Six things to ask yourself before you say ‘I do’
Sure you know your partner? Here’s some help to avoid unwanted surprises
updated 8:03 a.m. PT, Wed., May. 14, 2008
You may think that you and your fiancé have talked about everything in preparation for your wedding day, but there may still be some issues you haven't discussed that could surprise you. So what should you think about before the big day? Carley Roney, editor-in-chief of TheKnot.com, shares some questions to consider before you make that long-term commitment.
Have I established an individual identity?
The self-identifying process usually continues through the first 25 to 28 years of life. Young people can't select a marriage partner effectively if they don't know themselves yet. This makes it a large task to identify the person with whom you want to share your life. Identity formation is incomplete until individuals have emotionally separated from their parents and discovered the details of their own uniqueness. Prior to the mid-twenties, most young adults haven't defined their goals and needs. They haven't had time to learn to be independent. They haven't yet grown into themselves and undergone defining life experiences. If you want to avoid becoming a divorce statistic or living for years in an unhappy marriage, take seriously the need to wait until you have personally developed your identity and life goals. If you do, your selection of a mate will be based on the adult version of you that you won't outgrow.
You should also ask yourself, “Am I mentally and physically healthy?” Is your self-esteem in good shape? If you carry heavy concerns that consume you, it's not time to invite someone else into your world permanently, especially if you are relying on the other person to fill that void in your life.
Are our financial personalities compatible?
Is he more of a spender and she more of a saver? Having full disclosure over all finances is key to the start of any healthy relationship. Be sure to lay it all out on the table, from your debts and credit to your savings goals. Money can't buy you love and/or happiness, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider finances when thinking about marriage. What does the financial situation look like: Are your financial personalities compatible? If you are a big saver, do you really want to be married to someone who has several thousands in credit card debt? Another thing to consider is whether or not the two of you will be able to make it on your own financially. Do you know who will be the breadwinner and what kind of budget you both will be abiding by? Money is one of the biggest danger spots in relationships.
Where do I see myself in 10 years?
The question “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” is a pretty valid one. It might seem like a silly question to ask your partner, but it can reveal a lot. For example, if your partner sees himself moving right on up the career ladder and taking a job far from home, where does that leave you and the job that you love? Talking about whether or not you would like to move for one person's job is important. How career-focused are each of you? If someone chooses not to work any longer, would the other be OK with that? Are you comfortable with the other's level of ambition? What happens if someone were given the choice to relocate? Whose career matters most?
What about kids?
Do you both want them? If so, how many? Do you agree on the way you want to raise and discipline them? Breach the topic of all ethical questions involving children. It's OK if you aren't in total agreement on everything. You just have to be willing and able to discern a plan that will appease you both. Will one of you quit working to stay home with the children for a period of time? Children need consistency in their lives. It's important that you and your partner are on the same page.
Do we share the same spiritual beliefs?
Don't underestimate the importance of this. Even if you are both agnostic or atheist, knowing you've discussed your world views and core beliefs is imperative. If you believe that religion should be at the center of your relationship, it can only be that way if your would-be partner agrees. If this hasn't been talked about yet, make it a priority to do so.
Do we play well together?
Couples who play together, stay together. While opposites do attract, you want to have some things in common. It's completely fine and healthy to have your own interests and alone time, but do you know how to enjoy leisure time together? Sharing interest in one or a handful of activities forges a priceless bond between husband and wife and is a must for couples in it for the long haul.
For more wedding advice, visit The Knot's Web site: www.theknot.com
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