I was intrigued recently to read this New York Times article on the “13 Questions To Ask Before Getting Married”.
The idea is that we should be willing to have more of the difficult discussions with our partner long before we ever decide to marry them. Too many people allow these problems to arise after they’ve already made a lifelong commitment.
In the words of Robert Scuka, as quoted in the article, “If you don’t deal with an issue before marriage, you deal with it while you’re married”.
The questions themselves cover everything from “Would you change our kids’ diapers?” to “How would we celebrate religious holidays?”, and “What’s the most you’d be willing to spend on a car?”
Kids, religion, money – basically, all the big stuff then.
One would hope these discussions come up naturally in the course of a relationship, but it seems a lot of us find it awkward to approach such topics, presumably for fear that they may reveal fundamental differences that we have to work through with our partner. It can be scary to discover that the one we love wants different things: Maybe they’re more dependent than we are and can’t stand time apart, or they’re less interested in sex, or they have no interest in travelling around the world with us in 10 years time.
But ignorance of these differences is not bliss. It’s a massive bout of pain waiting to happen later down the line.
Finding Your “Marriage Deal breakers”
Reading the article, I found myself most surprised by the fact that I had a few deal breakers I didn’t really think about.
Whilst I’m flexible on certain matters (e.g. how much my partner and I share our money, whether or not I like my spouse’s parents), I felt much more rigid on others. For example, Question 7 – “Can You Deal With My Doing Things Without You?”, made me recognize just how much I crave a level of independence within any relationship, and Question 6 – “What’s The Most You’d Be Willing To Spend On A Car, A Couch, Shoes?” made me realize that I probably wouldn’t work well at all with a materialistic woman, given my general lack of interest in Ferraris and high-end home furniture (though if you’re offering…)
Then there were the other obvious topics, like Sex and Family. e.g. “Question 9 – How Important Is Sex To You?” (crucial for future compatibility), or “Question 2 – Will We Have Children?” (probably pretty important to be on the same page here).
The point of the article isn’t to dictate what your personal standards should be. Rather, it’s saying: you must communicate them.
For instance, Question 10 – “How far should we take flirting with other people? Is watching pornography O.K.?” is one for which I imagine every couple has it’s own set of rules (or lack of them). No-one is right either way, it’s whatever works for both people. But the lesson is to make sure you know what works for your partner before it’s too late.
So here are my discussion questions:
• What would you add/subtract to the list? (I was personally surprised the question “Where do you see us living together?” didn’t come up, which I would class as pretty important.)
• What are your top 3 dealbreakers from the list in the article?
Let me know in the comments below!