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    Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Take the Marital Plunge

    reverendWhy do you want to get married? What is it that drives you, calls to you, and makes you sure you are doing the right thing?

    Are your motives emotional, spiritual, physical, political, financial, or something else? How do you know? Have you discussed any of these things with your partner? With your spiritual advisor, therapist, best friend—with your own inner guide?

    Is marriage something you have always wanted, or did you just recently come to this desire? Is the strength of your desire for marriage the same as that of your partner? Do you have an understanding of what it means to be married? Where did that understanding come from? Your parents’ marriage? A previous marriage of your own? The movies? Literature? TV? The funnies? The tabloids?

    What is a husband? What is a wife? What is a spouse? How are these things different from a mate, a partner, a best friend? Do you have a sense of this relationship as being eternal, for a lifetime, forever?

    How do you handle change, especially unexpected change? How have you and your partner handled change so far? What skills do you bring to the changing nature of the world in these times of economic uncertainty? What kind of a financial steward are you, and what kind is your partner? How are you at discussing financial matters, especially in the tough times, such as when there isn’t enough money?

    Do you consider yourself a good communicator? And your partner—how is she/he? Are you as good at listening and really hearing as you are at expressing yourself? Are there subjects you tend to avoid or just be quiet about? What are they? Might these avoided subjects be a problem some day in your marriage?

    Assuming love is at the bottom of your desire, how do you see this love as foundational to the strength of your marriage? How, in fact, do you define love? Is it a feeling? A noun? A state of being? A verb? Is the love you have for your mate as strong as the love for yourself and vice versa? Do you have love for something larger than yourself—a source, a higher power, a divine being?

    What is the source of your love? Can you answer the question: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…?”

    Considering that so many marriages have “failed,” what makes you confident and clear about the strength and permanence of the marriage you want to enter into? How will you learn and grow in the future as everything evolves, including you and your partner? Do you ever wonder why so many celebrity marriages fail; indeed, why so many celebrities seem to have a succession of marriages during the years they are in the limelight? What do you imagine causes this?

    I am not trying to give you a huge, enormous essay-question test, even though it may seem so! No, I am just thinking out loud (well, on paper) about the deeper and more mysterious truths that lurk underneath the outer choices and decisions we make, especially regarding marriage.

    Think about it: marriage is one of the most significant acts a couple ever makes. And the idea is that it is a vow, a commitment you intend to keep for the rest of your life. Yet, the world in our time is so very different from the olden days, when marriages, families, jobs and careers did last a whole lifetime. All of that has radically changed. It’s rare now, for someone to get into a job, or even a “career,” and stay in it over a whole working life. So I just wonder how couples will create long-term, committed marriages, through all the vicissitudes of life in our world.

    These are just some things to think about, and to talk about with your partner. I recommend it. I do like to see couples go deeply into the whole subject of marriage before they take the important leap.

    My blessings to you in your marriage, however you enter into it!

    Rev. Elizabeth River is an ordained Interfaith Minister based in the North Bay. For more information, please visit