So, you think you’re in love?
If that’s the case, you might be thinking about marrying her, which is completely rational if marriage is something you want for your life.
But falling in love is only the first step in deciding whether you should marry this person. You may be on cloud nine and experiencing some of the most intense passion of your life, but you have to detach yourself from those legitimate and intense emotions and use your brain as you ponder a life-changing decision such as marriage.
Can you live with her?
This may sound like a silly question when you’re in love with someone, but it’s very hard to predict whether two people will be compatible on a day-to-day basis. You may have shared many amazing times together, but many intense relationships don’t translate to the drudgery of everyday life. And that’s even before kids come into the equation.
Many couples address this these days by living together, which isn’t a bad option, particularly for men. But many women aren’t interested in this. Particularly those women who have tons of potential suitors.
In that case, I would strongly recommend taking a two-week vacation with your potential spouse before you ever pop the question. Make sure it’s a vacation where it’s just the two of you . . . no family, friends, other couples, etc. The key is you’ll have to spend pretty much all your time together, day after day. It’s not quite like real life, so this tactic is far from foolproof, but both of you will start to get a sense of what it’s like to be around the other person EVERY DAY for most of the day.
This can be quite an eye opener. One running joke is that a long weekend trip can kill many relationships. With that in mind, a longer trip starts to give you a sense of what your life will be like with that other person. This tactic should be mandatory.
Do you like having dinner with her?
This seems like a simple question, but this gets to the question of whether the two of you can be compatible over the long haul. Think about it . . . you’ll be having dinner with this person pretty much most days for the rest of your life. If conversation doesn’t come naturally in this setting, you’re going to be in trouble. You might love having sex with her, going out dancing or to sporting events. Whatever. But if you don’t truly enjoy the 1:1 time with her over a meal, you’re marriage will face serious hurdles.
Do you laugh together?
This may not be critical, but sharing a sense of humor is one of those positive characteristics that can help overcome so many other issues. Laughter is one of the keys to happiness, and laughter can help people get through difficult times. And those dinners will often be fun if you make each other laugh. Think hard about this one.
Issues you should discuss before getting married
It’s amazing to me how many couples don’t discuss key aspects of their future lives together. Then they find themselves married to someone who has very different ideas of what your life together should include.
Here are the essential topics to discuss:
1. Children – Do each of you want children. This one should be obvious, as this decision will define your life together. If a couple is considering having children, they should discuss issues such as parenting roles and philosophies, childcare arrangements if both partners plan to work outside the home, family size, etc. Will one of you stay home to raise the kids? Will you be willing to sacrifice extra income to have one parent home to raise the kids? These issues have to be discussed.
2. Career Goals – Discussing career aspirations can help couples make sure both parties are on the same page when it comes to making decisions about their future employment opportunities. And will either party need to sacrifice their career for the kids?
3. Where will you live? – This is related to many of the other issues, particularly career and family. How might job opportunities affect these decisions? How about extended family? If she wants to live by her family so they can help to raise the kids, then you better be prepared to accommodate that or have a real problem on your hands if you want to live elsewhere.
4. Financial Goals & Management – Couples should discuss their financial goals, expectations, values, and how they plan to manage their money together. Also, what are her current spending habits? Is she in debt? Does she manage money well? And how do these questions apply to you? If you’re living the high life but she wants to raise a family and settle down, then you’re going to have to change your own habits.
5. Social Life – It’s important to discuss how each partner plans to make time for friends and family, as well as activities and hobbies outside of the home. Do you golf every Saturday? Is she OK with that? Do you like doing happy hour every Friday? Are you prepared to change that habit once you get married? Do both of you enjoy social drinking? These are just a few of the lifestyle issues to consider.
6. Health & Wellness Goals – Talking about health and fitness goals is essential for a happy marriage, especially if one or both people have pre-existing medical conditions. If one of you is very health conscious and works out regularly, and the other doesn’t seem to care much about that, you’re going to have some issues as you get older. If she’s going to the gym and you have a beer gut at 45, you might get an unpleasant surprise at some point.
7. Religion – This may be less of an issue these days, but this can be a big issue, particularly if you’re raising kids. Just have the discussion and see where it goes. And remember, it may be more of an issue for the respective families as opposed to the two of you.
8. Extended Family – You don’t just marry the person. You marry her family as well. This goes both ways. Is this a family you want to be a part of? Family issues can often strengthen or put strain on a marriage.
Don’t be impulsive
The main point of all of this is simple – give this decision the consideration it deserves. Being impulsive can be very romantic, but just ask some of your divorced friends. There’s more to a happy life than the romance you’re experiencing together now.
Tags: dating tips, marriage, personal finance