Before you say “I Do”

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Before you walk down the aisle, get on the same page on sticky issues. Counselor Varkha Chulani tells you all that you must discuss to avoid unpleasant surprises later.

Marriage is hard work, but to make the burden lighter, it is crucial to come to an agreement on key issues during courtship. From finances to parenting techniques, counselor Varkha Chulani lists the concerns that must come out of the closet before you say “I do.”

Religious beliefs
It is not only important to be comfortable with your partner’s beliefs, but also to spell out your values. If you are an atheist, are you comfortable with an extremely religious partner? Will your child choose his/her ideology, or will he/she be brought up in a certain faith? This becomes even more crucial when the partners belong to diverse religious backgrounds and are pressurized by respective families to pass on their beliefs to their children.
Talking point: Two communities staying in the same society are expected to have a certain level of tolerance. That applies to marriage as well.

Spending habits
If designer clothes and an annual vacation abroad are your indulgences, marrying someone, who thinks of them as a waste of money is not a good idea… even if you indulge in them on your own income. Imagine spending a week in Bali in sullen silence. There will always be discrepancy of opinion on how that money should have been spent.
Talking point: Discuss your lifestyle elaborately. Ask questions such as “How viable it is to spend occasionally on an exorbitant dinner?” “What percentage of earnings must be saved every month?” “How does one unwind?” will tell you a lot about your partner’s spending preferences.

Kids’ timing
How many years into the marriage do you want to have children? A woman may delay having offspring, much to the apprehension of a man. Or the man may not be ready for fatherhood, while the woman eyes her biological clock nervously!
Talking point: Bring up family planning before marriage. A child is a responsibility and needs equal attention from both partners. Spell out your preferences and come to a meeting point.

Finances
Would you like a joint account, or do you prefer the independence (and privacy) of separate ones? What percentage of your income will you contribute to household expenses?
Talking point: Money, if not handled with care, can make murky the best of relationships. Thrash this matter out in great detail and patience. Even if you don’t reach an agreement, it is imperative to be okay with how your partner is willing to handle his/her finances.

Careers
Are you the accommodating husband who will go out of his way to ensure his wife flourishes in her career; how far are you willing to go to encourage your husband’s career? Agreed, there are a lot of ifs and buts involved; plus, you never know how and where opportunities will come knocking, but having a general debate is a must.
Talking point: Most of us spend our early 20s slogging. Understandably, it isn’t easy to be accommodating or give it up. Tell your partner what your career means to you.

Boundaries
This is the most subjective of all areas. Every relationship has certain boundaries. How often are you okay with your husband heading for a boy’s night out? Thrice a week? Or once a month? Are you uncomfortable with liquor? Are you okay with him inviting friends home for a drink?
Talking point: Language, mannerisms, habits – everything your partner does impacts your relationship. If there’s something that you specifically expect, spell it out. If there’s something you cannot abide by, speak up now.

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