the time to purge the items you don’t really need anymore. Do you really need that lava lamp that has never been out of the box? You’ll make room for new items you can buy together.
Careers provide us with a sense of identity and financial stability as well as a way for us to expand our minds on a daily basis. Unfortunately, our careers can also become greedy monsters that devour all our energy and time. Marriage is, essentially, a balancing act. When your career is weighing you down, how can you expect the rest of your married life to work smoothly?
How ambitious is your partner and how will that ambition affect your relationship? Will you continue to work on the weekends and late hours on weekdays? What will happen if one you loses their job? If you’re offered a great job opportunity out-of-state, how will both of you deal with it? Are you happy with your job? If you’re not, can you communicate this with your spouse? Can your spouse support you while you look for another job?
We can’t work all the time. Our bodies and brains require rest and what better way to do this than by engaging in recreation activities. Movies, sports, reading a book and listening to music can relax us and also relieve a lot of stress.
How do you like to blow-off steam? Are these activities you can do together or will they polarize your partner? Do you have groups of friends you both enjoy being around?
Discuss these questions and answers in detail. There is no need to be offended or for feelings to get hurt. These questions are meant to be the catalyst for serious discussions that will impact your lives as a married couple. It’s better to find out now, before you get married, that your spouse does not want children when you cannot wait to have one. Do you share similar long-term goals or do your partner’s goals directly interfere with your own? Be patient, take your time, and most importantly, be honest with yourself and with your partner and respect one another. Problems get solved by discussing them, dealing with them, and finding appropriate solutions — not by getting a marriage certificate and wedding ring.