What to do after you get engaged
By Frank Kermit
This is an article for couples that are now engaged, I wish you congratulations on getting the "yes"! Welcome to the next level of the development of your relationship. Beware...if you thought getting to this stage was hard, you are about to embark on an even more challenging endeavor: The period of time where you and your partner are testing the waters to see if marriage is going to work out for you.
When working with couples that are discussing marriage, or have gotten engaged, but have concerns about their ability to maintain a lasting relationship, I always encourage the couple to sit down and have a Frank Disclosure
It is time you and your now fiancé embark on a very challenging journey...to share every secret you each have that could potentially end a marriage that has not even begun yet.
We all have secrets. Some secrets you can keep to yourself, but other secrets, if exposed, can ruin your marriage. So the question is, what do you have to tell your future spouse?
The answer is, you must tell your spouse everything you believe might cause your spouse not to marry you. If you happen to be thinking that you could NEVER tell your fiancé about X...well that X is exactly what you need to tell them now.
Does your fiancé need to know everything? In today's world of social media and recorded history...well actually, yes you do. If you chose to safe guard certain truths from you past, at least, you must share those truths that would cripple your relationship if your fiancé ever found out.
For example, if you know that your fiancé would never tolerate dating someone who currently does certain types of illegal drugs, and although you currently do not do any illegal drugs, but you did so in your past, it is important to let your fiancé know. Your fiancé may stay, your fiancé may go but it is important to give your fiancé the chance to make an informed decision, even if it could lead to the end of your current relationship.
Chances are your fiancé will eventually find out, and when that happens, any assumption you might have had that it would no longer be an issue goes out with window, as the divorce papers come riding in. Keep in mind a break up today is a lot less detrimental to your emotional health than a divorce tomorrow from a marriage that was based on omissions of truths.
Here is another example; have you ever posed nude for photos or made a sex tape that is in the hands of an ex? Even if your fiancé does not mind the fact that you did or did not, your fiancé should at least be shown the courtesy of being ready for the day when your vindictive ex makes those images or videos publicly available or posted them on the internet. We never know what can happen in our futures.
Something like this could simply blow over...or it could be detrimental to a career (yours or your fiancé). It would also be a good idea to tell your fiancé before you have children together as your children will share in the fortunes and hardships you experience as a couple. Consider that your kids might get mercilessly teased and bullied in high school when intimate showing of either mom or dad catch up to them. You cannot control the actions of a crazy ex but you can at least have your team be informed of the potential play hazards and take whatever precautions may be necessary.
If you just got engaged, and want to have a disclosure with your partner, consider all the things you can and cannot handle. Take into account your boundaries and deal breakers. Really think about what your values are and how you want those values to be enacted in your life daily. Here are some things you might want to share with your fiancé if you want the best chances of making your marriage last a lifetime. Do either of you have a child out of wedlock that was given up for adoption who may come back into your lives in 20 yrs? Have either of you worked as a sex worker (stripper/ prostitute/ pimp/ driver) at any point in time?
Have you ever had a secret friends-with-benefits liaison with someone that your families will insist attend the wedding? Where either of you ever hospitalized for a suicide attempt? Have either of you ever been on medication for a mental illness that you may relapse into? Have either of you been arrested, incarcerated or have a criminal record? Were either of you dating someone else when you initially met? Have either of you been a party to cheating on past partners, or were the "other" person in an affair? Do either of you have some form of fetish, or alternative sexual lifestyle, or sexual orientation that your current partner does not know about? Have either of you participated in a wild-nature relationship that your current partner would not be able to handle?
In some cases, your fiancé just might not care about your past. If that is the case, then sharing this information will help the couple bond, and make your relationship stronger. It will prevent your enemies, that WANT to see your relationship fail, from being able to use either of your past histories to turn you against each other.
In other cases, your fiancé will care. Your fiancé may have certain beliefs about relationships and life, such that your past, or accepting your past (and vice versa) is just not feasible. In a perfect world, a person's past would not matter, and the love of your life would be accepting of everything about you. We do not live in a perfect world. For that reason, you need to know, and your future spouse needs to know. You are investing your life and all of your resources into this relationship including your bodies, your souls and banking on future children. Make your marriage strong by making an informed decision.
FRANK KERMIT MA
EXPERT RELATIONSHIP COACH
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