Should We Be Getting Married? Or Not?
Good love relationships reach a tipping point: Is it time to put our wedding plans into gear, and put them into the trash can and break up?
Here’s a good way to move a good love relationship off a plateau, and decide if it’s time to commit or quit. In counseling some 1500 married couples, these are the issues they have most often brought into my office. Fir these issues, an ounce of preventive planning and agreement before they marry could make problems that come later 16 times easier to solve.
Make two copies of these questions and give one to your fiancée. Both of you write down your answers, one paragraph or so for each question. If you don’t think in paragraphs or even sentences, just make a rough outline of several points to answer each question.
When your partner has done the same, photocopy both sets of answers. Exchange them, and allow enough time for you each to read and reflect on the similarities and differences in your answers. Then get together and take all the time you need to fully understand each other’s answers. The goal is not to agree everywhere, but to keep the conversation open, and try to give and take until you come up with an answer you both embrace.
You can answer the question in the title up above by looking at how compatible your answers are, how flexible you both were in giving and taking, how good you both felt about your joint answers, how well you both felt understood and honored in the discussion. and how you both feel about the relationship moving forward with this road map.
You get extra credit, and extra good prognosis for your marriage, if you can share all your joint answers with one or two third parties, if they like your plan, if they agree to help you apply your principles to problems you two bring them later, and if you promise each other in front of them and significant others that YOU WILL BRING PROBLEMS TO THEM WHEN YOU GET STUCK, because no doubt you will get stuck. We all do!
- Why this person? Why have I chosen this particular person to be my life partner?
- In-laws What blessings and problems do we expect to have with our families of origin?
- Couple friends Which couple friends will we spend time with to help our marriage?
- Loyalty and Jealousy What guidelines and limitations will we use for opposite-sex friends?
- Trust and privacy What things do we need to share with each other, and what can be private?
- Hurt feelings What does your partner do that makes you feel most hurt? resentful? insecure?
- Stalemate When your communication gets badly blocked, how will you get past the walls?
- Immaturity In what specific ways do you and your mate need to grow up?
- Money What principles and guidelines are most important to you about spending and saving?
- Children How many children do you want to have? When? Do parenting philosophies fit?
- Sex Name at least one or two ways your love life may need some work after a few months.
- Wife’s role Name several responsibilities that you expect will fall mostly to the wife.
- Husband’s role Name the husband’s primary responsibilities. Which ones will you share?
- Philosophy of life What are your primary values and beliefs? your mate’s that are different?
- Priorities List your top priorities for the first year of your marriage, and for the next five.
- Differences Describe three ways your personalities are different, and how you’ll deal with it.
- Conflict management Can you resolve your problems without violence or stone walls?
- Apologies and forgiveness Have each of you shown that you will apologize and forgive?
- Energy levels How similar are your energy levels? How do you deal with those differences?
- Bedtime Is it important to go to bed together, and in peace? What if one needs more sleep?
- Dreams and ambitions How much have you shared and supported each other’s major hopes?
- Divorce insurance What would be grounds for divorce, and would you mediate or litigate?
- Religion and faith How much will each of you rely on prayer, church, a pastor, the Bible?
- Vows What vows will you make to each other unconditionally, with no strings attached?
- Wedding date How much time do each of you need to get ready for your wedding, and why?