Sunday, September 21, 2014

20 Things We Wish We'd Known

Too often in our young naive dating life we thought that "getting to know someone" meant knowing their favorite food, color,  sport, past-time... All the silly surface-level stuff that comes out in the first few dates.

As many young RM's embark on the world of post-mission dating

which a little too often looks like this...

we humbly offer up to them, and every other 20-something year old considering marriage, our list of things we wish we would have known before getting married.

*This list began as things we thought of that we personally regretted not addressing in our courtship, but quickly expanded to things our married sisters, friends and even coworkers (I work in family therapy) came up with.*

So, in no particular order, and in no way necessarily relating specifically to our marriage, here is our comprehensive list of things you might not think to consider when you are young and immature (that DOES apply to us directly) and in puppy-love with someone.

1. What is their family's "culture"?
I'm not talking necessarily about their racial or ethnic background here, I'm talking about the culture that their individual family unit has developed through traditions and hobbies.
What does their family do for fun? What are their inside jokes? Favorite movies?
What do they all do when they get together?

Chances are, what they grew up doing with their family is something they are still going to be into and want to incorporate into their own family some day.

My family culture involved a lot of Muppet movies.
2. What do they spend their spare time doing?
Beyond their obvious hobbies, what is it that they like to do when they are wasting time? Does that bother you? ...How often do they waste time? 

Kind of goes with the above one, but it can be interesting to consider. 

3. Financial Maturity.
Maybe this seems obvious, but it's a biggie.
How are they with finances? Are they self-sufficient? If they are self-sufficient, how long have they been that way? If their parents are still paying their bills for them there is a pretty good chance they aren't ready to manage basic house-hold expenses.

***My snarky side wants to add here, "If their parents are still paying bills for them, tell them to man up and get out of their mom's basement. Seriously. WTF."  But I won't.***

Okay, so they pay their own bills. How do they manage a budget? What is their monthly budget? Do they have a savings plan? Are they building credit? Do they have debts? How do they feel about debts? What do they feel is worth going into debt for, and what is not?
Do they have a healthy relationship with money or does it stress them out?

If/When they have "fun/extra" money, what do they spend it on? Is that what you would spend it on??

There are just so many layers to this one.

4. Job history
I cannot stress how ridiculously important this one is, and how intrinsically connected to the previous one.
How many jobs have they had? How long did they hold each job? What kind of field were those jobs in? (Chances are they will continue to get jobs in the same field...) Why did they leave that job? Were they fired? How long have they ever gone without having a job...why?

This can tell you volumes about not only their level of financial responsibility, but whether or not they are committed, loyal, and a hard worker, or if perhaps they are lazy, picky and a huge mooch.

Important stuff to know, people.

5. Loaning money
How do they feel about loaning money to people? What would their reaction be if you suggested you loan someone a significant amount? Do they have conditions about it? 

How do they feel about borrowing money? 

6. Dating history
Now, this is not about the nitty gritty details or anything, just the basics.
How many serious relationships have they had?
-If they haven't had other serious relationships yet, they are likely NOT ready to marry. Give them a chance to date.

As Elsa so wisely said:

and I would add, "You can't just marry the first person you meet".

Dating is like a buffet. You have to sample all your options before you go back for seconds.

...maybe that's a terrible metaphor. Oh well.

Moving along...

With their dating history, how many people have they dated? How did those relationships end? Who broke up with who?
If they've broken off every relationship they might be a player...or have commitment issues...
If they've bounced around from person to person with little to no in-between, you too might be a rebound.

This might not be the last time I use this girls picture in this blog. She's like the theme of this blog. XD
7. SEX
So much to talk about here, but I'll try to stick to the basics.

Along with relationship, you may want to know their sexual history.
Have they had previous partners? How many? Does it bother you?
Are they so virgin that they don't even know basic anatomy? Probably something you should talk about.

If they are getting married just to have sex because they are a horny, that's not going to be a good basis for a relationship.

How often do they want to do it? Do they have any preferences that weird you out?
This is also the category that I am going to throw sexual addictions under.
Porn. You have to talk about it. You have to know. Don't go into marriage blind about sexual addictions.

Birth control. What do you want to use? What are their thoughts on family planning and contraception?

Marriage is not just about sex, but it is about intimacy, and sex is important.

8. Church history/Spirituality level
Have they ever been inactive, and if so, for how long, and why?
How did they observe the Sabbath day in their family? Do they uphold that tradition now?

If they aren't traditionally religious, how do they maintain a spiritual balance in their life? How important is spirituality and religious practice and does that work with what you do in your life?

9. Priority of service
What priority do they place on service in their life? How often do they do community service?
What type of community service are they interested in offering in the future?
What priority to they place on improving their community?

10. How do they treat waiters? Homeless people? Other races? Other cultures?
How do they treat people that they have nothing to gain from?
Are they respectful of cultures and religions different from their own? Are they even educated about cultures and religions that exist besides their own?

11. Politics
How active are they politically and what issues do they passionately care about, if any?

12. What is their level of cleanliness?
There are different levels of messy, from being disorganized to being downright filthy.
Ask their roommates; can they clean? Do they clean up after themselves for one, but also, do they chip in on the household chores?
Try to get a peek at their room/bathroom when they are not expecting you to be over.

13. School priority
What are their aspirations in education? What are their studying habits like? How much of a priority is school for them, and how dedicated are they to getting a degree?

14. Kids
How much experience have they had with kids?
Do you think they will they be a good parent and provider? How do you know?
Who will raise the kids, and what parenting techniques are they used to or do they want?
How do they want to discipline their children?

What do they want to do if you can't have kids?

Saddest picture on the internet
15. Life goals
If their only goal is to get married, it's going to be pretty boring life. What do they want to do with the rest of it?

16. Social life
Are they an extrovert or an introvert? How do they act in crowds? How do they act alone? How do they introduce themselves or carry themselves in social settings? Are they classy or are they immature? Are they polite or obnoxious? Do they need to be the center of attention, or do they prefer to melt into the background?

How do these traits work with the way you prefer to act socially?

Friends say a lot about a person. Literally, they can tell you things about your significant other that you wouldn't know otherwise. Ask questions. Get to know their friends. They will be your friends too.
Do they have friends? Do you like their friends? How long have they had those friends?
Do they want to spend time with their friends and spend healthy time apart from you? *That's a really important one!!*

18. Compromising
How do they argue? (If you haven't had an argument or disagreement in your relationship, it's not a mature enough relationship to consider marrying them. Seriously people. Seriously.)
Do they insist on being right or are they willing to compromise? Are they humble and open to change? (Not that you should try to change someone, but that we should all be trying to better ourselves all the time.)

Do they think they are perfect the way they are? Do they think YOU are perfect the way you are?

This kind of thinking adequately demonstrates an immature relationship. 
Knowing that you can compromise together makes you stronger in marriage, which is essentially one big compromise after another.

19. Do you know who you are?
Are YOU confident in yourself and who you are as a person? Are they???

Do they want to spend 100% of the time with you and neglect their family and friends? If so, they are probably low on self esteem and confidence and need constant reassurance from you that they are special.

Figure out who you are so much that you don't feel like you have to conform to anything when you're with them.

Figure yourself out. Love and care about yourself first.

20. (Last but not least...) What are their weaknesses/flaws?

If you don't know any/can't think of any, you DON'T KNOW THEM WELL ENOUGH.

"You are not going to find someone who is perfect. You are not looking for a perfect person, you are looking for someone whose strengths you love so much that you can work with their flaws." ~The best quote ever directly from my sister who wisely dated her husband for well over a year before getting engaged.

I don't think more need be said.

So that's it! Those are our tips, narrowed down to a 20-point bullet list.

We have one central goal in putting this together and taking so long to think it out. It's not meant to be a deal-breaker list, or discourage anyone in particular from getting together. Our one hope is that anyone considering a more serious, permanent and ideally eternal relationship will take a moment to consider all that it will entail. Take a step back. Consider all the elements. Be smart.

Marriage is amazing, but it's hard. You can make the journey a lot easier if you are intelligent, patient and informed going into it. Save yourself some hardship by asking hard questions now.

So there you have it.


  1. GAH. I love you. WONDERFUL advice my dear! Love love. Lovelovelove. I shall implement this directly. As soon as I have a serious boyfriend. So in...approximately eight years! ;) jk

  2. This should be passed out to every high school graduate along with the diploma. One of these days I'll write a baby one that we'll staple to the back

  3. From Jennifer: Love it! It's unfortunate that this logical approach to courtship isn't more common. I felt well prepared in a general sense from church classes (date boys who respect you, honor their priesthood, etc.) but I think the youth of today could really use specific checklists like this. Family culture is a big deal! How to spend free time is a big deal. Congrats on a great blog post. :)


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