Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and many are planning romantic and memorable proposals. This day is very special and memorable for me as I married my sweetheart 20 years ago on Valentine’s Day. Because I am still deeply in love with my husband and would marry him all over again, I am a romantic and believe wholeheartedly that marriage is a blessing from God. Nevertheless, I have unfortunately encountered many who want out of their marriages and who see their decision to marry their significant other as a “mistake” or “poor choice”.
Possibly one of the issues is that many spend more time planning the proposal and/or wedding then discerning whether or not they should marry this person. The more romantic or lavish the proposal, the easier it is for someone to get caught up in the moment and give an emotional, instead of a well thought out “yes”. Before you propose, or before you say “yes” to a proposal, please consider the following “motherly” advice.
1. Why do you and your sweetie want to get married? This is a billion dollar question and is something you should know prior to saying “I do”.
a. You are marrying to be happy, or fulfilled. If this is your answer honey think again. Marriage will not make you happy or fulfilled. If you are unhappy or unfulfilled going into the marriage, you will be unhappy and unfulfilled in the marriage. No other person can complete you. Forget good looking Tom Cruz standing there on the movie screen saying ‘you complete me”, it’s a fairytale.
b. You think you hear your biological clock ticking, feel ready to start a family, or all of your friends are married. This is truly not a good reason to get married. Remember, you are going to have to wake up next to this person every morning for a very long time (if you believe in commitment); thus, anxiousness or desparation is the wrong reason to marry.
c. He or she is just so cute or she is so fine. How will he/she look 20 or 30 years from now? What if Ms. 36-24-36 becomes Mrs. 46-36-46, will you still love her? What if that man with that handsome head of hair goes bald? Will you still love him? Surely you want to be physically attracted to your mate, that is very important. But the love for him/her better not be superficial or your marriage will never work.
2. Are you equally yoked? This is a biblical question but I believe it is a principle that can be used by everyone. It simply means do you have the same priorities, values/morals, etc. Many times couples who are “in love” avoid having these discussions, and/or ignore indications that they are not equally yoked. Here are some things to discuss –
a. What are your feelings or hopes concerning children? Obviously you are not completely in control over this matter, but what do you both want or desire your family to look like.
b. Do you aspire for or hope to be a 1 or 2 income family? Ladies, don’t just assume you’ll be a stay-at-home mom, your husband-to-be may not want that, and men don’t assume that she wants to stay home once you have children. This is something that should be discussed.
c. The most important issue to me is your religious/spiritual/moral values. If you are a Christian and he is a Muslim you are going to have major problems. Don’t count on converting your spouse to your faith/beliefs as it may never happen. And even if you subscribe to no “religion” so to speak, what will be the driving force in your life? For example, is he/she driven by money and you passionate about human rights? If so, you will bump heads on these matters.
d. What are your views/ideas concerning money? Next to religious/spiritual values, this is one of the most important things to discuss. Some people are good at saving money and others don’t care about building a nest egg or investment portfolio. Make sure you see eye to eye on these matters or at least can work together to come to a consensus.
e. Another important question is what is his/her views on marriage. Let’s face it, some people believe that marriage is a contract that can be broken if it doesn’t work out. Others believe that marriage is more than a legal contract, but is an agreement made before God and except under extreme circumstances, is not meant to be broken. Does your potential spouse believe in fidelity, or does he/she have more “open/liberal” views on marriage? You better get this clear upfront. A misunderstanding can lead to many years of unhappiness. Don’t assume anything.
3. What kind of relationship does your prospective spouse have with his/her family? How will that relationship play into your family?
a. Is he a momma’s boy? Like, does his mother still do his laundry? Is she a daddy’s girl? Does she always call daddy to bail her out of a financial situation and/or does he buy his little princess everything she wants? I’d advise discussing this matter and establishing some clear boundaries prior to the wedding. In-laws/family can cause real problems or even destroy a marriage.
b. Does he/she already have children? If so, how will those children fit into your life? Today, there are many combined families. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page concerning your relationship with your potential step-children.
Don’t subscribe to the fact that love will work all of these matters out. It’s worth it to have a heart-to-heart discussion. Before you propose or say “yes” to a proposal, decide what you can or cannot live with. In other words, don’t marry someone you are hoping to change, because more than likely that will not work. This message is especially to women who are in love with or hope to change a troubled/broken man. Women are nurturers at heart, but you don’t want to marry a man that you have to mother. My niece went through a period of dating what I would consider troubled men. They were always like a project to her. I’ve also met men who are always involved with a troubled women – you know the damsel in distress, or knight in shining armor syndrome. Forget the fairy tales, marriage is reality, so be sure to approach it in that manner.
If you are not planning to marry, please e-mail this article to someone who is. They will thank you in the end.