Discussions to have before tying the knot -A list of Questions/Arguments and a different perspective

So I’ve been married 10 years. And it has had its highs and lows. I agree that we need to have some discussions before marriage; I remember we talked about a few of these things before we actually got married. With the benefit of hindsight we should have probably discusssed a few more of them

It has been argued that it’s wrong to ask these questions as

‘That type of marriage (where all of this is discussed) is a marriage of convenience and does not have any room for love, mistakes and reconciliation. It says you do your part and I’d do mine. It’s not for young couples but for older couples who have seen life and made mistakes.’

I think It’s really important to do a lot of talking before marriage to avoid a lot of hassle and heartache later… I don’t agree with the supposition that discussing the subject removes love from the equation

Trust me, it is only someone you love that you can have these kind of discussions with, without it being misunderstood or causing problems of its own. And to the issue of mistakes and reconcilliation, Trust me (I’m beginning to feel like a dentist pulling teeth), the mistakes will still come no matter how many discussions we’ve had, hopefully we deal better with the mistakes we don’t manage to avoid even though we discussed them

So let’s have a discussion in this regards, a pseudo Q&A around the most commonly asked questions and some really way out ones….

First of all a caveat — this is the perspective of one individual, a regular kinda guy, I don’t have the perfect marriage, I’m not super rich, I’m not a saint, I can only say I do my best and that I love my wife and my family and have a sense of duty towards them out of love, but also out of how I was brought up (please remember this in particular as we dive in)

How to divide housework? If you don’t want to do housework are you willing to foot the bill to outsource this? Who cooks? If you are mad enough to require fresh soup each day are you ready to cook it? Who takes out the Bin?

Back home here in Nigeria this is easy, we all know (generally) it is the Wife’s House and the Husband just eats and sleeps there after he pays for it. So, the Madam of the house SUPERVISES all housework.

Cleaning: Who does it? The Maid, or if your are super rich, you get a Cleaning Company to come in once in a while clean, or a combination of both. However, over and above all this EVERYONE needs to lend a hand. This is even more important abroad where the Maid/Cleaning Company idea is more difficult and more expensive to implement

The KIDS need to learn to pick up after themselves, make their beds in the morning, tidy their rooms and bathrooms, wash up after meals and they kids learn everything from what they see DADDY and MOMMY do. So both spouses should suck it in and make sure they’re setting the right example

DADDY takes the bin out, keeps the garden neat, scrapes the snow off the front porch and the kids learns to do so by watching (again the super rich can have this outsourced but should make a show of doing this themselves sometimes). If you dont have snow, don’t worry, you’re not missing anything, just wait till Lekki floods and you can show you are a man by making sure water doesn’t turn your living room to the swimming pool you’ve always wanted but never had

MOMMY makes the meals (I don’t subscribe to a maid or cook making meals, but super rich can outsource the going to the market (some women like the market) the preliminary preparation etc, but the actual constitution of the meal should be by MOMMY, though once in a while, DADDY and the KIDS should treat MOMMY by making her a meal, even if it is just breakfast in bed on her birthday

The fresh soup everyday thing is hilarious, let me just say it is not only men that have outlandish ideas like this. Anyone who likes fresh food that much should be able to make it. But a man/woman would be very lucky if their spouse enjoys cooking a fresh meal every day. I think unless you just meet and get married literally overnight, you should have seen this one coming and have resolved it already

Doing house chores creates time for families to bond whilst also passing down crucial life skills to our children, I’ve done dishes with my eldest and filled the bottles from the dispenser with the younger ones, and there’s a thing about just doing it together

Who pays which bills? Do we split bills 50/50 or is His Money Our Money and Her Money Hers…

Ok so I’m Igbo, so cultural upbringing weighs in heavily here. DADDY is supposed to provide for the family from a FINANCIAL perspective. DADDY must provide for the minimum standard of living. Of course MOMMY can decide to add to this as much as she is able to but DADDY must be able to provide the minimum creature comforts for his family

Now we are all aware that things will happen and DADDY may be out of work for a while or MOMMY may inadvertently be the breadwinner. For this reason it is important that the minimum levels of comfort are discussed and agreed to by each partner before marriage such that in the vent of DADDY being out of work or MOMMY having to cover for DADDY for a while, it is not a burden that cannot be carried

In any event, DADDY should be seen to do all that is within his power to ensure that a situation where MOMMY remains the SOLE breadwinner for the family doesn’t continue for longer than is necessary

DADDY’s MONEY is FAMILY MONEY. MOMMY’S MONEY is MOMMY’s MONEY but we know all MOMMY’s always use their money to augment FAMILY MONEY

Childcare- night feeds, nappy changes, sleep training.

MOMMY is usually much better at this, she gets maternity leave for a reason. However DADDY should help out, especially nightly feeds and nappy changes at the odd hours. It allows DADDY bond with baby, allow MOMMY rest, but also lets MOMMY know you still care about how she’s doing and that you have her best interest at heart

When can in laws visit and for how long? Must they give notice or just turn up?

Again I draw from how I was brought up. Any visitor must give notice that they are visiting, and must give and idea of how long they are going to stay BEFORE turning up. This gives MOMMY and DADDY adequate notice to be adequately prepared to entertain or the opportunity to politely refuse especially, in the rare occasion, that it is not convenient

Can brothers-in-law bring ladies or smoke in your house? (applies also to sisters-in-law and guys)

Difficult questions.

Ladies/Guys. If he/she has a steady girl/boyfriend, sthey should be allowed to visit, occasional sleep-overs, maybe, especially if they go on a date to a club or a show that ends up late. Of course they must be polite and courteous and not intimate publicly.

If there are kids in the house, it becomes trickier. I’d stay the same but be more particular and completely against it if the brother in law is a ladies man (or the sister-in-law is very generous). I will not have or advise having different men/women coming in and out of my/your house

Smoking depends on whether you and/or your husband smoke in the house, if you do, there’s not much point in telling him not to…. If there’s kids in that house there should be no smoking PERIOD. You don’t want your kids to pick up the habit from you

If family have financial problems can you help them with money allocated to rent or school fees?

If this is a trick question it’s a lousy one. The answer is a BIG NO. Your nuclear family comes first. Your prime objective is to keep them safe, you do don’t compromise on the safety of your family for any extended family member.

Let me now say that unless someone is at risk of dying and there are no other alternatives would I consider using my children’s school fees or my family’s rent money to help out a family member in financial distress

Expectations Concerning Sex? Including Frequency… Do we need to divulge our sexual history, partners etc etc? of what benefit is this information? You want to know what positions etc WHY!!!

This one is tricky….. So some people don’t have sex before they get married, if both parties have NEVER had sex and they are getting married then this should be relatively easy to manage since everything will be ideally theory and they would work it out as they grow together

Libidos differ, if you have dated for long chances are you would have figured out your compatibility and who is randier. Frequency of sex, not sure it is a calendared appointment kinda thing, I think as long as one person initiates it and the other wants it as well, then you should enjoy the moment. Truth is life pressures, age, health and co generally keep those fires under control anyway

Regarding disclosure of full sexual history….. Hnmmm, well in my case, everything that happened before I met you is of no interest to me unless it can have impact on the marriage in the future e.g you had an abortion and your womb was damaged inadvertently and you cant have kids, or you had mumps at age 10 and found out a few years back that you are unable to have children

I cannot, for the love of me, see the value in counting how many notches the guy or girl had carved in his bed post or the varied positions they had experimented with in the past, with who, when, on what occasion and at what frequency

To reiterate I think the past should remain the past unless the information is relevant for the future of the marriage

God forbid a partner strays will we stay together? Maximum Number of Times Cheating will be tolerated ever…If a man strays women tend to forgive in ‘African Homes’ right what happens if it’s the other way round…Will the wife be forgiven?

The issue of infidelity in marriage is a matter for a separate treatise. Let me just say that the

Truth is that men are more likely to cheat in marriage whilst women are least likely to get caught

That said the depth of the relationship and the amount of communication between the parties will determine what happens in either situation. Sometimes infidelity will mark the death knell for a relationship and for others it will be dealt with and make them closer.

I think we should pray for our partners to avoid the “occasion of sin” and “flee from temptation” as well as always encourage them to talk about anything with freedom from the fear of being judged

Who does the school runs?

We are a team, this is a no-brainer, whomevers schedule is easier to pick up the kids should do so, if there is a school bus and they are old enough to use it then the kids should — independent kids are a blessing to their parents

Are we equal partners or is one spouse the servant…What is your definition of submission in the biblical context?

We are a team, this is yet another no-brainer.

However all teams have a CAPTAIN. The CAPTAIN is RESPONSIBLE for ALL DECISIONS and the REPERCUSSIONS ensuing thereof

DADDY is the CAPTAIN, MOMMY is the VICE-CAPTAIN. All decisions made by the CAPTAIN should be FINAL

However there will be three types of decisions taken by the CAPTAIN

1. Those decisions he has discussed with the VICE-CAPTAIN which were originally his idea but he has won the VICE-CAPTAIN over to agreeing with

2. Those decisions he has discussed with the VICE-CAPTAIN which were originally his idea and has been unable to win the VICE-CAPTAIN over to agreeing with

3. Those decisions which the VICE-CAPTAIN originally had and has won CAPTAIN over to agreeing with

Regarding submission and the biblical context — If it is in the biblical context I’m not going to define it o…. best to just read the bible together and agree to do as God has asked.

Me, Baba God and Bros J have an ongoing relationship that is getting stronger everyday and I’m not really keen on spending (the rest of) time on the other side. They don’t have airconditioning and most of the people you thought would be there with you and have the best parties probably (repented) relocated last minute and you didnt get the email

It is important that the decision-making follows this communication/ discussions/agreement/agreeing to disagree pattern and that MOMMY supports DADDY irrespective of whose idea the final decision is

If a partner decides he/she wants to swing what does the other party do/Say (Hint: Deal-breaker Marriage is Over/Finito)

This is a ‘sign of the times” question

Funnily enough I heard of a couple lately who tried this by mutual consent, and six months later their marriage was over. Personally I think this is taking extreme liberties to the level of perversion but to each their own.

I think if you have these type of fantasies, discuss them before marriage and agree what you are going to do about them. If only one of you does, it would be best not to go too deep into the relationship, certainly getting married knowing one of you has such ideas would pose a significant challenge and trust me, marriage on its own is hard enough without you bringing in your own complications

Whose mother comes to stay after the baby is born? If the Husband insists on his Mother, will she help to Cook, Clean and Care for Child/Children or will she become a ‘Child’ that needs minding?

Again I speak from my own experience. It is easier when both spouses are from the same part of the country. In some cultures, the husband’s mother has dibs, in others it is the wife’s.

But first of all both spouses should be thankful that they have “Mother(s) that can come to carry baby” and that they can afford to have them come over. Putting it in perspective that some people have either lost their parents, or whilst having parents cannot afford to have them travel half way around the world to come do “omugwo” should provide some common ground for compromise

In reality, the wife would/should feel more comfortable with her own mother who after all went through the same (traumatic) experience birthing her.

However, marriage is teamwork and marriage is compromise, if culture demands that it is the husband’s mother who comes “first” then I suggest the husband makes it clear to his mom of their (his wife and his) expectations, and the wife explain to her mom why, though she would prefer her own mom came, that her husbands mom is also her mom……. Personally, if you have a big enough house, in that case let them BOTH come

Is your spouse ‘allowed’ to hang out with their friends and how often?

Ah! maka why not. If you had friends before you got married and you used to hang out then it would make no sense to suddenly stop that because you got married, at least thats the way I see it, so the issue of whether they should be ALLOWED to do so is a bit surprising to me

Now to the issue of frequency, that should be a matter that is discussed and mutually agreed, both spouses need sometime of their own to do what they want to do. You got married, yes. You are one, yes, but you aren’t expected to be siamese twins.

And NO, it is not cute that you guys cant go anywhere without the other person….. its cute to be seen together mostly….. but it is also refreshing to know that on your own, you are still both socially responsible and capable

Date Night or Not?

You got married, you didnt get a maximum sentence at Leavenworth

I think the spouses should still go out together as often as they can collaborate to make it happen.

If you want to call it Date Night, sure, If you want to call it “let’s pretend we are still single and have no kids yet, and spend the weekend in a hotel while Grandma and Grandpa stay over with the kids”, even better

It is good to find time to relax with each other and rediscover those little things about your spouse that told you this one’s a keeper.

If only I could get my Mrs to learn to play Golf…..

Whose Parents House do we go for Christmas and New Year etc etc

I think the logical thing is to address the issue of convenience on all fronts — getting there, staying there etc and decide together how that works, I believe in keeping good relationships with extended family but never at the expense of my nuclear family. Again if the Lord has blessed you so well, invite them over — one for Christmas and the other for New Year.

And if you are still waiting on the Lord for the blessings, like most of us are, then apply wisdom, keep it as balanced as possible, and share visits even if its not with the whole family, go surprise your parents/in-laws with a visit and not only during the festivitites

What should I call your siblings? If I call your older Sister/Brother ‘Sister’ or ‘Brother’…What do your younger siblings call me

In my opinion, this is outdated and over rated. My mother tried the whole “Call him Brother” thing but “e didn’t werk”. I never wanted to be called anything but just my plain name, and to this day simplicity is very attractive for me.

However this is a real question for some, and in my opinion respect is reciprocal and not in titles but if I have to call your older bro or sis Brother or Sister as applicable then it should apply to me for your juniors, for either spouse

But it is not because you call someone Brother or Sister that shows you respect them sha. Respect is earned and is mutually reciprocated

Several women advised me not to call my husband by name it’s disrespectful. Rather I should call him Daddy or a pet name. What do you want to be called after we marry?

Another one that I think compromise and mutual agreement, ab initio, will easily resolve

Akin to the area we discussed about being called or having to call anyone “Brother” or “Sister” — it is archaic and neither a true test nor indicator of respect as far as I’m concerned. Pet names, well, if it’s your agreed thing, are nice, I personally am easy. I call my wife by her first name, she does the same to me, the kids call her mommy and call me daddy.

If a lucrative career opportunity comes up abroad for the Wife will the Husband Relocate?

I think this is a question of practicality and economics on the one hand, and egos on the other

In my usual way I will apply logic…

So — are there kids involved, what does the other spouse currently do, define “lucrative” as opposed to “life changing”

My sponsors at my wedding had a similar situation early in their marriage, both academics, the wife was offered a position heading the country start up of a major multinational, the only catch, it was outside Lagos.

They had two or three young children at the time, and they discussed the pros and cons together and whilst the husband was ok with her relocating to take the offer, it would mean she was home one weekend a month to visit (they’d concluded the offer was not lucrative enough that they could afford for one of them not to work if he wasn’t able to get a similar job to what he had here), she decided to make the sacrifice for her marriage

I’m a firm believer of the “equalities” of the parties in marriage and as such I believe the same process and treatise should apply even if the tables were turned.

- Compromise, Mutual Agreement and Sacrifice towards the Common Objective of a happy and successful marriage. A very firm basis to build on in every situation

Whose church/Mosque/Synagogue shall we attend?

This should be agreed BEFORE you marry. I think it is most important especially for the children to see a united position regarding religion as they grow up — this was part of my formation.

Going to Mass on Sunday with MOMMY AND DADDY (except when he was out of town) has such a profound impact on me that even through University I’d still go to Mass after partying late on a Saturday night/Sunday morning with friends

Which some religions (Catholics, Muslims) the other partner MUST convert and in Catholicism, the converting spouse must agree that any children must be brought up as Catholics.

It is important that these discussions are openly deliberated and a unified position agreed before marriage, in my opinion

What type of Discipline will we adopt for our children?

In times past, the DAD was the final point of the Disciplinary Process.

Being reported to Daddy was like escalation to the highest body and no appeals or hearings were entertained at that point

However in truth this is another area where a united front and approach is key for children. Neither spouse should counteract or countermand the other either in their presence or alone with the child. That just won’t do.

Of course the mode and severity of discipline must be discussed and agreed, I’m not a fan of corporal punishment (and there is place for it in measured doses), trust me I had enough of it growing up, but I feared more to be told “I’m disappointed in you” by my Dad than 12 strokes from my mom — and as I got bigger and stronger I started deciding how many of the 12 I wanted to receive on each occasion before I grabbed the cane and “mean mugged” her into threatening to report me to my Dad

I think parents should provide an agreed united and consistent front as regards discipline, from early on in the lives of their children. I’m aware that this is beginning to sound like a lot of theory but please refer to the earlier caveat……

State School or Private School for the kids?

Ha! Why now?

Again, what can you AFFORD.

Each generation tries to go one step further than the last in the provision and caring for their offspring, this is nature. We should always temper this natural aspiration with what we can afford to provide CONSISTENTLY for ALL the children we are blessed with.

Also we must be aware that (in most properly regulated environments) quality education is measurable by the results the schools’ students obtain at independent examination reviews. As such the difference then between some Private and State schools is the opportunity to meet with and create a network for the future.

The knife-edge to balance the twin objectives of a quality education and creation of networks that deliver opportunities for future value exchange must always remain what the parents can AFFORD to provide CONSISTENTLY for ALL their children

Which of us will take Maternity or Paternity Leave?

There is a natural order of things that God has decreed. And that is that in the early stages of development of a child (in fact right from conception) their mothers provides nurture and care in ways ONLY a mother can

So, maternity leave is a given. Paternity leave is becoming more and more popular and I believe the men too need sometime to bond with the new addition to the family (see the earlier questions of night feeds etc) and as such where there is paternity leave, the father should use it

But while taking all this leave let us be reminded that we now have a new addition to the family and baby’s don’t know economics…..

God forbid one spouse becomes physically abusive what next?

This is a no-no of the highest order.

Again I think unless they arranged you guys to get married and the guy or girl dropped in from Mars, a couple of months of dating would have shown up this tendency

And yes. People change, as well as circumstances, but there is no reason whatsoever to turn a spouse into a punching bag or sparring partner, NO. I think discussing this prior to marriage is important.

Even the threat of abuse, idle or real, is a complete faux pas in my opinion

Must I slave at family functions to please the in-laws or is this bondage?

Family functions are pseudo political gatherings and wives (and husbands) try their best to make their inlaws feel their presence

However, in my own opinion, one should not do more than what their conscience dictates.

The truth is there is only one person on earth that you can truly satisfy 100% of the time and one should always try to ensure that person is satisfied as much as is reasonable. That person is YOU — and whilst not encouraging one to be selfish or self-serving nor belittle the importance

How much say do external parties e.g relatives, friends, Pastors etc etc have in our home?

NONE (ideally) to VERY LITTLE (if you insist), in my personal opinion.

I remember I once ended a relationship because my girl’s “Pastor” was informed about everything and had an input into every decision and I had been told that if the Pastor didn’t acquiesce to my marrying her, then she wouldn’t marry me (at which point I told her to marry the Pastor and called it off)

Nobody knows your husband or wife like you — In God’s infinite wisdom we end up with the partner that best compliments us, the yin to your yang of sorts, so taking advice from external parties only attempts to use their view to analyze your situation.

Ko le werk.

I feel the only value might be in having an extra pair of ears to listen to you — which may be difficult to get with your significant other if they are the issue, and the remote possibility that the third parties experience may show you some other basic truth, that in truth you and your spouse will find the solution to whatever issues you have in your marriage together and be stronger for it

Can I be friends with my ex on Social Media? Can we talk or see each other?

Ex’s are very touchy subjects. Friendship on social media ideally should be benign enough, so long as you don’t go liking every single photograph of theirs or making comments about how nice they’re looking (and vice versa)

Talking to your ex — hey, it would be rude if you bumped into your ex at a function or at the shops and couldn’t manage a civil “Hello” (of course that would depend on the way you both parted but in truth time passes and all that becomes history na). It is a different matter if the ex now becomes your confidant, or you become “close”

Seeing your ex, again asides coincidental and happenchance meetings, I would stay very clear. Remember this is probably the same ex you have sexual history with , that your spouse wanted you to discuss details of positions and frequency with that you refused on the grounds that it was history.

That would be turning History to Current Affairs…. Not good for the trust dimension in the relationship and damaging to the confidence pillar as well irrespective of whether anything is happening or not.

So in my opinion you really shouldn’t be maintaining any sort of on going relationships with your ex’s. Haba. You broke up, you are married (hopefully so are they) there is no coming back, so what are you looking for na…..

What happens if one of you becomes ill, out of shape, Unattractive to the other?

Another “sign of the times” question.

All of these are part of the package in my opinion. Its for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part (in Christian Marriage Vows) I believe

It however doesn’t say for fatter for thinner lol — ok, but seriously, the spouses should be seen to do their best to remain attractive to their significant other. A little weight gain is understandable, maybe even desirable, you should see my neck before I got married, but when your spouse adds 200 pounds to their original weight, that could be pushing it.

And for those that don’t realize it, the weight affects your health adversely, and could be the base of a lot of other frustrations in the marriage. The other spouse though must approach the issue from a loving and mutually beneficial angle and there must be that mutual consent to address the issue which they should both work together in achieving

Boy, this marriage thing isn’t easy, you are excused if you ask yourself sometimes if it isn’t overrated (please don’t shoot me, please don’t shoot me).

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