- Prenuptial Agreement – Some people are afraid of discussing this but it must be addressed! Know beforehand whether one of these agreements are for you. You and your spouse should be on the same page on this before you get married. You don’t want to bring something like this to the table after the fact.
- Who You Are – I’m still in my early twenties and I’ve noticed that I seem to change drastically with each passing year. My 30 year old cousin told me that the person I am at age 20 will be a completely different person at age 25 and a completely different person at age 30. Sometimes it’s difficult for couples who marry young because as they age together they grow apart and become different people.
- Your Life’s Goals – You should have a rough idea of what you are striving for in life. It isn’t a good idea to bring someone into your life when you don’t know what you are doing with yours yet!
- What You Are Looking For – Before getting married you should know exactly what you are looking for in someone you want to spend your life with. What traits do you desire in your potential spouse? What traits do you refuse accept in your potential spouse?
- Children – You should know if having kids is in the plan for you and your partner. It would be a shame if you get married and both of you are on opposite ends of the spectrum on this issue!
- Living Situation – Sort out your living situation. Where will the two of you live and under what circumstances? Sometimes couples break up because they can’t decide on what city they should live in, especially if they are both from different ones.
- FINANCES! – This is huge. We need to remember that marriage is not simply about love. Marriage is partially a business transaction as well. You need to know how the two of you will manage your finances together. Plenty of marriages end not because of love but because of financial instability.
- Your Spouse’s Family – When you get married you are not only marrying your partner in crime, but you are marrying their family as well. If you despise your spouse’s family, don’t think that you can get married and find ways to avoid her side of the family.
- Trust – How well do you trust your spouse? Like seriously. If you find yourself constantly invading their privacy (checking emails, text messages, etc.) when they aren’t looking you aren’t ready to marry them. Relationships are built on trust and without it it it will inevitable crumble.
- Do You Love Them? – Stop and really ask yourself if you love the person you are considering getting married to. Do you love them or do you love the idea of them? Loving someone is a choice you make each and every day. If this isn’t something you are willing to do for the rest of your life for someone then marrying that person isn’t the right choice.
I met my wife when we were both young. I married the first woman I fell in love with. I knew at the time we started dating that we were incompatible, but it didn’t stop us from getting together, because (a) I truly believed there was nobody else in the world who was like me and would be compatible with me, (b) we both believed that if you love someone you have to be with them, and (c) true love overcomes everything, right? Right? Isn’t that what Disney movies with talking animals say?
When we got together, she wanted a traditional monogamous relationship. I am not monogamous, and have never been in a monogamous relationship. She knew that, but we tried anyway.
So we had a relationship where we could both have outside lovers (and did; she had other partners too) but only with strict rules. She said I was not allowed to love someone else, I could not do things like spend the night with another lover or make commitments to another lover, and so on.
You know, all the things that naive, inexperienced, insecure couples do when they try to open a relationship.
The problem? I didn’t realize that you can’t pass rules on feelings (if that worked, why not just pass a rule saying “nobody is allowed to feel insecure”? Derp.)
More importantly, I never thought about how that disempowers other people, how profoundly it objectifies them, and how hurtful it is to them. It reduces them to the status of walking sex toys, tells them their feelings don’t matter, and tells them that they can never have a voice in what they share with me.
Which is really fucked up, and it’s why, when I speak and teach, I advise people “never date or get involved with couples that have these rules.”
I hurt other people, who became attached to me (as people often do when they have sex) only to have the door slammed in their face, and to be told their feelings don’t matter.
It took me way longer than it should have to see how I was hurting other people, something I still regret to this day. Finally, when I did see it, I could not in good conscience continue to do it and still look at myself in the mirror.
My wife and I tried to find a new foundation to build our relationship on, but by that point we had 18 years of history, and a history of dealing with problems and insecurities by passing rules leaves a relationship brittle and weak.
She had spent that eighteen years truly believing that I didn’t really want to be with her and that I would leave her when I found someone “better.” Having a partner who truly believes, year after year, that your love isn’t real and you secretly want to leave is soul-killing.
So I asked for a divorce.
We are not close any more, but we are still friendly and do talk to each other from time to time.