Things to Consider Before You Get Married
Written by: Nicole Teague
Cigna Behavioral Health
So, you've finally found them — the person of your dreams. Now, it
seems the next logical step is to get married. After all, you're in love,
and that's all you need to handle whatever curves life may throw your way.
However, with so many people divorcing these days, it's more important than
ever to take the time to consider whether you are truly ready to devote
yourself to a life-long commitment.
People spend so much time planning for that special day — the day of
their wedding. But what about planning for the actual marriage, which is
meant to last the rest of your life? As you would with any long-term
commitment, marriage is something that you should plan for. So before you
take the plunge, take the time to consider some things that could have an
effect on your level of happiness.
- Are you ready to get married? During their teens and 20's,
people change considerably. Until a person has matured as an
individual, it is difficult to know if a relationship that worked
for them in their younger years will still be working for them years
later. Have you experienced everything you wanted to as a single
- Finances — Do you have enough money to get married?
Getting married can be expensive. Once you are married, how will you
spend your money? Discussing money issues ahead of time, (spending
habits and where you each feel your money should go), can prevent
disagreements later. Discuss how you and your partner feel about
buying, saving, and sharing bank accounts. How will the bills be
split up? Will a prenuptial agreement be necessary?
- How alike are you? Where do you stand on important issues
such as religion and having children? Do you both agree on what a
"good relationship" looks like? Do your personalities
clash or are you in-sync? While some people prefer that their mate
to be very similar to them, others feel that differences "spice
up" the relationship. What are your expectations from marriage?
What are your partner's? Do you think are able to give your partner
what he/she needs?
- Personal needs and beliefs — What do you need to make a
relationship work? What are your views on important issues such as
loyalty, honesty, and dealing with anger? How do your views fit with
your partner's? What behaviors are considered to be
"off-limits"? Communicate these with your partner.
- Communication skills — How do you plan to communicate
with your partner? Do you know how to fight fairly? There will be
things you disagree on — how will you handle this? Set ground
rules for communication, making sure to discuss specific issues such
as arguing, yelling, and name-calling. Are you able to resolve
issues to reach a compromise?
- Life outside of marriage — Having a life outside of
your partner is vital, and it is important to maintain your identity
rather than to lose yourself in your mate. Discuss how much time you
will set aside to spend time with friends, or on hobbies. Are there
certain activities that are expected to be discontinued or changed
once you begin your married life?
- Do you want to have children? If so, how many? How do you
plan to discipline them, raise them, and care for them? How would
you handle issues such as infertility and adoption should they come
up? Having children brings changes into your relationship and you
will have less time to focus on the two of you. It's important not
to lose yourself in your new roles as parents, and to find a way to
maintain the partnership you have created.
- Employment — What are your long-term career goals? Will
you have to travel or relocate for your job? Do you spend long hours
at the office? Do your work schedules allow enough time for you to
spend together? What kind of effect will your job have on your
family life? If you have children, will someone quit their job to
take care of them?
- Sex — Being unsatisfied with your sex life can cause
problems in your relationship. Discuss your expectations with your
partner, and find out what he/she expects from you in return.
- Daily life — Who will be responsible for daily
activities such as household chores and paying the bills? How will
these responsibilities be handled if life's circumstances change
— for example, when children are born or work hours are
- How committed are you to the relationship? When your
relationship goes through changes (which it will), are you willing
to take the necessary steps to deal with the changes? Are you open
to counseling if you find your relationship is in trouble, or are
you more likely to give up?
- Personal space — Are there times when you need to be
left alone? Talked to? Listened to? Comforted? Communicate these
needs clearly to your partner.
- How to keep your marriage exciting — How will you find
ways to keep your relationship satisfying? When do you plan to
dedicate time to your relationship and how do you plan to do so?
What is your idea of time together — spending time with a
group of friends, watching sports on tv, a private candlelit dinner,
a walk in the park? Can you make a regular "date night" a
- Family/friends — Do you get along with the people who
are important in your partner's life? If not, will it cause problems
in your relationship?
- Remarrying/Blending families — If you or your partner
have been married before, you may have additional issues to discuss.
If there are children involved, what will your role with them be?
What do you expect your partner's role to be? Discuss what the
relationships are with your ex-partners, and what you expect your
spouse's relationship to be with those people.
- Know your odds — Statistics have shown couples who
lived together before they were married, those who were previously
married, and those without a college education are more likely to
get a divorce.
Why get married, anyways?
Take some time to consider why you want to get married in the first place.
Many people get married thinking that they can change the other person.
Although people can change, certain behaviors may be difficult to change.
Looking at how you have acted in past relationships and with family members
can be a telltale sign as to which behaviors you may carry with you into new
relationships. The need to recognize what you contributed to the failure of
your previous relationships is essential in order to prevent committing the
same mistakes again.
Getting married will not fix problems within a relationship. Do you want to
get married to get away from your family? Are you doing it for money?
Stability? An unplanned pregnancy? Before you "tie the knot", make
sure you are doing it for the right reasons.
Love changes everything...
Marriage is not a fairy tale. The love you share with your mate will change
over time. What you need out of your relationship will change over time. The
excitement will eventually wear off. Your patience and devotion will be
tested. Marriage requires you to give of yourself, to make sacrifices, and
to admit when you are wrong. It requires you to forgive when you really
don't want to, and to keep on trying no matter how hard you want to give up.
It takes dedication, commitment, honesty, and effort to make a marriage
There is no magic formula to making a marriage work. Sometimes, even the
best of marriages fail. Many people enter a marriage expecting their partner
to make them "happy" or "complete". However, only you
can be held responsible for your own happiness. By taking the time to think
about your future and sharing your thoughts with your partner, you have
already taken the first step in making sure your relationship can stand the
test of time.
This material is provided by Cigna Behavioral Health, Inc. for
informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended as
medical/clinical advice. Only a healthcare provider can make a diagnosis or
recommend a treatment plan. For more information about your behavioral
health benefits, you can call the member services or behavioral health
telephone number listed on your healthcare identification card.