Essential Questions to ask before you say YES to Marriage
By: J. Marlando
There is no denying the fact that at least 50% of marriages end up in divorce or, in many unknown instances, living unhappily ever after. Since most men and women feel a loving affection and desire to be with their “forever” mates before marriage, how can this be?
The answer is daring but grounded in objectivity—very few people know how to be married and/or are simply not truly prepared for married life before walking down the aisle. Strangely enough this often applies to people marrying for the second or even third time as well as “first timers.”
The truth is that marriage is extremely challenging. For one reason because it is formed between two people who are different genders arriving with different life experiences, values and emotional content. While there is the drive to discover compatibilities before marriage, the truth also remains that many pre-marital compatibilities are more the result of conforming to each other’s will as opposed to actually being very much alike. And, in addition, even if a dating couple truly shares a few common interests, say gardening or tennis, they will never enjoy it to the same extent or for the same reasons. In this way, married couples are different far beyond the apparent.
Along with the rest of it, men and women go into marriage with different anticipations and expectations and this is a major reason why professionals deem the first three years a period of adjustment. One of the early discoveries for most husband and wives is that their mates are ever as human as they are; that they live in the same reality of fears, uncertainties, faults and frailties and as a result there is a time of learning to love one’s imperfect mate. When husbands and wife can’t learn to do this, separations and divorce are usually in the wings and if there has been a child, the situation becomes all the more tragic.
No one marries to break up of course. People marry to grow a happy, content and productive life together. The difficulty is that few couples go into marriage understanding what it actually takes to accomplish the goals of mutual happiness, contentment and productivity.
There is simply a lot of information couples need to know before they make a lifetime commitment to one another. I will categorize the major issues:
Will we both work?
Will we have a joint bank account?
How much will we take out of earnings each month for savings?
How much money do I need for my own pocket monthly (husband)?
How much money do I need for my own pocket monthly (wife)?
What are our (reasonable) financial goals as a couple?
What are the major goals for the marriage?
What is our plan to reach those goals?
Note: A major trouble-maker for most couples is financial; money problems! When married couples realize that when they marry they are not only beginning a committed relationship but also committed partnership money matters simply must be discussed and agreed upon before committing to the marriage itself. Most romantic couples do not like or want to talk about finances prior to marrying but since it is financial challenges and disagreements that sends countless couples to divorce court, this is a practical demand for premarital discussions. Recall also that our (real) tendencies toward materialism are often different and this is something couples must know about each other since marriage, at root level, is about requisitioning.
What do I like to do to enjoy myself? (husband)
What do I like to do to enjoy myself? (wife)
What do we like to do to enjoy ourselves as a couple?
Note: One of the most unhappy-makers between married couples is not giving one another space for their individual interests. The idea that married couples do just about everything together is a youthful myth and anyway modern marriage is not meant to be a “ball-and-chain” relationship. In regard to this, some professionals say the most common reason married couples separate is because of “lack of communication.” A major reason for that lack is that far too many mates make marriage a sentence of togetherness and so they simply have little to share except…for their problems.
If cheating is an issue then the marriage is on shaky grounds anyway.
What do I want for myself? (husband)
What do I want for myself? (wife)
What do we want as a couple?
What will we NEED as a couple?
Note: We all have our own desires and while what we buy as married people theoretically belongs to the marriage, there are still things that we want individually. An extremely simple example is: there is a sail boat, golf cart and jet ski on husband’s list while there is a horse, Mercedes convertible and rose garden on wife’s list. When marriage becomes a demand for husband and wife to let loose of their personal desires for “stuff” and narrow their own dreams and goals to the mutual dreams and goals of the marriage, unhappiness and dissatisfaction creeps into the very spirit of the togetherness. There is a third essential term that enters after “marital relationship” and “marital partnership.” That term is “allies.” It is the job of husband and wife to be one another’s ally in supporting what each other desires for him or herself. Marriage is not meant to usurp each other’s individual personalities but to encourage and support their growth and fulfillments.
Most if any of these 15 questions are never asked before marriage and they should be. But because they are not, a great many married couples begin to feel more condemned to their marital relationships than they feel content in them.
It is truly surprising how many couples walk down the aisle without a real plan but productive, successful and lasting marriages do not happen by accident. While they might go through enormous effort to pre-plan the message they too often neglect to give a whole lot of thought to the future that they are entering together.
Once married, however, the important questions change as they have to do with the nurturing of and caring for each other. The following three questions to ask are most vital to a happy, cohesive and loving relationship.
What can I do to make your life a little better today?
How can I encourage and support you today?
How can I best free you from the wounds of everyday life that we all endure?
When we only do this much we create our marriages the best they can be and in the doing we really can live happily ever after!