Ten Questions to Ask Before You Get Married

10 questions before you get married

So, you want to get married, and there’s this guy… and he’s cute, and he’s nice… Is he the one? How are you supposed to know for sure? Well, one answer is that you won’t—not until you’ve married him, for better for worse. Then, he’s the only one you’ve got, so he’d better be the one.

But before you take the leap, and make the vows, it’s good to get some information on the prospective husband. Here are ten questions that should help you not be disappointed.

Ask Him:

Does he share your values?

This is the first and most important question. Does he agree on what the priorities are? This is a good question to ask your boyfriend fairly early on in your relationship.

Does he share your religion? If religion is important to you, then you are going to want a spouse whose religion is the same as yours. Otherwise it’s likely you will end up with constant misunderstandings and confusion.

Does he ask you to do things you’re uncomfortable doing? Things that you don’t approve of? IF he does, this is a bad sign, and you should almost definitely not pursue the relationship further.

Other questions you might want to ask would involve his attitude toward having and raising children, the relationship between husband and wife and their roles in marriage, how he thinks about money. These are issues that are important to most people. If there is anything else that you consider a core value, do be sure to discuss that too. If eating sushi every Wednesday night at precisely 7:13 pm is something you consider vitally important, you should probably make sure he’s okay with that.

Does he have a goal?

Sometimes people are planning on getting married, but don’t look beyond that point in their lives. Then, once they’re married, they have nothing to strive for. And having no goal to work for is bad for people. Before you marry a man, find out if he has a goal beyond getting married to you. And make sure that goal is something you can invest in too. Being able to work together for a goal as a married couple will strengthen your relationship so much.

Why does he want to get married?

This can be a revealing question. Make sure that his reason for getting married is not because he wants a slave to do all his housework for him. He should want a companion on life’s journey, not an ornament or a minion.

Ask friends:

Is he a psycho?

Sometimes a person with a psychological or personality disorder seems perfectly normal. I suggest investigating the person you are thinking about marrying. (Of course, if you’ve known him all your life, you should know already, but it never hurts to make sure)

Now of course, this is not a question you would ask your boyfriend. Instead, do an amateur background check by asking his friends, siblings, and roommates, if he has any. As long as you keep it simple, and don’t spy on him, steal his phone and call all his contacts or read all his emails or something crazy like that, this is a sane and normal precaution, and he shouldn’t take it the wrong way.

Does he have good manners?

We assume that since he’s trying to impress you, your boyfriend treats you well. If he doesn’t, dump him now! But will he keep treating you well, once you’ve married him and he’s not trying to win you over anymore? There’s only one way to find out.

When you are dating, be sure to arrange to spend time with your boyfriend and some other people. If he treats you well, and everyone else badly, you can be fairly sure that he will treat you badly too, once he’s not trying to win you over anymore. If, on the other hand, he treats other people well, and other people like him and think he has good manners, you can safely assume that he has habitually good manners, and that he will likely treat you with courtesy and consideration after you are married too.

Ask Yourself:

Do you admire him?

They say that you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If this is a weighted average, it is heavily weighted in favor of your spouse. You will probably end up thinking and acting a lot like your husband after you are married. That’s just the way people work. So, are you okay with that? Would you be better if you were more like him? And will you be able to set him up as an example for your kids? Will they be better for knowing him?

How does he deal with you when you’re upset?

A good indication of how your boyfriend thinks of you is how he treats you at your worst. When you are crying or angry or otherwise upset, you probably aren’t your most attractive. If he is impatient and uncaring with you when you are upset, this could definitely weaken a future relationship. Especially if you are going to have kids. If my experience is anything to go by, then you will probably cry more during your first pregnancy than you did in the five years leading up to it. You will want a man who can stay calm and reassuring during your emotional meltdowns—because if you’re realistic with yourself, you know you’re going to have them sometimes.

Is he resilient? How will he handle an emergency?

Related to how he handles your emotional upsets is how he handles stress and emergencies. This is very difficult to know unless you are in an emergency with your boyfriend—which we all hope won’t happen. Though the idea has crossed my mind that dating would be a more productive exercise if people who were thinking about getting married chose unpleasant activities to do together, rather than pleasant ones. You’d find out so much more about your companion that way.

Now if your boyfriend is a police officer, EMT, army medic, or fireman, you can probably be pretty sure he handles emergencies well and would be a good guy to have around in a pinch. But if not, you might have to base your answer to this question on other things. If your boyfriend handles your emotional upsets well, then that’s a good sign. If he’s willing to go into situations that are outside of his comfort zone without freaking out, that’s a very good sign. And if he can admit his mistakes, that means he’s probably willing to take a chance in a risky situation, too. Which leads us to our next question.

Does he admit mistakes?

When I was dating the man I married, I remember being happy to note that first, we argued, but in a civilized way, and that I won some arguments, and he won some arguments. And that’s the way it should be. You don’t want a pushover who agrees with everything you say, but you also don’t want a man who stubbornly insists that he is right even when he’s wrong.

A person who is intellectually honest will be willing to recognize truth wherever it is found, whether in your ideas, or in his own. This will allow you and your spouse to have meaningful, constructive arguments, rather than bitter, pointless ones.

The next question is related, and is in some ways the most important of all.

Does he have a growth mindset?

Now, your boyfriend is definitely not perfect, and neither are you. And that is completely okay. If you are holding out for a perfect man, you aren’t ever going to get married. And the same goes for holding out for perfect women.

But the question you want to ask yourself is not, “Is he perfect?” but “Is he trying?” You want a man who is trying to improve, because if he is really trying to improve, then you won’t grow tired of him as you find out all his faults. Instead, you will find new things to admire every day of your lives together.

 

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Three Ways to Become More Tactful

three ways to become more tactful

(This is the fourth article in our series on the feminine virtues. For the introduction and the other articles, click here.)

Tact is an often overlooked virtue, but one which is absolutely vital for success as a woman. It is perhaps the most feminine of all the virtues. It makes life easier, and it makes everyone around you happier and more confident.

So what is it? Merriam Webster defines it as “a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense.” This is an excellent definition because it does a good job of expressing both the challenge and the beauty of this quality. It is challenging because it requires intelligence and observation skills equal to Sherlock Holmes’s. And it is beautiful because it leads to good relations with all you meet.

Tact can make everything flow smoothly, help everyone get along and everyone get what they want as much as possible. At its best it is courtesy and consideration motivated by love. At its worst, the skill of tact will make you much better at manipulating people for your own ends. Whatever your motives, read on.

Examples of Tact in Action

In the Odyssey, Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, is left at home while he wanders, trying to return to her. He has been gone for twenty years, and many assume that he is dead. So there are piles of men wanting to marry Penelope. She is the queen of Ithaca, and to be her husband would be a step up in the world. Now in Greek society, women had very little power, so with her husband gone and apparently dead, Penelope is left in a vulnerable position. On the one hand, she is being pressured to marry one of the many suitors who are competing for her. On the other hand, all the suitors are losers, and she has no desire to replace Odysseus who—let’s face it—is pretty darn awesome.

In her vulnerable situation, she cannot simply tell all the suitors to get lost and that she’d rather die than marry any of them. So she comes up with a tactful answer. She has to finish the funeral shroud for her father-in-law. She then weaves it every day, and unravels it each night, and thus drags out the task for years. This way she protects herself and her household by not angering the suitors too much, and succeeds in waiting for her husband as she wants to.

Another example of tact which is a little closer to home is a stay-at-home mom who wants her husband to fix something that broke in the house. A tactful wife might wait till after her husband has eaten supper and is relaxed, rather than springing the bad news on him as soon as he walks into the house tired from work. Or a mother correcting a child’s bad behavior in private rather than in front of his friends.

So, how can you up your tact game?

Observe, then Appreciate

In his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie writes that “Appreciation is one of the most powerful tools in the world. People will rarely work at their maximum potential under criticism, but honest appreciation brings out their best. Appreciation, though, is not simple flattery, it must be sincere, meaningful and with love.”

How does this apply to real life? Well, if you have a person you are having trouble getting along with, at work, at home, at school, or anywhere, take your next opportunity to observe them closely. This is where your Sherlock Holmes skills come in handy. Try to find something admirable about them. It could be anything—the way they comb their hair, the way they smile, the way they do their work. Almost everyone has some good quality that you can admire.

Next, once you find their admirable quality, tell them about it. “Hey, I like the way you comb your hair. It looks great.” “I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the way you always double check your work.” “Your got that floor really clean when you mopped it.” It doesn’t matter how trivial it is. Comment favorably on their behavior. It will—for all but the most ornery of people—almost definitely result in them doing more of the admired behavior, and, with any luck, they will feel more confident and therefore do other good things too.

What’s in it for You.

Next time you try to get someone to do something—whether it’s trying to get your boss to go ahead with your suggestion, getting your mom to let you watch another show, or getting your kids to clean their room, listen to yourself and see how you ask. Often we are so focused on why WE want something to happen that we completely forget how it seems to other people.

If you want to be effective at getting other people to do things, and like doing them—we can usually find some way of getting our kids to do stuff but it’s not always fun—you need to figure out what’s in it for them and present that first. Now, this has to be done rather subtly sometimes. Not everyone likes being told what they want. A little bit of mental role-play will often give you a clue how to present a question to someone else. Find out what they want, and then explain how your suggestion will help them get it.

This can get kind of complicated when you are doing it with your children. You don’t want to bribe your children with things that they want, like toys and movies and candy. Instead you will want to play to your children’s desires to be treated as a grown-up, and to feel confident and accomplished. But your children are pretty smart and probably won’t respond to “I will think of you as a big responsible and smart person if your room was clean.” It would probably work better to tie privileges to duties as a regular system and to treat your (older) children as responsible humans who can choose to either have their privileges or not.

Let the Other Person Feel Like It Is Their Idea

This is possibly the most powerful technique, and also the most difficult to apply. Has anyone ever tried to convince you to change your mind about something? It’s hard to accept someone else’s idea instead of yours. People just plain like to be right. We all want to feel like we are the smartest person around. And whoever you are trying to convince is no different. But sometimes a person is absolutely sure he is right, but is not so sure what exactly he thinks. This is when this strategy will be your best friend.

If you idea is any good, you can usually persuade someone else that he thought of it himself by simply suggesting it, step by step, and pretending that it was their idea. Not that you lie and say that it was their idea. You simply point out how your idea fits in with their suggestions, and assume, (out loud) that they must have thought of it themselves. It works like a charm.

Now I am not recommending that you go around manipulating people for your own ends. But there are times when you have to get other people to do things, or tell people bad news, or ask people for help. In all of these cases, tact is a fantastic asset to any woman’s toolkit. It makes your life much more enjoyable, and used properly, makes the lives of those we meet more pleasant.

 

More resources to help you develop tact skills: (These are affiliate links.)

Probably the most famous self-help book ever written, Dale Carnegie’s book is an easy read and can change your life. He explains each of his techniques simply and uses lots of stories to illustrate his points.

Written a few decades ago, this book seems a bit dated in parts but the general idea remains valid today. This is a book about how to have fun as a wife, and how to keep your husband happy and get what you need from him. I enjoyed it a lot.

Yes, I know, I recommend this book a lot. But that’s because I think it’s really good and it can change your life, even if you aren’t married, just by the realization that people need to be loved differently.

(I am running a giveaway for this book. Sign up for email updates to enter.)

Getting Along with Middle Schoolers.

Getting along with your middle schooler

I used to teach 7th and 8th graders, and I loved it. But when I told most people about my job and how much I enjoyed it, they looked at me as though I was insane.

A large percentage of the population seems to think that middle schoolers are about the worst kind of human there is, and that dealing with them on a regular basis is nothing short of torture. Many parents live in dread of their children turning thirteen, and savor the childhood years, assuming, for some reason, that parenting will be miserably from that moment on, until, perhaps, grandchildren show up on the scene several years later.

But I think that middle schoolers are wonderful, and that the reason so many people have difficulty with them is that they don’t understand how to deal with them. In my experience—though I must admit I don’t have middle schoolers of my own yet—middle schoolers want three things, and if you give them those three things, the majority of them will be happy and cooperative.

Respect

Middle schoolers, like most humans want respect more than almost anything else. We don’t usually have a lot of difficulty giving fellow adults respect. We are used to thinking of them as people like us who have similar wants and desires. The trouble with middle schoolers, is that they are developing adults, who are only partially grown up, and only have the beginnings of the qualities we automatically respect in fellow adults.

The trouble is that while middle school aged children often seem to have the self-control of children, they are as touchy about their dignity as an adult would be—more so in fact, because they have so little to base their sense of self-worth on as yet. This would be hard enough to deal with, but when you add to that the fact that it is often hard to remember that your children are growing up and that they aren’t your helpless babies anymore, you get a hopeless mess.

In my experience, what middle schoolers want is to be treated like human beings. They want to be recognized as no longer children. Many civilizations had special coming of age ceremonies for children who of about 12. Psychologically, this makes a lot of sense. 12 year olds have minds of their own, and want to be talked to as though their ideas mattered.

I was always very careful not to call my students “children.” I tried to call them students, or boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, or any other age-neutral term. By listening to their ideas and thoughts as though they mattered, just as I would to a fellow sdult, I not only modeled respectful behavior, but bolstered their self-esteem.

And when I treated them as if they were somewhat grown up, this gave me the right to expect more grown-up behavior from them, which further bolstered their self-esteem.

Responsibility

While many adults try to avoid responsibility, middle schoolers, in my experience, rarely do. They understand that responsibility is related to growing up, and that if they are entrusted with responsibility, this is an honor. At this age, they need to be given more and more autonomy, but they also need strong limits. Giving them responsibilities will fulfill both these needs.

If they have responsibilities that they understand and have accepted, they will accept correction for failing to do them better than they will accept correction for breaking rules which they see as arbitrary and pointless.

I allowed my students to help write their own rules for the classroom, and they admitted that the rules we created were reasonable and helpful. As a result, I never once had a student complain of unfairness when I reminded them of the rules. I did have to remind them, but I always tried to do so in a way that was respectful. Rather than saying, “You disobedient child, how dare you disobey MY rule?” I tried to remind them that there was a rule that they had agreed to, and that they understood the reason for. If they persisted in breaking the rule, I tried to keep the consequences what we had discussed, rather than arbitrarily making up stuff. This sort of system allows young teens to feel that they have control over their lives, and makes them much more cooperative.

But young teens don’t just want respect and responsibility, they also want something more.

Adventure

The young teens I have met, and my past self at that age, want something more from life than comfort and ease and material success. I remember reading Last of the Mohicans and Lord of the Rings, and wishing desperately that I too could do noble and glorious things, preferably in a romantic setting like untouched American forests, or the mysterious mythical land of middle Earth.

People this age want noble ideals. We can help them develop strong ideals by giving them good books to read, and especially by modeling noble behavior. Twelve and thirteen-year-olds are harsh judges, as anyone knows who spends time with them. They need to be given good principles to judge on, and they need to see their authority figures living in accord with those principles.

And if they can be given an opportunity to do something exciting and fun, that is also noble and virtuous, they will be the happiest people around.

Some books that will inspire and entertain your middle schooler: (These are affiliate links)

I loved these four books as a kid, and I still love them. They center around the fictional country of Letzenstein, and its royal family and are full of adventure and excitement. Each book stands alone, but they are more fun as a set.

 

This action packed story follows one of the Czar’s couriers across the expanse of Russia and into Siberia on a quest to give an important message to the Czar’s brother. Michael Strogoff is equal to all obstacles, and courageously sticks to his quest despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, including a barbarian invasion.

 

Set in Holland in World War II, this story follows the adventures of a couple of young boys who face challenging experiences and learn about courage and sacrifice for a good cause. Their family shows them examples of true courage and nobility, but it’s not at all preachy. It’s an exciting adventure story that kids love.

 

Ralph Moody writes about his experiences as a young boy living in Colorado in the very early twentieth century. His father and mother and their friends teach him how to ride horses, the value of money, and most importantly, how to be a strong upright man. The rest of the series is amazing too. (Content alert: His father dies.)

 

Tolkein’s magnificent tale should inspire and entertain both teens and adults.