Getting married is a momentous occasion — a cause for celebration. But when you get swept up in the fantasy and romance of an engagement, crucial questions about your lifelong union may get swept under the rug. Fear of “ruining the mood” or starting an argument by asking hard questions may keep you from learning some key information upfront, leading to a disaster in the end. Before you walk down the aisle and exchange vows in front of friends, family and God, make sure you and your soon-to-be spouse discuss these seven critical subjects:
1. What’s it to you? Ask your fiancé for his personal definition of the most important relationship factors — with full explanations and concrete examples of each. These topics include but are not limited to:
What is marriage?
What is most important to a healthy relationship?
What is trust?
What is honesty?
What is lying?
What is cheating?
What is betrayal?
What are your personal morals and values in life and relationships?
What is your relationship with God?
2. Full disclosure
Ask your significant other to disclose any criminal behavior, domestic violence or abuse history, and anything else significant related to the subjects listed above. Has your fiancé lied or cheated in the past? Sometimes, old dogs can learn new tricks, but old habits die hard. And especially if you have children, you might not want to take that risk.
3. Financial standing
Marriage is a commitment of love and life, a combining of households. Your partner’s debt becomes yours and vice versa. So, if a collector is going to be calling your number or repossessing your possessions, you need to know what you’re getting into. That means asking tough questions about your partner’s income, savings, debt, loan standing, repayment status and credit score. You might find buying that dream home with your honey a lot harder than you thought.
4. Full House
Ask your betrothed the real deal about starting a family. If he isn’t sold on the idea of chasing rugrats for the next 18 years, and you can’t hear anything but the pitter-patter of little feet as that biological clock rings in your ear, you may have a mismatch on your hands.
Ask your bride-to-be why she really wants to get married. Get to the bottom of it. Does she feel safe, secure and valid for the first time in her life? Is she fulfilling family expectations? Does she want to fit in with all of her friends? Is marriage just a necessary step to her real dream of being a mom?
Is your soon-to-be groom sick of spending Saturday nights alone while his buddies are enjoying family night, or did he just decide “it’s time?” Are you really with “the one,” forsaking all others, or is your relationship something else?
6. Digging up the past
Discuss what went right and wrong in your previous relationships. If your partner can’t come up with lessons she’s learned from mistakes she’s made or identify relationship patterns she’s working toward breaking, you’re likely to end up in the heap with her other exes.
7. Family Ties
Your relationship with your family is extremely important to the potential success of your union. This isn’t to say strong relationships can’t survive family drama or disapproval. But you need to go into a marriage fully aware of any potential emotional, physical or psychological danger caused by disruptive family bonds.
You should also be aware of any children from your partner’s previous relationships, and his connection with them. If he’s physically or financially abandoned his brood with another woman, he’ll likely do the same to you and yours.
Marriage is serious business and sometimes unromantic. Take the time to bring up these crucial questions and have long, in-depth discussions about who you really are as people, what you truly expect from love and life, where you see yourselves down the road and how you plan to get there. It may save you a lot of heartache — and money — in the end.