What You Should Know Before You Say

I DO. Marriage is a commitment. It is not a one-sided commitment. This is a mutual commitment that both parties make in the knowledge that this is potentially a lifetime commitment. This concept ensures you a successful marriage. Not perfect, successful. Your forever person comes with flaws. We each have our own set of bandages that are unpacked over the years. As we let down our guard and remove our masks, we reveal our true selves. We become vulnerable. However, we should not use our partners’ vulnerability as a weapon against them. But rather as an opportunity to let down our guard as well. When we marry someone, we are engaging in a relationship with a whole person. A complete person. One that experiences joy, sadness, pain, disappointment, elation, gratitude, and pride. All expressed in their own weird, quirky, and often surprising ways. These traits are accompanied by entire families. In-laws who will often welcome us or completely turn their back on us. Let’s not forget we too have families who will either love or hate the person we have chosen to marry. These all present just a fraction of the issues newlyweds face.

Before you put a “ring on it”. Before you say, I do”. How well do you really know your partner? Dating can be frightening. We want to put our best foot forward. We dreg letting someone really get to know who we really are for fear they may or may not stick around. So, up pops our representative saying all the right words and behaving their best to win you over. Have you ever heard a newlywed say, “I never knew or saw this behavior before we got married”? Often shortly after the honeymoon feeling bewildered and ready to call it off.

Every relationship takes time, valuable time. Spend it well. Get to know the person you are in a relationship with thoroughly. Don’t make assumptions, ask questions and listen for the answers. The most important thing is to hear what another person is saying. Not what you think they are saying. There can be a huge disparity in what you think they said as opposed to what is really being said. Don’t be afraid to ask again for the sake of clarity. Be deliberate and intentional during your discussions. Better now than finding out later you have real compatibility issues that cannot be resolved through marriage counseling.

Is your partner a team player? Does he or she have a poor credit history? Are they honest and transparent? What are their views – politically, economically, religiously, and so on? This all matter. Couples that marry become families. Your forever person’s opinions and ideologies play an important role in raising children. Do you want children? Do they? These questions all seem like pushing the envelope off the table during the dating stage. However, when your relationship grows beyond the casual dating point, they all need to be addressed. We are talking about your future and the type of lifestyle in intend to live.

Written by Adrienne Vanterpool in support of Hanifah Talks and Peninsula Interfaith Counseling Center LLC

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