5 Things to Discuss Before Getting Married
Something strange happens to many women once they become engaged. For the first few weeks, we’re unable to pay attention to anything except the engagement ring on our finger. Once we come back down to earth, our minds become consumed with nothing else but making wedding plans. We flip through thousands of pages of magazines, turning the corners of hundreds of pages that mark our favorite ideas, invitations, and dresses. We buy a wedding planner. We read about wedding etiquette. We scrutinize every detail of our day right down to seating charts, placemats and napkins. Most of the time, the lucky guy stays out of the planning but nods occasionally to indicate that he is participating in the planning.
Because this is an exciting time and there is so much to do, some couples might lose sight of what is, perhaps, the most important part of becoming engaged: discussing life after the wedding day.
Top Five Reasons Couples Divorce
According to a 1995 study, the top five reasons couples divorce are: religious commitment; race; money; lack of communication; frequency of sex. And while some couples might believe that love will always conquer all, couples don’t usually proceed with marriage expecting that it will end in divorce.
In my opinion, I believe there is much more to discuss before getting married so there aren’t any surprises. However, data suggests that the five topics listed above should be the forefront of discussion.
1. Religious Commitment:
A study conducted in 2009 found that couples with different faiths were three times more likely to divorce than couples who married with the same religious views. Whether or not religion is a large part of your life now, at some point in time many people find themselves needing to incorporate religion back into their lives. While it may seem unimportant to couples who aren’t currently practicing their faith, religious beliefs should be discussed extensively.
Another study, using data in 2002 from National Survey Family Growth, found that interracial couples had a higher divorce rate; however, the study could not conclude if it was due to social stigmas or the marital relationship. What a couple should discuss prior to marrying is how they will handle prejudice and bigotry from family members, friends, co-workers, and throughout the course of life.
While many couples determine fairly early who will be paying the bills and whether or not to merge checking accounts, long-term money issues that appear years after tying the knot should be discussed. These issues include:
- If you are planning on having children, will you be paying for their college tuition?
- How do you expect to handle financial matters if one or both of you become unemployed?
- If one person handles the financial aspect of the marriage, if a financial mistake is made, will it create tension?
- In times of financial hardship, will you both be able to adjust to living a lifestyle that you aren’t accustomed to or frugal living?
- If a friend or a family member is suffering financially, would you help and to what extent?
4. Lack of Communication:
If you’ve already tackled some of these topics, you’re on the right track. However, it is easier to have discussion with your partner when things are going splendidly. When things aren’t going well and you have an argument or a difficult decision to make, good communication skills are essential; otherwise, you may find yourself sitting in marriage counseling with a therapist as a middle-man. It is important for all couples to analyze their communication skills prior to marriage and determine if this might be an issue later in the marriage.
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5. Frequency of Sex:
In the beginning of a relationship it may have seemed as though you and your partner had actually invented sex, but many couples do experience a fizzle in the bedroom.
Data collected from the General Social Survey (who has been collecting data since 1972), has found that married couples have sex, on average, a little over once a week or 58 times per year. Couples under 30 have sex approximately 111 times per year, and 15 percent of couples have not had sex with their partners in the last six months to one year.
There are a number of reasons for lack of sex or a sexless marriage. Some couples had little sex in the beginning. In some cases after a significant event like childbirth, the frequency of sex declines. Some couples become too accustomed to their partners, become bored, focus on establishing a career, and some people just have low sex drives.
Additionally, if there is lack of communication in a marriage, it usually compounds the problem.
All engaged couples should take a time-out from the wedding plans and discuss these issues before getting married in order to help ensure a love that will last a lifetime.