You have met someone special, and are at a point where you want to make a happy marriage part of your life. Now you may be asking yourself some serious questions to help you determine if this person and this relationship is right for you.
But how can you know ahead of time what the future will be like with the partner you have in mind?
In working as a marriage and family therapist, and talking with people who have achieved happiness in marriage, I have thought a lot about what questions to ask before you say “I Do.” Here are three questions to help you make this important decision:
Can We Talk Things Through?
Can you talk to each other openly about anything? It’s true that some minor topics may be of small interest to one of you and big to another, but what about issues that are more important to you? When it comes to bringing up a problem between you that you need to work out, how does this go? It’s important that you feel you can be open without being judged. A partner who can help you identify and work through your emotions – especially when your feelings are strong – is doing something valuable and helpful to your well being together in the long run.
If one or both of you bottle things up to avoid conflict until one of you explodes – that’s a problem. Ideally, when you’re still dating, you will learn to bring up issues soon after you realize something is troubling you. You need to be able to talk it out. Do you feel belittled or dismissed when you try this? That’s not a good sign. Do you each try to look at issues from your partner’s perspective to find a mutually acceptable way to solve the problem? This will go a long way toward your happiness as a couple.
Do we support each other’s dreams and goals for the future?
What do each of you want your future look like? Do you agree on whether or not to change names, combine bank accounts, practice a religion together, co-sign a mortgage, or have children? What work and personal activities do you see yourself doing after you’re married? It’s important to know what your partner envisions and whether you see yourself happy with the situation or not.
You don’t need to have identical visions. But it’s important to find enough common ground to give you both a feeling good about taking on the future together, side by side, in support of the other’s dreams and wishes. Compromise will play an important part. But be aware of any resentment or worry you feel now – you can only compromise so much before a significant difference between you begins to take a toll on your relationship.
Are We Ready For A Lifelong Commitment?
Be prepared to consider marriage a lifelong commitment that cannot be easily broken. If you both approach your life ahead with this level of commitment in mind, future conflicts and frustrations are less likely to tear your marriage apart. Instead, you will find yourselves choosing to figure out ways to solve problems, rather than looking for the quickest exit.
If you are not sure you are ready to make a decision you will stick with for the rest of your life, take time to think about why. Try to reflect on the feelings that are giving you doubts or second thoughts. It may help to talk them through with a confidant who is able to help you understand your emotions and help you think through ways to explore your concerns and your relationship further, without rushing into an uncertain commitment.
Keeping The Dialogue Flowing
There is no ‘one best question’ that will help you determine if you’ve found the right mate. The important thing is to understand how well you think you can address the challenges and the emotional highs and lows that are bound to happen during your marriage. Good partners help each other tackle issues and learn what is important to you both through disagreements, and come out with your love and friendship intact.