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Questions to Ask Before You Marry

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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

Marriage. Is it a romantic situation with some practical parts? Or it is a practical situation with some romantic parts?

Couples and cultures differ. But experts on marriage warn that, in general, romantic love – you know, that excited feeling you have at the beginning of a relationship – lasts only for about a year. As the relationship continues, partners need to make sure they can still live together happily. In other words, they need to be compatible.

But how do you know if you are compatible with someone? Like in a job interview, you need to ask questions.

Several websites suggest questions you should ask your future bride or groom. We have collected here some of the ones that appear most often.

Huang Fusheng, right, 83, and his wife, Tang Lanfang, 80, pose with their wedding photo, taken in 1958, at Prince Fu Mansion built during Qing dynasty, where they worked together from 1965 to 1992, in central Beijing, China, Feb. 7, 2018.
Huang Fusheng, right, 83, and his wife, Tang Lanfang, 80, pose with their wedding photo, taken in 1958, at Prince Fu Mansion built during Qing dynasty, where they worked together from 1965 to 1992, in central Beijing, China, Feb. 7, 2018.

What kind of debt do you have?

A 2018 poll by the Pew Research Center found that money is one of the top five things couples fight about. Before tying the knot – another way of saying "getting married" – you should talk to your partner about any money each of you owes – such as student loans, house or car payments.

One reason to talk about debt is because married couples may want to make a costly purchase together, such as a house. Debt could limit your ability to do so.

And do not forget about credit card debt. This probably tells more about a person's relationship with money than any other kind of debt. That leads us to our next question.

What are your spending habits?

Some people are good at saving money. They take comfort in having extra in the bank. Others are good at spending money. Shopping, for them, can bring comfort.

If you and your partner spend money differently it could lead to conflict. Now is a good time to talk about savings, budgets and how you will handle your finances together.

Oladipupo Baruwa, 45, an investment promotion officer, and Funke Baruwa, 43, a gender and development expert, pose for a photograph at home in Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 9, 2018.
Oladipupo Baruwa, 45, an investment promotion officer, and Funke Baruwa, 43, a gender and development expert, pose for a photograph at home in Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 9, 2018.

How do you feel about a clean house?

Cleaning up around the house may not seem like a big deal. However, the same poll noted earlier found that 62 percent of all Americans said sharing household duties is important to a successful marriage. How will you and your partner divide them?

When talking about cleaning the house, there is another related question.

How do you feel about clutter?

For some people, living in a house with things everywhere can be very stressful. Other people have a hard time throwing anything away. It is important to know how you and your partner will deal with the everyday stuff of life.

Couples take part in a competition during a mass wedding of 64 doctoral student couples at Harbin Institute of Technology, a university in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China, June 4, 2017.
Couples take part in a competition during a mass wedding of 64 doctoral student couples at Harbin Institute of Technology, a university in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China, June 4, 2017.

How much time do you spend on social media or other technology?

Some people can spend hours on Facebook or playing video games. Other people hate using their time in such a way. Maybe they like to go hiking or play an instrument for hours instead.

So, at the heart of this question is this simpler but all-important one: "How do you like to spend your time?" Couples who share the same interests -- whatever they may be -- are more likely to succeed at being married.

Do you want children?

Okay, whether or not to have children is a big question.

Noor Djait, 31, an architect, and Ismail Benmiled, 36, a businessman, pose for a photograph with their three-year-old son Said and four-month-old daughter Malek at their house in Tunis, Tunisia, Feb. 9, 2018.
Noor Djait, 31, an architect, and Ismail Benmiled, 36, a businessman, pose for a photograph with their three-year-old son Said and four-month-old daughter Malek at their house in Tunis, Tunisia, Feb. 9, 2018.

In marriage, many areas are negotiable. Couples can find a compromise. However, the question of whether or not to have children is not one of these areas. For many people the issue of children can be a deal-breaker.

So, find out before you walk down the aisle, find out if you both have the same expectations about babies – yes, no, how many and when?

Have you ever been arrested? If you have … for what?

This may sound obvious. But you may be surprised by what you learn. Before you marry someone, it is a good idea to find out if your partner has a criminal record.

But keep in mind that not having an arrest record may simply mean that they have never been caught. So, while you are on the topic, you could also ask about a history of gambling, overusing alcohol or drugs or, perhaps, violence.

How much time alone do you need to be happy?

You can't spend every minute together. Or can you? Best to ask.

Brides display their hands decorated with henna around a bride as she poses for her own photographer during a mass marriage ceremony in which, according to its organizers, 70 Muslim couples took their wedding vows, in Ahmedabad, India, February 11, 2018.
Brides display their hands decorated with henna around a bride as she poses for her own photographer during a mass marriage ceremony in which, according to its organizers, 70 Muslim couples took their wedding vows, in Ahmedabad, India, February 11, 2018.

Some people are most happy when they are around others. In fact, some people hate to be alone. But other people may need large amounts of time by themselves.

It is important to share where you fall on this line. Some people may take it personally if their partner does not want to be with them all the time. And the people who need to be alone may feel trapped by being with someone day in and day out, even if it is someone they love.

These are just some of the questions you may want to ask before getting married. These topics may be uncomfortable. But a couple hours of feeling uncomfortable is better than a lifetime of conflict.

Also, experts warn to be careful of someone who does not want to answer questions such as these. That is perhaps the greatest warning sign of all.

And that's the Health & Lifestyle report.

I'm Anna Matteo.

And I'm Bryan Lynn. Happy Valentine's Day!

Love and marriage

Love and marriage

Go together like a horse and carriage

This I'll tell you, brother,

You can't have one without the other...

Is there an important question we have forgotten? What advice would you add to the list? Let us know in the Comments Section!

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor. At the end of the story, Frank Sinatra sings "Love and Marriage."

Quiz - Questions to Ask Before You Marry

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Words in This Story

compatible adj. capable of existing together in a satisfactory relationship (as marriage)

practical adj. relating to what is real rather than to what is possible or imagined

romance n. a love affair (romantic adj. of, relating to, or involving love between two people

clutter n. a crowded or confused mass or collection

negotiable adj. able to be discussed and changed before an agreement or decision is made

compromise n. a way of reaching agreement in which each person or group gives up something that was wanted in order to end an argument or dispute

walk down the aisle – idiomatic phrase to get married

deal-breaker n. something that is important enough to you to prevent you from agreeing to something, buying something, etc.

obviousadj. easily discovered, seen, or understood

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