“We’re getting married. We haven’t set a date yet, but it’s more than a year off. Do you have any advice?”
I have lots of advice.
For this sexy young bartender, in particular, I’d say:
1) You really really should suck my cock before you stop sucking other guys’ cocks, if you haven’t already. If you plan to stop sucking other guys’ cocks. If you don’t plan to stop sucking other guys’ cocks, no matter – you still really should suck mine. Just there’s less of a rush. Or… never mind. Hurry up. Suck mine. Now.
2) Don’t you want to ask him if you can be my slave for, say, six months, before you agree to a lifetime of “monogamy”?
3) You found a woman’s pictures in his phone. Don’t you think there should be some of you in my phone?
That’s not good advice for this woman, or for any woman, who’s thinking of getting married. So I don’t (really) mean it. You know, except in (all) the ways that I do.
What I really mean is this:
First, I should say, I don’t really have advice. I’m not so much a believer in advice. But I think I can advise on the sorts of questions it might be helpful to be sure you ask yourself, and your partner, before you say “I do.” I’ve listed some questions I think sensible to ask, informed both by my own experience and by that of my friends, family, and acquaintances:
1. What is it that you are most embarrassed, ashamed, or uncomfortable about in yourself? Are there secrets about yourself, things no one other than you knows, things you don’t want to admit? How would your partner feel if s/he knew about them? How would YOU feel if s/he knew about them? (For many, a concrete form this question might take is, “What secrets lie in your web history? And not just your web history, but your web history that has, you hope, been lost because you were in “incognito mode”?)
2. What is the worst thing you can imagine your partner answering to question #1? How would you feel about that answer? What is her/his most LIKELY answer to number 1? How do you feel about that?
3. Ok. Now. Imagine that, on some level, your partner chose you precisely because of that secret. Not consciously, but unconsciously – because something about that secret enables her or him some modicum of safety, familiarity, protection. Or just because s/he doesn’t know how to be with people who don’t have such a secret. How do you feel about that?
4. Related: is there a pattern in all your previous partners (were they all jealous? cruel? messy? inconsiderate?) from which you think/hope your current partner is immune? Are you really sure s/he is immune? That it’s not lurking? (Often, our patterns reflect deep, unacknowledged, un-understood needs of ours.)
An obvious/exaggerated version of what I’m talking about in 3 and 4 is abuse: survivors of intimate partner abuse often find themselves repeatedly partnered with people who abuse them, and, repeatedly being surprised when this partner turns out to be an abuser. (I would never argue that a survivor of intimate partner abuse wants to be abused, but I will say that it’s a lot easier to be with someone who sees in you what you see in you, and often, such people see darkness, shame, and worthlessness when they look at themselves.) While this is one way such a thing can work, it can also be far more harmless and mundane: have all of your previous partners been slobs? Have all of your previous partners been jealous? Etc….
5. Is there something – are there some THINGS – that you hope will change about your partner over time? That you hope will change about your relationship over time? How would it feel to let go of the hope for change, and replace it with a solemn confidence that, whatever it is (they are), it will simply worsen steadily over the duration of your relationship? To know that, if you hope s/he will stop doing x, instead, s/he will just keep doing more and more of x?
This isn’t a prediction, it’s a caution against magical thinking. People DO change, and sometimes, they even change in the ways their partners hope. But people also tend to become more themselves over time, particularly in the face of implicit or explicit criticism or judgment. And marriage isn’t often a spur to people to change for the better.
6. Can you picture yourselves breaking up? Can you imagine what it is that might break you up?
7. Are you envious of your partner? How so? Is s/he envious of you? How so?
8. What do you imagine draws you to your partner? How is s/he like your parents? How is s/he different from your parents?
9. How’s the sex? What’s the trajectory been over the course of your relationship so far? How do you imagine it will change over time?
10. What are the things about which you disagree most often? How? Why?
11. When you fight, what does it look like? Are you able to fight honestly, openly? Is either of you cruel when you fight? How do you handle that?
This is a start of a list. It’s by no means all-inclusive. It’s really meant to get you thinking. There are lots of web sites and sources out there with lists of questions to ask before you get married, but they’re all wrong, best I can tell. They’re all about how to explore how you each feel about questions. And it’s true enough, I think, that marriages break up, generally, because of differences that existed on the day the marriage began. But the way to get at the things that might break you up isn’t to ask every question imaginable about your likes and dislikes – it’s to challenge yourself to look at what you’re (each) sweeping under the rug, pretending not to see, hoping will disappear or change.
I’m going to try to refine and add to this list over time, but I’d love all of your help. What other questions should this young hottie ask herself? (And shouldn’t she, really, suck my cock before she ties the knot?)