I’m starting from the assumption that you are a (mostly) beta guy who is open to the idea of marrying. I’m also assuming that the basic criteria to consider marriage are already met. You are head over heels in love with this woman, and she is with you. You have great chemistry, she is sane, has basic life skills (can handle a budget), you have compatible views on religion, kids, etc. I’m also assuming she is broaching the question of marriage. Men formally are the ones to propose marriage, but in every case I’ve seen the women unofficially raised the subject first and usually with a sense of urgency. Instead of freaking out, you can use this opportunity productively.
The problem is, now that “oneitis” has set in, you need to take a breath and think logically. Being in love isn’t enough to justify marriage; it is necessary, but not sufficient. And if you haven’t considered the issue ahead of time, you won’t be able to process the logical side. So when you find yourself in this position, your unspoken thought process should be:
You know I love you, but why in the world should I marry you?
In the world of marriage 2.0, I think a man’s default answer to this question should be no. I say this from the perspective of an advocate of marriage. This may seem contradictory, but I don’t think it really is. You have an obligation to yourself to not marry if the situation isn’t right. Moreover, you have a solemn duty to your future children to pick their mother wisely. This is bigger than love, and bigger than you. The stakes are enormous; your children need the best chance you can give them to grow up with both a mother and a father. You also have an obligation to Mrs right not to pick Mrs wrong over her.
So for all of the above reasons a woman needs to bring something very special to the table to justify marriage. The law and social convention won’t hold her to keep the vow she takes in front of God, your families, and everyone you both care about; the moral force to keep her side of the promise needs to come from within herself. Many women today lack this internal compass, but many others still have it. The questions below are aimed at assessing if she does bring these qualities.
Why do you use the term interview? Are you serious?
I’m not really serious about the term interview. If you pull out a clipboard and start interrogating your (potential) future wife, bad things are likely to happen. I’m assuming you have enough experience in relationships to know how to manage a conversation and work these questions in appropriately. I’m also assuming you will have the basic sense to know when to raise these questions and not to overload on the topic at any given time. But the concept of interview is still helpful I think. The time in the relationship that I referenced in the beginning of this post is a critical window of opportunity. She is pressuring you to propose to her. You won’t get another opportunity like this. Ever.
Below are the specific questions that you want the answers to, organized by category. Ideally many (most?) of these you will already know the answer to. For those issues you have already discussed, you don’t need to bring them up again but this should serve as a mental checklist.
Does she take marriage seriously? Are her expectations in line with yours?
- What is the best part of marriage? Is she more interested in the wedding itself or the ring than being your wife?
- Will she take your name? I can’t personally think of a convincing reason to marry a woman who wouldn’t or who struggled with this question.
- What does marriage mean to her? She’s asking you to sign on the dotted line. What’s in this contract?
- What is the role of a husband? What are the obligations of a husband? You want to be on the same page here, but this is also a setup for the next question. If she has a long list for you and a short one for her, that is very telling. Likewise if she rattles off the list for you but struggles to form the list for herself, you’ve just learned something.
- What is the role of a wife? What are the obligations of a wife? The specifics are important here, but her overall attitude to the idea of having obligations is critical as well. Does the idea of having a role to conform to or duties make her bristle? This is also your best opportunity to frame the roles the way you would expect them to be.
- What if you are “in the mood” and she isn’t (aka “wifely duty”)? I hesitated to include this, but I feel it really should be there. Part of what this will show is her general willingness to consider your needs over her own feelings (altruism) and her tendency to look for opportunities for compromise. This will also give you a hint about her perception of male sexuality. You also want to smoke out a potential to use denial of sex for power purposes. Lastly, for men sex in marriage really is love. How would you feel about a man who decided not to hug or kiss his wife, or refused to tell her he loved her?
What is her attitude about casual sex? Does she have a history of following her ‘tingle’?
- What does she think about the double standard regarding promiscuity? Frame this with sympathy to the feminist perspective. This is a bit of a trick question. The right answer is disgust with promiscuity across the board. The wrong answer is an instinct to shelter sluts from judgment for their actions. This question has the bonus of drawing out a feminist vibe she might be concealing, although in the scheme of things a little feminism in a young woman isn’t the end of the world. But you should know what you are getting into.
- Why does she think so many women have to date “bad boys” before they learn to look for good guys? Again, a bit of a trick question and should be framed non judgmentally. Ideally she should have disgust with those girls who chased alphas while she looked for something different. A convincing story about why she made this transition isn’t what you want to hear from a potential wife, but you should frame this question in such a way so this seems like a perfectly acceptable answer.
Does she see divorce as failure? Is she willing to make judgments about others who divorce?
- What are acceptable reasons for divorce? This should be a short list of no nonsense answers. I’m thinking infidelity, real and persistent abuse, persistent gambling and/or addiction, etc. Scary answers include the standard “just not happy”, “falling out of love”, “growing apart”, etc. These mean she will dump you the second things get tough or something or someone more interesting comes along.
- What would she tell your children about divorce? My wife and I were at a Thanksgiving celebration where our then 4 year old daughter met a boy who called his dad by his first name. When she asked him why, he told her about his mom’s divorce and remarriage. He explained that sometimes “mommies and daddies just stop loving each other”. She was distraught for over a week before she came to us. She was terrified we would just stop loving each other like the other kid’s parents. We told her “He’s wrong, his mommy was a brat!”. And we also told her not to say this to the boy or other kids in the same situation or she would hurt their feelings. After this she was fine. Tell her this story and see what her reaction is. Is she more protective of the frightened child, or the mommy who wanted to start a new life?
- Will she judge other women who divorce frivolously? Unfortunately it should be easy to come up with an example of this, so mention it in conversation and see what her reaction is. How would she feel about attending the second (or third) wedding of this woman?
This is just one man’s perspective, but it does come from a few decades of watching what worked and didn’t work for my peers. It also is highly influenced by the perspective of my wife based on the at times astounding conversations she has with other women. The world is filled with guys who married assuming incorrectly their wives would take marriage seriously. The good news is women with the right attitude still exist, and are often overlooked by other guys. You don’t want to be the male equivalent of the girl who walks past the nice guy betas to find the cad, only to complain about all guys being jerks.
Marriage is wonderful but every marriage will run into rough patches. Both parties need to have the commitment required to grow together and make it past the difficult periods. The law is one sided and either way insufficient for something as important as marriage. You need to make sure she has the internal compass to overcome the push of friends and society, and perhaps her own hypergamous instinct to move on when tempted. None of this should be construed as an excuse on your part to neglect her needs, be unfaithful, not work to be as attractive as possible, etc.
What do you think? Am I on the right page or out in left field? Any questions you would add or remove? Married and/or divorced men and women especially, don’t deprive others of your valuable insight. Please share your thoughts here, even if they contradict my own perspective.
Note: Comments on if one should or shouldn’t get married in the first place belong in Part I of this series, not here.