Let’s take a look at the next few questions in our series on important topics to cover before getting married.
8. Can you deal with my doing things without you? In thinking about life after the wedding day, many people hope to keep their autonomy in certain areas of their life. They may prefer to not share all of their hobbies, friends and/or time with their spouse. This can lead to tension and feelings of rejection if it isn’t discussed. Couples may also have different expectations as to what “privacy” means. Be sure you are clear on the value each person places on autonomy and privacy, and how those differences may manifest in life after marriage.
9. Do we get along with other’s parents? You may get lucky and have mutually satisfying relationships with your in-laws. Or, there may be tensions that exist for any number of reasons. Assuming that neither partner is being unreasonable, and as long as you and your partner present a united front, having a less than desirable relationship with your in-laws can be manageable. But if a spouse is easily triangulated or not willing to address issue with his or her parents, it can bode poorly for the long-term health of the relationship. Have an open discussion about the kind of boundaries you want to have with parents/in-laws, and how you will handle it if those boundaries are not respected. Another angle to explore is the strengths and weaknesses of respective parents, which can illuminate future patterns of attachment or distancing in your own relationship.
10. How important is sex to you? Couples today expect to remain sexually excited by their spouse for the duration, which is an expectation that did not exist in the past. A healthy relationship will include discussions of what partners enjoy about sex as well as how often they would like to have it. Navigating desire discrepancies is not uncommon in long term relationships. If people are looking to experience different things through sex, some negotiation may be required to ensure both partners remain satisfied. Romantic realism posits that we want 3 things when it comes to sex: for it to be hot and juicy, with someone we love, and for a very long time. Romantic realism goes on to suggest that if we get two out of three, we are fortunate. What are your thoughts on this theory?
11. How far should we take flirting with other people? Is watching pornography O.K.? What about monogamy? Couples should discuss their attitudes about pornography, flirting and expectations for sexual exclusivity. A couple’s agreement in these areas may change down the line, but it is good to set the tone early on so both partners are comfortable discussing it, and the marriage is not built on assumptions. Monogamy vs. consensual non-monogamy should be talked about so that issues with differences can be dealt with before they arise. Also, as porn has become ubiquitous, understanding each others views on accessing porn, and under what circumstances (if any) is important. Some see flirting as natural and harmless. For others, it is considered a breach. Where do you come down? Couples are often too scared to talk about these issues, because the differences that could be unearthed is too scary to face. Not doing so, however, sets your marriage up for potential catastrophic outcomes down the line.
Until next time, peace.