My husband and I started dating, and to be honest, I was just going to see where it went. Marriage was the last thing on my mind. Then, he told me his parents came over from Italy on a boat and my heart started to pound. Immediately, the written list popped into my head.
After a couple more months, the relationship did in fact became serious. And, like most couples, he is the free spirit while I am the planner. Although there were many discussions about our future, it was always just “talk.” What style of house do you like? Joint or separate checking accounts? Ever consider moving to another state? Would you stop traveling for your job if children were in the picture? Private or public school for children? Are you only fond of dogs or are there other animals you would consider? Basic questions asked when getting to know someone.
As plans for marriage were discussed, I spoke with several close friends about what they did prior to marriage. Not one looked at their credit check much less performed a background check.
They just jumped in blindly!
As a result, they unknowingly inherited all the debt their spouse had and some relationships ended dreadfully. All were absolutely shocked that I would ask someone I was considering marrying to have that done. They told me, “If you love and trust him you shouldn’t.”
That is absolutely the worst advice!
There is nothing wrong with ensuring someone’s background is in check before entering such a great commitment before God. It is easier to walk away prior to marriage than after. Once married, if there are debts, abusive natures, etc., the tangled web spins out of control.
My husband had no problem with any of it, so I investigated what we both needed to do. This was not one sided. We both did it. Note: If someone only wants you to do the checks this is a huge red flag! They are either controlling or hiding something or both. Definitely take a step back!
Numerous articles were read by myself with loads of advice. Some even suggested hiring a private investigator. That was a bit over the top for me. Note: If your heart/gut has any doubt it is absolutely better to be safe than have regrets later. Some regrets are extremely costly. Listen to your uncertainty! After reviewing all advice, I picked out the most important and completed the list.
This should be done yearly. Unfortunately, many people do not do it. You can get a free report once a year so there is no reason not to do this. Not only should you ensure all of your information is correct but you should also see if any accounts are open that should not be. You can also see if there are any collections or outstanding debt, as well as, all open accounts. Note: Once married, their debt becomes yours so be sure either you are okay with taking it on or it is fully paid before saying “I do.” There were two open credit cards on my report that I had previously closed so I am extremely glad I check this yearly!
Unfortunately, in today’s society, one cannot be too careful. There are so many predators of different levels. One must protect oneself. There are several different levels of background checks available today, such as, Instant Checkmate. However, they do not give you ALL the information (I did this on myself with Instant Checkmate). You can go to your local police station for a background check. They will fingerprint you and complete a thorough check. Note: If someone has nothing to hide, they will have no problem doing this with you. More importantly, there may be something on their record they were unaware of and need to fix!
Another unfortunate in today’s society is sexually transmitted diseases. However, you definitely do not want to skip this one. You can go to your family doctor to have this performed. This is covered yearly by most insurance companies. Be sure to go to the right lab (you can call your insurance company to confirm). Your soon to be spouse may have no idea he/she is a carrier of something. Better to treat the disease prior to becoming sexually active. Once you have the disease, it becomes your problem, possibly for life.
Attending a marriage workshop can be extremely insightful for you both. Topics you would not even think about are brought up. In the end, you are given ample information to discuss prior to committing. You may be very adamant about adopting while your spouse has no desire whatsoever. Without heartfelt discussions such as these prior to committing, you could be setting your marriage up for failure. Note: We attended a two-day workshop at our church. Another option is marriage counseling.
Some people automatically cringe at the thought of counseling. Having a third party present really does help you be more open, especially if you are an introvert. A good marriage counselor will help ensure you are on the same page and in a healthy relationship. If there are red flags, they will bring it to your attention and then it is up to you to decide which road to travel. At least you will have the knowledge. Note: Most insurance companies will pay for counseling. They may charge you both a co-pay for each visit since you are not married. If you are getting married in the church, counseling will be mandatory.
When with their family and friends, ask questions, just as a news reporter would (only with a little more sensitivity). The only way to get information is to ask (something my great grandmother taught me). It is amazing what you will find out from the people closest to that person. Note: If people shy away from questions and/or they do not want you asking questions this is a red flag. Certain topics are one thing, but no questions asked is not okay.
These simple steps can help your marriage start in the right direction. The first years of marriage are hard all on their own. Eliminating added stressors will benefit you both greatly in the long run.
What marriage advice do you have?Charissa