10 Areas In Your Life That You Have to Seriously Consider Before Saying “I Do”


Wedding considerations

It was a fairy tale proposal and you cannot believe that little diamond ring is on your finger as you go to sleep. As you blissfully think about the upcoming wedding plans and surprised (and jealous) faces of your friends the next morning, probably you might want to devote that night’s dreams into the following areas in your life as you ponder whether it was too hasty on your part to accept the wedding proposal-

Family Background

I’m sure when we’re in love, we tend to cheat ourselves and say that all that matters is our love for one another. Unfortunately in most cases (I’d say 99.9%), when two people marry, it’s actually the union of two families.

There could not be anything more devastating than to realize that either (or both) sets of parents strongly oppose to the marriage. Sure we’ve seen enough drama serials to tell us that it’s often the difference in social, monetary and religious status or the fact that the mother cannot bear to let her daughter get married to a lowly salaried individual.

Whilst we’re quite sure our parents always have our best interests at heart, however, our parents (and grandparents) did grow up in a different era where there weren’t any internet entrepreneurs and arranged marriages were the norm. Even back then, inter-racial marriages were frowned upon. Hence, their perception of our prospective partners may be slightly skewed and prejudiced in certain ways.

Consider the family backgrounds of yourself and your partner. When doing so, do seriously talk to each other about the degree of happiness or unhappiness of both sets of parents. Psychologists cannot stress enough the importance of the impact of parents’ relationship on their children. As we grow up in our families, we perceive marriage according to our parents lives. If it was a happy marriage, the child will be very receptive to marriage. However, if there’s been a messy separation or divorce in the family, more often than not, the scars of parental custody has a heavy toll on the child’s perception of what constitutes a marriage.

Next thing to talk about is to discuss how issues and problems in your family were resolved. Some say potato, some say potatoe. Every family has a different approach towards solving family issues and problems. Some go by the democratic process of discussion and voting, whilst others have the typical (father or mother)dictatorship process. You’d be surprised that maybe some families never address their issues and problems, which eventually leads to the deterioration of family bonds.

The next item on the list is to talk about how both of you would cope with the situation if any of your parents were in disagreement on the following issues :-

Social class, financial security, religious commitment and number of children in your family.

You’ve got to ask yourself how could these issues affect your marriage. Most importantly, should any of these issues rise, whose side is your partner (or you) going to side with? With his (your) parents or you (him)? It’s always better to clear all these doubts and potential marriage breakers before committing to a marriage.

Next, how are you, as a couple, going to approach the relationship with your parents and your parent’s once married? How much time do you feel you will want to spend with them? Granted that we’re a nation of migratory workers, you and your partner will face a potential headache when it comes to parental visitation and “balik kampung” decisions. Generally, it’s safe to say that parents are more clingy when it comes to their daughter moving out. So guys, you have to make that extra commitment to ensure that your wife’s parents do not start hating you because you do not allow her to visit them regularly enough. Traditionally for most races, it is generally accepted that once guys get married, they are expected to move out and start their own family. That’s unless you’ve got yourself a mama’s boy.

Finances

If the lack of financial security did not already sour your courtship, probably this is the next important factor to consider.

Have you decided how both of you will handle your finances and which one of you will do the book-keeping? Although not all of us are born accountants, but at least either one in the relationship has to call the shots when it comes to managing the family finances.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment and whilst young lovers may throw caution to the wind, insufficient finances will eventually cause strains to the marriage. Let’s face it, we may never be millionaires, but at least, we would like to have a comfortable family life in the future. Managing our finances is important towards sustaining a happy marriage. As my mother always say, it’s not how much your husband earns, it’s how much we wives save.

A comfortable life would probably entail the following financial commitments which includes a house, a car, insurances, investments/savings and some shopping money. Analyze both your financial situations and try drawing up a budgeting plan. Whilst drafting your budgeting plan, do make considerations on the purpose of setting aside money for that particular commitment – How much, how often and for what purpose.

The budget should also ideally include the existing debt which you or your partner may have. May it be from that excessive drinking from his college days, or that excessive shopping/food binging after your last break-up, debt settlement/reduction should be a foremost priority. If in doubt, always consult experts in the financial planning field.

Do also consider the following questions :

* Will you both set aside allowances each month for personal spending?
* Would you expect your partner to set aside an allowance for you each month as household allowance?
* Do you believe that one should ask permission of the other before making any purchase, only large purchase or no need to ask at all?
* Most importantly, what are your attitudes towards accepting financial aid from either of your parents?

Housing arrangements

Now we come to the all too familiar question when we’re preparing for our marriage – Where are we going to stay?

Logically, when your partner proposed to you, you had better pray hard that he has had the common sense to already think a few steps ahead and think of providing you a comfortable place to live with him. No one ever wants to stay in a 2 room apartment where there’s enough occupants there for 6 rooms.

The next question is where –His place? Your place? Or a new place?

It’s not uncommon to move into his parent’s house and neither is it uncommon to move out to a new place. However, it sure will hurt his ego if you were to “force” him to move into your parent’s place.

Thus, it will be wise to discuss on his plans on where both of you will be staying. Your final decision may be affected by the following factors :- budget constraints, parent’s insistence that you stay with them, parents who are immobile or with critical illness such as heart or stroke patients, privacy concerns and proximity to work, friends, family or public amenities.

As we dwell on the subject on budget constraints, enough cannot be said on budgeting. To rent or buy, that is the question. Work out both your personal finances and factor in possible salary increments, bonuses or better career opportunities. Whilst your parents may wish to see their daughter have a roof over their head, financial experts will say that it is foolish to spend most of your joint income towards paying your housing loan. As I’ve already mentioned in my earlier paragraph that parents do live in a different era than ours, renting a place to live is no longer looked down upon.

We’re just realistic people living in a realistic world. If our finances only allow us to rent a place, then so be it. Utilise the remaining money to invest wisely or set aside for a rainy day, instead of dumping all your money into brick and mortar. Last I tried, lickng the paint off my wall did not solve my hunger problems. Once both of your financial standings have improved, it is never too late to buy that dream house. Remember, a house does not maketh a marriage. Neither do we have to live up to people’s expectations that our marriage is any less successful than theirs if we do not have our own house.

Well, if it comes to the point that even renting a place presents a problem, staying with parents is the next logical solution. But whose?

I think parents generally welcome the addition of a family member to their household. It means that there is better family bonds and more time for mother in law and daughter in law interaction. In some cases as you’ve seen in drama serials, it means an extra maid in the house. (Just kidding) Then again, it’s never all that bad. I believe that if we can get along with our partner’s family members, it will strengthen the marriage. Do consider the following before moving in :- Family values, family traditions, expectations on you in terms of sharing of household chores, expenses and etc, privacy issues, compatibility of family member’s temperaments against yours. Have a good talk with your partner on the above issues before deciding to move in.

If your parents have mobility or health issues, you would have to talk to your partner as to whether he is willing to move into your parents place so that he can help out. It makes sense for a man to be in the house so that he can help with the more heavy chores such as lifting the patient or taking the patient for regular check ups.

We’ve just got married and I want our privacy! I believe privacy is the right of every couple. We don’t want our parents or siblings to stumble into our kissing session in the living room nor do we want his grandfather having a heart attack when he saw you in your sexy lingerie, do we? Discuss on privacy issues wherever you’ve decided to move in, especially so if you’re staying with family or relatives.

Last but not least, consider whether your new housing is going to be easily accessible to your work places, family and friends. Choosing a house is a long term commitment. You don’t want to move into a place where it is inaccessible. Furthermore, if you are planning for a child in the near future, it makes sense to move to a place near your parents. Other items for consideration may include the location of your friends and public amenities.

Employment

Now that’s you’re going to get married, do you continue working or does he expect you to stay at home? Granted that most men are expected to be the breadwinners in the family, in our present economy, a dual income family is the norm.

There may be a problem when you’re very happy with present job and it pays very well. Moreover, your present job may have potential for advancement. Will all these affect him? How does he feel if his wife is earning more than him?

If he wants you to stay at home, what are you going to do? Will there be enough income? Will you be able to spend your time fruitfully and meaningfully? Is there a contingency plan should he be retrenched or lose his job somewhat?

If you’ve decided on your employment status, you would also have to ask yourself the following questions :

* Are you comfortable with his job?
* Does his job entail long working hours and lots of traveling?
* Does his job entail a lot of night entertainment or weekend golfing?
* Are you involved in his working environment in terms of his job scope, his superiors or his staff?

Your partner will appreciate you a lot more if you could devote more time into understanding his job scope. Nevertheless, we want to look out for potential marriage breakers such as the husband not spending enough time with the wife after marriage, or having an extra marital affair due to the nature of his work.

Physical Health

Wedding considerations

People differ greatly with regards to attitudes about health. It is always good to talk about family health histories and learn more about each other’s background in view of the impending marriage. In this age of pre-marital sex, it is not possible to judge a book by its cover. Nowadays, a pre-marriage health check-up is a pre-requisite for all couples.

Pre-marriage check-ups aim to help couples gain a better understanding of their health. If diseases are detected in their early or asymptomatic stage, especially diseases that are infectious or have serious effect on the next generation, treatment can be started at an early stage and therefore providing an important safeguard for the health of the couples and their future offspring.

The check-up normally comprise basic health assessment tests, blood tests and body check-ups. You may want to stress the inclusion of additional laboratory tests of greater concern such as Hepatitis B & C, Rubella, Rhesus Factor, Thalassemia and Sexually Transmissible Diseases. For a better understanding of the above medical conditions, please consult your family doctor for advice.

Mental Health

Now that you’ve gone for your check-ups, it’s time to assess you and your partner’s mental health. As we move through different stages in our lives, we enjoy and cherish happy times as well as face obstacles in life. In fact, many of the things that bring us great joy and fulfillment, such as close relationships, a promotion, a dream holiday, or buying a home, also can cause stress on our mental health.

At some point we also have to cope with traumatic life events such as dealing with a loved one’s serious illness or death, a loss of a job, domestic violence or sexual assault. Changes in our physical health also affect our mental health. Changes in the body’s hormone levels from pregnancy and childbirth, or from menopause, can cause depression, anxiety, irritability, and tearfulness.

We all feel worried, anxious or sad from time to time, men and women alike. But, a true mental health disorder makes it hard for a person to function normally. Women suffer twice as often as men by most forms of depression and anxiety disorders, and nine times as often by eating disorders. While there are different mental health disorders, they all are real illnesses that can’t be willed or wished away.

You aren’t at fault if you have one, and you should not suffer in silence. The same goes if this is happening to your partner. Be patient with yourself or your partner and reach out to others for help. Be supportive for one another. These illnesses can be medically treated successfully so that you can get back to enjoying life — not only for yourself, but for your family too.

The main mental disorders include self-esteem issues, depression, self-hurt, stress, bi-polar disorder, suicidal thoughts, body image and eating disorders, phobias, mood disorders (rage issues) and panic disorders. This list is not exhaustive.

Experts have concluded studies showing that one in five people will experience a mood disorder in their lifetime but less than one half will seek treatment. If you’ve both discovered that either one of you has a mental disorder, it will be wise to address the issue now, rather than to leave it till it’s too late.

Sexual Health And Intimacy Issues

“Sex itself isn’t as big a part of being married as I thought it would be,” said a friend of mine after her marriage. “I mean, how much time out of a busy life can you actually spend in bed?” My friend and I went on to talk about how sharing and intimacy in a marriage involve so much more than a particular sex act. In a satisfying marriage, each partner has a feeling of emotional closeness that the other nurtures by being trustworthy and thoughtful. Lovemaking is that exciting extra dimension that enriches and enlivens married life. It is the most intimate way we have of expressing our love; it is the way God has given us to create new life.

Being comfortable with your sexuality is important in developing a healthy, happy sex life. Attitudes toward sex are learned and any feelings that keep you from full participation in lovemaking can be unlearned and replaced by new attitudes. If sexual compatibility or some other problem with sex causes ongoing strife in your marriage, it is wise to go to a qualified therapist.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines sexual health as “the state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction and infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive, respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”

Sexual health goes beyond the stereotype “bedtime stories”. It also encompasses a wide range of issues such as attitudes towards promiscuity, sexual hygiene and sexual problems to both male and female.

During your courtship days, he has told you that he is saving it for his first night as a couple, but is he really telling the truth? Though there is no sure fire method of knowing the truth, but one of the easier tests of determining the level of his fickle heart would be to ask your friends.

Most guys unfortunately have the innate ability to target the next prettier thing to walk in a short skirt. Blame it on the theory of evolution and “survival of the fittest” mantra. Have a girly chat with your friends and find out about their opinion of your guy. Generally, best friends can tell the difference between a regular joe and the playboy extraordinaire – and you’re can be pretty sure they won’t lie to you. In any case, they somehow always have a good sixth sense about their best friend’s boyfriend because they’re your safety net from the outside looking in.

Physical intimacy is not all about sex. It’s actually the simple act of touching someone at the right places at the right time, be it just caressing your hair or hugging you in his strong arms. However, since we all grew up in different family environments, touch can indeed be a “touchy” subject.

Since both of you are going to be in a long term relationship with a individual history of touch, sharing that history will give you a better understanding of each other’s need and desire for touch.

To get an idea, try the following phrases and discuss on his answers:-

- As I was growing up, my experience of gentle, loving touch from my mother was satisfying/not satisfying

- As I was growing up, my experience of gentle loving touch from my father was satisfying/not satisfying

- As I was growing up, my experience of gentle, loving touch from a significant other woman was satisfying/not satisfying

- My desire to touch people I care for is nonexistent/high

- When people touch me as a gesture of affection, I am uncomfortable/comfortable

Now, use the following questions to gain insights that will help you both find the fulfillment you both seek:-

- Can we express our feelings to one another?

- Do we resolve our differences before they become major problems?

- Can I ask my partner for what I desire?

- Am I willing to listen to my partner’s desires?

Intimacy issues may stem from a wide range of causes including :-

- We have a these fears because we were wounded in early childhood – we experienced feeling emotionally abandoned, rejected, and betrayed by our parents because they were wounded. They did not have healthy relationship with self – they were codependents who abandoned and betrayed themselves – and their behavior caused us to feel unworthy and unlovable.

A happy marriage will not work if a couple never address their intimacy issues at their early stages!

Communication / Solving conflicts

They say the basic foundation of a happy marriage is love and communication. However, they fail to mention that when it comes to communication, it’s just not those mushy stuff that matters, it’s the conflicts that often break up marriages.

Men by nature use their brains and women use their emotions to solve conflicts. Hence, they can never see eye to eye. Two people sharing their lives in a relationship as intimate as marriage will naturally experience some conflict. Situations arise that cause anger, resentment and jealousy. You may be tempted to suppress what you feel in order to maintain harmony but doing so only puts up a wall between you. If the pattern of ignoring problems and denying feelings continue, the wall grows higher.

Instead of building walls, face problems and settle conflicts as they arise. Think about the last time you both quarreled – How did you settle it amicably?

Constructive conflict can instead be an emotional housecleaning that leads to greater trust and understanding. Discuss the following points with your partner and find out:-

- What have we disagreed about while dating?

- What do we see as potential areas of conflict after we are married?

- What steps can we take now to keep these issues from causing difficulties in our marriage?

- Do we resort to emotional blackmail or physical violence when we cannot resolve issues?

- Do certain things or phrases your partner say prejudice you so that you can’t objectively listen?

- When you are confused or annoyed by what your partner says, do you try to get it straightened out immediately or “let it go”?

- Do you listen with your heart or with your head?

-Do you find it easy to forgive one another after a serious conflict?

Though the above is not comprehensive, it will lead you towards the right direction towards exploring your perceptions towards conflict solving and understanding your partner’s needs better when conflict arises.

What is the “real” reason for getting married

People get married for all the right reasons and also the wrong reasons. Lest you step into a marriage destined for the rocks, examine his priorities towards getting married.

There are just so many excuses to get married, but we will highlight the main ones which should set the alarm going if you hear one of it as his reason for getting married.

1. husband-to-be cannot get along with parents or no space in their present homes or whose own parents are divorced so they want to leave their own home of origin because of the unhappiness

2. financial instability (as a result of a certain direction in career) Getting married would mean “consolidating” both your finances

3. procreation – be it a shotgun marriage or the need to satisfy his parents need to produce a grandson

4. peer pressure – so he’s the last in his family to get married and he’s the butt of all jokes during Chinese New Year gatherings

5. physical/sexual abuse, threats, emotional blackmail, family blackmail

6. Doing it to escape loneliness

7. “Compatible” character – But you two seem to be quarreling most of the time and seem to enjoy a love hate relationship

8. Always entertaining thoughts like “maybe things will get better after marriage” (sometimes they get worse)

9. Too possessive to the point of asking you to drop all your friends and live a solitude life with him

10. Unable to spend a day alone without you – He’s either psycho or you’ve got yourself a koala bear for the rest of your life

As the old folks always say “Whatever the reason, if it doesn’t seem or feel right, it probably isn’t.“

Conclusion

With the rise of divorces worldwide, we cannot stress enough on the importance of considering the compatibilities of you and your partner before entering the sanctity of marriage. Life as a dating couple may have been good, but living together under the same roof for the next 20 years is as they say “ a jail sentence” You had better make sure your prison mate is the perfect one for you!

Written by | Filed Under: Advices, Before Marriage

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2 Responses »

  1. For my case, we are still facing the housing problem – I want to stay near my home town, and she doesn’t want to move over from Kuala Lumpur! In her words, “not downgrading!”

  2. Tian Hua – I think alot of people have problem with that! I think this itself deserves a topic to be written on : ))

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