So Scott and I did something really cool over the weekend. We signed up on in this website that facilitates conversations between couples, on things that should ideally be discussed before getting married. Actually, he signed up yesterday. I signed up earlier, and urged him to do the same. I’m hesitant to call it counseling because no actual counselor is involved.
Between the two of us, I was the one who was insistent on this. While we’re both working, I’m the one who has more extra time on my hands. Also, this is my thing, as in me personally. Every December, my friend sends me guide questions for year-end reflections and new year projections. Whether for my career or relationships, I love having prompts for making assessments. Additionally, this is a Filipino thing. I’ve mentioned this before, that we are required, by law, to undergo pre-marriage counseling.
Scott tells me there’s no such thing in Nepal. I guess (and correct me if I’m wrong) it’s because when the family chooses your partner based on caste, educational attainment, and family reputation, there is an assumption that you share the same values. And that is correct, to some extent.
But counseling doesn’t just tackle the big things. And when you’ve come to a mutual decision to get married, you should’ve figured out the big things already. Counseling tackles the smaller things that are nonetheless important. Such as money – how you’re going to manage it, will you merge finances or keep them separate? Children – how many do you want to have? And this carries the assumption that you both want children. What if one doesn’t want any? Or you can’t have any?
Scott thinks that counseling, or any formal/structured approach to these points of discussion is unnecessary because they can come up organically in everyday conversations anyway. And while I agree with him that they CAN, in our case they just DON’T. Our everyday conversations revolve around work, and I met up with friends, we ate at this place, we played football during lunch break, etc. And these light conversations are great, but I don’t want to spend what very limited time we have (we’re currently long distance) making small talk while we have bigger things to discuss. And because they don’t organically come up in our conversations, we have to be intentional in talking about them.
I believe they’re extremely necessary in our case because we’re in a cross-cultural relationship. While we both agree on a surface level that “family is important,” we were raised in different environments and that’s bound to create nuances. We really don’t need to do anything about these differences except ACKNOWLEDGE them. And it’s good to know beforehand where we’re both coming from so that we avoid misunderstandings and making judgements on each other’s character later on.
There are also the obvious differences. What aspects of each other’s culture are we willing to adopt, what traditions do we uphold, what holidays do we celebrate and how? If we have conflicting views, do we pick one over the other, and if so, how do we choose, or do we pick neither? Where will we live, do we stay with one family, or do we live with neither?
We’ve had some of these conversations even before we got together (because my initial misgivings about an “us” were due to our differences), some over the past years, and some we’re having just now. I will write a separate post on the counseling platform itself once we’re done with it, like a review.
If you’re reading this and you’re married or engaged, did you have these kinds of conversations? Do you think it’s necessary? Did you go through counseling? What did you discuss?