H. Jackson Brown Jr.
“Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.”
I live in a society where the pressure to get married is real. Not only is this pressure applied to single, unmarried women, but married couples are also under pressure to keep up appearances and pretend to be happily married when in fact they are very unhappy. So we have a situation where women “of age” are rushing to get married and where marriages are breaking apart immediately after the honeymoon or where couples decide to just stay together albeit miserably, just to save face. Whereas love is vital in deciding whether or not to marry someone, compatibility is just as important for an enduring and happy union. So before you rush to the altar remember you deserve the very best and you don’t have to settle. Don’t be the person that is stuck in an unhappy marriage or has to endure a divorce later on.
If you are dating someone and are considering marriage make sure you know where you both stand on these issues;
- Religion: If you and your significant other have the same faith, or are both non-believers great; but what if you have different faiths? Are you okay with that? It is common knowledge that one of the most divisive issues in this world is religion. So, figure out where your partner stands on religion and see if you are cool with that. At first religion may seem like a non- issue but if your partner is very devout and you’re not or tries to convert you, it might get uncomfortable really fast. It also matters because you need to agree on what you want your kids to believe or practice later on.
- Children: Do you both want kids? If so, how many? Are you okay with one of you not wanting kids? How about children from a previous relationship? Are you okay with having a blended family and navigating the challenges that come with it? What if you can’t have kids? Are you okay to adopt? Talk about possible education style and parenting style.
- Finances: Discuss your spending habits, financial goals, attitudes towards wealth creation and investment. Do you have debts? Do you want to have separate bank accounts or joint accounts? Are you willing to share each other’s bank information? What does financial success look like to both of you?
- Family history: Because certain conditions maybe hereditary and just to have a clear picture of who you are committing your life to, it is prudent to discuss any known family health related history. It is also important to know as much as you can about your partner and his family. You don’t want to find out too late that you are related or that his family are a bunch of murderers (okay that is probably extreme, but still you catch my drift) After getting all the information, decide if you are okay with whatever you find out if there are some unpleasant or worrisome discoveries.
- Expectations: Everyone has some picture of what they are looking for in a partner and of what their marriage will look like, unrealistic or not. Take the time to discuss these expectations with your partner. This will help you decide if you can live up to or accommodate said expectations and generally give you a better picture of what to expect and who your partner is before you get married. For example what are your expectations with regard to household chores, looking after the kids, providing for the family, sex, etc?
- Vision: Much as you are a team when you get married, don’t forget you are still very much your own person with your own dreams, passions and goals in life. The person you marry should support you and the pursuit of your goals and vice versa. You should inspire each other to be even better, not put each other down or hold each other back. Talk to your partner to find out where you both see yourselves in the future and see if your visions align and are compatible. You can be a great team if you commit to supporting each other. When someone believes in you and you know you have someone in your corner or someone to pick you up when you fall, it makes all the difference. When you understand each other and support each other’s vision, there’s no telling what you will accomplish together.
- Childhood experiences: For better or worse our childhood experiences shape us to some extent. Knowing what experiences one grew up with can help us understand why someone is the way they are and why they do the things they do. It can help us appreciate the fact that we all come from different backgrounds. When you know more about your partner’s childhood and upbringing, you are more equipped to understand and handle differences that may have been borne out of a different set of circumstances from yours. If you come from totally divergent backgrounds you need to decide if that will be an issue for the both of you in the long run.
- Conflict resolution: Talk to your partner to understand how you both resolve conflict. This will help you both communicate better and understand each other’s response when you do not agree on something or when you feel offended and hurt.
- Dealing with extended family: You need to talk about your stance on extended family and how involved in your marriage/relationship they can be. How do you plan on splitting your time between both your families during the holidays? How do you feel about each other’s families and vice versa? How are you going to deal with conflict with his family and vice versa? How you deal with family outside the two of you and to what extent you involve them can have a negative or positive impact on your relationship. Remember at the end of the day, it’s your relationship and marriage is a union between two people only.
- Love language: We all long to feel loved and appreciated but sometimes no matter how much your partner says he loves you, you might not really feel it. Dr. Gary Chapman explains why in his book, The 5 Love Languages® The book is based on the premise that we each have an “emotional love tank” that constantly needs replenishing. Therefore, once our emotional tank is empty, we feel unloved, unappreciated, and our relationships don’t reach their full potential. Picture a scenario where you and your partner speak different love languages. Your partner can only love you the way he wants to be loved. That poses a problem in the relationship because you, for example might complain that he doesn’t spend enough time with you when in fact he is communicating his love through acts of service. In this free love languages test from Dr. Gary Chapman, you’ll find out what your primary love language is. Knowing each other’s love language will help you to communicate effectively exactly how you prefer to receive love. Also worthwhile checking out together is the Apology Language Profile from Dr. Gary Chapman.
If you are uncomfortable with the answers your partner gives you, make your concerns known but if you still feel uncomfortable after talking about it some more, it’s best to let go. Letting go is by no means easy or without pain, but it is naive to close your eyes and think you will change your stance on things that really matter to you or that you can change your partner with time. You will only get disappointed and resentful of each other. Although having conversations like this can be difficult and may sometimes lead to a break up, it is crucial to have them for the health and longevity of your marriage. These are not things you can learn and exhaust in one night and even after you get married, you will still be learning things about your partner and yourself. The idea is to know as much as possible before you make the decision to get married and decide for yourself if knowing what you do know, you still want to spend your life with that person.
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