We’ve reached that age of understanding that love is more than a bubbly feeling and giddy giggliness whenever you’re with your special someone. Marriage proposals aren’t as spontaneous as they are in Disney movies and fairytales.
There’s a lot of things to discuss before you say “yes.”
Do you really want to get married?
Before your SO buys a ring and gets down on one knee, you must be sure about one thing: is marriage a part of your life plan? Even though you see a lifetime with your partner, do you want to get married?
On one hand, you may want a lifetime of laughter and togetherness with the love of your life. On the other hand, you may want all of that without the legal formalities of marriage. It’s better to discuss this with your partner before you break their heart with a rejection, or before you feel pressured to say “yes.”
Marriage isn’t about a picture-perfect proposal and a magical wedding, and the promise of “happy ever after.” It isn’t about trying to prove something to people around you. It’s about trust, respect, companionship, and on the more practical side, tax deductions and social security benefits.
Do you see a lifetime with each other?
There’s a lot of personal opinions and qualities you need to discuss before you seal the deal. You won’t always agree but it’s important that you two find the balance between your individual choices.
Get to know the big things, like belief systems and political ideologies. The faith they practice and the political parties they support may clash with yours. But you can make it work if you’re determined.
More importantly, learn the small yet significant details about each other. These range from your love language to your unique response to stress to the way you fight and make up. More importantly, learn each other’s worst qualities. For a marriage to work, you must accept your partner’s worst traits alongside the things you love most about them, and vice versa.
What are your thoughts on children?
Family life is something you and your partner should thoroughly discuss before taking the next step. But before you talk about having kids (or not having them), understand this: there’s no right or wrong answer.
Maybe your partner is sure that they want kids and, although you haven’t thought about it as much, you’re open to the idea of raising two. Maybe you’re both on board the idea of building a big family. And if you agree on having kids, discuss when you want to have them and what your parenting style will be like.
But if one of you wants to have children and the other is sure that they don’t, then talk about how you see yourself with each other in the long run. Children are a non-negotiable for some people and the decision should sit right with both of you before you sign that lifelong contract.
What do you think of each other’s families and friends?
Recently, I finished a K-drama called “Because This Is My First Life” where the couple decided to attend family gatherings separately to avoid issues with the in-laws. Sounds crazy? Maybe not.
The K-drama started with a marriage for convenience. And of course, feelings eventually got involved. Their friends think they’re good for each other, but the couple had reservations with their families. They didn’t want each other to be burdened by “son-in-law duties” and “daughter-in-law obligations,” so they chose to divide and conquer during holidays and other occasions that call for family gatherings.
You may not have problems with each other’s families and friends at all. But either way, you must consider how your dynamics with them will change once you two are legally bound for life.
How will married life affect your career?
I’ve seen people ditch their careers to be a housewife or to work at home. Some are happy with that decision, but others have a series of what-ifs and should-haves that keep them up at night.
A successful relationship depends on how supportive you and your SO are of each other’s goals. There has to be that understanding that you don’t exist to make each other happy, but that you’re there to help each other reach that personal happiness and contentment. A lot of that comes from a successful career.
Talk about how married life will affect your individual careers.
Do your schedules make time for each other? If not, what can you do to make it work? And for people whose job requires them to travel often or to live in another city or country, are you willing to live apart or uproot your life for each other?
How are you going to divide your finances?
Like mutual respect and family life, finances are non-negotiable in marriage. Have you reached a level of financial stability that makes you confident in building a life together? What about your spending habits?
Marriage is a legal contract and like other legal contracts, it involves finances.
Determine your financial compatibility and joint responsibilities. Who will take care of the bills? Will you merge your bank accounts? Will you open a new account especially for your household? What’s the game plan?
Additionally, a relationship works much better if there are no secrets between you and your partner. This includes money secrets and attitudes. Get to know each other’s debt situations, saving styles, and spending habits. They may not align, but an acknowledgment of your differences goes a long way.
Is the past clear and are your futures aligned?
Before you get caught up in the moment and agree to your partner’s proposal, make sure you’ve both moved on from the past and have a clear view of your future together.
When we talk about the past, it can be any circumstances that you had to overcome. It includes the situations that shaped who you are today. It also includes vindictive exes and, if any, previous spouses. A successful marriage is built on transparency and a mutual understanding of each other’s past.
Now, about the future… Nobody has a definite answer to that because life is full of curveballs. My advice is to just be honest. Discuss your hopes and dreams with each other, and see how that aligns with your future together. Moreover, talk about how you’ll help each other achieve those things.
And Last But Never the Least: Explore What You’re Both Like in Bed
Yes, divide chores, like who does the laundry and who takes care of the dishes. You have bills to pay and, maybe someday, kids to look after. But in the midst of all these things, don’t neglect the fun stuff. Sexual chemistry keeps your marriage exciting and ever enduring, so you really have to connect on that level.
What other questions and concerns do you think should be brought up before the big question is popped?