Before making a decision to step into that life-long commitment called marriage there are certain salient questions you must ask. I know right now you feel like you’ve found the right one and the goofy, heady, lovey-dovey feelings you’re experiencing won’t let you see him as anything less than perfect but the truth is that the period before the “I do” is the best time to ask all the right questions to help you make the right decisions so you don’t wake up the morning after the wedding and realize you’re married to a stranger. These are some of the questions you need to ask.
Children: You need to discuss how many children you will like to have, issues of child spacing, sex of the children, fertility issues, adoption and how soon to start having children. You also need to talk about your views on disciplining a child and issues of caring for children. Does he like kids, does he get along with other people’s children and how important are children to him? These are all things to consider.
In-Laws: Like it or not in Africa in-laws are a very important part of every marriage so you better start asking questions. Find out if he would want your in-laws to live with you and the level of interference he can permit in the marriage. You also need to find out about their traditions and beliefs and how it will affect you as a wife. For instance, will you be expected to live with the in-laws for some months to consider your suitability as a wife? Also, if you’re from different tribes what traditions are likely to concern you as a wife?
Finances: You need to really ask about finances before saying I do. You may want to find out his views on operating a joint account, levels of expenditure, formula for sharing family finances, level of participation of each partner in family finances and savings habit. These are all issues that will come up after the wedding.
Domestic Chores: Does he believe in helping out with domestic chores or does he accept the idea of having a house help or nanny to help out with domestic chores? You need to ask.
Careers: Is he fulfilled in his career? Does he believe that wives should not work? Is he settled in his career or looking to get another job? Is his pay enough to get married (an uncomfortable question but you need to know).
Baggage: This part is dicey because no one is going to tell you everything about their past (maybe some will) but you need to ask if there’s anything that may be a surprise to you after the marriage. For instance does he have children outside wedlock that he knows about? Does he have a criminal record? Has he been married before and why did the marriage end? Think of some hard questions and ask.
Intimacy: I don’t advocate sexual intimacy before marriage but you need a level of intimacy. You also need to find out his views on sex, preferences (you don’t want to marry a masochist), willingness to discuss your sex life, etc. Veeeerrryyy important!
Tolerance: What are you unwilling to accept and tolerate? This is an important question with an endless list that includes: abuse, addiction, control, emotional manipulation, self-centeredness, lying, infidelity, laziness, etc. The erroneous belief that love is enough to sustain and tolerate these isn’t always the case afterwards. Talking about this before commitment will help to prevent conflict eventually.