Questions About Marriage
You may wonder why this article on questions about marriage is here as most of my listeners and audience are at the halftime of life. The reason is that listeners are concerned about their kids and grandkids. Marriage is one of the most important of their life decisions.
Saying “I Do” on your wedding day turns into “I Don’t” more often than not and causes havoc, pain and separation. There are no guarantees that any relationship will last, but there are some safeguards. Greg and I took time to discuss five questions about marriage we wanted our kids to ask us and we hope the questions will help you.
Kids probably won’t ask these questions, but hopefully the topics of each will spur good conversations at some point. I’m joined by Greg, as we are now celebrating 40-plus years. We feel fortunate to have weathered the many storms that have come our way but this was mostly possible because we developed the tools necessary to do so. We hope answering these questions will give you the ability to do the same.
One: How Do You Know if He or She is the Right One?
When people are looking for the right one, they often focus very little on being the right one. When you become the right person, there is a greater chance of attracting the type of person that will be a good fit for you.
I think God has a sense of humor. Greg and I are very different. You can read or listen more about this on When a Type A Personality Marries a Type B. While dating, I knew we were different, but didn’t understand how much. Greg was fun and loved being in the middle of activity. I was attracted to that but didn’t realize how much I enjoyed the quiet. But those characteristics didn’t matter too much because both of us were at the place where we felt we could be the type of person that would be a good fit for the other. See: 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
Some of those qualities were trustworthiness, security, self-confidence and commitment to a long-term relationship. Neither of us were perfect or even nearly there, but our core values made us confident we could trust each other and ourselves to make a wise decision. We also focused on our friendship, talking and laughing for hours as well as spoke about important issues.
Think about how this principle applies to finding the right job. Are you the right fit? You first do your research to see if the job will be a fit. Then when getting ready for a job interview, you should be as prepared as possible. You want to be the person they want to hire. It’s the same principle with relationships. See: His Needs, Her Needs by Willard Harley.
Two: When is the Best Time to Make a Relationship Permanent?
The word permanent means long-lasting and unchanged. Do you have the capacity for this? If not, do some soul-searching. A permanent relationship scares many today with so many changes happening in our society every minute of the day. But this is an important question to approach about marriage because a commitment involves trust, respect and attraction. If something is holding you back, look at those qualities first.
Do you trust the person? Don’t just evaluate the other person, but yourself. Are you trustworthy? When a guy I dated left his broken-down car in front of my parents’ house for a week, inconveniencing me by borrowing my car, he did not prove himself trustworthy. And my father strongly confirmed this by putting his foot down when I didn’t do so soon enough!
Do you respect the person? This is not just based on a job title. It is based on who they are. Greg had a hurt arm and knew he was going to be released when we took off for baseball spring training right after our wedding. But I respected him enough that I knew he wouldn’t just quit at life. We were on the journey together and formatted a plan. We had very little money, but that was okay. We were able to formulate a new plan that worked and scrimped along until we got back on our feet.
Of course, attraction has to be in the mix—I don’t want to downplay that feature! But think hard about waking up every day with this person. You will both have good and bad-hair days and face changes in your bodies and your health. But that’s the adventure in loving each other through the changes. I recommend: The 6 Husbands Every Wife Should Have by Dr. Steven Craig.
Three: Where Do You Stand Spiritually?
You may wonder why spirituality is important to a relationship. There are several reasons. For most every holiday, you need to decide how to celebrate—and not just you but with your extended family. Some cultures don’t celebrate Christmas and Easter, or they do in very different ways. It’s helpful to speak about family expectations and traditions so you don’t get ambushed with demands on the first holiday you celebrate together.
It is possible to hold different beliefs, but it is more difficult. When kids come along, there are decisions on how to raise them. Your belief system will influence this decision in many ways including schooling, friends and even where you choose to live.
If you are conservative, you won’t want your kids exposed to questions they are not ready for at very young age. This will affect schooling, place of worship and circle of friends. The point to all of this is to have these conversations sooner than later to understand how your beliefs will affect many parts of your life. Your beliefs may also have an effect on your personal commitment to a permanent relationship.
Four: How Important will Extended Family be to Your Family?
There are a lot of adjustments in the first five to seven years of marriage. Some of those adjustments include the role of extended family and what role they will play in your relationship. Some parents have a very difficult time letting their kids completely go on their own. They may even be dependent on that son or daughter to make peace in their home, so that should be at least recognized and discussed, along with boundaries.
I did not realize that we’d be spending every July 4 celebrating with Greg’s family. It was his mother’s birthday and his grandmothers was July 1. It didn’t seem to matter much until we found ourselves wanting to attend other events. Holidays were especially important as Greg had a small family. I realized how important this was for him and we adjusted as I loved his family. My family was different and that made it a little easier with expectations. But you have to be careful not to leave out one side because the other is demanding.
Many manage not only their immediate families, but step-families and are coordinating multiple events on multiple days, trying to fulfill expectations. It’s important to approach the conversation of whether you see your relationship as community or private enterprise. If the more the merrier works for you, community is great. In some cultures, multiple generations lived together under one roof and may still carry that expectation. But if you are not comfortable around groups of people, you will be negotiating as a private enterprise and will need to set those boundaries. Understand there will be expectations and those will affect your relationship in some way.
Five: How Important is Commitment to a Marriage Contract?
Is what you seeking a marriage agreement or a contract? A contract is a binding agreement. When a division arises, you’ve got a choice to create a second agreement or to fight your way through it. Some choose to create a prenuptial agreement anticipating disagreements and some just choose to jump ship completely.
Either you’ve got an escape boat ready to launch or you’ve burned all the escape boats and you’re going to survive. There are times you’ll feel hurt and misunderstood. Times when you face financial difficulties. Your body changes, your work changes and even your emotions change. All of this is real and it’s helpful to at least talk through some of the issues, but not be scared away from making a commitment.
There are no guarantees for any relationship to last 40-plus years but initiating good conversations about all five of these questions will help you not only make a decision but hopefully will help you set your course for a healthy commitment and happy life.
Another great article is Helping Your Kids Make the Right Choices.
Either you’ve got an escape boat ready to launch or you’ve
burned all the escape boats and you’re going to survive.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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