Dear Dr. Faizal,
My fiancé and I are both in our early thirties. I am Christian and he is Hindu. He is the man of my dreams, and we plan to marry in two months. While some people believe that ‘love conquers all,’ I wonder how I will know, before we get married, if he will make the best husband for me. Is it possible to get counselling before getting married?
– Seeking Compatibility
Dear Seeking Compatibility,
Congratulations on falling in love with the “man of [your] dreams!”
While love is many times the glue that binds partners, there are other considerations to a successful marriage – things that you should discuss before the proverbial ‘I dos.’ What you are asking about is referred to as pre-marital counselling. In this type of therapy, partners discuss practical topics they would face leading up to and after becoming husband and wife.
Of the many things to consider, the following, I believe, are some of the most important:
- Type of wedding: Will you have a ‘court marriage’ or will it be a religious event? Will it be held in a church, temple, or home?
- Where will you live after marriage: Will you live with parents or separately?
- Sexual compatibility: If you are not compatible, or develop issues later, how would you address this? Would you ignore the concern, hoping that it would go away, or would you seek help? From whom – friends, relatives or a professional?
- Monogamy: How important is monogamy to you? How would you handle it if either of you had an affair?
- Children – Would you both like to have children? If so, how many? What actions (if any) would you take if you could not reproduce?
- Handling conflicts: How would you handle conflicts? Would you deal with them alone or as a couple? Would you seek advice from parents or be open to counselling?
- Religion: Would you practice religion at home? If you are from different religions, would you practice both equally or would one of you accept the other’s faith?
- Employment: Would you prefer a single-earning or double-earning household?
- Household chores: Who (one or both of you) would be responsible for these duties?
- In-laws: What role will in-laws play in your marriage? Will they play a significate role in your decision-making or will they remain in the periphery?
- Divorce: What are your views on divorce, should you not be happy in the marriage?
It is imperative that you and your fiancé approach these topics in an open, honest and non-judgmental manner. Discussing these topics is an opportunity for you and your fiancé to get to know each other better and to strengthen your relationship. It would be best to resolve any disagreements before getting married so that you are at peace, without any doubts, on your wedding day and for many years afterwards.