Questions to Be Answered Before the Engagement
Even spouses who were high school sweethearts do not know everything about each other; imagine how much more unlikely it is for sweethearts who meet online or in other forums where they only meet occasionally.
Caught up in the ecstasy of being in love, lovers can easily neglect to notice some important details about personal values and interests while they concentrate on fun events like the engagement planning.
To help them discover important details about each other, here are six premarital counseling questions which deserve serious soul searching and honest answers.
(1) How do your priority values compare?
Everybody has a priority list of values. Marriage counselors propose that even if the two people do not list their priorities in the same order, their top three or four top values should be the same.
What are the chances for conflict between a man who lists family, health and commitment as his top three and a woman who lists friends, money and good times as hers? Yet the issue of complementary values is often overlooked.
Human Metrics – Try Your Traits before Trying Fate recommends a Morals Test (cost $3.00) which can help the couple decide how similar or how different they are in their attitude to morality. Do they uphold the same moral standards? Or, will circumstances dictate their conduct?
The same site also offers a Marriage Test (cost $6.00) to help determine the probability of success in the marriage. On completing the test, there are tips on how to maintain a healthy, stable relationship.
(2) Can you tolerate your opposite interests?
Common interests pull people together; but what happens after the initial thrill of falling in love, when the idiosyncrasies surface? For example:
- The woman talks and listens to her dead twin for ten minutes every night; she neglects her lover's calls during that time.
- The man reveals that he loves shopping with his mother for his underwear; he wants that to continue.
These examples may be extreme, but the question is whether the couple can create a satisfactory compromise, or tolerate them to the point of refusing to fight. It is better to recognize and discuss the details of opposite interests beforehand than to share unpleasant surprises during the marriage.
(3) Are you both comfortable with family associations on either side?
It is important to discover how the individuals get along with their parents and siblings.
- Will there be expected interference from family members on either side?
- Are there any family traditions which one suspects would be displeasing to the other?
These issues need to be raised prior to the decision to get married. It is not quite true that one can marry a person and ignore that person’s family. The marriage can thrive on the support of family members; or the couples will have to deal with the lack of it. Either way, it helps to know beforehand, to avoid awkward and embarrassing moments in the event of unavoidable family gatherings.
One sweetheart or spouse may facilitate family reconciliations for the other; but that is not a marriage requirement. It is better for sweethearts to agree before the engagement on respecting each other’s wishes for relating to their families.
Dealing with the In-Laws
- In-laws Can Help -- Or Hurt -- Your Marriage
Here are some tips for getting along with your in-laws and strengthening your relationship with your spouse.
- Managing Your In-Laws by Dr. Phil
Negotiate with your own partner the role that you want your in-laws to have. Don't assume you're on the same page until you talk about it.
(4) Is there mutual satisfaction on social boundaries for exes?
There may be ex-sweethearts and ex-spouses which the individuals need to talk about. If there are children by these exes, there may be reason for occasional communication. It is important for the current sweethearts to agree on the boundaries for relationships with past lovers.
The best scenario is a civil, respectful attitude toward past lovers and spouses; and a request to the exes that they render a similar attitude toward the new spouse.
It is not time for the engagement if there are frequent arguments with an ex, or matters still in legal dispute. The engagement should come with the assurance that there are no such struggles threatening the relationship or their emotional well-being.
(5) Have you decided on a common religious affiliation?
This discussion is not necessary if both individuals decide to live without commitment to a system of religious beliefs.
However, if one intends to maintain a certain religious affiliation, or both intend to pursue different affiliations, the details need to be worked out.
- How deeply can one get involved with the programs of a religious group while the other is not?
- Are they able to engage in conversations about beliefs in which only one is interested, or on which they disagree?
- How will the relationship be affected by one or both associating with friends exclusive to them in an attempt to pursue their religious interest?
Often, couples nurture their love relationship without any discussion on the differences in their religious affiliations. Much heartbreak has been caused by neglecting this issue until after the engagement. Especially among couples who have strong religious convictions, this should be discussed as early as possible.
From Deseret News National
Marrying in the same faith has led to happier homes and more successful marriages, according to the Portraits of American Life Study.
(6) Is Love Enough?
Some naïve lovers deceive themselves into thinking that the emotional high they feel is enough to make the marriage work. That usually disappears after a while; not that love disappears, but the struggles of real living are distracting. Before the engagement, it is necessary to discuss intentions concerning marriage for life. Love is enough only if the definition of love includes (but is not limited to):
- Open, honest communication whether they’re happy or sad;
- Patience, tolerance and understanding when actions are considered out of character;
- Loyalty and dependability when it seems easier to abandon the relationship;
- Commitment to talk through, pray through, help each other through any and all kinds of adversities.
Despite the gloomy statistics on marriage, there are many happy marriages that last. Discussing these details before the engagement will increase the chances for a lasting, satisfying marriage.
Six More Premarital Questions
© 2014 Dora Weithers