Choosing a partner is one of life’s biggest decisions and it may feel overwhelming and confusing.
Many people just rush into marriage or a long-term relationship without really assessing what they need and want and whether this person can meet these needs. Not only your own needs and expectations are important. What do you have to offer and how do you commit yourself? These are important questions to consider seriously.
Making well thought-out decisions does not take the romance out of your relationship. It signifies that you regard marriage as important and for life. There is no formula or guarantee that your choice will be ‘right’ but thinking and talking with each other about YOU and YOUR RELATIONSHIP is essential. Perhaps the starting point is to understand why you are contemplating marriage:
- Do you feel ready for a committed intimate relationship with one other person?
- Do you need to escape from home or another situation?
- Do you feel everyone else is married and therefore you must conform?
- Do you only want children, a house, job or money?
- Do you want to replace someone else, your parents, and an ex-spouse?
- Do you have to marry – because you are pregnant?
The reasons for marrying are very different and may influence how you are looking at your partner. Does your partner fit the basic need you have at this time? Try to be honest with yourself. The reasons for marrying are not right or wrong.
Decide on what kind of marriage you want. In making a choice, a balance between your head and your heart is important. Your heart will dictate to you how you feel about this person. Trust your inner voice, your instincts, but also become aware of your feelings. Is your love for this person only sexual or only intellectual? Are you looking at the total person? Are you able to see this person realistically, to acknowledge and accept his/her faults, or are you blinded by your passion, denying what you see because of your focussing on an imaginary future. Do you believe that you and your love will change your partner’s faults? Passion and love are very important, but another ingredient is friendship. Is this person able to be your companion and friend? Can this person like you, as well love you? Do you feel that you are important and of value and that you can be yourself or do you have to be someone different to earn and keep his/her love? If you are yourself, will you be rejected?
A relationship where there is mutual passion, friendship, respect, acceptance and trust has the potential to develop into a mutually satisfying and intimate partnership.
To make a choice, you need information. You need Time for Talking Together Thoroughly, Time to get to know your partner. Talk about:
- The families – your parents’ marriage, your backgrounds, what your childhood was like.
- Share the similarities and the differences;
- Your religious and other beliefs;
- Your attitudes to marriage, money, having children, sex, etc.,
- Your moods and behaviour patterns.
Are you very similar or different? Are you compatible or complimentary? With knowledge and information, you can make a choice. To help make this choice, project yourself into the future. Imagine living with this person – how do you imagine you will react to every day events? What will each of you do or be like? How will your choice affect other people in your life? Are you looking for a superman/woman who will meet all your needs? Be realistic, not idealistic.
Think about your choice carefully. Breaking up a marriage or relationship is painful and destructive for both of you. There are professional counsellors who will help you to look at this difficult issue from a number of perspectives. FAMSA uses both structural and non-structural methods for pre-marital counselling.
Marriage preparation is a significant step after choosing a partner. Our counsellors will further help you through this process. You can choose between structured and non-structured methods of marriage preparation.
Marriage is a major step for anyone and it is important that you feel as sure as you can that you are making the right decision.
People prepare themselves in different ways. The majority of people date their partner, go out for some time, get engaged and then marry.
Whether you live together or not before marriage, it is important that you know why you want to marry now and why you are choosing this person. Is this person someone who you will want to be with for the rest of your life? Is this the person who can be your spouse, friend, lover, support system and co-parent? Can you picture yourself with this person in 30/40 years’ time? Will you still be a team, loving and supporting each other, sharing your lives? Marriage is not for now but forever. Try therefore to think long term. Are you making the right choice for you? Not for your parents or friends but for you. You are going to have to live with your partner for the rest of your life.
Are you prepared for the realities of marriage? Marriage is not easy and requires hard work. Right now you are on cloud nine. Nothing will ever go wrong. You are in love and that’s enough. It is a great deal but there is more you need to do to prepare yourselves for marriage so that you can make the most of your relationship so that it will continue to grow and remain as fulfilling and full of excitement as it is now.
You and your partner need to spend a lot of time talking about yourselves and discussing the following:
Your expectations of marriage: What do you want from the relationship, from your partner and what do you expect of yourselves? Are these expectations realistic, can you and do you want to meet these expectations and needs?
Talk about your backgrounds, your families of origin. Where did you grow up, who was in your family, what were their attitudes and values, how have they influenced you and how are you going to relate to them now and to your in-laws?
Talk about your friends. Are you going to have your friends, my friends and our friends? What part will friends play in your marriage?
What about your leisure activities and hobbies? Can you each pursue your own interests? What will you have to give up? What about holidays, etc.?
What about your finances? How will you budget? Where will you live? What will you spend on your home and on yourselves?
Have you discussed children? How many will you have and when? How will you bring them up? What about the role of the grandparents? In addition, the relatives roll.
Talk about your sexual relationship. What is your attitude to sex ? How much do you know? What about contraception? How do you feel about your own body and your partner’s? Good sex doesn’t just happen. We need to help it grow.
Talk about your communication styles. Are you good at listening, at expressing your feelings, at negotiating and resolving conflict? Do you talk about your problems or push them under the carpet? How do you respond to your partner’s anger and pain? What do you need to work on individually and together?
Preparation also involves realizing that some of your roles and responsibilities will change and you may need to give up some of your independence. You will now become a team, not just ‘you’ and ‘I’ but ‘us’ and this means accommodating and compromising, some give and take, some loss of independence and individuality, but you will gain a partner and support and be stronger as a team than as individuals.