Every contract worth its name is negotiated based on agreed terms. Whether such negotiation is free and fair determines the integrity of the contract. Marriages are supposed to be contracted by two willing partners on equal, mutually agreed terms.
Many are suffering in marriages today because of poorly negotiated terms of engagements. It is clear from the testimonies of many divorce case that most of these failed marriages were badly contracted without equity, fairness and justice by both love partners. Some are forced into marriages they do not want. A forced marriage is a form of slavery.
Most marital crises end in divorce because one of the parties felt cheated by the stronger partner in the negotiation of the relationship, as the aggrieved party bargained from a position of relative weakness. Some negotiate out of ignorance, inadequate information, subtle blackmail or outright deceit. And sadly, most victims of unfair marriages are women, most of whom are poor, desperate, uneducated or powerless in some way.
Marriages should be a union of equals. It must be mutually desired and appreciated by both parties. If you go into it with the belief that your partner has done you a favour, you’d most likely end up a victim. You would be at the mercy of your spouse. Such a marriage is not balanced and is likely to be problematic all the way.
You do not marry someone out of sympathy. It must be clearly established that both parties have a strong enough desire for each other to end up in a permanent marital relationship on equal terms. Your personal consideration for marriage should be balanced with your partner’s, such that neither party feels conquered or subdued as in a duel. When you come into a relationship on an equal footing, you can have the boldness to negotiate a fair deal that is mutually beneficial.
One reason you should never subordinate yourself in the negotiation process is that, before you go deeper into courtship, you should conduct thorough background checks on your future partner to see if you are dealing with the right person.
You should ask direct questions about their family, education, sex life, previous relationships in case he/she had a love child from a previous marriage or affair. Be bold enough to ask about their job, religious beliefs, political philosophy, health status, in case they are diabetic, hypertensive, epileptic or suffering from any congenital diseases, or have a history of serious disorder like mental problems, HIV – AIDS etc. Check your blood group to see if you are compatible so that you don’t start breeding sickle cell children
Most couples fail to probe deeper into these issues before they sign the dotted lines for fear their partner may be offended. But invariably, if these issues are ignored, they become time – bombs.
The period of courtship is a shadow of real married life. It is a rare opportunity for you to settle all questions you might wish to ask. Beyond lovey-dovey, you must resolve all other ancillary relationships tied to marriage like those of in-laws, mothers-in-law, and such other people who see themselves as stakeholders in a marriage. Some of these are undesirables that create serious problems in marriage; you better discuss them before you tie the nuptial knot.
You should negotiate your new life style as a young couple. Holiday preferences, where to worship, if you married from different churches, the number of children you need and their gender, where to live, type of cars you’d like to buy, whether you’d tolerate live – in relatives; all of these issues and more, should be discussed in detail before you conclude the deal. Never get married on presumptions. It is a dangerous thing to take things for granted when going into a life – long relationship with a total stranger; someone you didn’t grow up with under the same parents.
One of the most critical subjects you ought to discuss is finance. You should both put all your greed on the table before your dream wealth comes. Every couple hopes to grow rich some day, but not all families negotiate wealth creation responsibilities, in-puts of each couple and the sharing of the cake when the money arrives. Making money rarely causes problems, it is spending it that sparks crisis. So, negotiate the nitty – gritty of family finance; joint accounts if desirable, ownership of homes and other assets when purchased, investment options, donations to charity and monetary gifts to friends and relatives.
There’s nothing wrong if you even discuss the bad times, like the unexpected death of a spouse; life as a single parent, inheritance issues, prospects of remarriage, etc. It is not being sadistic if you negotiate these sensitive issues because they’d come up someday.
Many families have been torn apart because the husband died intestate (ie without a will), and extended family members move in to terrorize an already traumatized widow and throw her out of her home, all in a bid to dispossess her of the property she and her late husband jointly owned.
A thorough, pre – nuptial negotiation saves you this kind of injustice. Sure, marriages are built on trust and love, but these noble virtues do not stop you from protecting your interest. Neither love, nor trust, is offended by a quest for equity and justice.
Weekend Spice: Love and cough cannot be hid – George Herbert.
Ok, folks, let me leave you with this: live your life to the full. Stay motivated till another Friday.
Written by: Ladi Ayodeji –