So! He popped the question, you said “Yes!” Congratulations! You are engaged.
What’s next? It usually goes something like this: First, your status changes on all your social media platforms as you give us a peek of your well manicured nails and a shiny new “friend” – so giddy to tell the world that you are taken.
Next, planning starts, perhaps in your head that same night or on paper, reeling off where this magical event will take place, what you’ll be wearing, your train, the strict guest list (because God forbid that frenemy of yours crosses the threshold), and most importantly, which vendors will have the opportunity to create your fantasy wedding to the ‘T’, not forgetting the planner that will help you get it all there. You are besides yourself with every exhilarating emotion. Soon you will be Mrs. Perfect and life will be so beautiful.
Now the easy thing to do would be to say, “Hey, neither of us have been married before. I think we should go get help in figuring out what we’re about to get ourselves into!” This YouTube video explains why you both need marriage coaching. But who’s thinking about the “marriage” at this point? It’s all about the “wedding” remember?
Cut to wedding day and Mr. & Mrs. Perfect are introduced to the world. Yay! My beautiful life begins! Only… it’s more like a vortex you just got sucked into, the perfect life you expected seems totally – not perfect – and you find yourself constantly wondering, “What the heck did I get myself into?” and trust me, Mr. Perfect is probably in the other room, wondering the same.
So what went wrong? Why has your fantasy turned into a nightmare? Well, from my experience, one little step was neglected right after you agreed to marry your “soul mate”. You forgot to ask a couple of extremely important questions.
After the question is popped, or intention made clear, it is NOT time to plan a wedding, but time to plan your marriage. It becomes time to ask questions of your own. At this point, the assumption is you already know enough about what your spouse does for a living, his family, his friends, his likes/dislikes, his hopes and aspirations, what stresses him out, what makes him happy, his life’s philosophy and what things you share in common.
So what questions SHOULD you ask him? While this is not an exhaustive list, getting answers to these ten will get you well on your way to feeling comfortable with your decision to marry him.
What does marriage mean to you and why do you think I’m “The One”?
Regardless of how similar you think you both are, you are still coming from different backgrounds. Marriage to you might mean something totally different from his understanding of it. The both of you should take this time to align your definition of marriage, as seeing it from the same perspective is what helps keep you together, especially in times of conflict.
What do you expect of me in this marriage?
You need to work on getting to know him for real this time! No more of those “light” conversations that make you assume, “He loves me just the way I am”. Ask him; Am I expected to leave my career when we start having kids? How many do you want? How often do you expect me to call your parents? Do you see me as an equal partner in this relationship? Why not? Do you expect me to convert to your religion after we get married? He surely has expectations of you in this marriage, knowing what they are upfront, prepares you.
How do you make your money?
Now ladies, while the surprise gifts and trips are all fine and dandy, you are now in the running to become a wife. You need to know how he makes his money, where he stashes it, how he plans to spend it, how he plans to save it. Transparency is of utmost importance in marriage, especially with finances. Have you seen the percentage of marriages that end in divorce due to financial stress? Yeah! Too many!
How do we plan for the future?
What are your financial goals? Do we get separate or joint accounts? Are you familiar with budgeting? Show me your current budget. Again, for the love of all things good, you have to ask what the future looks like for the both of you, as technically, he should be charting the vision for his family.
What is your relationship with God?
What role does your religion play in your life now? Now, this is one of those places that I won’t be caught “judging” anyone. However, I am not the one he’s asked to marry him. You need to know if your fiancé will be the spiritual head in your home as his maker intended or will he keep following you to church under duress. Does he plan to raise your kids according to your faith or his when you get married (assuming you are of different religious persuasions)? Don’t forget, these discussions are what you need to put on the table before you get married, as those ‘surprises’ you get after saying “I Do” are what make marriages miserable.
How important is it to you that we effectively communicate?
Now, this is a very important question. If your husband-to-be isn’t the talking-type, one who likes to listen to you and spend as much time as he can talking with you, you might be in for a bit of a shocker. Most married men talk 50% less than they did when dating and this wreaks havoc for women who usually get chattier after they get married. So as your desire to talk increases, his desire to talk reduces, once married life begins. You need to know if he will always tell you what he is feeling instead of keeping it in. You need to know whom he currently confides in. You need to know if you will become his closest confidant. Again, you will not get close if you do not keep the communication lines open.
How do you handle conflict or confrontations?
It is important to know if he is one that will charge at you or will withdraw from you, drive off to hang with “the boys” and not speak to you for a month. It happens! Just remember, whatever you have experienced in your relationship prior to getting married, will be amplified once you get married. It’s best to understand what you are getting yourself into.
What does forgiveness mean to you?
You need to understand if your spouse-to-be knows how to forgive. If he finds it hard to let go of things you do that might hurt him, it will be 100 times more difficult when you get married. You will surely step on his toes, so don’t try to imagine the ways you can avoid getting him upset. It’s best to understand his take on letting go of hurt.
Do you plan on staying faithful to me?
Don’t worry about sounding like “Captain Obvious”. Ask this question anyway! Some men are convinced that it is acceptable to have a main chick and a side chick. For most women, that’s like throwing egg in their face. Pun intended. And for some, it’s just fine. Now, you should know what his take on being faithful is and make sure you are comfortable with it. Do not expect that since he is officially wearing a ring, those bad guy days are over. Ahem! It gets worse. Side note – if you “found” him while he was being unfaithful, this is a discussion that you need to have BEFORE you say yes!
What do you consider a healthy sexual relationship?
We have heard that the act is constantly on their mind. Frankly I don’t necessarily agree…but that’s a topic for a different day. You need to know what his expectations in this department are, frequency et al. Have an open discussion about this as again, your expectations might be totally different from his and it is best that both parties are prepared for what lies ahead. Pun not intended.
Don’t shoot the messenger! Don’t be mad that things are getting stirred up. They need to be. This is forever we are talking about! Accepting a ring from a young fellow means more than “I have arrived!” It means I am now going into a partnership where my beliefs, background and values come together with someone else’s and we build a fortress TOGETHER that can’t be penetrated but will be used as an instrument of greatness.
These are the first ten questions I always suggest that couples ask. As you can imagine, there are tons more that you should ask if you really want to understand your spouse and live in a very fulfilled relationship…Forever.