IT can never be stressed enough that walking down the aisle is a serious business, though some youngsters think it is a shortcut to freedom from parents.
In my many years as a marriage counselor, I have had the opportunity to counsel young couples in love, many of whom were not aware that far from looking like a Cinderella on their wedding day, there are some things to be discussed beforehand. With the current trend in marriages there are some very important things to discuss with your partner before you say ‘I do’.
I have seen from the young people that I counsel, rarely do they know the faith of the other or what religion the other subscribes to. Faith is very important for a couple, your spouse needs to understand from where your morals and values originated. Faith has an important part to play in your marriage, your life, and in the raising of your children. Remember a family that prays together, stays together.
We all know that money is the necessary evil that we all need. Without money there is no life, the way a single person spends their money is different from how you spend when you get married. When you are married the money ceases to be yours but for both of you. Compromises have to be reached on how bills should be paid, money saved and anything else pertaining to finances. There is also the discussion of maintaining separate bank accounts, creating joint accounts or a combination of both. Either way, you should both be open about your debts, spending habits and financial goals and obligations before marriage.
Roles and expectations
We all have different expectations from our spouses and the roles they will play in our lives apart from the obvious ones. For example it is important that a couple discusses whether both of you need to work in order to support your family or you have something else in mind. I know of some men who do not wish for their wives to work, but be a stay-at-home wife so that she can take care good care of the family, with no work stress. Some women have no problem with giving up their careers for the sake of her family, but some will not take this easy. All these details ought to be discussed beforehand.
In-laws and friends
A couple should respect each other’s family members and put them at arm’s length as far as their marital issues are concerned. Some spouses are known to lean on the advice of their family and friends other than that of their spouse. Also, not every disagreement you have between the two of you should be discussed by family members and friends; not every problem needs a third party to be solved. A couple needs to decide what will stay between the two of them and what is allowed to be discussed outside. This has to be discussed without hurting the feelings of the other.
You do not need sex to live, but it is an important part of every marriage. This is a touchy subject, especially to some of us whose tradition regards it as a taboo to talk about sex openly. There are many questions to be raised concerning this issue. For example; how often do you expect to be intimate? How do you both define intimacy? What do you require in order to have a fulfilling sex life? How will you deal with those times when you are tired, busy or stressed? Women and men can be very different when it comes to sex. What happens when a spouse is put down by a disease and can no longer function? Will you start running around looking for sex like your life depended on it, or will you find a lasting solution that will help you overcome that problem? This is important.
I was surprised one time when a newly wed couple came to me, the man complaining that the woman did not want to have children, yet this was not something that was discussed beforehand. The man felt cheated and decided that if his wife cannot make up her mind about having children, then there is no way they were going to stay married. Again, there are some fundamental questions to be raised in such matters; for example maybe the lady has some medical issues that she never discussed with the man and she hides behind the mask of pretending not to want children. And for those who can have children there is need to discuss the number of children they intend to have.
Some of us are known to be married to our jobs. But is it right to concentrate on your work at the expense of your family? I say nay. Our jobs are what make our lives bearable and put bread on the table, but you have to discuss your career with your spouse and to see how best you can balance between family and career. Remember no job is worth your family.