To ensure that you’re entering into a conscious, compatible and healthy partnership, here are some questions you should ask yourself before getting married:
- Is this relationship fair?
Before getting married, you might be inclined to discuss how you’re going to split finances, but what about the balance of emotional labor? If one person is always giving more, compromising and focusing on fulfilling the other partner’s needs, a reassessment is in order, an unbalanced thing can come back and bite you. Spending your entire energy keeping one person happy becomes way too much of a burden once there are kids and mortgages and ill parents.
- How did my parents instill certain expectations?
While every couple is unique, it’s important to examine how your parents and other relatives contributed to your expectations about family life. Families have very different frames of reference; in some families, the kids always come first whereas in others, marriage is primary and the kids are expected to be more independent. You don’t just intuitively know what family means to another person, and you can’t expect them to know what it means to you.
- Do I want children?
Some differences are harder to negotiate than others, if one partner does want children and the other doesn’t, it’s going to be tough to find a compromise. If you want children, do not continue to be in a relationship where the other party is not sure they do. We recommend that you politely and lovingly tell your partner that should they change their mind, they can let you know, but in the meantime you’re going to be dating other people.
- What are my goals in life and are they compatible with my partner’s goals?
Be sure that you’re clear on what you want – both now and 10 years down the road. It’s important to interrogate your big life goals and ensure that they are sufficiently in sync with your partner’s big life goals. If one person wants something radically different, you’re going argue about it, instead of making implicit assumptions, make sure you get clarity before you get married.
- What am I going to do to prepare for my marriage?
At African traditional healers, we have met a lot of couples who were very prepared for their wedding day, but few who were actively thinking about how to build a successful marriage. We think that love and relationships should be intuitive, but that’s baloney. We need to acquire the tools to be good at relationships. Couples should be encouraged to make a plan, whether that’s reading books together about healthy relationships, getting counseling to iron out the issues that have already emerged or using a marriage spell.
The happiest, most successful couples you will ever meet have one thing in common; reasonable expectations. They went into this with their eyes wide open, understood their differences and knew marriage would be hard. It’s the people who expect it to be perfect who are disappointed.
A big part of getting to know whether your partner is a good fit is interrogating your own preferences and goals.
We so often feel that it’s about whom this other person is, but who are you? You have to be honest about this. It’s okay to be a person with needs and to tell someone what works for you. People often think that if they don’t raise these questions they’ll just go away, and that’s not true.