Working it Out Before the Wedding
When I got married seven years ago, I thought I knew everything about
my husband-to-be. After all, we had dated for three years, lived together for one, and read each other’s high
school yearbooks. The latter, by the way, is a real test. Seeing your spouse-to-be in braces and a Farrah Fawcett
hairdo can be a real test of love. Especially if he looks silly that way.
But before our wedding day, we decided to go to premarital counseling
for six weeks. Well, we didn’t decide, our minister did. But we went and I’m glad we did. We learned some important
lessons, such as "Always hold hands when you fight," and "Set aside at least 15 minutes every day
to talk." It’s true that sometimes those 15 minutes are via e-mail on days we’re both busy with our jobs,
but pretty much, those lessons have stuck with us.
So when I read that many states are considering making pre-marital counseling
mandatory, my first response was "Great idea!" But, as someone who has now been married for a while,
I have some suggestions for the kinds of questions couples should answer about themselves and each other before
they tie the knot. Things that would have helped me and my spouse had we known from day one.
For example, before getting married, it is important for grooms-to-be to know how their brides feel about the following
My husband should:
Be able to tell a Salad Shooter from a power drill.
Throw all his old furniture away the day after the wedding.
Let me buy all his clothes for him and his friends.
Agree that in a case of a tie, I win.
Along the same lines, women should know how their potential partners
respond to these statements:
My wife should:
Prefer Victoria’s Secret to The Gap.
Have a job she loves that fulfills her emotionally, but pays
her $1 less than I make a year.
Enjoy household chores like vacuuming, laundry, and flea-dipping
Never, ever, try to get me to give up the remote control, not
even if I’m asleep or scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Additionally, both partners should know how the other feels about the
• The position
of toilet seat - "I don’t care" is not an acceptable response, because the truth is, you do, especially
if you have ever fallen in during the middle of the night and gotten the words "American Standard" imprinted
on your thigh. The question is, how important is it that the toilet seat is down or up or at least attached to
the toilet. If it’s a deal-breaker, make sure your spouse-to-be knows that beforehand: "I, Harold, promise
to love, honor, and lower the toilet seat as long as we both shall live…"
• Whether the
cap on toothpaste is on or off - Or even more importantly, if it falls in the toilet, who has to retrieve it and
whether you toss the tube out or sterilize the cap and try to forget the whole thing ever happened.
• Who should
be in charge of doing the most disgusting tasks around the house - I’m not going to bring them up, you know what
they are. They’re dirty little jobs, but somebody has to do them. Do you share them equally or do you go with
who is the least repulsed? And can you trust your partner not to fake disgust?
• Sleeping arrangements
- Many people prefer, at least at the beginning of their marriage, to sleep like spoons. Later on, they may
sleep like forks, or even spatulas. Also, do you have a favorite side of the bed, for example, the side without
the two drooling Basset hounds on it? Let your partner-to-be know these things before they become problems.
• Getting up
in the middle of the night - This is a real important one, because no one is their best at 2 a.m. You don’t want
to be "deciding" who gets up to bring the kids water or check out that strange noise when both of you
have bed hair and one of you was right in the middle of that great dream about Dylan McDermott.
• The words "8
o’clock" - To you do those words mean:
• 8 o’clock on
the dot, not 8:03 or even 8:00:03.
7:30, or earlier, depending upon what the appointment is for.
Sometime today or tomorrow.
It’s also a good idea to decide how you feel about the following:
• The status
of checkbook (balanced, unbalanced, ablaze in the trash can…)
Flirting (at parties, on the Internet, during LaMaze classes…)
Phrases that begin "My mother always…" or "None
of my other boyfriends ever…"
Well, those are the most important ones. If you get those out of the
way before you get married, you’ll be a lot happier. Well, I’ve got to go. If I don’t get to bed soon, the dogs
will take my spot.