In our last blog post, we covered a list of questions that one would be well served to discuss with their partner prior to marriage. Let’s take a deeper look at what these questions are designed to elicit. We will break this in to a few posts, so let’s start by looking at questions 1-3:
- Did your family throw plates, calmly discuss issues or silently shut down when disagreements arose? A relationship’s success is based on how differences are dealt with, conflict is navigated, and whether or not history repeats itself. As we are all shaped by our family of origin’s dynamic’s, this question will give you insight into whether your partner will come to mimic the conflict resolution patterns of his or her parents or if he/she has evolved past maladaptive conflict resolution styles.
- Will we have children, and if we do, will you change diapers? Before marrying, couples should honestly discuss if they want children. How many? At what point do they want to have them? How far apart will they be? If there are issues with infertility, how will that be navigated? Is adoption on the table? What about IVF? How much money are you willing to spend in pursuit of having a child? And how do each of you imagine your roles as parents? Whose career will be impacted? Who will bear the brunt of sleep deprivation? What about education; public or private? And one of the most sensitive conversations that couples should have is whether or not a decision to terminate a pregnancy is on or off the table. Perhaps the pregnancy is unwanted for any number of reasons, or perhaps there is a risk of birth defects, or it will be a high risk pregnancy for the mother. Do any of these count as legitimate reason to end a pregnancy?
- How will we live in our space together? Sharing space with another human is not for the faint of heart. Where do each of you fall on the continuum of fastidious vs. pig pen? Are you a maximalist or minimalist or somewhere in between when it comers to design aesthetic? Whose tastes will get prioritized? How will you deal with merging belongings? Do you have an explicit understanding of who is responsible for what when it comes to “administering the household”? What do you foresee happening if one person consistently fails to hold up their end of the household duties?
- Will our experiences with our exes help or hinder us? If there is an ex-spouse in the picture, or your fiancee is co-parenting with someone else, how will this impact you you? Research indicates that contentious relationships with exes can pose a risk for divorce and lower marital quality for subsequent marriages. There can also be issues of jealousy related to partners having had a life before us. How much or how little do you want to know about your partners relationships prior to you? What will you do with information once you have it? What about remaining friends with exes? What if an ex is harassing/intrusive in your current relationship? What if your future in-laws remain fond of and connected to an ex? What are the boundaries around these concerns?
Until next time, peace.