So you’re madly in love and you want to take your long-term relationship to the next level – marriage. The fact that you get along for almost a decade and sparks just light up whenever you look at each other’s eyes just validate that your partner is “the one.” It’s just like the movies, and you can’t wait for a sequel. But taking all the chick flick moments aside, what would remain? Are you best friends? Or merely cold strangers?
Older folks used to say that marriage is not like a hot spoonful of rice that you can spit out once you get burned. Unlike in young, shallow love, there’s no such thing as a “break-up” when you get married. It’s a lifetime commitment. Yes, divorce and annulment exist but nobody wanted to even go there. Upon wearing those rings, two persons vow to spend the rest of their lives with each other, for happiness and sorrow, and for better or for worse.
Before you say “I do,” here are 10 brutally honest questions you and your spouse should answer.
It’s easy to discuss all your similar interests and lovable characteristics but can you bravely talk about the topics that have nothing to love about? Go deeper and discuss the things you’re hesitant to bring up, like each other’s pet peeves, turn-offs, and bad habits. The habitual swearing, the gross habits inside the bathroom, the alcohol and cigarette problem, the inability to keep your cool when driving, and more. Talk about the behaviors you both have to change and learn to compromise. If you’re not open about these things today, I don’t think you’re ready for the next step.
Aside from bad characteristics, address the big issues that have been putting your relationship on the rocks for the past months or years. It can be your partner’s past and exes, his or her extreme codependency, or his or her bad spending habits, which usually starts conflicts. If they’re bearable, think of steps you can make as a couple to resolve them.
Your mind and heart should be worry-free when you walk down the aisle, so the thought of spending the rest of your life with your partner should be filled with excitement rather than apprehension.
There are three ways a family commonly deals with conflicts; addressing the problems calmly, addressing the problems while breaking plates and raising voices, and keeping quiet and letting the issue pass. According to Couples Institute founder Peter Pearson, we are all shaped by our family’s dynamics. Your partner’s answer to this question will likely manifest how your partner will deal with future arguments. Some people tend to imitate these conflict resolution patterns while others try not to repeat the same mistakes their parents had at home.
Most people believe that love knows no religion, but will this phrase remain true after marriage? Well if two people have different religious backgrounds and they respect each other’s affiliation, there wouldn’t be any problem. Bigger conflicts arise when children are put in the picture.
Another problem is when partners share the same religion but differ in views and spiritual practices. With this, it should be clear how important religion is and how you celebrate not only as a family but as an individual.
Does your partner prefer separate accounts or joint accounts? Is the one more frugal than the other? Does any of you have a gambling or overspending problem? How much are you willing to spend on necessities and on luxuries?
Couples should be on the same track in terms of financial caution. Keep in mind that money is one of the leading causes of couples’ arguments, and these fights may be eradicated if each is aware of his or her partner’s spending habits and financial priorities.
When work and children are prioritized, lovemaking becomes optional. It may even reach the point of actually setting appointments for it. However, your spouse may see sexual excitement as an essential means to achieving a healthy and satisfying marriage. Knowing how often you and your partner expect to make love will help keep the love and intimacy alive through the years.
Should you know each other’s social media passwords? Will it be necessary to narrate everything you did throughout the day with your partner? Should you not give out your number to someone of the opposite sex?
In marriage, you vow to be one and that means keeping transparency. However, privacy and “alone time” are also essential in keeping the relationship successful, so it should be clear to the both of you when to draw the line between a “committed” partner and a “possessive and suffocating” one.
Should you consult your parents regarding huge decisions? Should you buy a house near their place? How often will you visit and socialize with them? When you have children, how much time will they spend with their grandparents and what kind of relationship should they have?
Know if your spouse is raised in a strong family-oriented culture, wherein certain expectations have to be met. Marriage kicks you out of your parent’s nests. You will move out, raise kids, have new sets of priorities, and make grown-up decisions. However, your bond with your “original” family should remain intact, especially when you have offsprings.
Oftentimes, the statement “I love you” is said too much that it loses its essence. Verbal expression is just one way to express one’s love and just because your partner doesn’t say it doesn’t mean his or her feelings have changed. You should be familiar with your partner’s other means of showing love.
Let’s call it “The five love languages,” a concept by the author Dr. Gary Chapman. The love languages include words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Talk about each other’s primary and secondary languages of love so you can further strengthen your bond.
Counseling is a great way for couples to cope with the struggles of their marriage. By hearing what professional marriage therapists have to say, couples gain a better understanding of each other which helps them strengthen their bond. However, there are instances when the ego hinders us from seeking professional help. When one is not committed to the process or even to the idea of healing, the therapy will not work.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for The Relationship Room, a couples psychology institution specializing in relationship counseling and therapies for couples and families. When she’s not using her pen in writing self-help articles focused on love, dating, and relationships, she spends her time creating poems and screenplays, painting, and making music.