Participants of the book Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s and members of the Trash the Dress online support group can’t stress enough the importance discussing key issues with your fiancé before you walk down the aisle. We learned the hard way that red flags should not be ignored, but you don’t have to go down that path.
Consider these collaborative tips as the engaged couple’s toolkit for beginning a healthy, happy marriage, provided by those who had quite the opposite experience.
The following questions apply to anyone who is considering making that forever commitment -whether it’s a first or second marriage. We suggest a couple reconsider marriage if they disagree on a majority of these deal-breaking issues, as many of them led to our own divorces.
Sometimes, marriage is only temporary but the repercussions of divorce last forever. Trust us, it’s a lot better to face minor embarrassment by calling off an engagement than go through the gruesome divorce process. That said, most of us completely support marriage (and can’t wait to find our true soul mate)- as long as it’s for the right reasons.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you want to be married to him, or do you just want to be a bride?
- Are you truly over all your ex-boyfriends?
- Are you getting married just because you think you’ve been together long enough, so it must be the next natural step?
- Is pressure from your religious group forcing you into marriage?
- Are you getting married because your clock is ticking and you need to have children before you’re “too old”?
- Are you getting married simply because you’re at “that age” and all your friends are getting engaged?
- If you had to wait two more years to get married, would you?
- Are you getting married just to move out of your parents house?
- Does either of you struggle with substance abuse? This will certainly interfere with a marriage.
Regarding the Relationship:
- Do you think getting married will help solve any issues in your relationship? Or save the relationship? (Hint: It won’t!)
- Is there anything significant you hope or think will get better about him if you get married? (Never think that you can save or change a man. Who they are now is who they are going to be after you’re married.)
- Are you honest with each other?
- Do you trust each other?
- Do you know why all his past relationships ended? Any red flags?
- Do you bring out the best in each other?
- Do you feel like either you or your significant other consistently pull more of the weight in the relationship than the other does?
- Can you grow old together?
- Do you think he will leave you if you don’t get married?
- Will you outgrow each other?
- Are you already (happily) living with each other?
- Do you both agree on the definition of “cheating”? It does include the Internet!
Regarding Family and Friends:
- Are your friends and family supportive of the relationship, or have they expressed concerns?
- Do you like his family and friends? After all, you are marrying them, too.
- Do you hope that once you are married he will stop hanging out with his friends or shun his family?
- The way a man treats his mother and the relationship he has with her, speaks volumes of how he will treat you later in life. Have you considered this?
- Does he respect your friendships and relationships with your family? Does he give you personal space?
- Does he get along with your family?
Regarding Children and Pets:
- Do you both agree on wanting/ not wanting children? Indecisiveness on this topic is grounds for divorce. Be sure going into the marriage you both firmly agree.
- Do you both want the same amount of children?
- Do you agree when you will have children and who will care for them? Will you return to work, will he be a stay-at-home dad or will it be daycare to the rescue? If daycare, can you afford it?
- Do you both agree on wanting pets?
- Do you believe getting married and having children will save your relationship?
- Are you getting married because you think he has the potential to be a great husband/father or is he already there? If it is the first one you shouldn’t be marrying him.
- Will one of you have to convert to a different religion?
- What religion will your children be raised?
- Do you support each other’s career goals?
- Does he expect you to become a housewife after marriage?
- Would he support you if you wanted to go back to school?
- Are you comfortable with the other’s level of ambition?
Regarding Your Home:
- Do you both want to live in the same location?
- Are you on the same page when it comes to when you will purchase a home and how you will afford a mortgage?
- Would you uproot your life if your husband got a job that required you to move?
- Can you deal with it if his job requires him to travel often?
- Have you been honest with each other about your debt, spending habits and financial savings?
- Will you merge your bank accounts?
- Or, will you open a mutual savings account and then each have your own saving/spending account?
- How will you save for retirement?
- Does he try to control all your spending?
- Are you “whole” as a person? Are you doing everything you want in life?
- Do you indulge in your own hobbies?
- Are you getting married because you don’t think you can do any better?
- Have you ever lived alone as an adult and been responsible for taking care of yourself?
- Is there any form of physical or emotional abuse?
- How do you handle disagreements? Do you have clear communication or do you bottle up emotions?
- Does he listen to and respect your wants and needs?
- Does he force you to do anything you are uncomfortable with?