|Serious Questions Before Making the Final Decision|
|So now you've found someone. You enjoy each other's company. You like the same things. The chemistry feels right. But there's one more step to take before you make that final commitment. Now is the time to sit down very seriously with your potential mate and discuss the important questions.|
Marriages succeed in the long run not because of the chemistry of the people or the personalities, but because of shared values, shared vision and a sense of unity. It's the values, vision and unity that will see you through the ups and downs of life – because every life has its challenges and, as husband and wife, you must face those challenges together.
Now is the time to be very open, honest and real with each other and with yourself. A spouse is someone with whom you will build a home, a future and possibly raise children. Be very thorough in examining and understanding each other's attitudes and behaviors about the following subjects. It isn't important that you agree on everything, but rather that you have the ability to communicate and work out any differences. If the communication is strong, and the willingness to compromise with each other is present, then you have the basis for a strong marriage.
If, however, your potential spouse is unclear in his or her answers or does not want to discuss these issues, take that seriously, as well. Marriage, in one sense, is like a business. Each partner has something they are going to invest. Each partner expects a return. And both people have to roll up their sleeves to do the work. Understand ahead of time the investments, the expected return, how much each partner is willing to work and what the risks are. If your potential mate does not want to invest much, expects an unrealistic return or is not willing to work, communicate or compromise – you may consider walking away from the match.
Take the time to discuss these subjects thoroughly. Understanding each other ahead of time will help you make the best decision in the long run.
- What are your life goals? What are the life goals of your potential partner?
- What about career goals? Travel goals? Financial goals? (i.e. – Purchasing a house before we're 30.)
- How do the goals of each partner work together?
- What goals do you have in common?
- Sometimes, one spouse's goals have to take priority over the other spouse's goals. Whose goals will take priority? Why and when? How will you make those decisions?
- What are your values? What are the values of your potential partner?
- Do those values work together?
- Do those values conflict?
- Where the values conflict, are you willing to compromise to be with this person?
- What values are you willing to compromise and what values are you not willing to compromise?
- Honestly share your strengths and weaknesses with each other. Can you agree to act in complimentary ways – so that one person's strengths cover the other person's weaknesses?
- Are you or your potential spouse prone to exploit another person's weaknesses in order to feel "powerful" or be "right." If so, how will this impact your marriage?
- Who will be the "bread-winner" of the family?
- Will one spouse work? Will you both work?
- Will you change the work arrangements over time? When you have children – who will earn the money? Who will take care of the home and children? Will the two of you share both responsibilities or will you have a more traditional home?
- What happens if one of you looses your job and the other has to be the sole supporter of the family?
- What is your perspective and philosophy on money?
- Will you have a joint checking account, separate checking accounts or a combination?
- Will you have a joint savings account, separate savings accounts or a combination?
- Every person spends money differently. It reflects what their real priorities are in life. For some people, eating out once a week is a priority. For others, eating out once every six months is more than enough. How do you currently spend your money? How does your potential spouse currently spend his or her money? What does that say about the priorities each of your have when it comes to money?
- Do you or your potential spouse like to save money? Are you or your potential spouse regularly overdrawn on your account?
- How do you use credit cards? Do you pay them off every month? Do you build up a balance and then work hard to pay it off in a short period of time? Are you perpetually in debt waiting for some day in the future when you'll be able to clear the balance? How is the "credit rating" for each of the partners? Are you comfortable with the credit of your potential spouse?
- What amount of savings is each person bringing? What amount of debt is each person bringing into the marriage? Are you willing to assume the burden of your potential spouse's debt and help him or her pay off the debt?
- Do you or your potential spouse know how to create and manage a budget?
- Will you manage the finances jointly or will one person take the primary responsibility for managing the finances?
- If one person has more of a knack to handle the money, will the other person be willing to listen and agree to what is being asked?
- Draft a budget together. See where you agree on spending money and where you disagree. What kinds of compromises can you create? Can you agree to develop budgets together and stick to them?
- How will you handle money? Will you set short term and long term financial goals and then work towards keeping them? Will you have a more relaxed attitude? How important are budgets to you? To your potential spouse?
- What about planning for buying a house? Your children's college education? Retirement?
- What expectations do you have when it comes to sex in the marriage?
- What are your needs?
- Can you talk openly and honestly with your potential partner about your expectations, your needs and how you feel about sex?
- It takes time to get to know each other sexually and to learn how to satisfy each other. Take the time to talk about it before hand. Decide how you can communicate your needs to the other person in a safe, loving and secure way.
- Sex changes over time. It won't always be the same. For instance, when a woman is pregnant and nursing sex will be drastically different than when you are first married. But if the sex is not satisfying at any point in the marriage – it not only creates problems, but usually means there is something else wrong in the marriage. The key is trust, communication and a good sense of humor. Can you trust each other? What do you need to do to build the trust? When something goes wrong, how will you reestablish the trust and the communication?
- Where will you live after you get married? Will you live on your own? Will you live with the family?
- If you are living with the family, is this a permanent situation? Is it temporary? How many years until you have a place of your own?
- If arguments and tensions arise between you or your potential spouse and the family you live with – how will the arguments be resolved?
- How much influence will your family have on the decisions you make? About careers? About children? About where you live and what you do? Are you both OK with that influence?
- Who will do the housework?
- Will it be a more traditional arrangement where the wife is expected to do most of the housework? If you are a two-income family, will you also divide the housework?
- Will you hire a maid?
- What is your "sloppiness" tolerance? What is the "sloppiness" tolerance of your potential spouse? If the tolerance level is different – what compromises are you willing to make to have an environment that both people feel comfortable with?
- How often will the housework get done? When will it get done?
How will you handle:
- Cleaning the house
- Cooking meals
- Lawn and gardening
- Car maintenance and up-keep
- Home maintenance and up-keep
- How many children would you like to have? How many children would your potential spouse like to have?
- When do you want to have children?
- Are there certain financial or career goals that need to be met before you are ready to have children?
- Is it simply a timing issue?
- How will life be different after a child is born? How will the roles in the house change? Economically? The housework?
- What about the education of your children. How and where would you like them to be educated?
- What values are you going to raise your children with? What are the rules of the house? How will you discipline them?
- If you are both Sikhs, what about being a Sikh is important to you?
- What are your expectations of yourself and your partner when it comes to practicing the religion?
- What is important: that you go to Gurdwara together? That you read your Banis together? Seva?
- If religion is more important to one spouse than the other, is that all right? Do you need a spouse who is equally religious?
- If your attitudes about practicing the religion are different, how will that impact your children? Can you agree on how to raise your children in the faith? Can you support each other in raising your children in the faith?
- If you are not from the same religion, how will this impact your married life?
- Will you be able to support each other following different religions?
- What about religious holidays? How will they be celebrated?
- How will you deal with one another's family?
- Will one of you convert to the other person's religion?
- What about the children? Which faith will they be raised in? Will they be raised in both faiths?
- Can you support each other in raising the children in one faith?
- Really take the time to talk to each other and think about what it means to be from different religions.
(Note: A lot of people develop successful communication habits in their work environments. Sometimes – taking your work-related communication style and using it in your marriage to solve problems and resolve conflict can be an excellent strategy.)
- When it comes to difficult issues, how will you and your potential spouse communicate with each other?
- Are you or your spouse the type of person who needs to talk about the problem right away until everything is solved? Do you communicate better by walking away from the problem for a few days, thinking about it and then coming back to discuss possible solutions?
- If you have a difficult issue to discuss, something you aren't happy with – how will you speak to your spouse? Will you write it down in a letter? Will you make an appointment with each other to discuss it?
- When you fight, what are the rules?
- When will you know the fight is over?
- How will you make up with each other after a disagreement or argument?
- Can you be flexible?
- Can you compromise?
- Can you come up with solutions to problems that both people feel positive about?
- In day to day life, what are your expectations and needs when it comes to communication? Do you talk a lot? Do you like to listen? Do you talk a little? How can you create a balance between you?
- Sometimes we need a partner to listen and support us. Other times, we need advice and guidance, a second pair of eyes on a problem. How will you let you partner know what type of communication you need?
When you marry someone, you are marrying their entire family history. Study each other's childhoods, the way you were each raised. It will give you a lot of information about the person, about the issues that may come up in the marriage with the other person. Everyone has good stories and dark stories in their past. It matters less what happened and more how the person handled himself or herself in the face of the challenge and how they have moved forward in their lives.