By Marli Naidoo
With hindsight, many couples in unhappy marriages realise that the warning signs had already been present before the wedding day in the shape of personality conflict or day to day irreconcilability.
Should you be considering spending the rest of your lives together, it would be wise to consider and discuss some of the issues that can regularly drive a wedge into a marriage. Do not consider each other’s answers as reasons to end the relationship, but rather as a spotlight on areas you have to start working on.
How do you handle stress as individuals and as a team? How does he act when he has not had enough sleep, when he is caught in a traffic jam, or when he does not agree with you? Take note of how you handle mutual stress: Do you retreat and isolate yourself, or do you stand together as a team to solve the problem?
Do you get along with your future in-laws? You will have to decide beforehand how involved your parents are going to be in your lives.
Does my partner have quirky habits which now make me laugh, but which might irritate me no end five years hence?
How do you feel about the use of alcohol? Couples who enjoy going out together for drinks, must decide how they are going to handle it when they have children. In many cases the mom or dad sits at home alone night after night with the children while the other parent goes out with friends. This cultivates grievances within the marriage.
Do you both want children and how many? This subject must be discussed in the finest detail. Should you have problems falling pregnant, would you be interested in adopting a child? Would one of you consider becoming a stay-at-home parent after the birth of your child?
Are you able to handle conflict without attacking, blaming and insulting each other? Mutual respect must be maintained, despite differences that need to be overcome. Make sure your partner is willing to meet you halfway, and does not always insist on getting his way.
Is there something in your partner that you want to change? Don’t marry someone with the idea of changing him. There is no guarantee that he will change once you are married.
Discuss money matters. Will you pool your money or keep it separate, and who will be responsible for what? Must the person who earns less perform more chores in the home?
Discuss gender roles. Should the wife cook and clean, or will you divide tasks between you equally?
How important is physical appearance to your partner? Will you still love and accept each other when the wrinkles start showing, or you put on weight?
Do you both want pets, and may the dogs sleep on the bed?
Talk about the future, what you want to achieve on all levels, and how you fit into each other’s ideas of success and happiness.
Take time to work through these questions. One afternoon is not enough to discuss these points in depth. Decide for yourself what you are prepared to change in your own life, and what you are prepared to live with.
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/friendship-20/201705/18-questions-ask-getting-married
Dr Jim: https://dr-jim.com/12-topics-and-75-questions.html
Science of People: https://www.scienceofpeople.com/deep-questions-to-ask-your-significant-other/