IMHO Things You Should Know Before You Tie The Knot

Things You Should Know Before You Tie The Knot

Why do you “date” someone? Everyone has their reasons. For some, dating is a way of saying “I like you but I’m not ready for marriage yet,” and for others it’s a matter of “I like you but I don’t know if I like you that much.” To me, dating is an excellent way to find out what you’re getting yourself into.

The dating period lasts months for some and years for others, and that’s okay. Circumstances differ, but what I think shouldn’t differ are the things you need to know about someone before you marry them.

Their Political and Religious Leanings
Is your significant other liberal or conservative? How do they feel about abortion? Do they even care about politics at all? Even if you or your significant other isn’t hugely involved in politics, differences in political beliefs can turn into emotional arguments later. It’s okay to disagree with your SO, just make sure that you both are able to accept the differences. If you are fiercely pro-life and your SO leans toward pro-choice, it’s better to know that sooner than later. The same goes for religious beliefs. Some couples are perfectly fine having different religious beliefs, but this is something that needs to be established early on.

What Their Idea of “The Future” Looks Like
I am a two-kids, one-dog, white-picket-fence sort of person. This is my idea of “settling down” someday, but it’s not everyone’s. It’s easy to make the incorrect assumption that your idea of the future is going to perfectly meld with that of your SO, and once you get married everything will fall into place like a Disney movie, minus the singing animals.

This is so incorrect it’s not even funny.

Plans for the future can make or break relationships. If your SO is planning on traveling the world before settling down, and you can’t imagine leaving your hometown, this is something that you should probably discuss. Do you want to go back to school someday? Does your SO? These seem like issues that should be thought about later but they are really important. If your SO isn’t comfortable taking out loans for your Masters’ or you don’t want to travel the world, these things should be out in the open.

To child or not to child?
In the course of a normal dating relationship, you will probably find out at some point how your SO feels about children. If not, this is a must. IMHO, you should not only know about whether or not the other person wants children, but if they do, what kind of parent they will be. How do they feel about things like spanking or sharing their religious views with their children? If you’re actually considering spending your life with this person, they’re going to be your partner in everything, including parenting. Do your homework and find out what kind of parent you’ll be marrying.

“By the time my kid is 2, I’m going to have him on Rosetta Stone. And doing calculus. You can teach him that.” – Brandon on his parenting style. I’m feeling good about it.

How They Fight
When couples tell me they “never fight,” I have to shake my head. Fighting, if done maturely, is an important part of any relationship. Disagreements are bound to happen, especially after marriage when the stakes are high with issues like money, and how you and your SO handle them can be key to whether or not you stay together ’til death do you part. This is something you need to know before you commit.

If your SO fights by lobbing insults, put-downs, or refuses to talk at all when he/she is angry, this is something you should be aware of. Fighting dirty now might not be a concern when it’s over something small like whether or not you were checking out that guy, but it can be damaging later on. Fighting “better” can be learned, but I think it should be done before you’re living together and sharing a bank account.

What They’re Like At Their Worst
When you’re first dating someone, you want to always put your best foot forward. You dress up for dates and use your best manners. Eventually, if you’re together long enough, this completely falls apart, and you end up seeing the other person for who they really are. Sometimes you end up seeing them at their complete worst. I’d highly recommend this.

Though I can’t really say Brandon has a “worst” (his hair always looks good), we’ve been through some high-stress situations together. There was one time where we were stuck in New York and I missed my bus and literally everything that could go wrong, did. We were both mad and tired, and it was interesting to see how we handled things. I was glad to see that when we’re both at our worst, we can still manage to work as a team. I’d rather know that now.

Not only have we seen each other at our angry “worst,” we’ve seen each other at our “appearance” worst, too. He has had the pleasure of hanging out with me in the hospital, when I was all icky and probably smelled like hospital mashed potatoes and had to be hooked up to a giant IV pole. We’ve seen each other when we’ve been camping, where we both haven’t showered for upwards of three days. It’s important to see each other this way because life isn’t always going to give you time to primp before your day, and when you’re married, you’re going to see each other at your worst eventually. It’s nice to have done it up front and know that you’re still okay with your SO at the end of the day and that they will still hang out with you and love you even if you smell weird.

How They Feel About $$$
Money is the root of all evil, right? It’s also the root of many marital disputes. How good is your SO at managing their money? Do you want to share bank accounts? What’s more important: a big house or money to travel? While you don’t have to discuss the specifics, get a general idea of your SO’s thoughts on money before tying the knot and marrying your bank account to theirs.

What Their Quirks Are
This isn’t nearly as important as the other points I’ve mentioned, but I think it’s still important. I know that Brandon takes a half hour after he gets out of bed to actually “wake up,” and that I should save my somewhat over-enthusiastic morning person talk for after this period of time. He knows that I eat potato chips with my pinky up and that I never wear closed-toed shoes unless I absolutely have to.

While these things are not marriage make-or-break issues, I think it’s part of that whole “dating is knowing what you’re getting into” thing. Not only is it good to know what the other person’s quirks are, I think it’s what makes dating someone so special. You get to know the things that not everyone else knows about that person, and you find out that no matter how weird you are (I’m really weird, let’s be honest), someone in the world still thinks you’re awesome.

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I’m certainly not a marriage expert or a dating expert, but I just think there are some things you should know about the other person before you decide they are okay enough to live in a nursing home with someday. For those of you that are married, what are your thoughts? Are there things you wished you’d known beforehand?

Xoxo, Taylor

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Observations about Wyoming from a Displaced Westerner

It is amazing what you can learn about your home state when you no longer live in it. After spending almost two academic years on the East Coast, I’ve definitely been able to see my home state out West in a different light. I still love it, but the distance has given me some interesting perspective. Here are some of the things I’ve learned about good old Wyoming while I’ve been gone.

Wyoming is known for more than just “cowboys and indians;” we are also known for Jackson Hole and Yellowstone.

Most Wyomingites think we are just known out East as the land of the Wild Wild West, where cowboys roam the plains on their horses. At least that’s what I thought. I was surprised to find out that we are also known internationally for Yellowstone National Park. I hadn’t thought about it, figuring our “Wild Wild” reputation would supersede any other considerations, but it turns out that many international students here know Wyoming for Yellowstone. We’re also quite famous for Jackson Hole. I’m asked often if Wyoming is like “Jackson Hole,” which I respond to with laughter. No, I say, Jackson Hole is nothing like the rest of Wyoming. But they get partial credit for at least remembering I’m from Wyoming and not Wisconsin (I get that a lot for some reason).

Almost no one dislikes the federal government as much as we do.

As a state, Wyoming is known to be pretty conservative. I hadn’t realized how much so until the other day when my Legal Studies professor pointed out that most states are totally okay with the federal government, and then made the joke that I probably had no idea what it was like to think that way, since I’m from Wyoming. I won’t generalize political beliefs to all Wyomingites, but I genuinely had no idea that we have a unique distaste for federal government. I had always assumed everyone  didn’t like the federal government!

Getting to see the stars at night is a blessing, not a given.

When I was working this summer, one of the students I was working with was a New Yorker. In a conversation about my home state, he said, “I’d like to go out there sometime. I’d like to see the starts at night.” I hadn’t realized until I moved out East that seeing the stars at night is a rarity because of light pollution. Back in Wyoming, you can see them every night. I think of laying on the top of our trailer during camping trips to the lake and looking at the stars, and I realize that’s an experience some may never get to have. It’s a unique feature of living somewhere less populated.

Wyomingites get married young.

I have friends out here from both various US states and different countries, and it seems that when it comes to marriage, we are years ahead of the pack. As a college student, I have both married friends and friends who are soon to be married, which surprises many of my friends here in the East. I find it an interesting difference. I guess Wyomingites just know what they want!

Pickup trucks aren’t really a thing elsewhere.

Outside of areas that are more sparsely populated, have outdoorsey things, or have agriculture or other big industry, pickup trucks aren’t owned as much by normal consumers. My friends here think it’s funny that my family even owns a pickup truck, calling it a truly “Wyoming” thing to own one. Some of my international friends don’t see them on the streets at all in their home countries. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have grown up never seeing one. What else would have filled the “Cowboy Lot” at my high school? …And I guess that probably answers my question.

You can’t beat Western hospitality.

It’s always been said that people are just friendlier out West, and I’ve found that to be absolutely true, but not for the reasons you may think. People in the West often think that Easterners are cold and unfriendly, but it’s only due to the volume of people they see daily. Back in Wyoming, it’s completely normal to smile at passersby, to wave at people on two lane roads from your car, and to have a ten minute chat with the checkout lady at the grocery store. But here, if you were exercise that amount of kindness every time you encountered another person, you’d be both physically and mentally exhausted, and you’d never get anywhere you needed to go. Regardless of the reason, there is something about living out West and having grown up in such a friendly place that I loved – and still love.

It’s been an adventure living out East, but there’s no place like home. It’s only in Wyoming that I can ride around in a pickup truck like something straight out of a country song, see the stars at night, and know everyone that works at my local coffee shop. It’s also the only place where you can listen to the song “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and some people will nod along because they really do think your tractor is sexy.

 

Inspired by the WordPress prompt “West End Girls.”

Check out some other interpretations of the prompt here:
Big City Girl | Rose-tinted Rambles
Saudi Arabia Was Beautiful But I’m Happy It’s Not My Home, Anymore | Kosher Adobo
Daily Prompt: West End Girls | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
My Abrupt Descent Into the Cesspit of Humanity | Thinking Diagonally
CATS! Daily Prompt | alienorajt

Vows…for a bargain?

Today, I was watching Extreme Cheapskates on TLC. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a mixture of fascinating, helpful, and upsetting. These people will do anything to save a quarter. Some people’s ideas are actually reasonable: saving slivers of soap to make another bar of soap, making sure to turn off lights when not in use, etc. Others are just plain absurd. So far I’ve watched a woman who does her own dental work by pulling out her own teeth with pliers and another woman who uses cat food in place of canned tuna fish. While these were certainly upsetting, I found myself most perplexed by the woman who threw her unwilling daughter an extreme cheapskate-style wedding.

I had a reaction to the numerous extreme cheapskates who forsook toilet paper or other basic conveniences, but that seemed to speak to my desire for the basic creature comforts of convenience and hygiene. The wedding strangely seemed to strike an emotional chord for me.

My first reaction was to feel pity for the poor girl whose mother asked guests to bring food, potluck style, purchased her daughter’s dress at a pawn shop, rat urine and all, and held the wedding in a school gymnasium. How could she! She’s ruined the wedding! While the daughter thought that at first, her and her new husband looked absolutely overjoyed by the end. They both admitted that the wedding was far from what they had pictured, but they looked like the happiest people in the world as they sat there together amongst their guests.

As a woman, it seems that weddings are almost always attached to things. Love is the most important thing, of course! But when I think of weddings, I see much more than just the man standing at the altar. I imagine beautiful decorations, flowers, the venue, the cake….and on and on. I always think of it as part of the package. Watching the cheapskate wedding made me really think about what makes those moments like weddings special.

When I thought about it, it seemed funny to me that I’d attached material things to such a highly emotional and personal event. Would it really be a wedding without the gown? The cake? The flowers?

I don’t know, but I do know two things. One is that love is THE most important “thing,” beyond any of the extras. Another is that for now, I’m going to continue to outsource my dentistry to a licensed professional.

Finding the Right (Wo)Man

The other day, I was scanning through my news feed and saw an article entitled “It Matters Who You Marry,” a blogger’s Christian take on how to decide if a man was marriage material. It was an excellent article, but I didn’t think much of it, until I noticed the same author had written a similar article for men, telling them how to know if a woman was worth marrying.

It seems as if women are always putting some emphasis (and maybe more than men) on finding the right man.

When I read the article for men out of curiousity, I found myself introspecting about how I’d measure up to the author’s criteria, and I realized something surprising. I had never thought about myself, or other women, as subject to evaluation on the topic of marriage-worthiness.

This might be just me. But I don’t think it is. When I’m talking to my friends about employment, I find that we all often list out our good qualities to each other, as if to make our cases to hypothetical employers. “But I mean, I worked that summer job two summers in a row. And that shows leadership. And then I worked for that day camp. Employers love that. I’m also awesome at working in teams. I have a good chance at the job, right?”

Especially in college, this is how the conversation goes time and time again. But never once can I remember women around me (including myself) ever feeling like we needed to make the same case for marriage or dating, especially when it comes to personality. I’ve often heard girls say something to the effect of “But I’m like wayyyyy hotter than her anyhow, right? So he’s totally going to choose me over her.”

I can’t say I’ve heard anything to the effect of “…but I’m a kind person, and I’m so giving, and I know I would treat him really well. I’m intelligent and strong and loyal. I totally have a chance with him right?”

Granted, maybe this is partly because we don’t feel comfortable evaluating ourselves on such a deep level (and sharing with those around us.) I think, however, that maybe we should start. Reading that article on how men should choose who’s marriage-worthy made me wonder if women spend more time trying to find someone who’s date/marriage worthy than they do looking inward.

I think that it is easy to say “There are just no good men out there these days,” but are we really good women? Are we exhibiting the characteristics that warrant someone wanting to spend the long term with us?

Men have the same need to be supported mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually as women do. While many a joke can be made about men’s tendencies to gravitate toward the physical, men who are ready for mature relationships realize that having someone with a great figure means nothing if she can’t hold an intelligent conversation. In the long run, men are looking for someone who can challenge them, support them, and stand beside them.

(Keep in mind I’m not just talking about marriage here. Even in college dating relationships, many men are past the days of hook-ups and flings. They want the same things out of a relationship as they would a marriage, albeit at less intensity and of course less commitment.)

We as women can easily fall into the trap of “He should love me just the way I am!” When it comes to your personality, that’s absolutely true, but love on any level is an active partnership between two people. Both sides (yes, you included!) will have to support and encourage each other, and if this isn’t something that falls into “just the way you are,” it’s something you may have to work at.

I’m certainly not advocating a change in personality to make sure that you fit into some “girlfriend/wife box.” But there are basic characteristics that separate the girl that the guy brings home from the girl that the guy brings home to mom and dad.

While they may not show it (via fifty-two thousand ‘Is he the one?’ quizzes on the internet or an article in every issue of Cosmopolitan), men are evaluating women on a deeper level.

At the end of the day, Mr. Right has a checklist just like yours. And the question is, do you measure up?

Find the original blog posts here:

http://thechristianpundit.org/2012/09/12/guys-it-matters-whom-you-marry-too/

http://thechristianpundit.org/2012/08/15/it/