Bollywood and Harlequin romances stuff one’s head with so much magical realism that even Marquez may not have included in his entire literary repertoire. In this whirlwind of fantastical notions, paying attention to what things to discuss before marriage with a prospective life partner may be the last thing on your mind.
Bells do not toll nor fragrant breezes play with one’s hair when one meets that ‘soulmate’. Your mind tricks you into believing that they are someone you will enjoy a happily-ever-after with. But sustaining a healthy marriage for a lifetime demands hard work, resilience and dollops of good luck.
So, for every soon-to-be-married young man and woman, the soundest advice is to step in equipped and prepared. Do your homework! If you are really serious about making it last, it’s important to ask the right questions about marriage and family before walking down the aisle.
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5 Top Things To Discuss Before Getting Married
So, what to discuss before getting married? To know this, you first have to be sure about what you should know about your partner before getting married.
To help you ask the right questions and choose wisely based on the other person’s responses, here are 5 top things to discuss before getting married:
1. Career aspirations
Career aspirations are one of the most important things to discuss before marriage. How committed you are to your chosen career? To what extent are you willing to give up or compromise? How much (or little) you expect your spouse to give up to accommodate your career choices?
These are all extremely important topics to be talked about. What if the husband has a career that moves across cities, countries or even continents? Will the wife be willing to just pack up and move each time?
What if the wife is in a demanding career which dictates she return to the workplace immediately after the 28 weeks maternity leave? Will the husband do some heavy lifting with the new baby?
Knowing a person’s stance on these issues can give you a lot of clarity about whether or not you’ll be compatible as life partners.
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Finances are that uncomfortable but must-have conversation before getting married. Young people today are fairly independent. As well as opinionated about how they want to spend the money they earn. When you become a couple, there will be plenty of areas where finances merge and intentions differ.
It’s best to have some agreed-upon ground rules regarding finances. A younger colleague at work, Paromita (name changed) is in her early thirties and currently separated from her husband of six years. They have had a nasty fallout primarily over financial disagreements.
“This whole theory of opposites attract is nonsense,” she says bitterly.
“My husband and I met in B-school and it was clear to everyone, but us, that we were poles apart, in temperament, backgrounds as well as aspirations. I am a Bengali. He’s Punjabi. I am an extrovert. He’s fairly introverted and has confidence issues. When I first met him, he had just lost his father.
I think some subconscious sympathy was a strong factor in my attraction to him. We dated a couple of years and married soon after college. I blossomed at my workplace, but he took a while finding his groove. Even today, I earn more than him.
“That has always been the bone of contention. I come from a family background where no one questioned my right over my own finances. My money is mine to dispense with, as I wish. But, my newly married husband did not see it that way. He and his widowed mother expected that I would bring home my salary every month-end and place it maa-ke-charon-mein. It caused a lot of friction in our marriage.”
In hindsight, Paromita also wishes she had had one other all-important conversation before marriage – kids. “I wanted to take my time having children. For quite some time, I was not ready to have a child. I nurtured some misplaced fears of childbirth. I also really wanted to adopt a child. But my husband was more conventional in his opinion about starting a family and having kids. Eventually, our relationship soured so much that intimacy was difficult.”
Starting a family can be a turning point in any couple’s life. Even more so if both partners are not on the same page. In that scenario, things are more likely to take a turn for the worse.
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4. Shared beliefs and vision
Shared beliefs and shared ideas are among the less obvious but vital things to discuss before marriage. This is the one element in a marriage that helps both partners stay meaningfully connected to each other. Another friend, Vijayalakshmi (name changed) has a different take than Paromita’s on what you should know about your partner before getting married.
“First on my list of things to discuss before marriage would be ideologies,” she said.
She meant belief systems in life. Things like principles, values, what is acceptable in a marriage and what is not. “For instance, my husband believed he could have night outs with his men and women friends but I was not allowed to have a ladies night out after marriage. These kinds of double standards can be revealed in advance with an open discussion on ideologies.”
5. Emotional Influences
Vijaya added, “Talking about emotional influences is also equally important. Ask about the things or people that have the most emotional impact and influence on a prospective life partner. You may not have the same emotional triggers, but at least you’ll understand how this person will respond in certain situations and what their triggers are.”
For all the conversations and discussions one may have before marriage, the truth is you never know what destiny has in store. Life can be very unpredictable indeed! You could have the most elaborate list of things to discuss before marriage and the best laid-out plans but one stroke of fate could blow it all away.
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Our upbringing puts a lot of emphasis on ‘finding happiness in each other’. Nobody tells you the truth – that, you cannot find true happiness outside. It doesn’t come bottled in some fancy packaging. It is not sold over the counter.
No person will hand happiness to you on a platter. You first find happiness in yourself – only then can you think of getting or giving happiness to another.