In my last post, I covered a few of the most commonly asked questions that people should consider if they are thinking about getting married. Please keep in mind, that between these two posts, by no way am I saying that this list of questions is all there is to think about. Think of these entries as a starting point to get you to look at yourself, your lover, and whether or not your relationship.
This is one of the most commonly asked questions. Fortunately, most people have already answered this question before they have decided to hire me as a wedding photographer. None the less, it’s still a question that needs to be answered. I think, the answer depends on you. I have ran into too many women who felt pressured to get married because; their younger sibling is already married, with kids, or your 30, or your 40, or because this is the last time you are trying marriage after a string of failed marriages in the past.
The reality is that marriage is hard work. There is no way to sugar coat it and try to down play it. I have found that most of the couples that I spoke to about what makes their marriage so successful all agree that they were honest about the situation.
In fact, most if not all of the couples who mentioned honesty as the biggest factor in keeping things positive. There are few things that differ from couple to couple, but I’ve decided to really talk about the most common questions that people should be considering before taking the plunge into what can be a long awaited oasis, filled with romance, bliss and ongoing paradise, or an unrelenting abyss of unsatisfying matrimony.
This is for life…
The first thing to consider is that marriage should be forever. There are a lot of couples who are giving in to pressures, whether internal or external, and jumping into marriage without really thinking about how long forever is. This is nothing like cohabitation, or shacking up as my dad calls it. One of my best friends has been with her beau for almost 12 years, and they still have not decided to tie the knot just yet. “It took some time getting used to people like my mother and co-workers asking, ‘so when is he going to propose?’ but they were never asking the right question, what if I was’t ready to be propsed, too?” For her, it works not being married. For some women, especially most of the women over a certain age, it is a milestone in our lives that can give the perception of success in life.
Here are a few of the most common questions that I was able to come up with if you ever find yourself wondering if you are really ready for marriage, or if you want to share this article with someone that you are helping answer this age old question.
How do you argue?
Couples argue. It happens in any healthy relationship, whether a professional relationship or a romantic relationship, communication is a super important part of a stable and long lasting relationship. Sometimes there are breakdowns in communication, which can lead to disagreements, or arguments. What’s important, and most couples agree, is whether or not the arguments are constructive or not. “There are certain times when my husband does things that I know, he knows irritates me, but I have to be conscious of the fact that he may not always be thinking about how upset I get when he forgets to take the trash out, or leaves the sponges in the sink under the dishes.” Picking battles is very important. Not every situation that arises in the household needs to escalate to a full blown argument, given that you and your significant other have taken time to learn this during the earlier stages of serious dating. “Instead of yelling and trying to confront him, or even worse, going the silent treatment route, we can usually get through things by talking calmly about it. If we do disagree, we are focused more on the issue, and finding a solution, as opposed to just trying to be right.”
Where will you live?
Hopefully this is something that was covered long before he popped the question, and before you walk down the aisle. There are some statistics that support the theory that one of the reasons why couples don’t last is because there is a compromise from one or the other on where they want to live. “I thought we were only moving for a few years, and then we would move back closer to my family once kids came along,” says my neighbor Susan. She and her ex husband were married for eleven years before deciding to call it quits. “He was always going to find an excuse to keep us from moving back home, and it took me almost 12 years, and three children before I realized it.”
Susan goes on to say that there were other things that contributed to her marriage ending in divorce, but not having a clear understanding about where they would raise their family left her unsure about any decisions made as a family. “On one end he would tell me, ‘I’m getting a promotion next month, and how it wouldn’t look good to leave the company right after, let’s pay off some debt and then we can move back, blah blah blah, the very next month he was pulling up with a new boat, or he was hiring a local contractor to do some kind of home improvement project, which just seemed to cement us in a place I knew I didn’t want for my family.”
Susan had a sad story. I would not want that to happen to anyone, not my readers, not my friends, or even any of my exes. It’s best to make sure you and your guy talk it over and have a clear vision that you both agree on. Be honest with yourselves and hold each other accountable when necessary. If you guys agree that eventually having a large house in the hills is important, then make sure you are open about it early on.
Do you both want kids?
I know I don’t want kids. Between my experiences babysitting nieces and nephews that I love dearly, I think I have seen enough to know that parenthood is not for me. I think I knew that when I was in my teens, and just never grew out of that mentality.
Luckily, I grew out of other things I used to do as a teenager, and as a result I can share a dark secret with you with complete confidence and maturity. When I was in my early twenties I was with a guy who was quiet older than me and while he assured me that I would not have to worry if I ever did get pregnant, he also made me feel as though I wasn’t mature enough to handle a child. And he was right, which is why I never told him about the abortion I borrowed I had when I found out I was pregnant.
That’s how serious I am about not having kids, ever. Make sure you and your husband are ready to have those dark, scary moments of miscarriage, stillborn babies, and even high risk pregnancies that can be fatal. Maybe adoption is a choice, or you are happy with a few furry companions. Ask before it’s too late for you, your baby, your dogs, and your relationship may be doomed before it even starts. “At least if you get into a bad marriage, you can get out and move on, if there aren’t any kids,” Rhonda, a 32 year old single mother who never married her daughters father.
“But having a kid with that person means your along for the ride together for at least the next 18 years, no matter how much you want to forget about them. I’d recommend getting married before starting a family. I don’t think it would have as easy for me to walk away if there was an actual marriage.” Maggie, a 36 year old divorcee disagrees. Her husband of three years filed for divorce just weeks after learning that Maggie would need to undergo surgery to remove ovarian cysts and would more than likely not be able to give birth after the procedure. “It made it easy for him to leave. He didn’t even try to stick it out and find other options, and I didn’t even have the surgery yet. I was useless to him if I couldn’t give him children of his own.” She is now happily married to her second husband, who brings a child from his previous relationship.
Are you ready to be part of his family, and let him be a part of yours?
Think about it. Perhaps you are caught up in the romantic aspect of what being married is supposed to be, but think about what marriage really is. It’s the union of two people who come from two different families. Think about your own family. At some point in history, your dad and his brother in law were complete strangers, and over time, have grown to become the support system that you have come to rely on.
How does your guy fit into this mix?
Does he add to the madness, or is he the piece of resistance needed to help push your family in a new direction?
How do you fit into his family?
I am not suggesting that you place yourself in competition with the women in his life; mom, sisters, cousins, aunts etc… but try to ask yourself honestly, can you see yourself hanging out with his family if he were not around? A lot of my readers are married to people in the armed forces, and they often go on deployments for over a year at a time. In some cases, the only people they can call family, is the family of the man they just married.
What if his family is crazy?
Do they respect you?
Do you feel safe, included and loved, or do you find yourself keeping your guard up but being superficially polite just to please him?
“Be careful trying too hard to be nice in the early days.” Carolina, a 41 year old married mother of twin boys warns, ” I was the nice girl for the first two years of our marriage. I was always helping out with their little drama sessions; late night hospital trips, bailing people out of jail, picking up drunk people from bars, or parties at all hours of the night, letting people crash on couches for days at a time. But when we decided to start trying to have kids, I started putting my foot down. I let him know that as much as I love him and his family, that we were going to do something different in this household, and if they can’t respect that, he and I were not going to make it.”
Luckily for Carolina, her loyal man took the ultimatum and kicked his family to the curb and all of their, “drunken, not kid friendly ways” and has put fatherhood as his top priority. “It made us all stronger,” she continues, “because it made them look at him and want to do better also. His brother went back to school, and his mother quit smoking cigarettes, and they both tell us that they have us to thank for it. They are awesome to my little girls, an we all get along great, and everyone gets to be the best version of themselves to be a positive example for the future generations.”
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