5 Things to Consider Before You Pop the Question

So you think you found the person to spend the rest of your life with and you want to put a ring on it. 

The Queen said it. (I hope this song is not too old for you to get the reference)

Before you go shopping for that diamond ring, here are some questions to ask yourself (and the relevant part(ies) involved). No, we won’t be debating about natural vs synthetic diamond in this post, but if you’re interested, you can read about it here.  

The purpose of this post is to (hopefully) help you figure out if you should be popping the question. 

Why are you popping the question now?

We together so long already, want to BTO?

Whether you’ve been together since you were in Secondary School or if you just matched on a dating app 6 months ago, the first question to ask yourself is: Why now?

In these, are you proposing because you just want to settle  former case, are you proposing because “you’ve been together for so long already” or your BTO is coming or you’re just sick of people asking “when are you getting married”? In the latter cadown or you’re just sick and tired of dating someone new?

While getting married for the above reasons does not mean that your marriage will not work out, these reasons are largely external motivations that are driving you to make a very important decision of your life.  

Take some time to be alone with yourself and really ask yourself why are you thinking of proposing at this point in time and at this stage of your relationship. This brings us to the next question.

 

Are you ready to be married?

These guys know that a marriage ain't no walk in the park.

Although this question may sound duh but hear me out. There are various aspects to being ready for this important decision. 

While age should not be a conclusive factor to decide when you should propose (unless you’re under 18), it is nevertheless a good indication of your readiness.  

As a matter of practicality, you should be financially stable before you invite someone else to commit to spending eternity (hopefully) with you. Chances are, you won’t be that financially stable until you have started working for about a year or two. 

Another important aspect of readiness is your emotional readiness. Marriage is not a static process. You will go through various life stages and crises as a couple, that is why it is important to know that you and your co-captain will be able to navigate through the storms of life together. 

Like life insurance, marriage should ideally be for life. This means that you have to be ready to commit to contributing regular premiums (not just in the monetary sense) to the marriage in order for it to work. However, unlike life insurance, instead of getting a larger payout, the penalty for the termination of a marriage gets heavier as you go along. You don’t just risk losing your assets in a divorce, you also risk hurting the ones that you love (especially if you have kids) in the process as well. That is why you should be sure that you are ready to commit before you bend the knee. 

Are your values and goals aligned?

If she hasn't killed me after all these years, I guess it's worth a shot.

Another important thing to consider is whether you and your partner are aligned on your core values and goals. 

Of course you don’t have to agree with everything he/she says (unless and until she becomes the wife, but that’s a post for another time) but there should be some form of agreement or understanding on certain fundamental issues. 

Some important issues to discuss, if you haven’t already done so, include: religion; whether and when to have kids; financial/life goals; and your parents. 

Of course there are many other things to discuss, but these are four core issues that we think you should discuss before deciding whether you are ready to commit to a life with your other half. 

If you’re going to choose a partner for life, you would want to be with someone who shares your views on these issues or at least both of you have an understanding about your respective stand on these issues. Otherwise, it will be very tiring for either of you to have to revisit these issues time and again without being able to resolve them. 

This brings us to our next consideration. 

How do you resolve conflicts?

You left the toilet seat up again!

It is impossible for couples not to have disagreements. Even if your fighting does not involve screaming and yelling, disagreements and conflicts will take a toll on your relationship over time if they are not properly resolved or managed.

It is one thing to avoid conflict and another to know how to resolve or manage them. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all method to do so. However, we do have some conflict resolution tips that we think might help. 

Listen. When your partner is speaking, don’t wait for your chance to speak or plan your rebuttal. Seek to understand his/her point of view and resist the urge to pre-judge the validity of the point being made. 

Watch your tone/volume. Arguments can quickly spiral out of control when one party starts to raise his/her voice or adopts an aggressive/accusatory tone. If you catch yourself doing this, pause (and apologise for your tone or raising your voice, if necessary) before continuing. If you notice him/her doing so, seek to deescalate the tension by calmly requesting him/her to not address you in this manner. 

Address the issue. Talk about the issue, don’t attack the person. There is no place for ad hominem attacks unless you’re a six-year old bully at a playground. If you have never accepted someone else’s viewpoint after they just insulted you, we don’t see how you will be getting your point across by attacking him/her. 

Pick your battles. There are some fights that cannot be resolved. Instead of picking these fights over and over again, which will inevitably cause a strain in your relationship, learn how to manage them as a couple together (especially when you’re not in the heat of the moment). If these fights revolve around core values and/or goals, then you might really have to seriously consider whether or not this relationship is the right one for you. 

Don’t generalise. Two words to avoid here are “never” and “always”. It may be tempting to make sweeping statements like “you never do romantic things for me” or “you always leave the toilet seat up” even if you think that they are true. However, consider if such sweeping allegations were made against you during an argument. It is likely that you would start becoming defensive and before you know it, you start fighting about the use of these sweeping statements or how he/she doesn’t remember the times that you did or did not do such a thing or does not appreciate the effort that you have put in to change. Focus on the immediate issue and don’t bring in irrelevant issues. 

At the end of the day, different couples have different dynamics and before you commit to a lifetime with your partner, it is very helpful for both of you to establish a conflict resolution / management process which works for you. It is impossible to avoid fights but ultimately, it is how you fight (and make up) that really matters. 

Have you spoken to the relevant part(ies)?

Auncle, can I marry your daughter please?

Getting married isn’t just about spending the rest of your life with him/her. You also need to consider his/her family. 

Generally speaking, parents would like to have been informed / consulted before you pop the question. Although it might not be necessary to ask his/her siblings, I have personally heard of people who expressed their disappointment of not being consulted before someone proposed to their sibling. 

Of course, this is not a requirement and there are no hard and fast rules about this. However, it’s always good to maintain a harmonious relationship with his/her family members and it really doesn’t take much to just tell them that you’re about to pop the question. They might even volunteer to help out at the proposal. 

Go forth and get engaged!

You can never be fully prepared for married life. Don’t treat whatever we’ve written above as the rules of engagement (hur hur). The purpose of this post is to help you to consider various aspects of your relationship so that you can prepare yourself to take the plunge. 

It’s not difficult to have a wedding but it is not easy to maintain a marriage. If you think you are ready to pop the question, then go put a ring on it! 

After you have done that, you might want to consider these 4 things before your wedding.

Before you say I do, have you considered these 4 things?

So, you’ve popped the question or said yes to that sparkly diamond ring, now it’s time to plan that perfect wedding. Where do we begin planning your happily ever after? 

I’ve been married for a few years now and I can now, with the benefit of hindsight, ask you to consider these 4 things before you say, “I do”.

What's your budget?

After wedding still need to buy house leh. How?

Let’s start with the most unromantic but most practical question – how much money do you have? I’m not talking about how much do you have for the wedding, I’m talking about how much money do you have for your life after your wedding. 

You see, a wedding is no doubt an important day in your life but it should not define your marriage. You do not want to start day 1 of your marriage in debt because you blew all your money on your dream wedding. 

Please don’t budget your wedding based on your projected “returns” from your guests’ contribution. This is not only financially irresponsible, but can also be very risky. If the actual contribution received from your guests fall short of your estimate, you may end up having to sacrifice other things after your wedding.  

For a typical young couple in Singapore, chances are after your wedding, you will need to pay for your new house, renovation, furniture and electronics etc. If you plan to go on a honeymoon, then you need to set aside even more money. In the grand scheme of things, your wedding is but the introduction to your life’s story as a married couple. You might want to consider budgeting your post wedding expenses and the timeline when they become payable before working backwards to derive a realistic budget for your wedding. 

Honestly, even if your wedding is so amazing that it goes viral, people are eventually gonna forget about it. If your  budget is such that you had to choose between getting a photobooth for your wedding or buying a sofa for your new home, I think your friends can take their own photos at your wedding la hor? This brings us to the next consideration, how much does a wedding actually cost?

How much will your wedding cost?

Definitely not what you want to be saying for your vows.

Closely linked to your budget is the actual cost of the wedding. 

If you have no clue what are the common expenses in a wedding, you might want to check out this comprehensive list of 21 common wedding expenses (number 2 will shock you) from our friends at The Wedding Vow. 

You can find other lists through a quick google search so that you can have a rough idea of how much each component of your wedding is going to cost. 

You might also quickly come to the realisation that there are a lot of these things that you see at your friends’ weddings that you can do without at your own wedding.  

Our suggestion is not to start with the minor details (e.g. which wedding photographer or designer wedding gown or wedding band you “must have” for your wedding just because some influencer had them at their wedding #sponsored #blessed #nomoneynohoney) but plan around the big ticket items. After you have settled the largest expenses then check how much do you have left for your budget. This way, you will be less tempted to spend beyond your budget simply because you “must have” that [insert expensive item] for your wedding to be perfect. Remember, nobody really remembers your wedding until Facebook reminds them about 5 years later.  

For most people, the most expensive part of the wedding would be the wedding banquet. In order for you to find out how much this is going to cost you, you will first need to ask yourself how many guests are you going to invite to your wedding. In this connection, you may soon realise that the answer to that question may not be entirely up to the both of you. This leads us to the next consideration. 

What do your parents think?

Unless both of you have super chill parents who are totally cool with anything that you plan for your wedding, you would be well-advised to include them in the planning as soon as possible. Pro tip: even if your parents tell you that your wedding is “up to you”, it is rarely the case. 

The last thing you want is to have everything planned out  only for your parents to ask you to change this or add that. This can come in many different forms. For e.g. the number of guests that they want to invite; any auspicious date for the wedding / inauspicious dates to avoid; any custom / tradition to adhere to etc. 

While we understand that you may think that this is YOUR wedding and you should be in charge of deciding these things, we think it is best to (hopefully) accommodate everyone so that everyone will be happy on the day of the wedding. 

Yes, you may feel that you should have complete control over the wedding – it is your big day – but your wedding is also an important day for your parents too! It may be difficult to accommodate everybody’s requests but do at least hear them out and if what they want cannot be done, explain to them nicely. 

At the end of the day, your wedding is a joyous occasion to celebrate the union of two people and their families so don’t sacrifice kinship over the minor details of your wedding. You also don’t want to piss off the parents because you might still be staying with them after the wedding, which brings us to our next consideration.  

What's your housing plan?

Married already stay where ah?

For many of us, we do not have our own house to move into after our wedding. It could be because our new house is still under construction or that we have not found a suitable place to stay. 

Whatever the reason, make sure you and your spouse-to-be have discussed your housing plan ahead of time. Whether it is moving into your parent’s place, renting a place or maintaining the status quo, it is important for you and your partner to agree on such an arrangement. 

Please also make sure that the relevant part(ies) have been consulted on this issue. For example, if your partner plans to move into your parent’s place, the least you can do is to seek your parent’s permission. If there are other people living in the same house, you might want to let them know as well. It would also be good to keep them updated on your plans so that they will know whether this would be a temporary arrangement or if it is going to be a long-term arrangement. 

Needless to say, there are no strict rules about this but it would definitely help to reduce any friction if everyone involved is on the same page, especially if they are all going to be in the same house. 

Life After School

A glimpse into the future:
Life after School

Like you, I am a product of the Singapore education system. I didn’t really get to make that many life choices before I turned 18. Life was just like a conveyor belt and I was just moving from one section of the factory to the next, with parts being added (whether I liked those parts or not). Choices were made for me mostly by my parents (hi mum) or my grades. Even where I spent my 2 years serving the nation was decided for me.

People making decisions about my life

It is therefore no surprise that a lot of us are at a loss when we are suddenly at the end of the conveyor belt and asked to make life choices for ourselves.

That is why as a yoUNg-CLE here who has probably walked down this path a little further than you have (I wouldn’t say I have eaten more salt than the rice you have eaten, cos HPB would probably frown upon that), I would like to share some of my experiences and perspectives about life after school.

Here are some of the things you can expect as you enter the next phase of your life.

Ever wondered why they put rice in salt shakers?

Getting a job

Unless you’re one of those crazy rich Asians, chances are you will have to get a job.

Should you work for a big corporation, a small start-up or go into public service? What are your career options? We answer all these questions and more here.

Regardless of where you wanna work at, you need to first get your foot through the door. You can read more about the tips and tricks to landing your first job in our guide here.

Not quite the job you wanted or you’re ready for the next challenge? We talk about the things to look out for before you move to the next job here.

Hire me please?

Personal finance

Now that you got your first pay cheque, you know what else comes with it? Bills and taxes. Here is a quick guide from setting up your bank account to paying your bills. 

How much should I save? How do I start investing? Do I need insurance? How do I retire early? We (try to) answer these questions and more here.

Where did all my angbao money go?

Getting married

Whether you have found the love of your life or not, you cannot run away from weddings. Especially when it’s not your own. Sooner or later, you will start getting invitations to weddings like the unending Insta-stories and TikTok videos (is that how TikTok works? I’m just trying not to sound too old).

From your proposal to your wedding to your friends’ weddings. We give you the blow by blow account of what to expect and the expected damage to your wallet in our wedding series here.

Eh? How much did you bao for the ang bao?

Buying a house

Whether you get married or not, you will probably want to buy a house of your own eventually.

Should you BTO? Should you buy a resale flat? Can you afford a condo? We talk about the things to consider before buying your first property here.  

Industrial or minimalist? Vinyl or laminate? How much should you spend on renovation? We discuss the things to consider before you decide to hack that wall here.

OTP? AIP? CPF? TOP? MOP? OMG? BBQ?

Buying a car

We don’t need to tell you that it’s expensive to buy a car in Singapore but do you know how much does it really cost to own a car in Singapore? 

We break down the costs of car ownership in Singapore here so that you can consider whether to buy or not to buy. 

Tesla? Honda? Or lau pok car?

Adulting

Of course there are many many more decisions to make and things to consider than we can fit into one post. 

We know that it might feel daunting having to figure out so many of life’s decisions on your own.  

We don’t have all the answers to life’s questions nor are we here to tell you what to do (you have your mother and/or wife to do that). We’re just a bunch of old(er) young people who want to share the lessons we have learnt on our journey thus far.

We hope that by sharing our stories, you can write your own with greater clarity and confidence. 

LOL*,

Uncle Chua

*Lots of Love