How does my future spouse handle disappointment?
The sex is great. His mother likes you. Your 3-year-old son just got into the best preschool on the Upper East Side. Those are the good times. However, if you live long enough, life is going to throw a couple of monkey wrenches into your carefully laid plans. One of you may lose a job. A parent may die. You may suffer a miscarriage. How the two of you communicate the pain of disappointment while still clinging to each other for comfort under those circumstances
will determine if you can get through the hard times when the rose-colored glasses come off.
How does my future spouse fight?
Oh, it’s a knock-down-drag-out this time. Your spouse has done something so foul that you can’t bear to be in the same room with him/her. You are so angry that you wonder why you even got married. You actually turned over in bed last night, looked at your spouse, and thought, If I just place my two fingers over his nostrils, I could kill him in his sleep…and no one would know! You’re questioning whether your marriage can survive. How is that anger manifested? Are you a screamer? Do you curse, slam doors, and cry? Do you go out with your friends and get wasted? Do you withhold sex as punishment? Do you throw things or, worse yet, throw punches? Or do you avoid the turmoil altogether and shut down emotionally, refusing to talk, text, or even look at your mate? Whether you yell until your voices are weak or retreat to your respective corners until the round is over, your styles of solving conflict must be compatible. If they aren’t, you will end up with more hostility than harmony in your marriage.
How will we handle our finances?
Is it my money, your money, or our money? Will we have a prenuptial agreement? Do you resent that he/she had the nerve to ask for a prenuptial agreement? How many bank accounts do we have? How many secret bank accounts do we have? Who pays for what, and if you don’t pay, do you have a say in how the money is spent?Do you check with each other before you make large and/or frivolous expenditures? What constitutes a large and/or frivolous expenditure? After all, one man’s Maserati is another woman’s $2,600 Christian Louboutin boots. Many a marriage has failed because someone ran up the joint credit card. This may be one of the most difficult premarital discussions to have, but if your future spouse is irresponsible with his/her own money, it is guaranteed he/she will be irresponsible with your joint money. If you want your marriage to last, go into it with your eyes and credit report open.
What is my future spouse’s relationship with his/her parents like?
It’s complicated. No, it actually isn’t. The old adage “If you want to know how he’ll treat you, look at how his daddy treats his momma” is pretty good advice. If you want a crystal ball that reveals your long-term relationship, find out beforehand whether your future husband learned to respect and value women by watching the way his father lovingly—or not—treats his mother. Ladies, did your future mother-in-law infantilize her son to the point where he expects you to step in and wipe his nose and his butt when his hands aren’t broken? Gentlemen, you may get more than you bargained for if your future wife has trust issues due to the pain caused by her father’s infidelities. Is your future father-in-law a “silent partner” in his marriage? If so, your future wife will probably expect you to just shut up and say, “Yes, dear.” If it’s complicated, find out how it’s complicated before the complication is yours.
Does my future spouse have a relationship with God?
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians that believers are not to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers.” And it asks, “For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” That is Godspeak for “When the rubber meets the road and you need to call on a higher power to give you strength, will your spouse be down on his or her knees with you or will he or she be dropping it like it’s hot in the club to try to get the spark back?” If God is important in one spouse’s life and nonexistent in the other, the marriage is destined to fail. I can tell you that knowing God does not guarantee that your marriage will last, but it does provide another hand in it, supporting the foundation. And if the marriage should ultimately fail, that same hand will pick you up, dust you off, and give you the faith to try again.
This is dedicated to my grandparents Clyde and Pauline Bennett, who were married for nearly 70 years. Granddaddy Clyde died peacefully at 93 years old after discussing the “light bill” with his 90-year-old wife and kissing her good night. Oh, and this was Grandma Pauline’s second marriage! Sometimes the princess has to kiss a couple of frogs before she actually finds her prince.
Star Jones’ new book will be released in April 2011.