I came across an article in Her World once which I found insightful. It was a list of questions to ask yourself and the significant other before taking any big leaps. Not just referring to marriage here. Could be moving in or getting engaged.

I tore that article to keep and made a mental note to run through it the day I had to make 'grown up decisions'. Then of course I met The Boy overseas and ended up marrying him while my useful article protested in my home drawer.

To make amends, I hereby reproduce it and hope it serves you well.
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Moving In Together

- Am I moving in with him/her mainly to get distance from my parents or to prove that I’m an adult?
- Am I doing this because I don’t think I can make it alone and I assume he/she will take care of me?
- Was this decision prompted because it makes life more convenient or is it a great financial deal?
- Am I running away from a bad living situation or roommate?
- Can I tolerate their daily habits?
- Do I feel relaxed enough around them to reveal my flaws?
- Have we discussed duties? Who cleans and when? Or have we agreed to hire someone?
- Will we split our rent down the middle or does it depend on whose salary is bigger?
- Have we set rules about how often friends and family may stay over?
- How will we merge our decorating tastes? Do either of us have items we’re not willing to give up?
- Am I prepared to have someone always in my space?
- Does he/she drink/smoke too much?
- What is his/her financial track record?
- Has he/she been financially dependent on prior girlfriends/boyfriends?
- What do our recurring fights tend to be about? Do we believe that cohabitation will fix those issues?
- Could our routine spats get worse when we share such close quarters? How have we prepared for that?
- Am I hoping this will lead to getting engaged? If so, does he know that and share the goal of marriage?
- If we split up, how will we divide our assets?

Before Getting Engaged

- How much do I expect him/her to spend on a ring relative to his income? Does s/he know this?
- What is the first thing I’ll be excited about when they propose: the ring or spending our lives together?
- Does being with him/her make me truly happy - happier then I was before - or am I just relieved to have a fiance/fiancee?
- Am I doing this because it feels right or is it because I have an internal time lime?
- Do I feel pressured because my friends are engaged or my family is pushing me?
- Does he/she take responsibility and know how to say “I’m sorry” or does he/she stonewall me?
- What kind of friends and friendships does he/she have?
- Does he/she put their friends ahead of our relationship?
- Are we moving at the same pace or is one of us rushing the other to take this next step?
- When I have pangs for old flames, are they random and fleeting or do they leave me longing?
- Has he/she ever flirted or been touchy-feely with others while dating me? If so, am I convinced they now understand appropriate boundaries?
- Do we have the same ideas about where to live?
- What are his/her long term values and goals in terms of his/her career? Wealth? Relationships? Family? Health? Are those compatible with mine? Do I expect any of those to change - for either of us - down the line?
- Would I be prepared to move if they got a great job in another state?

Before Getting Married

- Can he/she put up with my relatives and can I put up with his/hers?
- Are either of us cut off or over-involved with our families?
- Have we discussed our family health histories?
- Have we discussed whether or not we want kids, how many, and how we want to raise them?
- Are we on the same page about our careers? Does one of us want to stay at home?
- Would he/she be cool with my desire to work - or not - after kids?
- Would I be okay with if if I were the breadwinner? Would he/she?
- Would he be okay with it if I keep my last name?
- Do I feel comfortable “marrying” into his social circle of friends?
- If one of his/her parents turned on me, would s/he stand up for me or would I have to fight for myself?
- What’s his/her idea of the right way to discipline children?
- What are our values (family, religion, politics) and do they mesh?
- Do we have similar definitions of what quality leisure time is and how our vacations should be spent?
- Will I be incurring any of his/her debts or will he/she be incurring any of mine?
- Do we plan on having separate bank accounts or creating one that we will both share?
- Is he/she open to going to therapy to work through problems if we need to one day? Am I?
- If he/she doesn’t change and what I’m getting now is exactly what s/he’s going to be and nothing better, will I still be content with he/she?

 
DIY with Love 10/01/2008
 

Don't just DIY because you are on a budget. Do it because it is out of love. This was what I learnt from my sister whom I got to make my solemnization poster. It turned out to be a big hit with the guests, photographer and videographer. By chance, Style Me Pretty is holding a DIY contest for weddings. I submitted my sister's work. Meanwhile, I would like to share with my readers, her step-by-step guide. It's pretty lengthy but it will leave you very inspired.

" Art is to think out of box, to create something out of nothing, to personify each and every used material, every lifeless flat pictorial image and allow it to spring to life on paper. Art is also to instill energy and character to each of my portraits, to depict them as closely adhering to their usual lifestyle, mentally noting their habits (scratch head, adjust glasses, blink eyes,, pout lips, slouch, how they smile, talk, every little habitual movement etc.

Step by Step Guide

1. Look out for each individual glaring characteristic.

2. What defines him differently from the rest?

3. Why does the difference bring out the difference, what causes the difference?

4. Strongly believe each person has a beautiful feature. Focus on finding that feature, which can be character wise, physical traits- that sparking smile, shiny thick hair, wisdom spectacled eyes….

5. Lifestyle of the person, what are his hobbies, his likes, his dislikes, his experiences, people usually associated with, places he go or visit, place he works at, the way he dresses…, I usually interact with the person to be drawn to understand more about him…

6. Focus on the theme, according to request. In the case of designing the wedding poster for my sister, I want to depict a fun, loving, most important YOUNG couple who is high spirited and energetic.
Where can I throw this youth into? Associate with youngster hippy favorite poses which I link with the candid photos my sister took with her hubby. Observe through the photos, how her hubby has a way of hugging her, how he smile when he is around her, how he places his arm around her protectively. Affectionate, loving are some powerful emotions, though which are really beyond words.With every stroke of my black lead pencil, I want to bring out these emotions.

7. Interaction with my sister: .She loves Greek-inspired wedding dresses…. I drew out her little fairyland fantasies, the flowing sheer silk of the Greece robe-wise dress, the romantic alluring enchanting Everland…a princess feeling.Features decided on: A bed of roses is a must, puffy princess puff sleeves, doves with ribbons to rejoice the happiness and bless the couple

8. What define them as couple? The exchange and possession of the wedding bands

9. I went with the flow. After drawing the picture I start working on a 3-Dimensional perspective, thuscoming up with a bit likewise of paper tote idea, puffing up the bottom with 3-D photos of roses,encircling them with warmth, bless them with love, warmth of the beating passionate hearts."


 
 

We are too familiar with the dating scenes (or the lack of it) in Singapore and how the local men have to marry overseas brides and how the local women lament the lack of appropriately accepting men.  Jessica Hagy couldn't have made it more succinct.

 
Give and Take? 09/27/2008
 

I was doing random surfing on this Sunday morning. In the least likely place to learn about weddings and marriages, I saw this article.

Give-And-Take: Recipe for Success in Marriage?    by: Azriel Winnett

A woman once visited a counselor to ask a question about her marriage. I have a funny feeling that you might not be especially impressed with the answer she was given.

All the same, I'll take my chances. I think my shoulders are broad enough.

I stand by the counselor's response 100%.

The questioner (let's call her Jane) was married to a divorcee. Her husband (John) had to pay a certain sum of money every month to his previous wife as alimony, or whatever. He had just started a new business and was passing through a financial sticky patch. The obligation to his ex-wife, on top of everything else, was putting John under a lot of pressure.

Jane was a working person and gladly helped to pay the family debts. She never thought twice about it. But could she be expected to contribute in this case?

Surely, reasoned Jane, her husband's financial commitment to somebody to whom he had been married previously had nothing to do with her? Yes, she and John were life partners and she was happy to share all his burdens. But even for what happened in a previous life, so to speak? Wasn't that going too far?

'I must confess I don't really understand your question,' the counselor gently told Jane after listening intently to her dilemma.

'You and John are husband and wife. John has a debt. He's struggling to pay it. What difference does it make what the debt is for? It's a debt, period!'

The counselor smiled warmly at Jane before she continued. 'His problems are your problems. You're in this together. Why on earth shouldn't you help pay the debt? If, after all, it's difficult for you to accept this, it must be that there's some deeper problem in your marriage...'

And that's it.

Now, it's important not to misunderstand the counselor, or me. I don't want your blood pressure to hit the roof! We have to keep cool heads and put everything in the proper perspective.

First of all, she wasn't implying, of course, that John now had a licence to sit back, put his legs up, and meditate blissfully about the higher meaning of life, while his dear and ever obliging spouse worked like a donkey to pay the price of his past.

Not at all. I should think that's pretty obvious, but I have to stress it just in case.

Secondly, when we talk about husband and wife being full partners in the business of living, about sharing each other's burdens - financial or otherwise - no less than each other's joys, we are not saying for one moment that either party must contribute more than is reasonable.

In the case of our story, Jane was a high-earning professional. In other instances, a wife may bring in little or no income, for any of a number of reasons. It may not be desirable that she be working at all.

But that's hardly the point. We're talking of quality, rather than quantity. One can only do what one can, but it's the real desire to help that counts. And contributing doesn't only mean money.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I don't really like the use of the word PARTNER in connection with marriage.

True, we've used it up to now, for want of a better term. It does come in handy to describe a good marriage relationship, up to a point.

Yet, I hardly think that an ideal marriage relationship is a 'partnership' in the same sense that we talk about a business partnership, for example. Not at all. When we think of a partnership, we usually think about a contract between two parties. A 50-50 sharing of responsibilities,or the like.

A little confused? Well, let me explain!

Do you have children? Good! Do you love them?

'What a question!' you exclaim, 'Gee, how I love them!'

'Don't you know the sacrifices we made for them? From the moment they came into this world, when they depended on us for their very survival, my spouse and I gave them our all. Just as much as a whimper from them in the middle of the night, and we were there to attend to their needs. Even now, they may disappoint us, anger us or hurt us, but we continue to cater to their every whim...Do you need any greater proof that we love them!'

So...is that why you've done so much for them - because you love them so much?

Could be. But even more, I'd say it's the other way round: You love them so intensely BECAUSE you've done so much for them!

This is nothing more or less than human nature, and I think there's a great lesson for us here. We need to think about this very carefully.

Sometimes, when two people begin to think about marrying each other, they think in terms of some business arrangement. Whether they verbally express it that way or not, their minds work something along these lines:

'You have needs and I have needs. Maybe, if I satisfy yours, you will satisfy mine. You wash the dishes and I'll pay the rent. Sundays to Tuesdays I'll take out the garbage, and for the remainder of the week you will. Other duties will be divided by mutual consent. For every suit I buy, you can buy two pairs of shoes...'

If this is the marriage you want, good luck to you! It's a free world. But will you be happy? I mean, really happy? I wonder.

Many people will tell you that for a happy marriage, you need what they describe as 'give-and-take'.

Give and take? Nonsense! Forget about it!

What you need is 'give and give.' And give again. And again.

That's the royal road to happiness.


 

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