Marriage is often portrayed as the joining of two people who love and care for one another. You probably grew up being told by family and well-meaning older friends to find someone who makes you happy and who shares your interests. This is sound advice, but how many of us really acknowledge that how you live the rest of your life may hinge on the sort of person you marry? It’s important to think not only about how someone makes you feel, but the kind of life the two of you will share.
What exactly do you need to consider before agreeing to walk down the aisle? Perhaps the two key considerations are where the two of you will live and whether you will have children. If you want to live in an urban area for most of your working life but your fiancé yearns to live in the countryside, you may have to accept that you want to lead opposing lifestyles. This will require that one or both parties compromise if the relationship is to survive. You should also think carefully about how many children you wish to have, because this will affect the kind of place in which you will live, the amount of disposable income you will have, and the degree of personal freedom you will enjoy. For the sake of any children you may have, you both need to commit fully to the idea of being a parent if you wish to start a family.
Financial matters are another area in which it is vital to clarify before getting married. Check that your attitudes towards spending, saving, and debt management are compatible. If one of you has a “live for the moment” attitude but the other is an ardent saver, this could cause friction in your relationship. You also need to decide on whether you wish to own or rent your home, as this will affect your financial future. For example, if one person wants to buy a house and get a mortgage as soon as possible but the other wants the flexibility of renting, some kind of agreement or compromise is warranted. You should also think about everyday money management. For instance, will you have a joint account or combine finances?
Day-to-day practicalities also need to be addressed. For example, who is going to be responsible for the cooking, cleaning, and general upkeep of the home? If the two of you want to have children, who will be their primary caregiver? You should also think about how you will handle your leisure time, and how often you expect to spend an evening or weekend with your spouse. Make sure that your leisure preferences are such that you can look forward to building a mutually enjoyable lifestyle. If you like to spend your weekends on short trips but your fiancé much prefers to pass the time at home, consider whether you are content to go by yourself. Some couples are happy to spend a significant amount of time apart pursuing their own hobbies and interests, but if you are the kind of person who likes to share as many experiences as possible with your significant other, the marriage and lifestyle on offer may not be right for you.
Remember that marriage is not simply a case of picking someone who seems like a good fit and then hoping love will smooth over any cracks. Take a long, hard look at the ways in which marriage to this particular individual are likely to impact you in the future. Taking time to get a realistic picture of what you and your would-be spouse want for the future will allow you to determine whether the two of you are truly right for one another.