Article #102 - Word count: 661


We May Say “I Do” to the One We Love, But We Commit to Share a Way of Life!

(BNN) Six crucial questions a bride and groom must answer –– lifestyle, money, family relationships, children, professional aspirations, and shared spiritual foundations – are important touchstones for a successful marriage. What heartfelt attraction begins, sober answers to these must sustain!

When my boyfriend Duncan first asked me to marry him, I tried to break up with him. I loved him, and loved being in a relationship with him, but at the moment of truth, I panicked. I realized that I didn’t understand how to make the transition from girlfriend to wife.

What happens between falling in love and creating a lasting relationship? Why do so many relationships falter? Every couple I knew had walked down the aisle with as much love in their hearts for each other as we felt —- but, as we know too well, more than a few marriages prove to have been a mistake! What, I asked myself, would make us different from all the couples whose success is lost to failed or false hopes?

I continued to reflect, and came to a realization that immediately enabled me to say “yes” to the man I loved. I recognized that my past relationships hadn’t failed due to lack of love -— they had withered because one or both of us failed to love our life together.

There is actually only a loose connection between loving someone and loving your shared life, although we often assume the two are synonymous. I’m sure we all know couples who are madly in love, but are patently wrong for each other; we can’t imagine them growing old together. Similarly, we probably know couples who seem to have a wonderful life together: a great house, close friendships, wonderful jobs…but don’t seem very close in matters of the heart.

I thought about Duncan and me. Yes, I knew he loved me, but did I really know how he envisioned our life together? I realized that I held a lot of assumptions, hopes and fears. I wrote down a dozen-or-so questions about the life we would share. Here is a sample of the questions we began with:

  1. Where will we live? How long will we live there? How much of our income will go into paying for and maintaining our home?
  2. Will we keep our money in joint or separate checking accounts? Savings accounts?
  3. How does he feel about his relationship with my family? Does he desire more closeness? Less?
  4. Will we have children? When? How many? How might this change our relationship?
  5. How comfortable are we with each other’s level of ambition? Is it too much? Too little?
  6. Will we share a religion? Which spiritually oriented holidays will we celebrate?

One by one, we worked our way through these demanding questions. Some had obvious answers, some provoked difficult conversations, some left us blank. In each case, we learned something valuable about each other. Whether we agreed, disagreed, or didn’t know, our intimacy deepened. As we answered, we also wrote down more questions and tackled those. We ended up asking and answering hard questions throughout our engagement.

This earnest work helped us to define not only what we truly wanted, but also how we would communicate about it during our lives together. It enriched our feelings, and added confidence that our partnership would be a durable one, based on sense as well as the depth of purpose we knew we shared.

When we finally stood together on our wedding day, we felt that we knew what we were saying “I do” to, and to whom. It felt like the most honest and passionate commitment I had ever made, and continues to be so today.Email me 300 dpi CMYK jpg image

This article was contributed by Susan Piver, whose book The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say,"I Do" was published by Tarcher/Penguin Putnam, May 2000

 

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