Over the years, it is inevitable that people change. Twenty years from now, you may not be the same person you are today and the same can be said of your partner. This is a challenge that you should not run from.
Personal and professional developments have a lot to do with shaping who you will become. What both of you need to understand is that your marriage should last despite the changes. You should be embracing and evolving with the individual developments that are bound to take place.
Whether you are a same-sex or opposite-sex couple, the big questions remain the same. There is more to married life than love and sex. There are multiple things that you need to address before getting married, some of which are meant for you to ponder alone, and some are meant to be discussed with your partner. It all comes down to sharing duties and being responsible for one another.
Spend some time alone and ask yourself the following questions. Once you can answer every one without flinching, move on to the other questions that you need to answer with your partner.
#1 Is this what I want?
Ask yourself this all the time, everyday if need be. Is marriage really what you want? Will it make you happy? Do not worry about other people’s expectations. Whether it is your partner’s, your parents’, or even society’s, the only expectations that you need to meet are ones set by yourself.
Think long and hard before making this big commitment. If you are going into marriage with the thought that you can easily get out of it whenever you want, think again. The amount of paperwork and lawyer’s fees is a bitch and not worth having to suffer through. So do the smart thing and take some time off in the beginning to think about whether you really want to get married.
#2 Am I ready?
Another question to ask yourself is whether you are ready to tie the knot. Always remember that the younger you are, the riskier it is. Decide if you are ready to be tied down to one person and if you are even close to being ready to building a life with this individual.
Being ready and prepared means everything and if you have even a shred of doubt in your mind, step back and put the whole marriage idea on hold for a second. Remember that it takes more than just love to make a relationship work. City hall will always be there but your youth won’t.
#3 Is marriage necessary?
When we look back at what marriage used to symbolize, it has not got much to do with why we do it today. Ask yourself if marriage is even necessary. Are you fine with living an unmarried life with your partner? Covering all your bases and researching all your options is something that you should look into.
#4 Can I do this forever?
Everyone goes into marriage confident that it will last forever. If you have doubts about being with one person for the rest of your life, you need to rethink the whole idea of getting married. Do not cower behind separation or divorce when things get emotionally rough. You have to have the strength to see your marriage through to the very end.
However, in all fairness, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to end a marriage, none of which are easy to deal with. Just remember to stick at it for as long as you can without bringing harm to yourself emotionally or physically. For better or for worse, remember?
#5 Do I want to raise a family?
Many couples choose to get married because they are ready to start a family. Do you even want to have kids? If you are tying the knot under the pretext of wanting to start a family, then you need to stop yourself right there. Think long and hard about whether you see kids in your future. Do not half-ass this decision because raising a family is a serious commitment and definitely not something to be taken lightly.
#6 Why am I doing this?
Do it for the right reasons, not to satisfy a whim. Are you feeling pressured and doing it to please your partner? Whether it is getting married for that green card, or doing it because you want to feel more secure in your relationship, question why you want to get married in the first place. The institution of marriage is sacred and is not something to be taken lightly just because you want to fulfill another goal.
Once you have asked yourself the aforementioned burning questions, you need to sit down with your partner to discuss more issues.
Here are some things to question.
#1 Do we have debt?
Do not start your married life in debt. If you have not already shared financial statuses with each other, now is the time to do so. Be transparent with your partner about your bank balance, savings plan and debt. Sit down and calculate if it is the right time for you to get married.
It is always better to kickstart a life together being debt-free, or at the very least, have a super solid financial plan in place. Being financially responsible is one of the many skills needed to make a marriage work and if the two of you cannot come to a consensus even before you are married, how bleak do you think your future is going to be?
#2 Can we afford it?
Planning and executing a wedding is not cheap. Unless you plan to elope, you have to set aside thousands of dollars for the ceremony. Ask yourselves if you can afford to get married. Do not start your life together riddled with debt and owing favors to others. If you cannot wait, an alternative is to sign the legal documents first, and then plan a wedding party further down the road.
#3 What if we can’t have kids?
Many couples get married with the plan to have children one day. Discuss with your partner what the two of you are going to do if you cannot have children. Fertility issues are on the rise and many newlyweds face problems conceiving. Many have tried for years to no avail even after getting tested and determining that both parties are fine.
Figure out a backup plan in case you have problems conceiving in the future. Find out if the two of you are open to adoption, surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, and other methods to conceive and start a family.
#4 Where do we want to end up?
Determining where you want to put down roots is an important decision to make together. Whether you want to lead a nomadic life of traveling and assimilating into new cultures, or staying put in one place, is a very important question to ask yourselves. Sit down and decide on the importance of building a permanent home together. Speak about your openness to move for work, health reasons, family, education, and so on.
#5 What about religious beliefs?
Before tying the knot, speak to your significant other about the importance of religion in the household. Does it matter that you have different religious and spiritual beliefs? How do you want to raise your children? How big a role does religion have to play in your life together? You will be surprised at how many people dive headfirst into a marriage without figuring out important decisions like these.
#6 What kind of home do we want?
Rent all you want for now but soon, you will realize that buying a home makes more financial sense in the long run. Speak to your significant other about what kind of home you want to settle down in. Is it a condo by the river? A cottage in the countryside? A mansion in the suburbs? Discuss these long term goals and you will be one step closer to being ready for marriage.
#7 Who does what?
This all comes down to the division of labor in your household. Are you going to hire help? Share the chores? Do you live by the “you cook, I clean” motto? Whether you want to leave your home in an organized mess, or be completely OCD about cleanliness and the distribution of chores, make sure that your partner is on the same page as you. Here is a fail-safe tip that works for many: Live together first before getting married.
Getting married is a really big step. Ask yourself and your partner these questions, and within a short while, both of you will know for sure if the two of you are truly ready for a commitment like marriage.