“All the News That’s Fit to Print” has been the New York Times’ motto since 1896. Because it’s so vast and comprehensive, it has also been my main news source since I became an adult. I think that’s evidenced in the number of Thursday posts that link to NYT articles about dating, relationships, sex, marriage and love.
The latest worthwhile share is something you’re going to want to absorb and share as well: 13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married. As you know if you’re a regular reader, it’s not “What’s your preferred diet and workout schedule?” These are questions written by people who study compatibility and know what REALLY determine the success of your marriage.
I’m going to list the 13 questions here, but I encourage you to check out the original piece as well.
- Did your family throw plates, calmly discuss issues, or silently shut down when disagreements arose? The answer is B: Calmly discuss issues.
- Will we have children, and if we do, will you change diapers? As I’ve quoted from a previous NYT piece – the best predictor of a happy marriage is a man who helps out with housework and childrearing.
- Will our experiences with our exes help or hinder us? There’s a reason people talk about having baggage that can fit in an overhead compartment. Bringing too much of it to your marriage can be an unbearable weight.
- How important is religion? How will we celebrate religious holidays, if at all? Religion is as big a deal as two people make it. While it’s certainly easier if two people believe the same things, the more flexible you are about religion, the easier it is to find yourself a partner.
- Is my debt your debt? Would you be willing to bail me out? My wife came with $40K of debt. I didn’t pay it off, but I paid for everything while she was digging out of her own hole. I think that’s a pretty good template to follow.
- What’s the most you would be willing to spend on a car, a couch, or shoes? When they talk about money being an issue in marriage, this is what they’re talking about. It’s not just about making money, it’s about the values implicit in how you spend or save it? You gotta be on (or near) the same page.
- Can you deal with my doing things without you? While my wife is my favorite person on earth, I think it’s important to have separate friends and interests? Those who think that being married means being joined at the hip are often disappointed by those who don’t.
- Do we like each other’s parents? This matters a lot more if you’re young, if you live near the parents, and if you don’t have healthy boundaries with your parents. While it’s helpful to like each others’ parents, it’s more helpful to know that the married couple’s wishes come before the family’s wishes – in my opinion.
- How important is sex to you? If you’re going to have sex with one person for the rest of your life, you better find a compatible partner. The tricky part is that sex – more than most things – is a moving target. How you feel sexually has a lot to do with health, age, timing and hormones – which is to say that how you feel when you get married is often considerably different than how you feel in 10 or 20 years.
- How far should we take flirting with other people? Is watching pornography okay? Enough battles have been fought in this space over this issue, but I will continue to take a strong stand and say that with confident people, non-sexual flirting (without intent on taking action) is perfectly okay, as is occasional (non-addictive, non interactive) pornography use. Taking a hard line on this really decreases the number of available partners for you.
- Do you know all the ways I say “I love you”? People give and receive love differently, as best outlined in Dr. Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. Knowing how to communicate your needs and deliver on someone else’s is paramount to a healthy marriage.
- What do you admire about me, and what are your pet peeves? Positive affirmation is necessary in any partnership, but as I teach in my Love U course, so is humility. Just having the willingness to know how you’re perceived and admit (and laugh at) your flaws is a complete relationship-saver.
- How do you see us 10 years from now? As I’ve said a million times, if you are a woman who wants to get married, stick with men who openly want to get married. If you are a woman who wants kids, stick with men who openly wants kids. You shouldn’t have to guess where he stands.
Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.