The romantic high from being engaged can be intense and euphoric, but a dose of sober reality can take you by surprise when you really think about what marriage means to you. And no, I’m not referring to the dictionary definition of marriage either.
What Does Marriage Mean to You?
It’s a simple word really – marriage – yet it’s meaning is incredibly complex and varies from person to person. Why you ask? The notion of marrying for duty or for love (or a little bit of both) could depend on one’s religion, nationality, social status, financial status, upbringing, age… you name it! (Watch a documentary on Netflix about Henry VIII and his wives – and his life choices – and you may gasp). It’s not my place (or anyone else’s IMHO) to define marriage for you. My advice is for you to define marriage in a way that is meaningful for your life and your spirituality (whether you’re religious or not).
So, while you’re glancing at that sparkling rock on your finger, try to pause for a moment and picture your life 5 years from now – 15 years from now – 30 years from now. Now, think about your life 5 years ago, 15 years ago… or dare I say 30 years ago. Are you the same person you were in your teens? My guess is probably not. Chances are your priorities have changed, along with your hairstyle, bank account balance and perhaps your waistline.
Think About Your Life After “I Do”
My point is this… really take time to think about your life after your wedding and honeymoon. Yes, the “real life” stuff. Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of questions to help you shift your focus away from your wedding day towards your married life – there should be balance here. My recommendation is to answer these questions for yourself, then have your fiance answer them. Pick a lazy afternoon, snuggle close to each other and reveal your responses. Remember to keep this a safe and judgement-free environment. This is meant for you both to learn more about each other and grow together as a couple.
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What Does Marriage Mean Questions
- What do I know about my future spouse and their personality?
- Why do I want to get married?
- Why does my future spouse want to get married?
- What ideas does my future spouse have about marriage?
- Does my future spouse believe marriage is for a lifetime?
- What do I like and dislike about my future spouse?
- Can I live with what I see?
- What kind of roles will each of us play in our marriage?
- How will decisions be reached?
- What kind of relationship does my future spouse have with their family?
- Does my future spouse challenge me to grow or change?
- What do I think I need from my future spouse?
- How independent should each of us be?
- What does my future spouse expect of me?
- Am I comfortable with what my future spouse expects of me?
- Is my future spouse reliable in their work or studies?
- What are the goals, both career and personal, of my future spouse?
- Does my future spouse have career ambitions with which I am comfortable?
- Does my future spouse like people, and get along with people?
- How does my future spouse treat family and friends?
- Do I like my future spouse’s friends?
- How does my future spouse react if he/she does not get what he/she wants?
- How do I communicate with my future spouse?
- Is that how I want to communicate in the future?
- How much do I depend on my future spouse?
- How dependent should I be?
- How do I handle money?
- How will we, as a couple, handle money?
- Do we agree on what possessions are important?
- What are my ideas about the importance of sexual expression within marriage?
- What are my spouses ideas?
- How many children (if any) do I want to raise?
- What are my ideas about child rearing?
- Does my future spouse agree with my ideas?
- How important is God, religion, faith, and/or spirituality in my life?
- Is it important that my future spouse shares these ideas?
Have You Considered Pre-Marital Counseling?
Just so you know, I’m a huge advocate of pre-marital counseling. Honest, open, safe, and consistent communication during your relationship and engagement helps to strengthen the bond you both have for each other. Pre-marital counseling can be as formal or as informal as you want it to be (well, in most cases, as certain religious institutions have their own procedures for this). From a church-sponsored program, to a weekend retreat, to weekly brunches with married friends or relatives – something is far better than nothing.
If this article took you by surprise, great! That’s the point… to open and challenge your mind to consider and discuss these topics so nothing is left up to assumption before or after “I Do.” Raising a glass to celebrate you and yours! Cheers!