There are a number of important areas to consider when thinking about marriage and commitment. Some have to do with practical things, while others can reach into the heart of who you each are. Most often taking a big step in commitment is the first time you discover important differences between you.
How do you want to handle your finances? Do you understand the legal and financial obligations of the commitment? Where will you live? How will household chores be divided? What is your long-term vision for the relationship and do they align? Do you want children? Do either of you already have children and how will you parent? How much time will you spend with each other’s family, friends, and apart?
While there is no “right” answer to any of these questions, it is clear that finding common ground and agreements you are both comfortable with is the best answer. Many times couples have entered into a commitment with a sense of euphoria and belief that it will all work out, only to feel sideswiped when this hope was not rooted in reality.
It is usually when couples hit a roadblock in the form of a disagreement over something major, or a recurring argument, that they come to therapy. Often times this disagreement has been brewing for a long time, and deep resentments and hurt have driven a serious wedge between them. Research has shown that the average couple waits 6 years before seeking help for relationship problems, and nearly half of all marriages end in the first 7 years. Don’t let this happen to you.
People often find it unromantic or fear that the other person may leave if they bring up anything they perceive as difficult. Also, people often end relationships rather than learn how to best meet the challenges they are facing. The reality is that these conversations strengthen your relationship, and you learn to work together as a unit supporting each other’s individual and mutual goals and dreams.
If you are nervous to talk about issues with your partner you are not alone as few people have learned how to communicate from their heart while being receptive to the other person. If you are unsure how to talk with your partner we encourage you to talk with an expert couples therapist to help you examine and resolve what feels challenging. As part of the couples counseling therapist will often meet each individual separately to provide a feeling of comfort and ensure the effectiveness of the couples work together.
One of the key skills therapists help you develop is how to communicate your own needs and wants clearly. Effective communication that is open, honest and considerate includes active listening, finding compromises in common ground and accepting differences, fighting fairly when you have arguments, and making repairs when needed.
Making commitments will most likely also have legal implications. We encourage you to consider these now rather than later. It is much easier to have these discussions when you enter into a commitment, as opposed to when your relationship may be facing serious challenges. In being responsible to yourself and one another you will solidify your intentions and approach the future as a team.
This is an exciting time. Make your relationship the best it can possibly be now and for the future.
Questions for Thought
Below are a few questions that are intended to help you consider your personal situation more closely. A well-matched, expert therapist can provide the help and the answers you need.
- Do you both want to have children? If so, how many?
- Have you had a good conversation about money?
- Are you able to talk about sex with each other?
- How much time will we spend with your families?
- Do you have defined roles in the house for chores?
- How would you each most like to spend days off?
- Are we going to be monogamous?
- Have you talked about where you see yourselves in thirty years?