“There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.” -Martin Luther
I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one, as it’s something I’m quite passionate about.
Marriage is a serious business.
And you should take enough time before jumping into it.
The truth is getting married is very easy; staying happily married is the hard part.
You need to realise that while most poor decisions are easy to recover from, a bad marriage is a much more serious matter.
It affects a lot of other people (e.g. your kids, parents, friends etc.) and things (financial, emotional etc.).
We all know that it’s super easy to get in and out of marriages these days, but that doesn’t mean we should.
We should still take enough time and give this major decision the consideration it deserves.
So, to enhance your odds of having a successful marriage, ask yourself some hard question beforehand and be honest with yourself.
There’s no point lying to yourself, is there?
It’s your happiness after all.
Ask yourself these 8 important questions before marriage:
What makes this person different from the rest?
You’ve probably dated several people in your life before this person. How does this person stand out from everyone that came along before?
If he or she is your first love, then ask yourself this question even more so. How do you know this person is different from the rest?
If none of that matters and all you care about is the fact that they’re right for you regardless of how they compare to others, then cool.
As long as you’re clear why you want THIS one as THE one.
How will your long-term goals be affected?
Do you have dreams of travelling to say, Europe, and backpacking all over the place for a year or two?
If so, marrying someone “of your dreams” might severely alter your “actual dreams.”
In fact, those dreams and staying at home in a small town (or city apartment) and having a few kids, are probably not a good match.
Not that having that type of life is wrong or anything – you just need to make sure that’s what you actually want.
If you do, chances are you’d be happy with the result.
Compromise is a part of any relationship, but chances are you will end up being resentful if forced to completely give up your dreams.
Even when you don’t feel that way now.
So, here’s what I suggest:
Make a list of the most important things you want to experience and accomplish in your lifetime.
Then ask yourself a simple question:
Is your partner a benefit or a hindrance to achieving these things?
what’s most important to your future spouse?
Will you be a help or an obstacle to his/her dreams?
No doubt, if you’re both on the same path and are pursuing very similar things, you might actually find marriage to be a great journey.
But, if not … in that case, you might want to think about it.
If you don’t, chances are you will at some point of your marriage have to make some sort of “course correction” to get more aligned, or you run the risk of losing more than just a few dreams.
My wife and I learned this the hard way.
After only a few years of marriage, and her giving up most of her “old” life when we got married, we ended in a situation where we both started feeling stuck for different reasons.
Coming from a fast-paced media world where she worked as a graphic designer for the largest magazine in the country, she was not the stay at home-mum-type.
I, on the other hand, was not feeling fulfilled and felt unequipped to really make a huge difference the way I needed and wanted to.
Yes, we loved each other and our marriage was the only good thing about our situation, but we also realised that we needed to make a huge change.
It was time for a new adventure.
One we both could call our own.
One that both of us started together.
One that was exciting yet scary for both of us.
And one that would set us up for the future, especially when kids came along … which happened quicker than we expected … I didn’t know it worked that quickly LOL 🙂
So, we did.
I quit my job, we packed up our life and baby (an unexpected addition to the family), and we moved to start a new adventure and life in a new county on the other side of the world.
And I’m happy to say it worked out for us. We’re happy, still, best friends, have two kids and a dog, and life seems to be sweet at the moment.
Save yourself the same struggle and ask the hard questions upfront – even though love is blind and will conquer all 🙂
How emotionally healthy is my potential spouse?
The less emotionally healthy someone is, the more challenging they are to be around.
And no, your love will NOT be enough.
You will not be able to fix him or her.
If they are a douche now, they will be one later (99% of the time anyway).
Marriage will not fix that, I promise you.
He will just become a bigger player.
She will just nag even more.
Listen, life is difficult or tricky for the sanest of us.
Those with emotional issues find life even more so.
And those who get married with emotional issues find life to turn out like crap before too long.
That’s just my two cents on that.
Dating a “fixer-upper” is one thing.
Marrying one is something else entirely.
How well do we resolve conflict?
It’s no secret that constructive communication is key when dealing with conflict in marriage.
Yelling, screaming, avoiding, and sulking doesn’t normally result in effective conflict resolution.
The things with marriage are, there will be conflict.
Yes, even when you love him or her so much.
It’s therefore crucial that you can find resolution calmly and kindly.
If you don’t, fighting will be the end of your very short married life.
I promise you that.
Fortunately, the good news is that effective communication is a skill that you both can learn if you want to.
It’s not something you are born with.
You can learn how to resolve conflict in a better way that’s healthier for your marriage.
If you suck at resolving conflict now, maybe wait until you have improved that before organising the bridal party.
If you think the fighting while dating is bad, wait until you’re married.
How similar are our attitudes regarding religion, money, and raising children?
Why these ones?
Because these items are often the sticking points for many couples.
Disagreements over financial issues (resulting from financial stress) are one of the most common causes of divorces.
It’s a fact.
So, can you deal with the way your potential spouse handles money at the moment?
Can they be accepting of your financial habits?
Is he into spending while you love saving – how’s that going to work?
Is he stingy and you charitable – how will you compromise on that?
What about kids?
How many children do you want to have?
How about your partner?
How does each of you feel about spanking?
What methods of disciplining do you support?
What about faith and religion?
Do you go to church and he doesn’t – how will that impact the dynamics of your marriage?
Do you scoff at faith but he’s very devout?
How will that influence your perception of life and dealing with difficulties when they come?
If you don’t share similar values it will be very hard to build a meaningful marriage where you can completely let your hair down and just be yourself.
Now, initially not doing that might be OK, but something will eventually happen that will break the camel’s back.
I’ve seen this happen to many times not to warn you.
Ask the questions and face the answers now, before it’s too late.
Would I be satisfied if my partner didn’t change at all?
You already know your partner isn’t perfect. Cool.
You can expect that situation to remain in effect for their lifetime.
He will never be perfect.
Neither will she.
The question is, are you OK with those one or two things that are potentially deal-breakers?
Listen, do yourself a favour and avoid going into a marriage believing that you can change them for the better.
He won’t suddenly become more patient or ambitious.
She won’t become less moody or spend less money on shoes.
It ain’t going to happen.
Not soon anyway.
Expect that what you have is as good as it’s going to get.
Avoid expecting miracles.
If they do happen, awesome!
If they don’t however, well at least you are prepared for that.
If he’s fit now, he might get fitter.
But, if he’s a drunk now, he will get worse. 99% of the time.
You need to ask yourself if you’re OK with that.
Are you getting married for the right reasons?
Why exactly are you getting married?
Are you just lonely, or do you really want to spend the rest of your life with this person?
Do you feel that you’re settling because you can’t find someone “better”?
Are you afraid of being alone?
Have you had an unplanned baby together?
What are your reasons?
My only suggestion would be to ensure you want to get married because you love your partner and marriage will actually take your lives to a whole new level of love, connection, joy, happiness, and peace.
Do you bring out the best in each other?
Someone once said that the key to happiness in marriage is to create a space for the other person to become the best version of themselves.
So, ask yourself:
Does your partner bring out the best in you or the worst?
Is your partner better for spending time with you?
Ideally, you’ll both be the best possible versions of yourselves when together.
Some people bring our worst qualities to the surface.
That’s never a good start.
And again, if you experienced that while dating you will most likely experience a much worse level of this when married.
Therefore, reflect on your life together so far to honestly answer this question.
Some Final Thoughts
Many couples get engaged because of the intense emotions they’re experiencing.
The truth is that intensity won’t last (not in that form anyway), and you’ll be left with a serious dose of reality.
Do all that you can to ensure that you’re making a wise decision before marriage.
Your future and happiness depend on it.