Modern times are difficult for lovers, especially if and when they want to tie the knot. We talk about “bad” marriages or “good” marriages, but we rarely include the words imaginative and creative with the word marriage.

Step one is to actually question the institution of marriage. But step two, and this is what people tend to overlook, is to actually look at marriage in a different perspective and through a different lens, including what to look at before tying the knot.

How many children do you want? Do you want any? How much money is in the bank? Where do you want to live? Granted, all these questions are important, but are so easy to discuss. These are not what make a relationship work, but rather the little daily issues that lead to either divorce or a bland marriage.

Boundaries
By boundaries I mean boundaries as a couple and boundaries coming from outside and within one’s social network. This is one of the most common issues I see in therapy with countless marriages. How much involvement from family members do you want in decision-making, conflict resolution, and daily activities. Each family has their own set of boundaries. When partnership is formed, individuals bring in the boundaries they’ve already been managing. Forming your own set of boundaries is an important aspect to consider.

Need for personal space within the couple is also important. Diffused and unclear boundaries, as well as an enmeshed relationship, do not leave space for individuals to breathe. Each individual needs personal time and space, even if kids come into the picture. Taking time apart, having separate sets of activities, and respecting and understanding this need are vital. Considering the intensity and amount of time each one needs, and how to manage and work with that is a good way to start.

Attachment Styles
Assessing each person’s attachment style and learning how to respond securely to it is what the big “learn how to communicate” cliché advice means. Considering your partner’s attachment style is looking at how your life is going to be when you live with that person because everyone functions in a different way. Remember, those cute quirks in the beginning of the relationship could turn into irritations later on. Can you live with them? Are you communicating securely? Are you letting things go or are you latching on to every single issue that arises? Sometimes, picking on the small details can exhaust the relationship. No, you don’t need to communicate and talk about everything. It’s quite simpler than it seems.

Sex
Sex will be more than seventy percent of a relationship. Studies have also proven that sex can get better with time and with age, too. The key is how much effort and time will you be willing to put in creating a safe space for both of you to breathe, experiment, fantasize, and desire each other. How much are you and your partner willing to commit to that? Also, how much is your partner willing to have a fulfilling two-way sexual experience? Entering marriage with no knowledge about what to expect is not the smartest idea. Ignoring the matter won’t make it go away. Asking credible professionals (instead of listening to rumors and friendly gossip), learning more about what to expect, and discussing the idea that this will be a continuous learning experience where both of you share and discover your pleasures together.

Reasons for Marriage
Why are you getting married? Society can put a lot of pressure on people to get married. It’s easy to slip into this cycle. The continuous pressure many get from family, friends, and cultural expectations lead to marriage. A couple may really love and care for one another, but tie the knot a bit too early, or for the wrong reasons.

Are you expecting too much out of marriage? Yes, I’m asking that question. Love, beyond providing emotional sustenance, compassion, and companionship, is now expected to act as a substitute for loneliness. It is not that our human insecurity is greater today than before, but we expect from one person what a whole village of people used to give us. Adult intimacies have become overburdened with expectations.

Multi-cultural Perspective
It can be beautiful when two people of different cultures build a bridge and connect on an intimate level, especially in a cosmopolitan city such as Cairo. However, a couple needs to take note of the differences and learn how to handle them effectively early on. Cultural differences, religion, language, history, communication styles, definition of family, and even each partners definition of love, are all issues to look at.

Values
We all have different sets of values, which are usually the ‘make or break’ for people. What values can you both bring to the table, and which should be modified for the other partner? Are both partners able to recognize that? Knowing and acknowledging this information, can the relationship function in the future? For instance, personal space, honesty, trust, and dealing with societal factors such as classism, sexism, racism, and ageism are all examples of possible personal values. Flexibility for change and evolvement is also one value to look at.

Abuse and Violence
Domestic violence characterized by emotional, psychological, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse is no joke. This can go for both partners. Anger is a healthy emotion, yet aggression is not a healthy behavior to this emotion. It’s harder to get out of an abusive relationship once in it. Yes, there are signs one can’t see beforehand sometimes, however, taking the time to consider and discuss points mentioned above and consider how to deal with it in case of emergency are both ways in which to at least avoid as much damage beforehand as possible. There are some things that take priority, and this is one of them.