Issues to discuss before marriage


#1

hey all,

This is addressed to those who are married, regret being married, wish to be married, are happily married, or will never be married -- and everywhere in between!

What issues do you think are important for a man and a woman to discuss while discerning marriage? Obviously there are the issues of faith, openness children, schooling, living arrangements, finances, household duties, and many other things that are frequently mentioned.

What else? My girlfriend and I have discussed all these issues (and many more, the aforementioned list is not exhaustive) and are very much in agreement, but what would you recommend to ensure the best possible chance at a holy Catholic union? What do most people fail to discuss before marriage?

Any advice on this matter would be appreciated!


#2

It is also important at some point to be able to discuss any past issues if they exist such as a recent porn addiction or past physical/mental/sexual abuse. Even though things may be going great right now these types of issues seem to very often effect marriages in one way or the other down the road. Being aware of past issues such as these now, helps you to avoid or at least better handle issues that arrive latter in the marriage. If you are unable to discuss these types of things during marriage prep, that is not a good sign, and may even result in a defective consent to the marriage.

Glade to see you guys taking this marriage prep seriously!:thumbsup:


#3

I think another important thing to talk about is how you both deal with conflict. Discuss disagreements you've had and how you might have handled them better, or certain tendencies you might have that you learned from your parents (both good and bad).

How are you going to handle conflicts with children around? This is really important. Does one or both of you have a tendency to yell, become overly emotional, speak without thinking, withdraw, freeze the other out, etc? This is something I hadn't even thought to talk about until my fiance (then boyfriend) brought it up. Obviously we both want to do our best to keep arguments our own problems and not our children's...but it's good to talk about it and be committed to doing that from the outset.


#4

Family history. Both sides. Special attention given to any alcoholism or addictions.

Work. Does the wife plan to work after children? Vacations - how many, how often, where. Make sure one of you doesn't think that work IS a vacation!

Hobbies. Does either of you have an avocation that will take you away from the other enough to be a problem?

School for the kids. Are you going to put them in Catholic school, or home school? How will you save for tuition or who will sacrifice to stay home so they can learn at home?

Politics! Can be very important if either of you is at all political.

Who does what chores?

Will the husband be the spiritual leader of the home? If he's a practicing Catholic and had a good father he will probably be excited about this role. If not, he may need help to carry out the duties.

Friends. Will you see your single friends after you are married? If not, do you have ways to make couple friends?

Medical history. All of it, any risks or problems that might come up in the future.

Honestly, if you can just talk about things together and reach an agreement about how to handle them, you are at least 85% of the way there, to a strong and happy Catholic marriage.

You obviously won't agree on everything and that's fine, unless either of you has the notion that you need to agree on everything! :shrug:


#5

Money, money, money, money, money. I can't stress enough how important being on the same financial page is.

One of my passions is frugal living, and along that vein I found a website about money for couples some time back. I can't remember site, but I've paraphrased some of the questions the site discussed that stuck in my mind:

  1. What have you done financially to make the sudden loss of a job less of a shock?
  2. How do you show affection to those you care about? How often do you spend money to show love?
  3. Name five ways you control your spending. Rank them in order of their effectiveness.
  4. From memory, can you list all of the people and business you owe money to. How much do you owe each? What are the interest rates?
  5. Describe your "realistically ideal" life one year from now. Name five realistic financial actions you can take in the next week to lead you to that dream life.
  6. Do you plan to retire? If not, what do you want to be doing at retirement age? If you want to retire, what are you doing now to plan for it?
  7. What would happen to your family financially if you died tomorrow? What would happen to your family financially if you went into a comma tomorrow? What can you do today to stave off financial ruin for your family in the event of one of these tragedies came to pass?
  8. List some childhood memories about money. Do they reflect a responsible view of money (i.e., saving for the future), or do they reflect a less healthy view of money (i.e., spending).
  9. When making a purchase, how much of your decision making revolves around impressing other people? For example, are you the kind of person who'll buy a $150 pair of sunglasses for the name brand when a pair from a discount retailer will do?
  10. Does paying your monthly bills make you feel panicked or depressed? If so, what can you do to change that attitude?

#6

We've done marriage prep for our church for several years, so I can tell you the big categories:

Finance
Spirituality
Communication
Family of Origin
Parenting
Conflict resolution

If you can, see if you can get your hands on a pre marriage inventory of questions called FOCCUS. It asks about 200 questions on all aspects of marriage, and it's a real conversation starter. They do have a website as well.

Good luck!


#7

if a person has really overcome, with God's grace, sins like promiscuity and porn, and still wishes to share past struggles, one should avoid all tendency toward "confession" when discussing them-- whether you're sharing or receiving the information.

couples should pay special attention to the weak areas on the FOCUS test. if the marriage coordinator or priest doesnt have resources to help you discuss and strengthen weak areas, ask another priest or counselor. those weak areas can have very significant impact on marriages.


#8

[quote="ChiRho, post:1, topic:243172"]
hey all,

This is addressed to those who are married, regret being married, wish to be married, are happily married, or will never be married -- and everywhere in between!

What issues do you think are important for a man and a woman to discuss while discerning marriage? Obviously there are the issues of faith, openness children, schooling, living arrangements, finances, household duties, and many other things that are frequently mentioned.

What else? My girlfriend and I have discussed all these issues (and many more, the aforementioned list is not exhaustive) and are very much in agreement, but what would you recommend to ensure the best possible chance at a holy Catholic union? What do most people fail to discuss before marriage?

Any advice on this matter would be appreciated!

[/quote]

Discuss the roll NFP and abstinence are going to play in your marriage. Unless you plan on having a large family (I wish we would have been able to) this is going to be a major player in the marriage. I wish you both the best and that many blessings come your way.


#9

I am going to say it - there needs to be a frank talk about sex. What is appropriate and what is not. Is the couple going to embrace TOB? Do they like Christopher West? Are they comfortable speaking on these issues. Are they open to children at this time or do they have grave reasons for avoiding now. This should be gone over as part of the pre-Cana even though it may be uncomfortable better to know where the limits are before the touching and caressing of the wedding night starts then have one spouse feeling offended or uncomfortable or left out.


#10

[quote="joanofarc2008, post:9, topic:243172"]
I am going to say it - there needs to be a frank talk about sex. What is appropriate and what is not. Is the couple going to embrace TOB? Do they like Christopher West? Are they comfortable speaking on these issues. Are they open to children at this time or do they have grave reasons for avoiding now. This should be gone over as part of the pre-Cana even though it may be uncomfortable better to know where the limits are before the touching and caressing of the wedding night starts then have one spouse feeling offended or uncomfortable or left out.

[/quote]

100 percent correct.

Also, talk about FUN STUFF. Not everything is so life and death serious.

Talk about signing together, laughing, having fun, flirting, having that "spark" when you kiss.

Being a Catholic doesn't mean always acting sad, angry and serious. I think it's okay to laugh and have fun.


#11

[quote="ChiRho, post:1, topic:243172"]

What issues do you think are important for a man and a woman to discuss while discerning marriage? Obviously there are the issues of faith, openness children, schooling, living arrangements, finances, household duties, and many other things that are frequently mentioned.

!

[/quote]

I cannot imagine why anyone would tie himself for life to someone who does share core beliefs and faith. It seems a recipe for disaster.


#12

Its important to not just discuss what you think, but also the why, keep questions open so that you do not pressure each other into simply agreeing without necessarily been particularly committed to the thing been agreed.

Be prepared for someone changing their opinion on something once you are married and be willing to renegotiate. A certain amount of flexibility is necessary in a marriage.


#13

[quote="puzzleannie, post:11, topic:243172"]
I cannot imagine why anyone would tie himself for life to someone who does share core beliefs and faith. It seems a recipe for disaster.

[/quote]

I agree, and besides, I have trouble answering this nagging question about relationships where they dont share these core values: what do they talk about? It would just seem very boring to me, and discussions about things they'll never agree on certainly can't bring much consolation to either spouse.

To all: thank you for your advice! I'm very grateful and will respond to some posts in turn later


#14

LOVE....are the both of you fully aware love is more than just feelings, but commitment as well?. This is the focal point when discerning marriage. Some couples have lived a happy (catholic) marriage for some years until one day one of them find him/herself out of love with his/her spouse. This is not something to be scared of, but aware of, are the both of you completely sure that the bond you share goes beyond the "feeling" of love?. Love, like faith and hope, can sometimes be felt, and sometimes not, but as long as you both believe in it, even during the times you might not feel it, your love will become stronger and mature. Sometimes feelings may come and go like swinging doors, just believe in the commitment and promise you will be making to one another in the presence of Our Lord on your wedding day.

I wish for you the best and a life full of happiness, may the Holy Spirit guide you through your period of discernment. God bless you


#15

I think it is also important to look into how (and if) the theoretical is translated into the actual.

Do you think it is important to save for retirement? Good. How is it going so far?

Do you like a clean house? Very nice. What is your method of achieving that? Are you a clean-as-you-go, a one-room-a-dayer or a let-it-go-to-hell-until-Friday-and-then-tackle-the-built-up-mess type? Be honest!

How much do you spend on clothing now? Do you know? How many times can you wear a garment before washing it? Do you ever iron a garment? If so, when? Do you think that if you leave a garment that ought to be washed in the air for long enough, that it will become ready to wear again by contact with the air?

Do you pay off your credit cards every month now? What are your exercise and TV-watching habits now? Do you pray every day now? Do you always go to Mass every week now?

Have you ever spent a day taking care of a child by yourself? How did that go?

Do you think toilet paper should be over the top or should it feed from the back of the roll? Do you let your dog sleep on your bed? Do you ever let toothpaste (or tooth-brushing drool) sit all white there on your bathroom counter? Do you even know, or do you not even see that kind of thing?

How do you feel when someone vacuums but doesn't go all the way to the baseboard? Do you know what a baseboard is? How did you choose the cleaner for your kitchen floor?

I can see you are always on time for our dates....what about the people you have in the bag? Are you always on time for work? For Mass? For family events? If you're late, how late, and why? Do you know how people feel about your habits? What about how they feel about yours?

When was the last time you hurt someone's feelings? How did that play out? If you claim you have never hurt anyone's feelings, then answer this: How do you handle the resentment when they hurt yours but don't notice it, and you don't say anything?

Most of all, talk about anything and everything that you expect to change when you get married. Do you expect her to spend less time with her sisters? Do you expect him to give up the five-day summer hiking trips with his college buddies? What if that trip happens when your wife is 36 weeks pregnant? Do you go, or stay home? If his best friend from college, who asked your husband to be his best man, is getting married in Hawaii, but you're too pregnant to fly, what happens then?

How did your parents bring you up? What were your favorite things? The things you hated most? The things you think were best for you? Worst? What is your favorite memory of Christmas? Think forward and imagine a future family Christmas Day from Hell. Be outrageous, and involve members of both families as "characters" in this drama. How would you handle a Christmas Day like that? What does that have to do with what kind of parent you want to be?

Repeat the Christmas Day scenario, only this time make it your wedding. Think up the worst possible things that could happen--OK, leave out things like being left at the altar or finding out that your finance has been unfaithful, I mean disasters that would allow the wedding to go forward--and ask yourselves what you would do if the cake was the ugliest thing you've ever seen, if one of the people in the bridal party showed up drunk, if the caterer had an accident and there was going to be no food at the reception. How would you handle that?

What if you have a very bad day? What's your spouse supposed to do about that? What if you have triplets or you lose your job and can't find a new one, so that you have a hard day every day for about 18 months? What if you're moving and haven't sold your old house, and your spouse has to live at the new place where the new job is and you're stuck in the old neighborhood with the kids until school is out? What do you expect of your spouse? What do you expect of yourself? What if you woke up one day and realized that you (or your spouse) had gained 100 pounds since you married? What then?

Think up every scenario like that you can. As other couples what their biggest fights or misunderstandings were about, or the hardest stretches in their marriage, and talk about what you would do (and expect) in a similar situation.

Oh, and most importantly: How do you feel and how do you handle it when you are right and no one with the power to put your opinion into action will do anything? How do you handle it when you're right and you have to convince someone who just cannot or will not give in and see that they are wrong? I don't mean when you think *you're right or when you have a strong opinion. I mean when you 110% certainly, no bones about it, know that you are *right. How does that go? (And how often does that happen?)

You don't have to agree on everything. Do know what you're getting into, though!

(And look at the bright side: no matter what happens at your actual wedding, you'll have the inside joke of knowing that it could have been a lot worse!!)


#16

[quote="90Domer, post:6, topic:243172"]
We've done marriage prep for our church for several years, so I can tell you the big categories:

Finance
Spirituality
Communication
Family of Origin
Parenting
Conflict resolution

If you can, see if you can get your hands on a pre marriage inventory of questions called FOCCUS. It asks about 200 questions on all aspects of marriage, and it's a real conversation starter. They do have a website as well.

Good luck!

[/quote]

We did that questionnaire when we were preparing to marry in the Church (10 years after our civil wedding). I think on most of the questions, we were 180 apart. But, with 10 years in and 2 kids, not much could be done. We weren't miserable then, just 2 very different people. Sometimes it works for a couple to be different, not clones of each other. I actually don't mind some differences, but it's more a case of "does this person care about anything but himself?" kind of thing.


#17

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:16, topic:243172"]
We did that questionnaire when we were preparing to marry in the Church (10 years after our civil wedding). I think on most of the questions, we were 180 apart. But, with 10 years in and 2 kids, not much could be done. We weren't miserable then, just 2 very different people. Sometimes it works for a couple to be different, not clones of each other. I actually don't mind some differences, but it's more a case of "does this person care about anything but himself?" kind of thing.

[/quote]

I have an aunt and uncle, she's Republican, he's Democrat (old school, mind you), like that all the way down the line, but they like it because it never gets boring.

I think it is a "if this person stays like this, can I cope with the things that I'd like to change but can't?" The more information you have about what "like this" means, to the extent that you can gain the information without harm to your souls, the better.


#18

[quote="Anna_Gregorach, post:14, topic:243172"]
This is not something to be scared of, but aware of, are the both of you completely sure that the bond you share goes beyond the "feeling" of love?. Love, like faith and hope, can sometimes be felt, and sometimes not, but as long as you both believe in it, even during the times you might not feel it, your love will become stronger and mature. Sometimes feelings may come and go like swinging doors,

[/quote]

Feelings are great when they are good, but are very unreliable. It's always a struggle to make sure that a decision is rational and not based on fleeting emotions. I think this is a great cause for divorce, in fact


#19

[quote="EasterJoy, post:17, topic:243172"]
I have an aunt and uncle, she's Republican, he's Democrat (old school, mind you), like that all the way down the line, but they like it because it never gets boring.

I think it is a "if this person stays like this, can I cope with the things that I'd like to change but can't?" The more information you have about what "like this" means, to the extent that you can gain the information without harm to your souls, the better.

[/quote]

Well it seems to work for Mary Matalin and James Carville, although I think she got the wrong side of that deal.

:eek:

Cannot IMAGINE waking up to that in the morning...:shrug:

The weird thing is that I have changed so much from who I was when we married, my husband must think he lost that wife and picked up another one somewhere along the way.


#20

Lots of great suggestions so far. But one that seems to have slipped through is that I think you should have a frank discussion about divorce. Now this is tricky, because you won't enter a marriage thinking it will lead to divorce, but you ned to understand whether you share the same core beliefs regarding divorce. Make sure your partner shares a strong catholic perspective on marriage being for life, and divorce being a secular term with no relveance. Make sure it's not just lip service or them being caught up in feelings of love. You need to marry someone who believes it is for life. The belief that God has joined you and provides real grace in marriage is the foundation you can use for all conflict resolution in marriage.


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