There are many ways to make a marriage work and be successful. Each couple will have their own understanding and expectations. What may work for your parents or friends may not work for you, so it’s most important that you and your future spouse are in agreement on how your relationship will work. Below are the key areas you should think about before getting married and important questions you should answer before you take a walk down the aisle. How you choose to address each issue is up to you, as long as the two of you can agree on how things should work.
Whatever you do, don’t expect people to change their feelings about important issues like sex, religion or children after you get married. If your partner is telling you that they don’t want to have kids, don’t think that getting married will change their mind. If you aren’t comfortable with their current position on certain issues, you shouldn’t plan to walk down the aisle until you are satisfied with your future spouse’s position on things. Of course things may change, but don’t count on it.
I’ve talked to so many couples who foolishly believe that love and marriage will magically solve their problems. Do your homework first and have these often difficult conversations before you make a lifetime commitment. The last thing you want to do is look back and be angry with yourself because you knew that you and your partner weren’t compatible in certain ways but you ignored that information anyway. Even if you and your partner don’t agree on all things, if you can find a way to understand each other and compromise you still have a chance to make marriage work.
You and your future spouse should discuss your current debt and your future financial goals. Are you spenders or savers? What is your plan for how you will pay your monthly bills, pay down your debt and save for retirement? Are you going to combine your money or maintain separate accounts? Do you plan to check-in with each other before you buy certain things or limit how much you spend individually considering your shared expenses?
Do you plan to start a family, and if so, are you in agreement about how many children you want to have? Do you have children from previous relationships? Is your future spouse allowed and expected to discipline your children from another relationship? How will you handle blending your families? Do you agree on how to parent and discipline your children? When you start a family, will one of you stay home to raise the children or will you have child-care?
Are you and your future spouse in agreement on who will handle household responsibilities like paying bills, cooking, cleaning, yard work and child care?
Sex and Intimacy
Do you and your future spouse have similar sexual and intimate needs? If not, are you prepared to compromise and meet in the middle? How often do you hope to be intimate and are you interested in the same kinds of sexual experiences? In addition to having sex, what other ways are you planning to be intimate? Are you both comfortable with each other’s physical appearance and aware that your appearance will change over the years?
Do you and your future spouse share the same religious beliefs? Do you expect your spouse to attend religious services with you? What religious beliefs do you intend to teach your children and have them practice?
Friends and Family
Do your family and friends support your future marriage? If not, how do you and your spouse plan on managing your relationships with the people who don’t agree with your union? Are the two of you in agreement on whether you can have friends of the opposite sex or how often you should go out and spend time with your friends? Are you willing to change the nature of your relationship with others in the interest of preserving your marriage?
Are the two of you on the same page regarding future plans? What are your individual career goals and do they support your vision as a couple? Do you know whether your partner is more career-oriented or family-oriented? Do you hope to live in the city or the country?