You’ve finally met the woman of your dreams and now you’re ready to settle down. Now that you’ve met your soul mate, it’s time to start making plans. But do you know all there is to know about her?
Take the time to learn as much as you can before you head out to buy that engagement ring. Here are some important questions you need to answer before heading down the aisle.
1. How does she manage money?
How an individual handles personal finances can make or break a relationship. Her poor money choices could put you both in a bind, especially if you plan to purchase a home together. Find out what her spending habits are, if she has any large outstanding debts, and if there are any significant financial strikes on her credit report. For example, if you find out she recently declared bankruptcy but still continues to charge lavish vacations and shop for clothes every week, you may want to rethink your decision to marry. How she manages money can tell you a lot about her character. You also want to investigate her level of financial responsibility so you can avoid taking financial secrets into your marriage.
Relationship therapist Bonnie Eaker Weil says financial infidelity can rip a relationship apart. “They tell me that money fights ruin their sex lives and cause resentment. Most of them admit that they prefer to keep their spending and saving habits private from their partner — especially confessing they’d rather deceive a loved one than work through a conflict about money. For these couples, talking about money triggers a cascade of emotional issues, that, if ignored, will gradually destroy trust and intimacy — and if untreated, will ultimately destroy their relationship,” said Weil.
2. What’s her love language?
Each person has a different way of giving and receiving love. You’ll face a lot of frustration and waste an incredible amount of energy if you don’t love her the way she needs to be loved. For example, if your way of demonstrating and receiving love is to give small gifts, but her way of demonstrating and receiving love is to be touched, neither of you will get your needs met in a way that is fully satisfying.
Author and relationship counselor Gary D. Chapman calls these actions love languages. Chapman says there arefive love languages. “There are five emotional love languages — five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. In the field of linguistics, a language may have numerous dialects or variations. Similarly, within the five basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects. The number of ways to express love within a love language is limited only by one’s imagination. The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse,” said Chapman.
3. What are her expectations?
You’ll both need to decide beforehand how you’d like to approach your marriage. Some couples opt for a more traditional arrangement, with the wife taking care of minor household issues while the husband makes all of the major decisions, like where to live or how to manage family finances. Other couples would rather have a more balanced lifestyle, where both have an equal say in major decisions and approach marriage as a partnership.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Glenn Lutjens recommends finding out as early in the relationship as possible what your partner’s expectations are. If you don’t discuss this now, it could be the central cause of many fights down the road as you engage in an endless power struggle and attempt to manage unrealistic expectations.
People draw their marital expectations from two wells. One is courtship. If dating was wonderful and starry-eyed, why would you expect marriage to be otherwise? When you were dating, there were some built-in escape valves in your relationship. Now that you’re married, there’s no other home to go to. Your spouse’s finances are yours, and vice versa. By its nature, courtship allows a couple to live in denial. Marriage makes that posture much more difficult to maintain. The other well of marital expectations is the marriage you saw firsthand when you were growing up. That relationship provided one of two images for you to view. Either the marriage didn’t seem worth duplicating, or it did … Harboring unrealistic expectations doesn’t mean that everything else in a marriage is on track. Your qualms might be slightly off target, but they could be early warning signs about issues that will cause more trouble if you don’t resolve them.