Couple Needs to Talk Before Marriage

Secrets and Lies Oct 11, 2018

Ironically, before romantic love became the basis for marriage—a game-changer that historian Stephanie Coontz dates to the 1700s—marriage was based on talk because it was a contractual binding of individuals, property, and families.


Our focus on romantic love as the basis for marriage has a definite downside, though it makes for a pretty picture at the beginning. What’s not to like about the guy who hired a skywriter to propose or nestled an engagement ring atop a teeny cupcake? Who doesn’t love stories of friends who hung out for years and then, out of the blue, realized love was in the air? Many of the conversations we need to have with our future life partner are avoided precisely because they're so unromantic.


Yet marriage is complicated because we are complicated. Each of us brings into marriage a boatload of unarticulated thoughts about what it means to be married based on what we’ve seen, heard, experienced, or formulated in contrast to our parents’ example—and those unconsciousthoughts influence our behavior and reactions. Marriage has its own set of myths, including the one that says that whatever is wrong with your relationship will be fixed by the commitment marriage represents.


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