Here at Under the Vintage Veil, we don’t shy away from the taboo topics. The truth is that divorce rates in the UK are significant – too significant to be ignored. I’m pretty sure nobody gets married thinking of anything other than forever. Divorce is something that happens to other people – because on your perfect wedding day it’s pretty hard to imagine feeling any other way.
The truth is that rushing into marriage has little to do with the length of time you’ve been together. It can be all too easy to get comfortable and drift into marriage, to get caught up in the excitement of something new and fall into it headfirst – but I strongly believe that “rushing” has more to do with the thought behind it.
I don’t have the formula for a perfect marriage. You can be two peas in a pod, complete opposites, or totally do your own thing – it doesn’t seem to come with a happiness measure. But talking anecdotally to friends, family, therapists, colleagues, it seems that no matter how unique your relationship, the following questions need to be asked before you take the plunge:
The questions to ask before you get married
How’s the communication?
People sometimes think I’m a bit mean to John. When he annoys me, I tell him. When I’m angry with him, he knows about it. But when I’m wrong, I say sorry. And vice versa. And just like that, we resolve our issues.
Do we have the perfect communication model? Probably not – but we talk. Nobody is left guessing, and I would argue that any communication is better than no communication at all.
Before you get married, ask yourself if you really communicate. Have you been biting your tongue about his annoying habits? Have you got into a rut of politeness?
I think that how you communicate is not a dealbreaker – it can be worked on, polished and fixed. But if you’re unable to express yourselves to one another, that’s where there’s the potential for problems to build into catastrophes.
How’s the sex?
Yes, I said the “S” word. There’s no tiptoeing around it, sex is important. It doesn’t mean you have to be doing it like rabbits or learn to be a contortionist trying to get through the Kama Sutra – but it does help if you have a good chemistry and connection. Yes, trust, honesty and communication are much more important than excitement and attraction – but lots of people forget that their marriages are romantic relationships too and that sex comes into it.
If you’re completely incompatible, it can become a problem in time, so it’s definitely worth thinking about.
What about money?
Money is such a tricky topic. It can sometimes feel inappropriate or embarrassing to discuss it – but it’s important to know what your expectations of each other are before you commit to managing a home together. For example, it might work well to pay your own way before you get married, but once you have shared commitments or children that may change. It might be that one of you earns significantly more and that makes a shared life complicated – or it could be that one of you would like to become self-employed, or a full-time parent.
Every couple is different, and I can’t tell you how to manage your money. I can tell you, however, that no matter how unromantic it may seem, knowing where you stand and what’s the best way to manage your finances for you is crucial.
Do we want children?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this – the only thing that needs to happen is that you must be on the same page.
The other question is do you want children with your partner? It sounds stupid but it’s an easy question to miss as it can easily get lost within the bigger picture. The day I knew we would be good parents was about a month after I moved in and our cat (then just John’s cat, as I barely knew him) Boo was hit by a car.
As ridiculous as it sounds, the way we leapt to action, worked together to get him help (sadly he lost his back leg, but he survived, against the odds) and comforted each other was enough to instil confidence in our ability to work as a team and support each other through stressful situations. John will be a fantastic father, and I want kids because of him, not in spite of him. But if that isn’t the case, or you’re worried about how you’ll cope under stress together, it’s definitely worth discussing.
Where do we want to live?
Some couples are happy to live wherever, as long as they’re together. Others have more fixed ideas about where their lives should be. Just make sure those ideas are compatible. You don’t want to get married only to discover neither of you can be happy living in the place the other wants to be.
I believe the most important ingredients for a successful marriage are teamwork, communication and (obviously) love. Everything else can be whatever you make of it. Do you agree with the questions listed above? Are they important to your relationship or can you think of other areas that couples should work on first? I’d love to hear your thoughts!