Before you get married, it is advisable to do marriage counselling, I did and never regretted it. what I have put together are things I was taught and seen as very important when you decide to do forever with anyone. Most of them might be considered cliche but still remain major causes of conflicts in marriage and even divorce. Do not make assumptions about these things, discuss them and agree together. Are you engaged, in a serious relationship, about to be engaged, discuss the following things below in no particular order of importance. This wouldn’t eradicate disagreements but will help manage them when these issues arise.
- Finance: Many people believe this is a major cause of marriage demise. Let your full expectations about finances be made known. Are you a lavish spender, do you love going for vacations even if it involves using the last money in the bank? Are you frugal and prudent ? Differences in spending habits could cause friction. What about household expenditures or capital expenditures? Who sponsors capital budgets like housing, major investments? Would you expect the man to give you frequent stipends for personal expenses and household expenditures even if you earn money? Should each person have their separate bank accounts, or pool finances in one account? Would both parties be expected to pool money for major projects and expenditures or is that just the man’s responsibility?
- Family/inlaws: When you get married to someone, best believe there would be family involved. Remember that the way you treat your partner or present them to your family is the way your family will treat them. You need to agree on time spent with each other’s family, Can your family members reside with you? If yes, how soon into the marriage? How long can they stay? Should family members expect financial benefits from you? Will family be involved in making some decisions ( Some families interfere).
- Kids: Discuss how many kids you want to have, God’s will definitely will take preeminence, but people have had conflicts on this so little issue. What are your standards when raising kids? How strict or lenient should you be on your kids? Can you tolerate your partner beating your kids as a form of discipline? What kind of school can your kids go to and what kind will you never agree to? Can family determine how many kids you have or how you raise them? Who pays the kids school fees? Can you trust your kids with domestic workers?
- Spirituality & Morality: This is very important. It’s easier when you marry someone who has same/similar morals and spiritual values as you. Is drinking alcohol or smoking permissible by you? Some Christians think this is ok. Can you go late night partying when married? If yes, alone or with each other? Do you condone the same things, if you don’t, this can be a big issue. Can you practise different religions in peace? If yes, what religion will the kids adopt? What kind of churches can you attend? Are you the type who is involved in every ministry in church? What is your partners take on this especially when it takes out of family time? What spiritual benchmarks must be set in your home?
- Sex & Intimacy: Even as most religions do not permit sex before marriage, it should be discussed. You do not want to end up getting married to someone who expects you to perform certain sexual acts that you think are abnormal. Talk about it. Are you willing to compromise if your partner can not and will not perform certain sexual acts that you prefer? This has led to many cases of infidelity in marriage. If you can’t do without it and your partner cannot perform it, what will happen?
- Roles/responsibilities: This is a man’s role, this is a woman’s role. What are your expectations? Most people are shaped by culture or what they experienced in their parents marriage so expectations may defer. Set it right before marriage. Some women think a man should also cook and look after kids, some men will never agree to this. Therefore know, understand and accept where you stand as a couple before you venture into marriage.
- Relationships: What kind of relationships can you keep after marriage? Are you allowed to have close or best friends of the opposite sex even if they were in your lives before you met? Can you hang out late with the guys or the ladies? Can friends come visiting or stay over? What sort of conversations should be shared with your friends? Are you one who has many friends and always wants to be at every event but your partner doesn’t agree with this? Discuss! What is permissible and what is not?
- Communication & conflict resolution: It is advisable to be intentional about having private times with your partner in marriage. Be intentional about having alone times, put work, kids, family, issues and friends aside for an alone time. Discuss how you deal with conflicts and misunderstandings because they are inevitable. Can you sleep while angry with each other? Can you sleep in separate rooms when in conflict? Should you involve mentors, family or friends during certain conflicts or do you decide to always handle conflicts within your walls of marriage irrespective of the level of conflict? How do you feel about apologizing and forgiving wrong doings? Are there certain wrongs that both of you will never forgive should they occur?
- Career, goals & Work- life balance: Would you be supportive of any level of dreams or goals your partner has? Would you tolerate a partner that works long hours provided he or she provides financially? Can you change locations because of your partners work? Are you ok with your wife earning more than you or being more successful than you? Can your wife or husband work very late hours at the expense of your time and kids time? Would you prefer it if your wife quits her job to take care of the kids?
- Values, likes & dislikes: We all have things we like and dislike. It’s expected that your partner or someone you have considered getting married to understands these things about you but do not assume, discuss it. Do you hate being reprimanded in public? Do you hate raised voices during conversations? What eating habits, sleeping habits can you never deal with? What is your take on cleanliness? What is your love language? would you rather prefer receiving gifts, acts services, physical touch, words of affirmation or quality time from your partner? Can you stand any form of abuse even when done in ‘love’?
In my short married life, I have come to understand how very key these things are, the list is inexhaustible but these are a few to begin with. Discuss them in a matured way, without arguments, set boundaries and be ready to respect your mutual agreements. Of course some people may end up insensitive or selfish and do not keep to agreements but discussing these things makes it a lot easier when faced with certain situations around them in the future.
Share your thoughts.
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