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When it comes to marriage, what you don’t know can sometimes hurt you. Whether it’s due to being shy or being unaware of the pitfalls, many couples don’t ask each other the serious questions that build the bedrock for a happy marriage. And if you don’t deal with an issue before you tie the knot, you’re likely to have to deal with it once you’re married – and that may lead to further problems.
The following questions are designed to bring about an honest discussion, and give couples a chance to learn some important things about each other before it’s too late. There’s everything from how many kids you want – or don’t want – to where you’d like to live, and what your financial habits are. So, settle yourselves somewhere comfortable and begin the discussion.
All photos: Love Jennifer Photography by Jennifer Skabo
Getting married means settling down, but do you both have the same idea of what that means? Discuss whether you want to live in the city, the suburbs, or the country. Will you live in a house or an apartment? Are you likely to want to move interstate or overseas? At a more micro level, you could also chat about domestic responsibilities and expectations. Who will do what when it comes to the housework?
Children are a big responsibility, and it should never be assumed that both partners automatically want them. It can be stressful to discover once you’re in the marriage that one person really wants kids, and the other is unsure. If you both want children, how many do you want, and when do you plan to conceive them? How will they be disciplined? How do you expect to raise them with regard to schooling and values? Discussing birth-control methods before planning a pregnancy is also important.
Now you’re getting married, you’ll need to chat about your finances. It’s important to discuss your salaries, any debts you have, and how you’ll handle finances together. Will you pay off each other’s loans together? Join your funds? Will you have separate and/or joint accounts?
A healthy relationship should also include discussion of what each partner enjoys about sex, as well as how often you both expect to have it. Our bodies and sexual desires change over time in response to age and major life events, such as having children, and these changes don’t affect everyone in the same way. One partner’s sexual needs and wants may change at a different rate to the other’s, resulting in discrepancies that can lead to conflict.
Mother-in-law jokes aside, when you marry your partner, you marry their family – so be sure you agree on how much your families are going to be involved in your marriage. As a married couple, you’re in control of your own destiny. So while your respective parents may give advice about parenting, finances or education, it’s up to you as a couple to decide together. This will help to avoid arguments.
If you follow different religions – or you have different views on religion, finding a balance can be tricky. Just be sure to discuss your plans and expectations ahead of time so no one feels hurt or disappointed. How you celebrate religious holidays and customs should be discussed, so too your expectations regarding a religious education for any children.
Communicating sounds simple enough, but when times get tough, it’s necessary to have a method to talk through things, rather than fighting them out. Discuss how you’ll handle disagreements and how you’ll compromise. Figure out what works and what doesn’t – for example, being evasive or being overly critical of your partner are destructive behaviours. Whereas managing to stay calm and focused on solutions during conflict are positive behaviours that tend to lead to happier marriages.