Marriage is a union in which partners need to actively build and maintain the equality in their marriage. The Institute feels that "Equality" in your marriage is defined by you and your partner. We realize that partnerships grow and change over time, and, they also can become stagnate. Whether it's having children, a change in career, taking care of elderly relatives or moving to a new location; responsibilities and expectations in a relationship need be to continually reassessed. By doing this, you and your partner can engage in conversations that may prevent unnecessary conflict in the future and keep your relationship "active".
In order to help you and your partner get started, we've come up with some questions that you should ask each other, and yourself, on a regular basis.
- How do you feel about the equality in your relationship? What does "equality" mean to you in your relationship?
- If you have (or plan to have) children do/will you (or your spouse) stay at home to raise them? Do/will you have a nanny so both of you can still work?
- If having children means you have stopped (or will stop) working, do you believe that your contribution to the household is as valuable as your spouse's? Do you know how your partner feels about this?
- Do you trust your partner to be "fair" if ever you should part with each other? If you trust them...have you spoken about creating a marriage contract?
- If your spouse is suddenly laid off or decides to stop working, do you expect them to still contribute financially from their own personal savings account or will you be expected to "pick up" the slack for however long it takes for them to find a new job? How do you feel about this? What if you were in their shoes?
- How do you feel about sharing responsibilities for the home? Who does what around the house?
- How much money do you consider enough to live on? How much do you want to have in your savings as a "cushion"?
- Are you happy in your professions? How would you- as a couple- handle job changes? How would you handle possible relocation?
- How will you feel if your partner wants to go back to school to further their education? How will that change your roles and expectations, both financial and personal?
Life, circumstances, and relationships change over time ... your questions and answers will also evolve. Be sure to continue the dialogue you've started. Take time to "check-in" with your own answers and those of your partners ... by keeping these communication lines open, you are strengthening the bond that will help your marriage endure whatever comes your way.
Take a look at the questions listed in Mastering Communication to learn more about each other.
Have you thought about putting your commitment in writing? Go to our page on Postnuptial Agreements.
Actions During Marriage