The things I wish I knew before I said I do.
I have never been married, and at times I regret this decision while at other times I drop to my knees and say ‘Thank You Lord!’ Its not that I am against the institution of marriage, it is more likely that having seen many friends go through the dating, engagement, marriage and divorce progressions, I am convinced that too many people go into a marriage with either too many regrets or not enough information. I have thus surveyed many of these people to find out what they wish they knew before they took the plunge. Here is what I have discovered.
Marriage is a huge step and although you can’t account for every eventuality such as the raising of children, how your assets and savings will be allocated and what to do if either or both of you fall on hard times. The issue of children and money is probably the number one cause of marital conflict. I feel like if my friends had actually had significant discussions on these topics they either would not have gotten married, or at least had a better idea of what they were getting into, and be better prepared to handle it, both mentally and financially. Don’t get me wrong, there will still be conflict, but it could be lessened considerably by a better understanding of what may lie ahead.
Remember that after you are married you are not just responsible for your own happiness but for that of your spouse as well. You have to be especially certain that the two of you compliment each other in many aspects and that this union makes each of you a better person or more complete. You are giving something up that is very precious, your freedom and it can be very expensive or even impossible to get back. Your dreams are now tied to another person and this person may also have a family that has clear, strong thoughts on how you need to live your life. They will have specific viewpoints on all things including but not limited to religion and the raising of your children. If you are not prepared or uncertain as to whether you can deal with this, runway, immediately.
I have noticed that in most marriages, it is never an equal partnership as one person will either have a much stronger personality than the other or will come into the marriage with significantly greater assets. In most pre-marriage relationships, the person who cares the least usually carries the power, in a marriage the person who controls the bankbook usually does. The stipulation to this is that if one person is much more attractive and desirable, they could have more control as they are more in demand if the marriage fails.
While we’re on the subject lets discuss physical appearance as it pertains to wedded bliss. Very rarely does a relationship last in which one partner is significantly more attractive than the other. This is not to say it doesn’t occur, but more often than not these relationships fail miserably. But in this instance you can make your choices before the rings are on the fingers. What happens if your spouse’s appearance changes dramatically after marriage? The person you fell in love with is no longer that attractive, physical dynamo that you were proud to be seen in public with, but is now an overweight couch potato who makes the bathroom scale shriek every time they get near. You could always get a look at their parents to get a reasonable idea of what you are in for, but the point is to make the decision as to how important looks are during the engagement, not after the wedding.
Chances are you will never change the person you marry, they are who they are and your only choice is whether you can live the rest of your life with these things or not. But again, remember that you have to weigh the emotional cost of getting out of this relationship before getting married or the emotional and financial cost of ending it after you say ‘I do.”