Communication, they say, is the key to a successful marriage.
Even after a long courtship, couples seem to have arguments about the most basic things like finances, children, chores, etc. So often you’ve heard your wife say “You never told me about this” or your husband sarcastically remark “Oh I wish I had known about that before”. Now even if they are joking, there are some things that if not discussed before marriage can become an argument, a bone of contention or even a crisis.
TIP: Read 2000 questions you can ask your partner to know them inside out!
There isn’t a sure shot way of saying that marriages will be stress free if you know what your partner wants or doesn’t want. However, it does give you a heads up.
What really tops the list is-where your partner would like to stay after marriage. You’re from New York and he’s from LA…where do you settle after marriage. Or maybe she has to travel within Europe for work all the time and is looking for a house there. Isn’t it better to know this before you plan to make a down payment on your apartment in Chicago?
Of the several questions, you should ask your fiancé, a crucial one would be about children-how many you want to have? How soon you should have them? How they should be schooled? Maybe you are of the opinion that they should be sent to the best school in the city and your partner may want them to be home schooled. Knowing that there is a difference of opinion could lead to a mutual compromise when the decision really needs to be made. However, when you find out about your partner’s “crazy idea” when the school forms need to be submitted, it’s a little too late.
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Finances often lead to several arguments and problems. It helps to know what spending and saving habits your partner has. If one partner is extravagant, then the other one has got to be a saver. Two savers would be perfect because you’d save up just enough to buy a condo and a Beemer. Two extravagant people cannot make a relationship work because after the first year, your savings would be zero…if at all you had savings. Try to figure out early in the relationship about bank accounts, bills, etc. If both of you are ok with joint accounts, that’s great. If only one is ok with it, be assured there will be trouble. Some couples work out an arrangement. One partner pays the house mortgage. The car, minor things like groceries, etc, are taken care of by the other partner. It’s essential to know what your partner wants and is comfortable with.
Household chores seem the silliest but are often the bane of each marriage. Who will chop vegetables? Who will take out the garbage? Why must I replenish groceries? How come I have to drive the kids to school? Household chores can be planned and clashes can be eliminated. A little consideration for your partner and behaving like a team member will help the family run smoothly. Be sure to ask your partner about his/her views on this.
Family traditions are fun and a great way to bond with your siblings and relatives again. However, if you’re the only child and come from a smallish family then his/her cousins plus families, two brothers, grandparents from both sides and of course her parents coming home for Christmas could be a little overwhelming for you. Add to this list any of the quirky things your family does…like meeting for movie marathons once a month and only eating chicken wings and gelato or going fishing and roughing it out in tents. Ask your partner about family traditions by telling her/him about your family. If you tell your partner how your family meets for poker every now and then, he/she might be less embarrassed to tell you how his/her family loves to do the chicken dance at weddings. Handling this aspect well by initiating your partner in the traditions and not leaving him/her out of it will avoid any problems in the future.
In many cultures, children send money home to parents who have retired or may be ailing. Ask your partner about this. Try to understand why he/she feels the need to do this. Maybe his/her parents have had a tough life and now your partner wants to make life comfortable for them. Handle this very carefully or else you may alienate your partner.
Ask your partner about his/her ex boyfriends/girlfriends. Make a game of it and ask questions like if he ever got married in Vegas after a drunken weekend or if she indulged in some wild sorority experimentation. Again, start by confiding in him/her about your wild moment. This will get your partner a little comfortable and he/she will confide in you. These minor chapters from your past could become a footnote if you address them the right way. If not, it could lead to ugly fights and misunderstandings. If he/she has a love child tucked away somewhere in Milan, you will be supportive if you knew about it before. However, if you found out later, it could lead to unnecessary questions and hostility. Its better to have a good laugh about it now that to shock your partner about it later.
Find out about the family health. Whether there’s any history of diabetes, mental health problems, etc. Do not be insensitive and try to find out these things by probing gently. Some people hide these things not to cheat their partners but out of embarrassment. Also, getting tests done for AIDS, STD, etc., would be wise. Initiate the discussion by saying that since you’ve had partners in the past, it’s advisable to get tests done. Don’t insinuate that you don’t trust your partner and are hence keen on the tests.
It’s not rare that your partner dislikes some friend of yours or sometimes a whole lot of them. Ask him/her openly. Try to reach an understanding. Maybe you could limit your meetings with this friend or friends to those nights when your partner is away. However, this could lead to an unhealthy equation where the partner is left out. A smart way to do this would be a judicious mix of sometimes hanging out with the “disliked friends” alone and sometimes with your partner. Additionally, try to understand why your partner doesn’t like your friends. Maybe there’s some latent hostility or maybe your friend has been catty behind your back. Do not continue to hangout with friends who do not respect your partner. By insulting your partner, they are indirectly insulting you. Use your discretion and take a call.
Find out about any episodes of childhood trauma. Instances of sexual abuse, loss of a parent, parent’s divorce, neglect of parents, etc, are experiences that influence the mental make up of a person. Again, be very sensitive and supportive. Several times, people try to repress these issues to move on in life. Therefore, if your partner does not want to talk about it, be understanding. Instill in him/her a sense of security by saying that you’ll always be there to listen and will not judge.
Knowledge about his/her religious views are important and you should try hard to find out if your partner a believer, an atheist, or an agnostic, whether your partner likes to go to church every Sunday, etc. Support your partner’s views and opinions or at least agree to disagree.
Do not feel embarrassed of asking questions. You could go on a picnic with a basket of sandwiches and beer and make a day of this. You could spend a lazy rainy day indoors and play twenty questions. Be sensitive to things that you think your partner could take offense to. Explain why you’re doing it-to eliminate problems and confusion later. Good communication along with being supportive and sensitive of each other’s opinions will ensure a rock solid marriage.