When you’ve fallen madly in love with the most wonderful person in the whole, wide world, you can’t think of life without your partner. Then the idea hits. You two should marry and live happily ever after! That’s the perfect moment—before you start planning a beautiful wedding—to ask some big questions. When you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you need to know what they think about issues that matter.
Now’s the time to learn whether they see children in your future. What kind of parent would they be? Will your family buy a house or live in an Airstream by the water? Do they value a trip to Bora Bora over financial security?
Total agreement isn’t necessary for a happy marriage, but the commitment to compromise is key. If your partner holds values that conflict with yours, will you be able to find enough common ground to make the marriage last happily over the long haul? These are questions that reveal whether you and your partner should be able to build the foundation for a relationship that lasts long after the honeymoon.
Questions to Ask Yourself
What did I learn about marriage from my parents’ behavior? What influence does that have on me?
The behavior you saw growing up probably has an impact on your view of relationships and marriage. A therapist can be a helpful guide if you need to take a deeper look at what you learned and its relevance to your own relationship.
How do I think and feel about marriage?
The answer to this question may change when you have a new partner. While you may be all in for marriage with one, you may hesitate to take the plunge with another. It’s not the institution that gives you pause. It’s a commitment to someone you’re doubting. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask yourself this question to see where your feelings are headed.
How do I feel about compromising with my partner?
Willingness to meet your partner halfway is crucial in a successful marriage. Are you willing to work at compromise? Compromise doesn’t mean one partner constantly appeases the other. Both have to work on finding solutions to joint decisions. This question is tricky because you must give yourself an honest answer, and being totally honest with ourselves is not always easy.
Questions for Your Partner
What do you expect from marriage?
Communicating about expectations is important in identifying whether the one you love would make a good match for you. Is this person the right fit?
What are your values?
Do you want children? How do you view parenting? What do you think about managing money and buying a home? Similar values go a long way in sustaining a relationship. The only way to find out whether your partner shares your views is, to be honest about your values and direct about what you were looking for in a marriage partner. Listen to your partner’s responses. Write it down if necessary. Don’t hide from what your partner says if the values don’t match yours. Honest airing of conflicting views can reveal that your partner may not be a good marriage match for you.
How do you think married couples should handle conflict?
Similar values and expectations are the best indicators that you’re headed for a successful marriage, but total agreement isn’t absolutely necessary. However, you should at least agree about how to resolve conflict and reach compromise.