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By Bernice Alhanssan

Initially, I was a bit skeptical about writing on this topic because I’m really young and totally not ready to marry in the nearest future. However, overtime I’ve observed some of my young friends rush into marriage just for the pride of having a cute ring on the fourth finger and being addressed as “Mrs”. Within a few years, the euphoria wears off and they realize he/she was not the one.

Marriage is a life long affair but sadly, a lot of folks walk into it with eyes wide shut. The divorce statistic is alarmingly on the increase because people do not know that it takes so much more than being in love to sustain a marriage. A wise man once said “the key to a successful marriage is information”. Knowing what you should know before the time comes. A lot of folks have flipped the scripts and only start trying to know after they have said the big words – “I do”. Sometimes, it doesn’t turn out well. We live in an information age and it’s pretty obvious that to know, you have to study. Study books on marriage, attend seminars and study people who have healthy marriages, study, study, and study. In my bid to know, I’ve particularly read a lot of books, listened to a lot of tapes, attended quite a number of seminars and observed a number of married folks. A couple of things have reoccurred through my entire information gathering and that’s what I’m about to share with you. What should you know before you agree to tie the knot? What questions in your life and relationship should be satisfactorily answered? I’ll start with the questions that you need to ask yourself and then we’ll look at the questions that involve both of you as well as the possible effects on your relationship in the long haul.
  • How prepared are you? This is the first question to ask yourself. It’s not about how old you are, how everybody around you is doing it or how much pressure your parents are putting on you to find a mate. It’s about your level of preparation; mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. Do you have an identity of your own or are you relying on marriage to give you one. What are the flaws? Can you handle the fact that he snores or that she has bad breadth? All these are worth considering because overtime I’ve realized that marriages are ruined by very little and seemingly insignificant issues. The answers to these questions define a lot of things. Take time out to develop yourself in every way you can before you consider bringing that special someone into your life permanently.
  • Are you ready to take care of kids? This involves your willingness to handle kids if they come. How many do you want and how many does he want? These are issues that should be agreed upon before you decide to take that big step. Kids can be a piece of work especially at the infant stage and if you are not ready for this responsibility, you’d better think again.
  • Are you ready to love and submit unconditionally? It is a huge task to love (in men) and submit (in women). Caring comes with love and submission. Always remember that saying “I do” is an agreement to love and be there for better, worse, richer, health, sickness, poorer, and so much more. Due to our unique differences, we all have certain things that won’t fly in our relationships. As such, you have to know if you can put up with these little things that make him without trying to change him or her. Also note that loving comes with the willingness to forgive each and every wrong done. Relationships are hard work and if you are ready, you wouldn’t be seeking out the exit at the first hint of trouble. Mistakes will always occur but also you should be as ready and willing to forgive.
  • How about the in-laws? We live in a society were it is believed that when you marry a person, you also marry the family. As such you should be able to gauge the kind of family you are marrying into. Are they friendly and understanding people or do they seem to interfere in everything that concerns your relationship. If you don’t tackle this before the marriage, you’ll have no one to blame on finding that your mother in-law and the devil share the same last name.
The next set of information you need to check with involves both you and your spouse.
  • What are your communicative skills towards each other? Effective listening and communication techniques are very crucial to the survival of a relationship. Do you listen when he/she speaks? Do you value and take each other’s words seriously? How much of what you feel do you communicate and how free do you feel when you do so? These are questions you both need to answer.
  • How willing are you to shift ground and make sacrifices? A marriage is two different people coming together to become one. This means there won’t be agreement all the time. As such, each of you have to be willing to make sacrifices and compromise at times if the relationship must work.
  • How financially compatible are you? Having full disclosure over all finances is key to the survival of any relationship in the long haul. Make sure all details are brought to the table from debt to the credits and savings goals. Also consider both your spending and saving levels.
  • Do you share the same spiritual belief? This is a very important issue and it is imperative that you discuss this. If you believe that your religious beliefs should be at the center of your marriage, it can only work if your spouse agrees with you.
  • How well do you both get along generally? Do you play together and have moments when the time always feels insufficient or are your conversations always filled with awkward moments of silence? Do you pray together? Do you share secrets and cherish the times you both have? Do you both have some shared interests? Etc. All these determine how close knit your family will be.
  • What are your plans for the future? This involves your career and family plans and how it can affect the time you should spend with your spouse and kids. Does he plan to join the military soon and are you okay with that? Will she rather build her career than stay at the home front and raise the kids or is she willing to give it all up for the success of her family? Very important questions to be answered.
Marriage is meant to be enjoyed and not endured, like some folks will have you believe. As such, it should be entered into for the right reasons and with the right kind of preparation. If your love is blind, I suggest you see an optician so that on that day when people wish you a happy married life, you’ll feel convinced and confident in your heart that it will be so.

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This article was first published on 10th July 2012 and updated on July 13th, 2012 at 10:52 am

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