I’m a marriage counsellor – here’s 9 issues couples MUST sort before tying the knot, from Insta addiction to cheating

WE'RE not even two months into the year, but there’s already been a wave of celebrity break-ups.

Last month, Jason Momoa, 42, and Lisa Bonet, 54, called it quits after 16 years together, while Pamela Anderson filed for divorce from her fifth husband, Dan Hayhurst.

But it’s not just celebrities who are splitting up. Divorce rates are at an all time high after the pandemic. 

British law firm Stewarts logged a 122 per cent increase in enquiries between July and October, compared with the same period the year before, and Citizens Advice reported a spike in searches for tips on ending a relationship. 

But how do you know you’re right for someone before tying the knot? 

From posting about your relationship on social media to sharing a joint bank account, marriage counsellor Margaret Bankole reveals the difficult conversations all couples must have before they say 'I do'…

Are you oversharing on Instagram?

Oversharing on social media causes massive problems among couples.

Just look at what’s happening to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West right now. He doesn’t want their eight-year-old daughter, North, to have a TikTok account – and she does. 

This is very common. One partner is very active on social media and the other hates it – they don’t want pictures of them or their kids on it. 

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You need to be open with one another from the start about this issue.

If you’re uncomfortable with your spouse taking snaps of every private moment and sharing them online, then you need to speak up.

It will save a lot of arguments down the line. 

Be open about your baggage

Unresolved emotional or financial baggage can ruin your marriage in the long run.  

Don’t expect your partner to fix your problems for you either. You need to get help independently.

If you’re struggling with debts, take action and speak to a financial advisor and set up a repayment plan.

If the issues are psychological, speak to a counsellor and get help. 

The worst thing you could do is bury your head in the sand.

What do you count as cheating?

I often speak to clients who have completely different views on what qualifies as cheating. 

One may believe liking someone of the opposite sex's picture on social media, watching porn or an emotional affair counts as cheating, whereas the other may think it has to be a physical affair. 

Be clear with your partner about what you define as infidelity so no one can get hurt.

Don't kid yourself over kids

There is no point pretending you don’t want children if you do. 

Some people wrongly think they can change their partner’s mind, but it doesn’t always work like that. 

You need to be upfront from the get-go about your expectations for the relationship, otherwise you will resent each other further down the line. 

Discuss everything from how many children you want, to when you want them and how you intend to bring them up. 

If you cannot have them naturally, then you need to discuss other options like adoption, fostering and fertility treatment to see if your partner would want to go down that avenue. 

Set out non-negotiables

Having boundaries in place helps you protect yourself and lets your partner know what you'll forgive and what you won't.

For instance, if your spouse cheats on you – and you know that's not something you can move on from – you need to be upfront about it.

But if it’s more trivial stuff – like your partner not pulling their weight around the house – then you may be able to tolerate it. 

Write a list about your non-negotiables and be clear with your other half from the start. 

Try living together 

This is not a benchmark to what married life would be like, but it is a good way to get to know the person before you commit to them.

Often we’ll notice things about someone we didn't see before we moved in with them –  so it’s a good way to test the waters before getting engaged. 

Alternatively, if you’ve been living with your partner for a while but you’ve still not popped the question or vice versa, ask yourself why. 

Are you killing time with them? You should never be anyone’s ‘make do’ and nor should you ever do that to someone else.

Map out your life plans

Do you share the same interests and hobbies? 

Can you accommodate and support your partner no matter what life throws at you – even if it means them going back into education in their fifties or moving abroad for their career? 

There’s no point staying with someone if you’re both looking in completely different directions about the future. 

Map out your dreams and desires from life and make sure you’re on the same page. 

How are you going to pay for your future?

Over 40 per cent of couples argue over money and it's a common problem couples come to me with.

One of them may be lavish and carefree with cash, while the other may be frugal.

Be honest about your spending habits and how you’re going to pay the rent/mortgage. 

Will you both contribute the same amount or will one of you pay more? Will you have a joint bank account or will you keep them separate? 

It can be awkward talking about money but unfortunately it's a necessity.

Share your core values

Are they similar or diametrically poles apart? 

Does one of you want to get married in a church and have the future children christened but the other isn’t religious? 

You might think it's fun now, but later on these are the things that will pull you apart, especially when/ if you have children and you both have very different ideas on how you want them to be raised.

Be true to yourself and your partner so no one gets hurt.

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