When you’re caught up in the bliss of love, or the excitement of an engagement, it’s unlikely you’ll stop to ponder the tricky questions.
Sure, you know each other, love each other, accept each other’s families, have similar values, and have spent approximately 173 hours talking about the best shade of white for centrepieces at your wedding reception. That’s enough, right? Wrong.
It seems many of us didn’t ask some very important questions before tying the knot. Maybe you got sidetracked by a big, fat wedding. Maybe it was the sex. Maybe you think due diligence is a small town in Mississippi.
So we put the question to you, to help create a list of questions that might allow you to see all sides of your partner – and address the real state of your relationship – before walking down the aisle.
We asked: What is the one thing you wish you knew before your big day?
You told us everything.
How committed are you really? Really?
One Mamamia reader answered our polling question with an appalling anecdote.
I wish I’d known…
It can be easy to be ‘all in’ when you have a wedding, honeymoon, future, kids, etc. to look forward to. But what if things change? How far is your partner willing to go to support you, 'for better, for worse, in sickness and in health?'
According to Ashley Davis Bush, a psychotherapist who specialises in couples therapy, healthy couples in crisis will acknowledge the problem; turn towards each other (as opposed to isolating themselves); and support each other’s coping styles.
“There’s a sense that they’re in this together,” Bush told Psych Central. “They can see [the situation] as a small piece in the puzzle of their lives and long-term relationship.”
You need to ask each other:
Have you faced similar problems before in your relationship?
How have you behaved as a couple in the face of these struggles?
And have you talked about the big stuff (‘big stuff’ being sickness, redundancy, grief, accidents, etc.)?
Let's talk about sex...
Sex talk can be tough, but there are plenty of questions that should be addressed before committing to one person for the long haul.
Sex therapist and author Madeleine Castellanos told Brides that "ongoing communication about your sexual self is essential" within a couple, and that there a some key questions to help fuel and guide this discussion. These include:
How often would you like to have sex?
How will having kids affect our sex life?
What are your sexual fantasies?
What do you define as cheating?
How do you feel about pornography?
According to author of A Scientific Guide to Successful Relationships Emily Nagoski, marriage can change our sex lives drastically and, for this reason, it's a good idea to tackle the awkward questions first up.
"Based on my experience, I think that the best thing a couple can do is talk through a wide range of hypothetical scenarios – what if one person's interest in sex changes a lot, either increase or decrease?," Nagoski told CNN. "These 'what ifs' aren't about having a plan for every contingency; they're about practising your collaborative problem-solving skills."
How do you solve problems?
Hopefully not like this...
How do you and your partner get mad - throw plates? Shut down? Calmly discuss your issues?
According to the experts, there are three styles of problem solving. Validating (finding compromise), volatility (regular screaming matches) and conflict-avoiding (agree to disagree).
All three problem-solving styles can make for a successful, healthy and long-term relationship, so long as the positivity in a relationship continues to outweigh the negativity. This is according to an excerpt of Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by John Gottman, with Nan Silver, republished by Psychology Today.
Gottman says it’s when criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling enter into anger management that a relationship starts to become unhealthy.
What about the money, honey?
You should know...
“We’re not taught how to talk about money with other people, but it drives a lot of major life decisions,” Monica Mazzei a family law attorney at Sideman & Bancroft told Business Insider Australia. “Money is the number one source of tension in relationships.”
Not only is money a source of tension - it’s also the number one predictor of divorce.
A 2012 longitudinal study “financial disagreements are stronger predictors of divorce relative to other common marital disagreements”.
Yep, you heard right. Finances are bigger than sex, children, in-laws and life goals when it comes to predicting the likelihood of divorce. Those questions are sounding better and better. Here are a few to get you started:
How much do you both earn?
How much do you save / spend?
What are your assets?
Is your debt also their debt?
Should we get a prenup?
Why doesn't your mum like me?
Do we like each other’s parents?
They're not all monsters! But it's important to know exactly what you're dealing with.
Gary Chapman, relationships counsellor and author of Things I wish I'd known Before we got Married, explains relating to your in-laws can help you navigate your own relationship going forward.
You’re not just simply marrying each other. You’re marrying into the family. And you’re going to have to relate to them," Chapman told CBN. "It’s either going to be a good relationship or a poor relationship, but you do have to relate to them. So expose yourself to how they treat each other. For example, what are the dynamics in that marriage, because those dynamics also influenced your spouse."
The big day itself...
As for the wedding, there a number of things our readers would have done differently if they had their big day again.
It seems you shouldn't be afraid to lash out on photography; that napkins and name cards aren't really that important; and it's best to have the wedding you want, regardless of the expectations or opinions of others.
And finally, there is this one truth. As simple, fulfilling and difficult as it may seem.
I wish I'd known...
What are your biggest wedding day regrets?