Getting married is a big decision. Even though you have may have been with your spouse-to-be for what seems like forever, enjoy many of the same pastimes, share a lot of commonalities, and love them to pieces, you may not feel ready or sure about your choice of a partner or the timing of it all. As a divorce and family lawyer, I can tell you that you are not alone feeling this way.
The more couples I speak with who are either embarking on the divorce process or are interested in strengthening their marriage, the more I hear how one or both partners felt pre-wedding jitters at some point. Whether they were nervous that their wedding would be the perfect day they envisioned or that the feelings they held for their partner were compelling enough to justify a walk down the aisle, their fears were real and justified.
Of course, not everybody experiences hesitation about his or her upcoming nuptials. However, for those who do, it is important to take a step back and evaluate why you may be feeling uneasy and whether you should reconsider your decision to wed. To help clarify whether your cold feet are indicative of a more serious underlying problem in your relationship, I suggest asking the following five questions before saying, “I do,” as adapted from my book, “The Pre-Marital Planner: Your Complete Legal Guide to a Perfect Marriage.”
A successful marriage needs two partners. Pay respect to that by asking and answering these questions using a two-pronged approach, meaning ask them of yourself first and then allow your partner to do the same. After the two of you have each taken the time to privately read and answer the questions thoroughly and honestly, share and compare your answers with each other. The goal is to strike up a conversation or revisit old ones about how you can further strengthen and keep your marriage healthy for decades to come. Now, let’s get started.
1. Why do you love your partner?
2. Why do you think your partner loves you?
3. How solid is your relationship right now?
4. How often do you experience relationship flare-ups or fights?
5. How do you handle those flare-ups or fights?
6. Have you resolved past relationship issues so that you can move forward in building a healthy relationship?
7. Is violence (physical, emotional, or mental) ever an issue in your relationship? If so, how is it handled?
8. Do your arguments ever make you think your partner has “anger issues?”
9. How do you show your partner that he or she is your top priority?
10. How often do you talk openly and honestly with each other? Is it enough for you?
11. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), how would your rate the quality of your conversations? Why?
12. What have you done, specifically, to build your relationship this week? What has your partner done?
13. What qualities first drew you to your partner?
14. What needs are you trying to meet through your relationship? Is your partner meeting those needs?
15. What issues from your past do you have to resolve in order to ensure that your current relationship does not suffer?
16. What would your partner say you need to change for your relationship to improve?
17. What qualities does your partner have that you lack?
If you complete this exercise with a seriousness of purpose, that is, to build a relationship based on mutual trust and respect, your only worry come wedding day should be akin to whether or not your guests like the flavor wedding cake you picked as much as you do. If after completing these questions, you still have more pressing concerns, then it is evident you have some serious soul-searching to do because no matter how you slice it (pun intended), walking away from a wedding is far easier than living in and walking away from a bad marriage.