Personally, I feel this is the most important decision of your life. The ripple effects are immense, to say the least. Your future DNA, your legacy, and your heritage are dictated by this decision. That is, if you choose to have children – but for purposes of this article, let’s just say you do.
Your offspring is just one aspect of why choosing your partner is important. How about the fact that you will be looking at this person every single day until death do you part? This is the person that you will be sitting across from the dinner table hearing them chew their food. This is the person who will likely be chosen as your emergency contact or health proxy. Let’s face it, this person may be wiping your butt when you no longer can. In summary, this person (hopefully) has your back for life.
Yet, sometimes these decisions are made so quickly. Or, heaven forbid, they are made for us.
Most of us do our due diligence to make the best choice at the time, with what we know. It’s like using the same reasoning as we do when we are trying to forgive our parents for screwing us up the way they did. We like to think they didn’t intentionally mess up our minds… did they?
Anyway, back to couples deciding to marry, or remarry, how can they possibly feel more confident about their choices? Well, as a therapist and coach who has helped hundreds of couples reconnect or disconnect, and who has heard the most common reasons for conflict in a marriage, I decided to do some reverse engineering and bring these topics up prior to marriage so that we can do damage prevention after tying the knot.
These topics are:
- Why are we together anyway?
- I use a questionnaire I created to review your standards and values and how this measures up to your partners’ standards and values—a review of the non-negotiables in a relationship.
- What types of conversations must you have daily (connection, curiosity, and conflict)?
- What does balance in a partnership mean to you?
- How okay are you with conflict?
- What does independence mean to you?
- What does intimacy mean to you?
- What does commitment mean to you?
- Finance!! Oh boy, let us talk about money honies…
- Drop the expectations, period. Be crystal clear that your partner is not changing for you.
I am not sure about you, but when I married in my late 20s, I was convinced I would change my husband. His flaws were quite apparent to me and in some delusional way, I felt that surely, after being around my presence for long enough he would just miraculously see my brilliance and start changing his behavior to mirror my own.
I don’t think I need to explain to you what transformed – he is the same person today as he was 26 years ago, more or less.
This is why we need to get crystal clear on what our expectations are in the marriage prior to the marriage, but also, get deep on topics that we might otherwise not speak about.