Is It The Marriage Or Wedding You Want?
There’s a lot of hemming and hawing in the black blogsphere as well as in the mainstream media on how impossible it is for a black woman to get married (I’d argue it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, but that’s another post for another day). But one question I think black women should ask themselves if it’s a marriage they really want or is it a wedding?
I watch “Say yes to the Dress” and other wedding shows. And to me it always seems that the women have every detailed planned for their wedding, down to the color of the flowers going in the flower girls’ headpiece, but I wonder if they have put that much planning into their actual marriages.
I know plenty of black women who have every detail of their wedding planned, yet they have no man. I know women who were obsessing over wedding magazines, but had never had a conversation with their future spouse over how the finances are going to be handled. There are couples who spend tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding and all of its surrounding events, but have yet to have a conversation how many children they are going to have, if any.
A wedding is a day. A marriage (ideally) is a lifetime. If you don’t want to end up in the divorce statistics, you should spend more time planning for your marriage and less planning for a day that is more for the wedding guests then the couple getting married.
Here is a list of 20 questions you should ask before you get married. If you look at the list and realize you haven’t asked even half of these questions then you know the least of you concerns is the perfect color fo your bridesmaids’ dresses:
Question 1: What percentage of our income are we prepared to spend to purchase and maintain our home on a monthly or annual basis?
Question 2: Who is responsible for keeping our house and yard cared for and organized? Are we different in our needs for cleanliness and organization?
Question 3: How much money do we earn together? Now? In one year? In five years? Ten? Who is responsible for which portion? Now? In one year? Five? Ten?
Question 4: What is our ultimate financial goal regarding annual income, and when do we anticipate achieving it? By what means and through what efforts?
Question 5: What are our categories of expense (rent, clothing, insurance, travel)? How much do we spend monthly, annually, in each category? How much do we want to be able to spend?
Question 6: How much time will each of us spend at work, and during what hours? Do we begin work early? Will we prefer to work into the evening?
Question 7: If one of us doesn’t want to work, under what circumstances, if any, would that be okay?
Question 8: How ambitious are you? Are we comfortable with the other’s level of ambition?
Question 9: Am I comfortable giving and receiving love sexually? In sex, does my partner feel my love for him or her?
Question 10: Are we satisfied with the frequency of our lovemaking? How do we cope when our desire levels are unmatched? A little? A lot? For a night? A week? A month? A year? More?
Question 11: Do we eat meals together? Which ones? Who is responsible for the food shopping? Who prepares the meals? Who cleans up afterward?
Question 12: Is each of us happy with the other’s approach to health? Does one have habits or tendencies that concern the other (e.g., smoking, excessive dieting, poor diet)?
Question 13: What place does the other’s family play in our family life? How often do we visit or socialize together? If we have out-of-town relatives, will we ask them to visit us for extended periods? How often?
Question 14: If we have children, what kind of relationship do we hope our parents will have with their grandchildren? How much time will they spend together?
Question 15: Will we have children? If so, when? How many? How important is having children to each of us?
Question 16: How will having a child change the way we live now? Will we want to take time off from work, or work a reduced schedule? For how long? Will we need to rethink who is responsible for housekeeping?
Question 17: Are we satisfied with the quality and quantity of friends we currently have? Would we like to be more involved socially? Are we overwhelmed socially and need to cut back on such commitments?
Question 18: What are my partner’s needs for cultivating or maintaining friendships outside our relationship? Is it easy for me to support those needs, or do they bother me in any way?
Question 19: Do we share a religion? Do we belong to a church, synagogue, mosque or temple? More than one? If not, would our relationship benefit from such an affiliation?
Question 20: Does one of us have an individual spiritual practice? Is the practice and the time devoted to it acceptable to the other? Does each partner understand and respect the other’s choices?