10 Questions To Ask Before Tying The Knot
Feeling pressured to settle down? It’s crucial to be sure that you’re making the right decision — for both of you. Here, we explore 10 things to carefully consider before getting down on one knee.
irst comes love, and then comes marriage… right? Well, many people following that old adage do, after a significant amount of dating, find themselves traipsing down that traditional aisle towards marriage. But if you discover that you’re right on the precipice of popping the question, there are a few things you really should know about your partner
prior to dropping down on one knee. “Underneath every specific couple’s issues are the bedrock concerns we all have,” says Dr. Dan Neuharth, a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of Secrets You Keep from Yourself. For example: “Does my partner love, accept, respect, and cherish me, and do we share power equally?” But to further clarify your true compatibility before tying the knot, there are additional questions you should ask yourself first.
|Underneath every specific couple’s issues are the bedrock concerns we all have.|
So, we decided to collect some queries from the experts themselves for those who are considering popping the question to consider before getting down on one knee. After all, choosing a life partner is, undoubtedly, one of the most important decisions you will ever make! With that in mind, here are 10 questions you should be able to answer before putting a ring on it:
1. Is this REALLY the love of a lifetime?
Forget about Disney movies for a second. In the new millennium, life isn’t as simple as “boy meets girl and they live happily ever after” anymore. “Many relationships you experience will not be designed to last a lifetime,” says Dr. Karin Anderson, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Concordia University Chicago and the author of It Just Hasn’t Happened Yet. “Of course, most of us don’t begin dating someone expecting that it’ll end, but then again, there’s only one person who is The One. Ultimately, relationships serve various purposes in our lives, such as teaching us qualities about ourselves and how we interact with others. Often, we don’t understand what we’re meant to learn from a relationship until after it’s over.” Before popping the question, then, think long and hard — is this person really The One? Do you want to be with this person when you’re 80? Is this love the one that will truly last for a lifetime?
2. Am I prepared to be faithful for the rest of my life?
After the wedding fanfare dies down and all the attention and excitement subsides, what’s left is… your relationship. And life is long. Life is hard (and boring) at times. “An imperative question to ask is, ‘Can I be faithful to this person?’” says Anderson. “Marriage is for real and should be able to stand the test of time. Even the most committed spouses sharing an ironclad fidelity to each other can find themselves tempted to stray.” Anderson advises that if you have any doubts about your ability or desire to put blinders on your wandering eye and remain completely monogamous, you have no business popping the question for any reason — period.
3. How will we handle our finances once we’re married?
“It is important to discuss with your partner not only your biggest financial worries, but also your current financial situation and your approach to handling debt before considering marriage,” says Neuharth. Nothing can ruin a perfectly wonderful relationship faster than shared financial stress. If you think you’re on different pages when it comes to handling fiscal responsibilities, you might want to have a serious talk with your intended about how you would handle money matters jointly if you’re staying together long-term. This discussion could include meeting with a financial planner (either individually, or as a couple) and looking into creating a joint account for funding shared expenses — such as dinners out, vacations and the like — so you can get used to working together as a financial unit.
4. Do we want the same things and share the same goals in life?
Some couples have a great deal of interpersonal and physical chemistry — they swing from the chandeliers and crack each other up like lifelong BFFs — but despite their intense connection, their relationship isn’t destined for marriage. Simply put, they have different individual life goals. “Let’s say he lives a bohemian lifestyle and dreams of becoming poet laureate someday. She’s a corporate attorney with a $200 per week mani-pedi habit. He takes temp jobs when the spirit moves him. She’s on the fast track to making partner,” says Anderson. “No matter how good the sex is, this doomed partnership probably should steer clear of walking down the aisle.” You need to make sure that you know what your partner is seeking in the future or whether divergent life paths could drive a stake through the heart of your connection just a little bit further down the road.
5. Do we both want children (if so, how many — and when)?
Neuharth suggests taking this question a step further by talking about your own philosophy on parenting, how you see the two of you working together as parents, determining which behaviors you want to emulate and avoid in regards to how you were raised, and discussing what scares and/or excites you most about being a parent. “Spend time with children of friends or your nieces and nephews, and then talk as a couple about how it went,” adds Neuharth. “Watching how your partner interacts with little ones can tell you a lot and may just warm your heart and inspire you both. If it doesn’t, you may have a tough decision to make.”
6. How important is religion and/or spirituality?
How do you celebrate your spiritual beliefs? How do you feel about having different religious views or worship practices? Before you commit to someone, you need to recognize what’s negotiable for you
in this area and what isn’t. “You don’t have to share the same religion, but you do need to accept your partner’s spiritual path and feel that yours is accepted as well,” says Neuharth. “Perhaps you can learn and grow from each other.” It’s especially important to know how you’ll address this question if you think you might want to bring children into the mix so you can agree on how to educate them spiritually. Discordant views on this topic could lead to in-house religious tiffs between you and your partner if you’ve not sorted this issue out well in advance.
|Pay attention to how your loved one treats your relatives… |
7. Are we similar enough?
Though most people have been led to believe that opposites attract, Anderson says that psychology research tells a different story — one suggesting that the initial attraction felt by two people who are “opposites” may have little chance of gluing them together for a lifetime. “Sure, that guy from the wrong side of the tracks seems super-sexy and enigmatic — until his edgy reclusiveness wears off and becomes affected and annoying. Or that new love’s exotic name and cosmopolitan lifestyle intrigues you at first, but her air of entitlement and list of unreasonable demands may eventually drive you nuts,” says Anderson. In fact, a study by Luo and Klohnen (2005) found that those couples who share similar values, beliefs and attitudes actually report sharing the highest levels of marital satisfaction. Interestingly, the researchers made a distinction between personality traits and value systems, concluding that partners who possess dissimilar personalities may still enjoy happy marriages, but those with grave dissimilarities in their core values will likely find themselves in very dissatisfying unions.
8. How do we approach our relationships with our families?
Though your relationship with your partner should always be of paramount importance, like it or not, you are also marrying into each other’s families. Because of this, it’s vital to discuss how that familial responsibility and tertiary relationship will factor into each of your lives. Neuharth suggests discussing how much contact you’ll both want with your individual families once you’re married (this includes sharing holidays). Could you ever foresee one of your family members coming to live with you? How would you handle that? Do you like each other’s families? “In-laws can feel like a blessing or a curse,” says Neuharth. “Pay attention to how your loved one treats your relatives and how your future in-laws treat you, and discuss any rough spots with your partner to see if you can get on the same page.” Remember: Even though your love may be strong, you won’t likely be living in a relative-free zone!
9. What about sex?
“You may already know how well your sexual appetites match, but things can change with stress or aging. And perhaps more important than whether you have similar sex drives is how you handle the differences in your sex life,” says Neuharth. “Good sex requires good communication. Encourage your partner to tell you what he or she wants, and push yourself to do the same. Compromising and trying new things from time to time can help your sex life.” You need to know if you’re both open to exploration and where your individual limits lie. That way, when future unforeseen stresses enter into bedroom equation, you can be confident that you’ll have good communication already in place in order to address what will happen when you undress.
10. Is my partner the “total package” for me, and vice versa?
“Sure, it’s a corny idea, and no one person could possibly possess every desirable quality — but psychological research supports the assertion that finding someone who ‘has it all’ makes for the most satisfying relationships,” says Anderson, referring to Robert Sternberg’s “triangular theory of love” to define the “all” a person should seek out in a long-term relationship. According to Sternberg’s theory, there are three vital components to love: intimacy, passion and commitment. Intimacy refers to qualities such as being close, nurturing, and supportive toward each other. Passion involves sexual chemistry and physical attraction. Commitment consists of the concerted efforts — both cognitive and behavioral — that partners make to remain focused on each other within the relationship. “Romantic love may involve any combination of the three components, but couples who possess all three — those who find the ‘total package’ — report having the most satisfying and fulfilling love relationships,” says Anderson.
Now, if you feel confident with the way you’ve answered these 10 questions and are ready to proceed towards bestowing that left-hand-only ring bling, be sure to think carefully about how you’re planning to propose. “If you are considering something dramatic — like displaying, ‘Will you marry me?’ on the stadium’s Jumbotron at the game, or asking your partner in front of all your friends and/or family — be sure he or she would be comfortable with that,” says Neuharth. “The last thing you want is to have your beloved answer one of the most important questions of his or her life while feeling undue pressure or simply putting on a show.” Because, in the end, after all the hubbub dies down, marriage is still about the two of you…for better or worse.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann (www.KDNeumann.com) is a New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Women’s Health, Marie Claire, Maxim and more. A frequent online contributor for Match.com’s Happen magazine, she’s also the author of The Real Reasons Men Commit and Sex Comes First as well as the founder of www.DatingDivaDaily.com.