Falling in love is an amazing experience, one that makes those who experience it feel like they could fly. But there is a common saying that love is blind but marriage is the eye-opener. The failure rate for marriages is definitely something to cause concern. Many people who start out madly in love end up in misery after marriage.
Why discuss marriage in a blog about financial independence?
The choice of a marriage partner is critical for long term success in life. You might study all success principles and still find success elusive because of the state of your marriage. The wrong choice of a marriage partner is one of the major causes of failure.
Here are some tips to guide those who are planning to get married. Begin with self-awareness. You need to understand yourself so that you know what you want to achieve in life and what sort of person will complement you.
Don’t marry someone hoping to change them. You will end up living in hell-on-earth, getting into endless conflicts.
Harmony and unity of purpose are critical in a marriage. Ideally, two whole individuals should team up to build a home together. Do not drag down another person by lacking direction.
Marriage is a partnership in just about all areas in life. As you are well aware, it is very difficult to achieve success if the team you work with is forever fighting you and disagreeing with everything you say or do.
It is possible to do things the right way and the marriage still does not work out. But doing it right reduces the chances of failure. I believe that a courtship period is important before making a decision to get married.
Date long enough for the mask to fall off so that you get to know the real person. Do not rush to commit to marriage during the infatuation or the ‘love is blind’ phase. Use the courtship time to get to know each other and to ask all the relevant questions.
Do not make getting to know one another like an interview. Just make sure that you have clarity about the questions you need to ask and that you have them at the top of your mind at all times. Discuss these issues while dating. You have better bargaining power during courtship than after marriage.
1. Find out as much as possible about each other’s upbringing. How was the relationship between the children and the parents? Did the parents shout, belittle, control or unfairly compare children? Was expressing emotions such as anger and frustrations permitted and empathy available? How were mistakes handled? How was communication and conflict resolution in the family?
2. Get to know each other’s parents. Much as you would want to convince yourself that all that matters is the person that you are going to get married to, a dysfunctional parent-children relationship is a major contributor to marriage failure. If your partner has an unhealthy relationship with the parents, it will spill over into your marriage and cause problems. Find out about boundaries with the parents. Will you be expected to live with them or to support them financially? Will they have a say about decisions in your marriage?
3. Value systems. What is the foundation of your value systems? Is it religion, personal convictions, culture? What are your value systems about morality, lifestyle such as socializing, partying, drinking alcohol or going out without one’s spouse?
4. Past relationships and whether each of you has healed from past heartbreaks, betrayals, and mistreatment. Will the past interfere with the future? Will it cloud judgment?
5. How important is religion? The more important it is, the more crucial it is to discuss the matter comprehensively. Do you have to agree on matters religion or do you have the freedom to practice your individual religion? Should you have children, whose religion will they follow? If both of you feel very strongly about religion and you are both pulling in different directions, the boat is definitely going to be rocked so do not take the matter for granted.
6. Will you have children? How many? When? What targets do you need to achieve before you can get children? How will you handle the responsibility of bringing them up into well-balanced citizens? Will you share responsibilities such as helping the children with homework, training them, spending time with them, feeding and soothing small babies?
7. Gauge each other’s relationship with money, which is largely learned from a young age. Observing family dynamics can reveal a lot. Watch out for mindsets and patterns. A poverty mindset is responsible for unhealthy spending habits such as hoarding money for fear of spending or the opposite habit of spending carelessly. Statements such as “I/we can’t afford it, money is not everything, you love money, money does not grow on trees…” should raise red flags about a poverty mindset.
8. Debts and liabilities outside the immediate family. Look out for credit card debts, student loans and bank loans. Responsibilities such as having dependents should not be ignored. These could be dependent parents, siblings or children from earlier relationships. Discuss how debts and extra responsibilities will be handled. Is mine ‘mine’ and yours ‘yours’ or will you handle them as ‘ours’?
9. Independence. To what extent will each of you have freedom to be yourself? Can you have friends, hobbies, careers, and activities that you do not share with your partner? Every individual has a life before getting into marriage. Will you partner expect your life to end once you get married and that you have to do each and everything together, probably even give up on your hobbies, social circles and career?
10. Relationships with members of the opposite sex. Are you at peace with the fact that your partner works and interacts with people of the opposite sex? What about knowing that your partner finds others attractive? Can you comfortably discuss with each other about your interactions with members of the opposite sex and what one finds attractive, without such discussion causing insecurity?
11. Sex and intimacy. Differences in this area can be a deal breaker. How important is sex to both of you and are you both on the same page? Does any of you consider anything taboo? Are you comfortable discussing with each other your preferences?
12. What attracts you to each other? Is the attraction real or just a passing fantasy?
13. Do you understand what it takes to build a fulfilling relationship? Do you understand about affection, spending quality time together, respecting each other’s boundaries, encouraging and motivating each other to become better, respecting each other’s dreams and aspirations, bonding, and sharing some activities and social circles? What are your expectations of the roles and responsibilities of each in the marriage? Can you compromise?
14. Dreams, goals and aspirations. How do you see yourselves 10, 20 years from now? Will you still be relevant to each other? How do you picture yourselves after retirement? What kind of life would you want to have after retirement?
15. Careers. Many people have already made some strides in their careers before getting married. How important are your careers? Will you give each other room to progress in your careers? How will you ensure that your relationship does not get neglected as you pursue your career goals?How will you maintain work-family balance?
16. Medical history. This is very important and should not be taken for granted. Is either of you on treatment for any medical conditions? Has one undergone treatment in the past? Are the conditions chronic or could they recur?
The more you know about each other, the better prepared you will be to build a strong foundation for your marriage. I recommend some kind of premarital counseling before embarking on the road to marriage. Matters such as childhood trauma and upbringing issues need to be dealt with professionally if you expect to be set free to live a fulfilling life. Finding a common meeting ground and setting long-term goals requires professional help too.
Are you in a relationship and would like help to get clarity about yourselves before you commit to marriage? Book a free session here.
This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter