Until death do us part

Pre-screening potential dates seem alien to black communities. Many men are uncomfortable with the thought that someone is checking them out.

Pre-screening potential dates seem alien to black communities. Many men are uncomfortable with the thought that someone is checking them out.

Many people believe dating should be spontaneous. But when it comes to making the decision about choosing a life partner, no one wants to make a mistake. Yet, studies by the South African Statistics Services in 2002 showed that about 35000 divorces take place each year in this country.

With such a high divorce rate it appears that many people are making serious mistakes when choosing their partners.

Felicia Ntintili, a marriage counsellor based in East London, says many divorces happen because people rush into marriage without checking out important issues.

"It is paramount for young people to go for marriage counseling before tying the knot. These sessions give couples a chance to know each other and to hear each other's heartbeats."

Things to check before saying "I do"

l Psychological stability

It is important for a woman to do preliminary research about a man. He might be emotionally bruised, a time bomb who has not completely recovered from a previous relationship. But don't immediately reject someone who has a history of emotional difficulties, says Ntintili.

"Look further. Perhaps he was reacting to a difficult, temporary situation and has resolved the issue. Or he may successfully manage his condition with therapy or medication and can be a loving, stable husband."

l Clear up money issues

Lindithemba Kama, a Cape Town financial adviser, says it is vital to know his spending and budgeting habits.

"Check his financial obligations and debts. This includes child support, sibling and parent support, what he owes and to whom."

l Check his health bill

Check his medical history. Is he diabetic, does he have sexual difficulties or is he unable to produce children? Or worse, is he HIV positive?

It is essential to conduct HIV tests before marriage.

"Women should assume that their husbands-to-be are HIV positive until proven otherwise. Many men withhold such information because they are afraid of being rejected. And this puts women at risk," Ntintili says.

l Discuss past serious love relationships

Talking openly about past relationships is important because being open about something so personal enhances communication. You are both entitled to full disclosure. Ntintili says hiding things from each other can ignite insecurities and cause pain.

"If you do not want to trust your prospective mate with your whole self, you may not be ready for a lifetime commitment."

l Habits

It does not matter how intelligent, handsome, rich or charming he is, if he abuses alcohol or drugs, his addiction is going to have a major impact on your marriage and your life.

l Ability to keep a job

Check his ability to hold on to one job for a long time. A man who cannot keep a job could cause strain on the financial aspect of marriage. According to Qaqamba Klass, of Phumelela Business Consultants, job-hopping could damage the credibility of the CV.

"Employers do not want to employ an incumbent who will leave within six months."

l Religious traits and doctrine

Know his beliefs. Some men believe that women have no human rights. Some traditions demand that a wife follows her husband's religion. Knowing his beliefs will avoid conflict.