It is impossible to pinpoint the exact percentage of marriages that end in divorce, but general consensus has the number hovering at around 50%. That’s quite a scary figure, and not something to turn a blind eye towards.
According to Utah Divorce Orientation, “The most common reasons people give for their divorce are lack of commitment, too much arguing, infidelity, marrying too young, unrealistic expectations, lack of equality in the relationship, lack of preparation for marriage, and abuse.”
So, how exactly can you keep yourself from straying into the sad half of the marriage scale and staying put on the happy side? I suppose if I had the answer, I would be rich by now. However, I can tell you that discussing certain things before tying the knot will give you a head start in keeping your marriage together. Doing so will at least address the “too much arguing, unrealistic expectations, and lack of preparation for marriage” issues stated above. [Read: What is the right age to get married?]
Proper preparation – Talking about marriage
It is always better to be safe than sorry, so here are 16 realistic things to ask about marriage without scaring your soon-to-be spouse.
#1 Do we want kids? You may know what you want, but do you know what your partner really wants? If you share opposing views on this, work it out before tying the knot. You don’t want to be signing divorce papers years down the road, simply because you didn’t talk about having little minions. [Read: 11 ways to know if both or you are ready to have kids]
#2 Should we practice a common religion or belief system? For example, in Malaysia, the law states that if you marry a Muslim, you have to convert. Not only that, but your children must be raised Muslim. This is unfair, as it doesn’t give anyone a choice in the matter, but if you live somewhere that gives you the luxury to choose, be sure to discuss it before getting married. As serious as the topic of religion is, you can always approach it in a light-hearted manner.
#3 Should we have a wedding? You’d be surprised at the number of people out there who don’t want to host a wedding ceremony. Spending all that money on a one-day event isn’t as appealing as it once was. For example, my fiancé and I have decided to elope and spend the thousands of dollars we are bound to save on a down payment for a house. [Read: How to elope and yet have the perfect fairytale wedding you’ve dreamed of]
#4 If we do, should it be big or small? If you’re unlike me and want a ceremony, speak to your partner about whether you want to host something small and intimate or big and showy. Knowing that you’re on the same page will save you plenty of trouble in the near future, plus it will give you the chance to work out the money situation.
#5 Are we financially secure? Speaking about money is not pleasant, especially if you don’t have much to go around. Sit down and seriously discuss with your partner if you’re both financially stable enough to tie the knot. It doesn’t make sense if you’re both drowning in loans or, worse than that, unemployed. [Read: The lazy 20-something’s guide to saving money effortlessly]
#6 Should we open a joint account? I know some couples who have been married for years, but don’t see the need to open a joint account. On the other hand, I also know couples who swear by joint accounts. Dealing with money is a personal and subjective issue and something that only you and your partner can decide on.
#7 Where do we want to end up? This is a fun question and one that will give you insight into your partner’s goals. From Casablanca to Capetown, the world is a big place and if you’re both wanderlusters who adore the nomadic lifestyle, figuring out where you want to end up is an important topic of discussion.
#8 Are you willing to relocate? Many couples don’t discuss this until they’re actually faced with the issue. Despite how stable your jobs are, there may come a day when you need to relocate to advance your career. Figure out if you’re both willing to move for each other, or if you prefer investing in a long-distance relationship.
#9 What kind of home are we going to live in? Townhouse? Condo? Treehouse? Determine what sort of home you see yourselves in, and you will be able to start working towards that goal.
#10 Who does what at home? Times have changed. We no longer live in an era where women are expected to do all the cooking and cleaning. Sharing the chores is now the norm, and it is advisable that you lay out a general outline of who’s going to do what. Hate cleaning the bathroom? Convince your partner to take care of that while you are placed in charge of cooking. [Read: 20 crucial things you need to do even before you consider marriage]
#11 Love isn’t enough. What do we need to work on? It’s no secret that love isn’t enough to keep a relationship alive. The sooner you recognize this, the more likely it is your marriage will last. Figure out what you need to work on. Whether it’s spicing up the sex, or being more patient, go into your marriage knowing that it is a lifetime commitment that takes hard work.
#12 Are you sure you will stay with me? Chat with your partner about the possible scenarios that may pop up to challenge your marriage. Will your sweetheart stick around if you fall ill? What about bankruptcy? Infidelity? There’s no need to get too deep into this morbid conversation, but it’s always good to know where you both stand on certain issues.
#13 Can we agree to stay loyal forever? Many people assume that it’s easy staying loyal in a marriage, but what about in 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years? Will things still stay the same when time and age take their toll on you—inside and out? Temptations will come along, and it is up to you to say no. Make a promise to each other and stick to it. [Read: 10 ridiculous myths people strongly believe about marriage]
#14 Will WE always come first? Be sure that you’re on the same page when it comes to what comes first. In case you were wondering, your relationship should trump everything and anything else. Your job, money, and other external issues shouldn’t compete with the love of your life. Many will say that you should put yourself first, but at the end of the day, when you decide to marry someone, it should always be WE and not ME.
#15 What are you not prepared to give up, and can I live with it? Before walking down the aisle, speak about what both of you are or are not willing to give up. Hate his hoarding tendencies? Despise her porcelain doll collection? Discuss what should stay and go before moving in together. [Read: 25 relationship rules you must follow for a successful relationship]
#16 Are we truly ready? Finally, discuss if you’re truly ready to tie the knot. There’s nothing wrong with maintaining a long engagement. My fiancé and I have been engaged for over a year and a half, and we love it. Although we have to deal with the occasional question from nosey friends and relatives, we’re perfectly comfortable with taking our time. You have the luxury to design your own relationship, so take full advantage of it.
Only take the plunge when you’re absolutely ready. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something neither of you are ready for. If your partner isn’t ready, wait it out. If you’re not ready, explain to your partner why you need more time. You’ll invite nothing but trouble if you rush into marriage.
[Read: 17 things you must do as a single person before you get married and settle]
Marriage is a big deal, and something to be discussed thoroughly. There is no real way to broach these questions without incurring an uncomfortable moment or two. However, it is important that you talk about marriage and stick to your list of questions and bang them all out before walking down the aisle.
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