The institution of marriage has changed drastically in the last 50 years. Back in the day, a young woman would marry the similarly aged young man that lives down the street. Their respective parents would approve of the marriage, finding the perspective wife to be a decent care giver and the perspective husband a hard worker with income earning abilities. Together they would build wealth, raise children, and contribute to social status of the joined families. These marriages will remain solid with hard work, social and religious constraints, and self-sacrifice.
Today, more often than not, people marry for love. We want not only someone to raise children with but we want to marry our soulmate, someone who will be not only a companion but a best friend and an even better lover. The bar has been raised for committing to a spouse today, we desire someone truly special. However, when the honeymoon period of love fades, and it will, unless you and your spouse are one of those sickening perfect couple everyone loves in the movies but despises in real life, it’s important to know what to expect underneath the crown of love. There may be other questions you may personally want to ask your partner, but consider the six questions listed below as a starting point to open the channels of communication about committing your lives to each other.
1. Do you want children?
This is very important to discuss honestly before marriage. If the answers are different, no matter how much love you have, one party will resent the other for pressuring the decision one way or the other. If the answer is yes, then the follow-up questions are, how many? when? and will you help change the diapers? It is also important to discuss what role each will play as a parent.
2. How important is religion?
Are both partners equally entrenched or removed from their respective religions? Are there differences in each other’s families when it comes to religion and how will you deal with that? How will you as a couple celebrate religious holidays? If you plan on having children, how big of a role do you see religion playing in the education and upbringing of the child?
3. Is it my debt or our debt?
When it comes to divorce, your debt is my debt, but couples can still keep finances physically separate during the marriage. Discussing finances is crucial, as it is often a big source of arguments that arise during marriage. Will you and your partner be sharing bank accounts or would someone prefer to keep resources separate? When seriously contemplating marriage, disclosing debts is very important. Additionally, if your incomes greatly differ it might be helpful to budget according to each owns proportional income. Ask yourselves how much you’d be willing to spend on a luxury item, like a car. This question, in particular, will let you know whether your partner is cautious or reckless when it comes to spending habits.
4. How important is sex to you?
They say there are three true pillars to a happy and loving relationship: trust, laughter, and affection. Partners need to be able to trust each other, which comes by way of honesty and being open, discourse not distance. Partners need to have the same sense of humor, whether it’s sarcasm or void of humor altogether – happiness is love. Equally as important, couples need to be on the same level of desired affection. A healthy relationship will involve discussing what each partner enjoys about sex, how often they desire to have sex, and how important it is to them in the relationship. It is imperative that both partners remain sexually satisfied throughout the marriage.
5. How did your family handle conflict?
Was your family the type that screamed and threw objects across the room, calmly sat down and discussed issues, or did your family distance themselves from each other when disagreements arose? A person’s family dynamic often reflects on how they handle conflict, or it may have drastically changed the way a person desires to handle disagreements. It is important for couples to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with conflict. There will be many hard times during the span of a marriage, and if one partner shuts down while the other craves open, honest discussions, the marriage will likely not last long.
6. Where are we 10 years from now?
What are each partner’s relationship goals? What are their personal goals? If one partner desires to go back to school to get his PhD., knowing this will take another 5+ years of dedication, and perhaps relocation to a different state, the other partner might have concerns if she is ready to start a family and wants to stay close to her family. This is also an opportunity to discuss each other’s opinions on divorce and what their expectations of marriage are. It might be that one person truly isn’t ready, and will never be ready, to commit to marriage.
If you don’t deal with an issue before marriage, you deal with it during the marriage. Honesty is, as always, the bedrock of a strong and fulfilling relationship. Being completely honest with each other before marriage when answering the above questions, and more not included, will spur important discussions that will hopefully give couples a chance to explore these very intimate and important areas of their life before committing to marriage. Of course, the answers to the questions could change with time, as people do change, but getting started in the same direction as your spouse will let you know the love is accompanied by compatibility.