Husband and I have joined more pre-marital counseling sessions more than average. We’ve gone through at least 15 separate sessions both one on one and as a group, but after we got married, there was still some adjustment.
Apparently, most pre-marital counseling sessions are merely formality, and despite their good intentions, do not really dive into the heart of the problem. I personally believe that if we asked the right questions earlier on, more problems could have been avoided. However, we refuse to do so because asking the hard questions may mean that we have to let go of our partners if we are incompatible with each other.
“We love each other too much to give up on each other,” you’d probably say. “If there’s any conflicts, we can work it out if we love each other.”
Uhhhh… so why the heck are you complaining a few years after on why your partner does this and that. It’s not as if you did not know how he/she was when you were dating?
Sometimes, we get ourselves into our own problems.
Maybe because we were lazy or ignorant, we did not ask the right questions and hence, got stuck with the wrong person, much to our regret.
Here are just five important questions you have to discuss pre-marriage to avoid problems later on:
1. Who deals with the laundry — you or her?
Seriously, every single pre-marital counseling session should start with this ice breaker. Instead of asking about the cliche question of, “Do you love him/her?” the first question every person who wants to marry the other should be:
Who will do the laundry?
Personally, I hate doing the laundry.
When I was overseas, I would have two hampers: One for colors and the other for whites. Laundry time was only any of the baskets were full.
My husband is shocked on how much I can tolerate having unwashed clothes. He does not understand how lazy I get with laundry. For me, not only do you have to put them in the washing machine, you’d have to wait till they are done, and then hang them one by one, making sure they’re hung in a way that minimizes the creases on your clothes.
It takes me around 2-hours or so to finish the laundry. That’s about one afternoon every Sunday, when I could just go out with friends and enjoy my rest day.
I hate doing the laundry, period.
I also hate cleaning the bathroom.
So you have to marry a guy who can accept this quirk and a) do not nag me about doing the household laundry, and b) actually does the laundry for all of us.
“When I married you, I did not realize just how domestically inept you are,” he said. “You’re good in many things but domestic chores are not your forte. This should have been disclosed to me when we were dating.”
“Well, you did not ask,” I replied.
Who knew something as mundane as laundry could just as easily destroy the peace in the house? But it does. That’s why, when you do pre-marital counseling, the first thing you should do is, “Who will do the laundry?”
It’s THAT important.
2. What will you do with your exes?
Most people have exes.
I had a few, hubby had a few. But one great thing about our exes are, we don’t keep in touch with them.
I remember one ex who messaged me on Facebook and apologized for his behavior when we were together. When I asked why he never friended me, he merely said that he was married and out of respect of his wife, he does not want to stay “friends” with exes even if it’s just on Facebook. However, he pinged me just to say sorry.
I can respect that. I am friends with only one ex on Facebook, and husband has zero contact with his. We’re just lucky we are not friends with our exes, so it’s what you call, iwas problema (avoiding problems).
However, some consider their exes their One True Love and are still pining for their exes. Technically, shit happened and they’re the one that got away. Others, still consider their exes as friends and remain in close contact with them.
The problem lies on the fact if the partner is super jealous of such ex, and puts up a fuss whenever you still talk to them. “You’re already with me,” they’ll whine. “Why are you still talking to HER?”
“But we are friends,” you’d insist. “Why should I lose touch with her just because I’m dating you?”
Well, jealous girlfriend wants you to dump your friend who was your ex. It’s a choice you’d be forced to take.
Now which decision will you make?
3. Who will handle the money?
They say that the woman is better at budgeting money.
We love to list our expenses down and manage the household financially. Without me, our household utility bills will not get paid as husband is not much into monitoring the bills.
The problem sometimes is that women use the money entrusted to her by her husband to assert her authority in the family.
My mom’s driver for example complains that despite earning around Php 18,000 to Php 20,000 monthly, his wife only gives me Php 200 allowance per day or 25% of his income. She gives another Php 200 to her teenage daughter from another husband. Sometimes, she would even borrow money so that she can support her family.
The Php 200 per day is not enough for him to eat and go to work. It’s barely enough.
“Php 200 will ensure that he will not find another woman,” she scoffed, as if a lack of money would stop him from finding another girl. The theory is, the less money a man has, the less problems he will make.
The problem is that it’s actually the man’s money as he’s the breadwinner. He has every right to his money and to spend it however he wants fit.
I think before marriage, it’s important to discuss:
- Who will be the breadwinner of the family?
- Who will budget the financials of the household?
- What are the items each other can spend without consulting the other?
- What are the items that require consulting the other?
- Does anyone have veto power on the expenses?
Especially if one person makes the money and the other person spends it, there has to be rules as to how the money will be spent, when and where.
If it’s not discussed, the wife will think it’s okay to lend the family money to her brother despite their own household lacking the money to support itself.
No, just no. Talk about money while you are still lovey-dovey. Not when you’re shouting at each other.
4. How will the kids be raised?
I am a very laid back mother.
“Tina, your daughter is on the floor playing,” my brother would remind me. “The floor is dirty.”
“Yeah?” I said as I looked up with what I’m doing.
“She’s fine,” I’d say as I continued with my work.
I would also just plop her on the toilet bowl on the public restroom when she needs to pee and poo. There’s no UV sterilizer, wipes or alcohol. I only wipe when there’s pee stains on the bowl. I figure, if it’s visually dirty, I’d wipe it. But if not, I’ll ignore it.
I am okay if she plays under the tables when we are eating at restaurants. If she gets loud, I shout at her. But so long as she’s not disturbing others, I’m fine by it.
This laissez faire way of raising my child annoys my family to no end. Often times, they think I do not care.
I honestly don’t think I should excessively obsess on my child. Unless she’s playing in a dumpster, I believe her immune system will protect her from germs. She’s quite healthy, and I think it has more to do with me exposing her to noise, dirt and pollutants than anything else.
Imagine if my husband was a lot more OC with kids, insisting on everything clean. Now, what type of child rearing will we have?
When you have a family, it’s gloves off for the couple. No more lovey-dovey when dating. When kids are involved, Mama Bear comes out.
Guys, please make sure you can handle such Mama Bear before you marry her because Mama Bear’s OC beliefs will drive you nuts if it does not match your own.
5. What if you fundamentally disagree with each others belief? What if you do not share the same opinions in politics, values and religion? Would you still continue the relationship?
I’m very vocal about my opinions.
For example, I have strong thoughts against the black clothed protesters who have been rampaging and rioting in Hong Kong this year. I have only subtly written about my opinions several times, but anyone who know me knows that I feel that their cry for democracy and freedom is total bullsh*t, and it’s only a way for them to create havoc in their city just because they’re treating Hong Kong as a game of Grand Theft Auto.
I also feel that China has the right to pick and choose which people to give the China ID to. Apparently, no foreigners are given a China ID unless they convert nationalities, and this has caused them several inconveniences when it comes to buying train tickets and buying online. My Australian friend complains about this and says that China should be more welcoming to foreigners, instead of making life hard for them.
I feel that Americans can have guns but need to undergo a stringer process to get a license.
I think everyone has varying degrees of strong opinions. Not just me.
The problem lies when we fundamentally differ in our opinions?
My friend lambasted me on Messenger when I posted about burning Hong Kong subway stations. She said I was morally and ethically wrong when I said that I am against these black-shirted protesters who feel they are above the law and have resorted to bullying, rioting and the destruction of public property.
She messaged me this:
When someone name calls you, the battle is already loss. Apparently, I am a pig for supporting the Hong Kong police. I’ve been called several things in the past, but pig is new.
Imagine if she was my husband — How big a fight will we have if we have two polarizing opinions in an issue?
With friends, you can merely unfriend them on Facebook. One American friend who I met in Taipei unfriended me because he said he cannot be friends with someone who is anti-democracy and anti-freedom. Being supportive of the Hong Kong authority is ethically and morally incorrect.
It hurt me a bit because I do not see how the Hong Kong protest could be about freedom and democracy. The Hong Kong authority has been very patient with the protesters. If that happened in the Philippines, they would already be shot.
I also feel it’s a bit hypocritical because back in Taipei, he was cheating on his then wife with a ho, leading to the separation of a 10-year marriage. If that is not ethically and morally incorrect, then I don’t know what is.
But political issues like this opens up real wounds between friends. Situations like this allows you to reflect on what values you hold, and where you stand.
I honestly think it’s great when friends can converse about their differing opinions and still be friends. The girl who called me a pig is still a friend. We will most likely meet up this weekend if I have time.
It’s great though to talk about these issues PRE-MARRIAGE
And if you discover that you don’t share the same beliefs and values, DO NOT PROCEED.
In the Philippines, divorce is still illegal. You can have your marriage annulled but doing so cost money, time and a lot of heartaches.
Before you get married, find out whether you are fundamentally compatible by asking each other the above mentioned answers. Be very honest and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions BEFORE marriage.
If the answers to the questions are something that you cannot accept, do not proceed in the relationship. Even though it’s hard, break up with each other. It will save you a lot of heartaches later on.
What do you think? What are the other questions you need to ask before marriage?
Have a great week ahead!