Confessing this to my daughter and her friend took me back to my reality.
My dad had curated one of the most gregarious weddings in town. My mom took up the responsibility of stuffing me with healthy food to look "healthy". I was prepared for my wedding but, totally oblivious to the challenges I was to encounter in marriage. Call it my nativity or lack of understanding, I had categorized the word meaning of a wedding and marriage as the same.
I had known my husband for a couple of months before the wedding and, it never occurred to me that there was a need to have a serious conversation about our future. In fact, we were oblivious to each other's meaning of marriage. I daydreamed of all the beautiful saris I would be wearing, the trips I would take with him, the huge family I would mingle with. He, on the other hand, was getting things in order at home and made saving money a serious business cause I came across as a high maintenance girl...ha hahaha.
Enough of digressing!
As my answer was negative, I asked the girls if they were prepared for marriage?
They said this to me - we have an idea of the list of questions we shall be discussing with our life partner and, would also like to attend a pre-marital counselling session to learn certain skills.
Not hiding my surprise I asked them sarcastically - How do you both know about pre-marital counselling or marriage preparedness? They rolled their eyes and gave me a look, wondering if I was seriously asking them this silly question.
I'm an advocate of pre-marital counselling and, I believe irrespective of the type of marriage arranged or love, a lifelong commitment between two people, their extended family and social set-up needs some preparedness.
Preparedness in marriage helps couple co-create a respectful partnership, makes them responsible, helps them face challenges efficiently, instils patience, understanding and friendship towards each other. Pre-marital counselling helps couple develop effective communication techniques, active listening and management of emotions.
Asking the right questions
Relationship. Why are you getting married and, how will it add value to your life? Can I know your goals? Where do you see yourself in your 40's or 50's? Let us share our values, ethics and expectations we have from each other?
Let's talk about money. Do you have any financial debts to clear? How do you plan to save? Do you have a budget? Should we have a joint account or a separate account? What are your big spends? What are you indulgent about? What are your must-haves?
Family. How big is your family and, what kind of relationship do you share with them? How do we manage festivals and special occasions? How do we manage dependent parents?
Children. Do you want any? How many? How soon should we have them? Is there any history of fertility problem in your family? Will the parents be supportive in taking care of the children if need be?
Work. Who is the dominant breadwinner of the family? How do we divide housework? Who's job determines where we live?
Boundaries/personal space and friendship. What's your take on "Me time"? Is it okay to have friends of the opposite sex? Is there any restriction on how much time we can spend with our friends?
Mental health. Are you burdened with any emotional trauma of a past relationship? Is marriage a solution to solve your loneliness? Do you have any anger issues, troublesome habits & emotions that I should be aware of? What does love mean to you?
Physical health. Any physical health issues that you would want to discuss? History of comorbidity? Do you think we should get a health check-up done before marriage?
Sexuality. What's your take on sex? Is it for procreation or pleasure or both? Are you willing to seek professional help if there are challenges in our intimate life?
Cheers, to the luxury of having ready access to the internet and living in a liberated well-informed society, the girls too had similar questions in mind.
While finding a compatible person to marry is the most essential part of a marriage an exercise like this tremendously helps the couples in effectively meeting each other's expectations with mutual love, respect and empathy.
PS: There have been instances when couples have not been truthful with each other and created ruckus in their marriage. Irrespective of these incidences I, believe being prepared for marriage is an informed way to start a new journey.
Written by- Sheeca Ganapathy
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