So, here we are with Part 4 of this article series. I’m sure you know how it goes by now. 10 questions pertaining to a certain aspect that might affect your future married life. Your engagement period is an exciting time to get to really know the person you are about to marry. Have a go at these 10 questions regarding family matters.
How would describe your relationship with your parents?
Extremely complicated, if you ask me! This question will surely get the conversation flowing.
Are you close to your extended family?
My fiancé remembers all of his uncles, aunts and cousins’ birthdays and even wedding anniversaries. I suspect that once I join their family, they will expect me to be the same. I have therefore resigned myself to always having an app that is able to sync with every single possible device I own to remind me of such occasions. I, on the other hand, am much closer to my friends than my extended family. Polar opposites.
Would you be willing to lend money to relatives?
This is a tricky one. If you don’t want to lend them money, then does that you will never borrow money from relatives either? What about exchanging favours? Does that make you feel as burdened as knowing you owe a relative money? Personally, I prefer not to lend ANYONE money, not just relatives. I only lend out amounts of money which I will be comfortable with never getting back. That way, the burden is on them to remember to return the money and if they choose to forget their debt, then I am not finding myself scrimping.
How did your family settle conflicts?
Some families are so open with one another. You’ll find them arguing across the dining table like world war 3 has started and then go back to normal conversation as if no heated argument occurred just 5 minutes ago. Some families may be having an argument that immediately stops with one word from the father. Some families prefer to ignore conflicts completely. Whatever style their family used will likely be the style they adopt for your future family too.
How important is it for your partner to get along well with your family?
If family is expected to be their top priority after marriage, then chances are they will hope and pray that you get along well with their family too. That means finding out a bit about each family member so that you have some common ground to start a conversation.
Does your family openly discuss sensitive topics?
This will indicate how comfortable your partner will be discussing sensitive topics with you in the future. It will also give you a heads up that you might find yourself in the middle of an awkward conversation when meeting their family for dinner. Arm yourself with diplomatic responses and ways to steer the conversation! Or, quickly fit right in there and offer your opinion - just be prepared for some disagreements.
Does your family have any specific political, cultural, or religious views that are strongly held?
Mixed marriages are much more common nowadays and this generally means that in one household you might find more than 1 religion, political view or culture. While it does make the everyday less mundane to have a variety, it could also mean more fights. Mutual respect is key and knowing beforehand if certain topics are off-limits would help a lot!
Do you have any health issues in your family?
Inherited disease need to be known beforehand, especially those which are autosomal dominant. Autosomal dominant means that there is a high risk for the gene coding for that particular disease to be passed on to your children.
What family traditions would you like for us to continue with our children?
One of our family traditions is opening wrapped Christmas presents on Christmas Eve with our toes. It was started by my younger sister who didn’t want to go back to sleep on Christmas Eve and so she came up with this method to make the process of opening presents last longer. Personally, I have not decided yet whether I will continue this tradition or not. I suppose it will depend on whether my body can still take sitting on the floor for prolonged periods of time. I don’t know if your family traditions are as silly as mine.
How much should your family know about our marital relationship?
Extremely important to discuss this beforehand! Even though your partner might be very close with his family, both your partner and their family have to respect you as the future spouse. Once you are married, you should come first ahead of their family. Therefore, having an understanding of how much you want your families to know about your marital relationship will safeguard your privacy and sanity. Do you want your families knowing every little fight you have? What about if you lost 200000 dollars in the stock market and had to take a second mortgage on your house?
Family can support your marriage. Family can also break your marriage. They may have the best intention at heart but unwittingly their words and actions might carry more meaning than they intended. It is perfectly natural that you act slightly different when you are with your partner’s family than when you are with your own. But it is also important for you to know how your partner’s family works. Try to understand their family dynamics. After all, you aren't marrying one person. You are marrying their family too!
Good luck and happy interrogating! Part 5 coming up...
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