Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Things to talk about before getting married

(Committed to compromise! Our wedding day, 2011)

My favorite of husband-ji's cousin-sisters is looking for a match to get married this year. It will be the traditional arranged marriage. I'm beyond nervous for her but as a vadina (elder brother's wife in Telugu) I have to be supportive and pray for the absolute best.

With arranged marriages, people usually have their requirements, such as: astrological match, good job, Masters degree, caste, religion, shared interests, etc. but I think there are many more questions that are crucial to find out which can determine compatibility and also the person's character. Some, you may be able to ask openly, and others, you can just observe. But you also have to know the flip side: what are your requirements in a marriage? What are your fundamental beliefs about how you can function as a couple? What are the values based on your character?

Points of discussion

Who is the first priority after marriage? Is it the spouse, or the parents, or the (future) children? (Sometimes in certain situations you do have to side with one or the other in family dramas) Also, which family takes priority (only one spouse's parents, or both sets of parents equally?) If you ever have to relocate for work etc, will your spouse join you or live separately? (good indication of where the priority is)

The involvement of inlaws / individual independence
How will your inlaws fit into your daily life? (Will your MIL help with cooking or will she give advice on career?) (Will they visit every day or every month?) (Where will they stay when they get elderly?) A great indication of a person's independence is their decision making skills - who do they consult before making important life decisions - career, kids, finances? How often do they consult people (if at all) and how much does the spouse get influenced (dependent vs independent)?

Expectations / roles after matrimony
What do they picture life after marriage to be like (go with the flow or idealized ideas of man/wife roles)? How much will each spouse help around the house (division of work - cooking, cleaning, laundry, caring for children)? Are there any expectations of the individual "changing" after marriage (eg. career girl to housewife)? Does the spouse have certain ideas about how the other spouse should be spending their free time (judgements/control)?

Adaptability / adjusting to changing priorities
Sometimes you can agree to something (eg. like living in a joint family) and decide later that you're not up for it. How adaptable will your spouse be to your needs? How tolerant will they be to your needs? Will they be able to be open to changing priorities and be sensible about it? This relates back to communication and priorities. Is one particular spouse the only one who has to "adjust"? Are they willing to have a "team mentality"? Are they tolerant for other viewpoints or do they always think they're right?

Love / affection
How is affection expressed (words vs gestures) and is it expressed in front of others (eg. family)? Does one spouse have to do all efforts of affection? How does the spouse show their appreciation for you?

What is their communication style (talking, listening, writing)? How do they express their needs or do you have to specifically ask? Can you talk openly about uncomfortable/hard topics? How do they argue (do they fight fairly or throw personal attacks? - you can observe this by how they fight with family/friends)

Individual ambitions / passions
Why did they choose their particular career? What attracted them to it? What are they passionate about in life (what is their purpose on Earth)? How supportive is the spouse of your individual passions? Does the spouse respect your passions or are they deemed unimportant/unworthy?

How is the money spent (materialistic items or long-lasting investments)? How much freedom do you have with your own personal finances? What say do you have in the couple's joint finances (equal say or somebody is managing the money)? Will you keep separate or joint accounts? Does it bother the spouse if the other spouse is earning more (competition)?

What will you absolutely NOT tolerate in a marriage (disrespect, shouting, physical violence, lack of communication, different religious beliefs)? This helps with compromise if you know exactly what the other person will NOT tolerate.

Social life / Work-Life balance
Do they prefer to spend time with friends one-on-one, in groups; or do they prefer to only spend time with family? How often do they socialize? Is the spouse included in the social life or do they keep them separate? Are friends more important than family? What kind of work/life balance do they function best in? Do they enjoy having a social life outside of work, or do they just keep to themselves?

- family reputation (not exactly a reflection of the individual - I was born into my family by chance, I didn't pick them)
- good looks (Looks can fade; good looks don't cover an ugly heart)
- vegetarian vs non-vegetarian (we function just fine, if not better than average)
- job (what if they get fired??? Or get health problems and they can't work?)
- academic standing (not a reflection of intelligence about life or ability to be a good spouse)
- your interests don't ALL have to match (a few is good, but many interests are an individual thing)

***Just because somebody is a good-looking rich intelligent person does not mean that they are going to be a kind and respectful life partner ***

Regardless, getting married (arranged or love marriage) is a leap of don't know what will happen. You just have to jump in with ALL your soul, be able to compromise, make efforts & hope for the best!

Click HERE to read my best marriage advice.


What do you think, dear readers? What should you find out to determine a life partner's compatibility before you tie the knot?



  1. I think you missed out one important factor that is often the DEAL BREAKER - dowry. How much is the family/person worth, how much do they earn or how much jewellery they bring, seem to be quite a favorite way to select bridegrooms/brides, especially in South Andhra.

    Go ahead, challenge me that this is not the case.

    Destination Infinity

    1. Yeah, that is a HUGE deal breaker! I hate the dowry system and it bothers me that it still goes on in urban modern India even though it has been outlawed for a long time (WTF!). I don't like the notion that it kinda feels like one is bought/sold as if it is a marketplace. No amount of gold can measure a person's true character or ability to be a good life partner. No spouse should feel superior going into a marriage.


Respectful comments only, please! (That means you, anonymous.)

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