For some professional insight we spoke with Anna Toth, a certified marriage and family therapist, about some of the key questions you should ask yourself before making the big commitment. "It's a very important decision," says Toth. "One to be made with eyes wide open." Although every relationship is different, here are some fairly universal questions you should ask yourself and that serve as a helpful pre-marriage guide.
1. What are your real reasons for getting married?
People decide to get married for a number of reasons, from social pressures to wanting to have the beautiful wedding they always dreamed of, explains Toth. Some people may also feel pressure if a sibling or close friend is getting married or if they have been in a relationship so long it just seems like the next, logical step. These may not necessarily be the best reasons to make a commitment. "Really be honest with yourself about why you're getting married," says Toth. "I think people find themselves in a lot of trouble when they fool themselves about the reasons they're really getting married."
2. Do you have any nagging doubts?
That little nagging voice you've been hearing in the back of your mind may mean more than you think. Nearly all of the couples dealing with separation in Toth's therapy practice knew well in advance that their marriage would not work. Sometimes it pays to listen to your gut feelings.
However, don't confuse pre-wedding jitters with legitimate doubts. "I think the difference between pre-wedding jitters and real, genuine doubt is that genuine doubt has been there usually longer," Toth says. "Pre-wedding jitters tend to be ‘Oh my God, I'm terrified' and doubt is more like ‘Oh, this doesn't feel right.'"
Page 1 of 2 -- Do you and your partner share similar life goals? Discover other questions to ask yourselves before tying the knot on page 2
3. Does your partner have any red flags that you're ignoring?
Red flags can range from jealousy to controlling behaviour. Toth warns that the chances that these behaviours will go away are slim and they may even get worse after marriage. "If you think you're going to save somebody by getting married, I can tell you now, you will not," she says. "You won't save them, you won't change them." Your partner has to be the one to work out their own issues.
4. Are your life goals aligned?
Think about whether or not you and your partner share the same values and have similar goals in life. Be sure that you are on the same page about things like having children and where you want to live, and also be aware of your partner's financial situation and habits as these can also cause problems if your views are not in sync, says Toth.
"Consider your temperament, your values, your sensibilities, your interests, your activities and your goals in life," says Toth. "Think about the ways that you are aligned and similar as well as the ways that you're different. Do your differences enhance you?" You don't have to see eye to eye on every detail, but your differences should complement each other, rather than create obstacles.
5. What is your sex life like?
Take note of the quantity and the quality of your sex life, says Toth. She points out that sex tends to be at its best early on in the marriage. "But the more comfortable we get, the less curious we tend to be and the less interested we are in stepping out of our own comfort zone in order to please our partner," she says. Although your sex life may not be a deal-breaker, you should ask yourself whether you'll be alright with it if it begins to wane.
When making the decision about who to spend the rest of your life with, it is very important to be as honest with yourself and with your partner as possible. The more you understand what you both really want, the better prepared you will be for making the big decision.
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