So, your jaathakam has matched with your potential groom and you’re all set to take the plunge into the marital world. Whether you know he is “the one” or are taking time to ruminate if the relationship clicks – you need to take a step back now and look at the big picture. Okay, so let’s get this straight – here’s a guy who’s gonna be with you for the rest of your life through thick and thin, ups and downs or whatever whimsical trajectory it is destined to take. While you can never be 100% sure of a person’s demeanor, personality and ambitions, the good news is that you can make headway by asking the right questions.
No matter how many ever times we’ve chuckled and chortled at Sreeniavasan’s pennukaanal scene in Sandesam where he asks the girl, “Adhvanikunna thozhilaali vargathinte mojanathinu vendi, tholodu thol chernnu pravarthikkan thayyarano?”, that’s the realest shit can ever get. I mean, isn’t it better for starker realisations to be swallowed all at once? Rather than spending a lifetime gnawing it cuz duh, madhurification kaarnam thuppanam vayya kaypology kaaranam erakkanum vayya.
In the early days of your conversations, there is a tendency for a person to overlook the negative aspects in a relationship and get all starry-eyed at the teeniest of positives. I mean, that’s like wanting a magnifying lens for every desirable trait, but turning your back at the microscope to inspect the obvious shortfalls. So, before you are armed with these questions, let me tell you to switch off the hopeless romantic in you as that will lead you to brush potential red flags that may arise during the conversation, under the carpet.
Why tie the knot?
If this were the ‘70s I’m pretty sure you’d hear “out of a social obligation”. Times were such that nobody cared about the preferences of an individual and the decision was taken solely by the parents on the basis of religion, caste and the socio-economic standing of both families in question. I wouldn’t say we have leapt miles away from it, but agency, free-will, compatibility and sexual orientation are slowly but steadily coming to the fore.
Sure, your wedding day may be all about sparkling attires, aesthetic decor and extravaganza, but marriage is a lot more than that. Today, people get married for a variety of reasons ranging from love and companionship to security and future prospects to family/peer pressure and as a quick fix to a broken relationship. Freewheeling on this topic will get you clarity on why you both are about to do what you’re about to do and that the decision has nothing to do with money – insert the topic of dowry here and explore his opinion. And if he is pro-dowry, you can drop the “There will be no pheras. I’m not paying someone to marry me” dialogue from Made in Heaven, the Amazon Series.
Where will we live after our marriage?
If this was a topic jointly delved into by couples, we wouldn’t have seen so many couples seeming down in the mouth. Figure out if you want to live independently or with one of your families. Have conversations about your future home and what life goals you prioritize while setting up your home. Unfortunately, in our country the case has always been that the girl relocates to the work location of the guy, even if she is pursuing a career in her dream company. People forget that this decision needs to be taken with mutual consent and happiness. Shouldn’t efforts come from both sides, without the girl always being at the sacrificing end? It always helps to ask him if he is open to changes and compromises.
What is your equation with your parents?
This is more like a follow up to the previous question. So, in case you decide to move in with his family, or even otherwise, it is always a great idea to gauge the relationship the family shares. If his parents are the type who values his perspectives and have brought him up setting healthy boundaries, chances are your beliefs and opinions would be respected in the household. But if his parents are nosy parkers who are possessive and overly intrusive in their son’s matters, then you might want to dive more into this, just so that you aren’t marching your way into the midst of a soul-sucking toxic family. You may also want to know if there are ammavans and ammayis in the family who manipulate their opinions and completely hijack situations to their advantage. Prospective brides, make sure you talk about setting healthy boundaries when it comes to involving parents and extended family in everyday life decisions.
What is it that you best like about me?
While it sounds pretty basic, you would be surprised how many end up shocked at the responses. He might say “I like your calm temperament” when you know that you are just a bundle of nerves, anxious to the core all the time. Snap him out of painting a delusional you and talk at length about who you actually are, your ambitions, your quirks, your peeves, your fears and whatever else is worth knowing. You might not want to wake up a couple of months later and hear, “Damn, I had no clue you hated pets.”, when all the while you were just pampering his dog cuz you didn’t want to offend your groom. Likewise, tell him what you think about him and encourage him to express his true authentic self to you.
How do you handle your finances?
His matrimonial profile may boast of a six figure salary, but that doesn’t essentially convert to financial independence. He could be a crazy spendaholic with zero saving sense, living each day off debt. As unromantic as it may sound, quiz him on his financial wisdom – whether he keeps a track of his spending, knows where exactly a major chunk of his income goes, monitors his non-essential spending trend and has financial goals in place. You may also want to draw up a budget with your combined income to discuss who takes care of monthly bills, one-time payments, long-term investments towards a common goal etc. Additionally, discuss if you want to open a joint account to merge your finances; this is completely a personal choice and you must do it only if both of you consent to it.
Pro question at this level: Would you mind if I earn more than you?
Was there anything in your matrimonial profile that was exaggerated?
Since you’d already plugged in ‘matrimonial profile’ for the previous question, this might be an apt addition. Matrimonial sites are most of the time created by parents and in order to be touted as Kerala’s Most Desirable, they may fib about anything ranging from age, pay package, designation to educational background. Though I’ve never come to terms with why factors such as height, weight and complexion matter, I’ve personally seen people forging it up in their profiles. I mean, if these things matter to the person you’re getting married to, then dude, should you even be marrying him? For some girls, their parents may have copy-pasted an older cousin’s bio which screams “god fearing”, “mild hearted”, “tender natured” and “homely” , but if you’re a feisty, spunky, free-spirited raver, then shouldn’t you be sharing that with your forever person and also validating that your impression of him is true.
Let’s talk about our past relationships
You may have had five, but this may not be something that you want to discuss with him. Which is completely understandable, at least not in the first couple of dates. You don’t have to really rant about your exes or try to extract things from him from the get-go. Once you get to know the person and there’s a free-flowing conversation, let the topic come to the surface on its own. And that’s when you discuss about your past. Remember to keep it short and not prod him too much if he doesn’t want to get into the nitty-gritties; and there’s no need to as long as you’re sure that he considers it a fling of the past (pun unintended). The same goes for you; when you’re talking about your own, you need to also assure him that you’ve gotten over it. Watch out for any red flags of pressuring you into disclosing too much or reactional changes that indicate retroactive jealousy — being jealous and obsessing over one’s partner’s past relationships.
Alright, time for some baby talk
Might sound like a bitter pill to swallow, but having a kid will alter the course of your relationship. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It could revitalize it, but most often than not, teething problems are bound to fall upon you as you figure out your new roles as parents, and that’s perfectly fine. But what’s important is that you both are on the same page when it comes to things like: Do you want to have kids? When’s the appropriate time to have them? How do we deal with an unplanned pregnancy? Are you open to fertility treatments in case conception is difficult? What are your thoughts on adoption? What kind of a parent do you think you’d be – permissive, authoritative, free-range, helicopter? What about splitting parental chores? Are you willing to take turns for night feeds? Does one of us want to be a stay-at-home parent during the LO’s nurturing phase? This may also open the doors to sharing your own childhood experiences, traumas and a whole lot of events and milestones that may have shaped you while growing up.
Pro question at this level: How do you plan to handle nosy relatives who keep asking for kids?
Of course, your (and their) answers to at least some of the above may change over the years, and you may feel that ‘winging it’ is the name of the game, but nevertheless, it is a good idea to touch base on such aspects and unearth each other’s’ perspectives, values, dreams and love languages. Trust me, it’s worth it! Okay now, go shoot!