Friday, December 11, 2009

Things to Know Before You Agree to Marry Him

Dear Terry,

I always feel happy reading your blog and your newsletters as well! I read these two points in your newsletter:

1) "Which brings us to YOU. How do you feel about infidelity? If it's a deal breaker for you, don't marry a man and assume it's a deal breaker for him."

2)"If you want a faithful guy, marry a faithful guy. If you want (or don't want) children, marry a man who's on the same page."

Now, you could ask a man if he wants kids after marriage or not? When do you ask this? Is it when you decide he's the one? Is it when he proposes ?

Now, the tougher part - How do you find out if a man's faithful? Please don't tell me we can ask the man to find out if he's faithful or not! If he's interested in the girl, his answer would always be yes!

And how do you ask this question? I know many faithful great married men, but then there are also some who cheat after 10 yrs of marriage, etc. How can you find out for sure the man would never ever cheat ?

Eagerly waiting for your reply ....

Keep me Anonymous

Hi, Anonymous-

About having kids: When you've been dating a man for a while, you're probably going to be invited to his family's house. He'll be invited to yours. Chances are, one or both of your families will have a few kids running around, and you'll see how the guy behaves around them.

You'll see if he likes them, and if they like him. Shortly after I started dating my husband, we went to a barbecue at my friend's house. She had a couple of kids and commented how good he was with them.

I passed along the compliment, but at that point, I didn't ask him if he had any plans for fatherhood.

Later on in the relationship, his sister visited from Canada to go to a wedding and asked him to babysit. I spent the day with him and his nephews. The children clearly loved him, but the subject of his having his own children had never come up between us. So, at that point, having spent many months together, I said (casually), "You really are great with kids. Do you want your own some day?"

I didn't ask him if he wanted them with me. I just let him answer.

When we started talking about getting married, I made it clear that I was open to having children, but I wasn't positive I could have them (I had no reason to think I suffered from fertility problems, but many people do. For all I knew, he did). I asked him if we were to find out we couldn't have children, would he be okay with it? I asked him if we could have children, would he be happy with two of them?

As for being faithful, there's a lot you can tell about a person by the way he looks at, behaves around, and talks about other women. If he's got a friend who's cheating on a girlfriend, what's his attitude about it? What's his attitude towards women in general?

What about his character? Does he keep his word? Show up when he says he's going to show up (and I don't mean just for you, I mean for friends, employers, etc.)? Is he prone to twisting the truth, taking the bigger half, that sort of thing? These may not be definite indicators of a potential cheater, but they are red flags. It does indicate that the guy puts his own interests before people's.

It helps to watch how his parents treat each other, or if they're remarried, how they treat their spouses.

Again, when we started talking about the possibility of marriage, I asked my then-boyfriend how he felt about cheating, if he'd ever cheated before, if his parents had a good marriage, that sort of thing. We had a discussion. He wanted to know the same things about me.

I said I don't respect cheaters, and I wouldn't stick around if he ever cheated on me. He said, "That's fair because if you ever cheated on me, I'd divorce you."

There are never any guarantees in life, so this discussion didn't guarantee we'd never cheat on one another. But having it did let him know where I stood. I knew where he stood. And knowing where we stood decreased the chances of nasty surprises.

I want to reiterate that this conversation came after we'd been together a while and had become serious. I spent much of our early relationship watching my husband to see if his actions matched his words. If they hadn't I would have let him go. The conversation would not have been necessary.

As for your question about men who cheat ten years later, I do believe that character is a good indicator about whether your guy will turn out to be one of these. Occasionally, people do change and others just make mistakes, so again you can never say never, but a man with character isn't going to go on a business trip with the intention of scoring a little side action.

I really hope this helps.


Matt@ dating websites Americ said...

Make sure he is past his 'lad' type behaviour. Is he still in touch with any of his ex's? How much of a hold does his family have over him and how will that affect your time together?

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Jokah Macpherson said...

He said, "That's fair because if you ever cheated on me, I'd divorce you."

Your husband is awesome. He gave the best possible answer.

From my side-interest in social science, a few other interesting points: attending religious services on a weekly basis decreases the likelihood of a man cheating by about 33% versus never attending. This works on a continuum so the 33% is spread out over increased attendance. This is probably no help to someone who is strongly anti-religion but if you are religious or at least ambivalent yourself it is something to consider. I personally believe that this is because regular church attendance provides an indication that a person takes a particular commitment seriously, and is more likely to take another one (marriage) seriously as well.

Also, smarter men (and women) are more likely to cheat, so it may be less risky to marry someone of average intelligence, although again it depends on what kind of person you are. I chalk this up to smart people being less able to relate to the average Joe/Jane. Thus, they are less likely to marry someone similar to themselves, and when the magic of first love fades, they may find they no longer have any shared values or interests with their spouse.

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