Marriage is a scary step, and no matter how much you love your partner the idea of spending the rest of your life with one person can be daunting. The country’s high divorce rate isn’t exactly encouraging. One study by Indiana University found that as many as 23% of men and 19% of women have admitted to cheating on their spouses. Statistics like this make marriage seem scarier than it already is, yet studies continually find that married people are happier than their single counterparts.
If you love your partner and want to have a family and long-term commitment, marriage may be inevitable. Rather than rushing into a something that won’t last, take the time to make sure the person you love now is someone you can love in 40 years. Ignore your insistent parents, those pushy newlyweds, and any other societal pressures that are pushing for a proposal. Take your time and make sure you and your partner are a lasting match. These questions help cut through some of the layers to understand each other at a deeper level.
1. What are your religious or spiritual beliefs?
It may not seem like a big deal now, but when there are kids involved or you reach a rocky moment in your marriage, sharing the same beliefs can make or break a marriage. If one of you plans on attending mass every week and the other has no interest, there will be friction. Research has found a significant link between relationship satisfaction and religious factors.
2. Do you want kids?
This seems like an obvious question, but it can quickly become more complicated. When do you both want kids? Are you aware of the ways your lifestyle will be impacted? Will you share responsibilities? How would you react as a couple if you are unable to have kids? Having kids is potentially a bigger step than marriage, so this is one area that you’ll want to make sure you’re in agreement over before you commit.
3. What are you like when you’re mad?
If you haven’t seen your partner really mad, it might be a good idea to get an idea of what to expect. The way a person reacts when they’re angry provides insight into a person’s character and how they cope with problems. You may want to talk it out immediately while your partner may need space to mull things over or clear their mind. It’s important to know your differences in reacting to anger so that you can understand each other when an intense argument comes up.
4. How should we handle our money?
Will you each have your own bank accounts, credit cards, and finances or will you open a joint account? Do you take on your partner’s debt or is it their responsibility to pay that off? Money can be a common source of marital issues so facing these issues head on will help you avoid major problems down the road. If you decide to share finances, be honest about any debt, and take the time to sit down and create a basic budget that separates individual expenses based on variances in income.
5. How important is sex to you?
Sex can be a major benefit of marriage or one of the biggest roadblocks. One person may expect for the sex to lessen in frequency over time, while the other wants chemistry and fireworks into old age. Be honest with each other on what value you place on your sex life. In this conversation it is also important to lay some guidelines for sexual exclusivity. Is flirting OK? If so, how much? By being realistic and honest about what you’re comfortable with upfront, you can skip all the arguments down the road.
6. What about me drives you crazy?
If you’re on the brink of marriage you already know you love each other, but what about your partner drives you nuts? Do you hate how they chew with their mouth open or the way they always leave their underwear on the floor? You don’t have to be mean, but it helps to get all your pet peeves out in the open so you can make an effort to be respectful of each other. In the beginning, these annoying habits may be cute and funny, but 10 years down the road those pet peeves can grow to overcome the good things.