Getting married is a huge step in life—there are a lot of things to consider. But one of the most important is knowing you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to key topics.
According to experts, here are important questions to ask before getting married:
Todd and Diana Mitchem
Certified Relationship Coaches, Peak Relationship Center
Marriage is still one of the most rewarding and powerful experiences for any couple—from the financial benefits to companionship, children, and growing old with a partner, a successful marriage over time yields some of the most fulfilling experiences imaginable.
Related: Why Do People Get Married
Why, then, are so many marriages ending in divorce, and why are we seeing so many couples coming into our office or virtually to attempt to solve issues? We think the answer is based on a lack of understanding at the onset of a relationship.
Couples are rarely aligned over long-term goals, focuses, or ideas, and as such, they tend to struggle when life becomes challenging and difficult.
But we wanted to go beyond the typical questions of “Do we want kids?”, “How do we manage money?” or “Where should we live?” To us, those are easy.
We wanted to give you some harder ones to ask that require more work. These are based on what we see destroy relationships in the real world.
Here are our top four questions every couple should ask before marriage:
“If we want children, how will we raise them, and with what set of values?”
This question goes beyond the basic “Do we want kids?” narrative most couples ask.
It is not enough to want kids or to be aligned in that simple question. What we see frequently is a misalignment in how couples approach parenting, discipline, and the values they seek to imbue in their children.
If a couple is misaligned in this area, trouble will increase over time, and as children age, relationship strain will bleed over to the children as well.
Go deep on the answers to this first question:
- Are you faith-based?
- Do you want your kids to be punished with strict discipline?
- Are you more focused on gentle parenting styles?
- Do you expect your children will have a balanced time with both parents?
- Is one parent going to stay at home in the most critical first five years of a child’s life?
You see how fast this critical question dives deeply into expectations. To not work on this question early before marriage, or worse, to assume that you are both aligned because you each “want kids,” is a disaster waiting to unfold.
Get clear, be honest upfront, and don’t be afraid to not agree with this early question. That’s why you ask it upfront.
“How much sex is enough or expected?”
In a dream world for many people, physical contact would always be a wonderful experience, and each partner would desire it fully all the time.
For other people, the perfect world is not much sex. They say, “After all, isn’t there more to life than good sex?”
Well, psychologically speaking, not if one wants it all the time and the other rarely. This divide will create negativity, agitation, and eventually resentment. Then the worst case starts to be a possibility because one of the partners will want relief.
Here is where massive porn use and, ultimately, infidelity become possibilities. Sexual urges will not be something you can simply ignore or ask a partner to suppress; no more than they can demand you instantly desire sex more. Either is unfair and should have been discussed early.
Related: How to Get Over Infidelity Pain
We would love to tell you that love is enough, but frankly, in a truly loving relationship, sex is an extension and expression of that love.
We instruct people to get as clear as possible in this second question. If the sex life of a couple is really hot and amazing before marriage, the odds are that at least one partner will expect it stays that way as much as possible.
It’s a harsh reality, but we see marriages fail completely on this one issue over anything else, even money.
“Who wants a career? Why? For how long?”
We live in a modern time where both men and women are working, and the balance between them from both an economic and opportunity perspective is essentially equal.
While men often take on the role of breadwinner, or both men and women work, men will take on the roles of stay-at-home dads so their wives can be the breadwinner.
Regardless of what you choose in your relationship, get clear about this upfront. Careers are largely utilized for the purpose of making money. Sometimes they are also fulfilling and good for us emotionally, but the essential function is the value of financial gain to support the family.
Make no mistake, and we have talked with hundreds of retired couples, not one of them cared about their careers after retirement. Not one! They cared about their experiences together, did they have enough money to retire, how did they raise their kids, and that’s about it.
This also goes with the first question about children, “Who is going to raise the children?”
Every credible study we read tells us that kids being raised in daycare do not adjust well to society, relationships, or life. It takes them more time to build lasting bonds because, in their critical years of 0-5, they were not properly attached to their parents.
So you need to consider this when talking about a career. Work is wonderful and can be rewarding, but misalignment over it can be damaging and cause a lasting rift.
“What are the dealbreakers in the relationship, and why?”
Building on a few of these top questions, this is the last one we typically ask a couple in pre-marital status.
Recently, one of our clients told us that infidelity was the killer for both of them. They went so far as to devise a separate contract prior to marriage that stipulated if either person cheated during the marriage, that person would lose all rights to the money accrued, investments, and even the marital home.
We are not attorneys, so we could not tell you if this would stick in court, but it was truly interesting to observe.
Still, it makes the point that agreeing up front in the “dealbreakers” is a way to prepare for the troubles you will face and discuss these before committing to a marriage. List these out, from cheating to squandering money to how we talk about issues.
While we are strong proponents of couples working on these questions and more during a marriage, asking them upfront will build a better relationship from the start.
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.
Psychotherapist | Author, “Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today”
Because I see so much of the damage caused by people blindly connecting, rushing through the stages of commitment, and not creating the solid basis a true relationship needs, I always welcome the chance to do pre-commitment counseling.
My job is to ask the tough questions that the couple may not have considered in the excitement of a new romance.
Here are several questions every couple should consider before moving in together or making joint financial commitments:
“What is your definition of commitment?”
Whether you know it or not, you and your partner will define your relationship.
If you don’t know what your relationship means to the both of you, you risk:
- Repeating past mistakes
- Getting stuck in uncomfortable roles
- Fighting about what a healthy relationship is
Talk about what you mean by words such as relationship, commitment, love, and faithfulness. You’ll be amazed by what you learn.
“Have we discussed finances?”
Next to sex, money is the biggest generator of problems, arguments, and resentment in long-term relationships. Couples tend to assume that money should be pooled, but it usually isn’t that easy.
A disparity in income can mean struggling about who pays for what or whose income determines your lifestyle. Different financial habits (one likes to save, the other spends more, or doesn’t keep track) can become a source of argument.
For many couples, separating your money makes things run smoother; you don’t wind up struggling for control. You can split expenses evenly or work out a percentage share if your incomes are different.
“What about household responsibilities?”
If you’re not yet living together, tour each other’s homes. Drastically different decorating styles, neatness, and organization levels can become sources of argument, and so can housekeeping and chores.
If you have different tastes, it may require a lot of creativity and negotiation to decorate a joint home in a way that makes both of you comfortable.
Additionally, think hard before moving into your partner’s established home. You may have trouble feeling as if you “belong” in a home that was previously established by your partner unless you participate together in reorganizing and redecorating it.
“How close are you to family or friends?”
If one of you has a lot of family or friends, and the other does not, find out what those relationships mean. Where will you spend your holidays?
If there are family members who have problems, such as addiction or mental illness, how much will that impact your relationship?
“How do you handle anger and other emotions?”
We all get upset from time to time. If you are usually good at diffusing each other’s anger and being supportive through times of grief or pain, your emotional bond will deepen as time goes on.
If your tendency is to react to each other and make the situation more volatile and destructive, you need to correct that problem before you live together.
“How do you show love to each other?”
Sharing what actions and words mean love to you may be surprising. Even if it’s a struggle, discussing how you give and receive love will improve your relationship.
You will understand what makes each of you feel loved and how to express your love effectively.
“How well did you discuss these very questions?”
Asking yourselves these questions are excellent tests of your ability to define and work out problems.
A constructive discussion that leads to a mutually satisfactory solution means you know how to solve problems in your relationship. If not, get counseling before going further.
Colleen Wenner-Foy, MA. LCMHC-S, LPC, MCAP
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor | Founder and Clinical Director, New Heights Counseling and Consulting LLC
“Are you ready to commit yourself to the relationship?”
Investing one’s time and energy solely into one person can be a daunting task, but when you’re in love, it’s worth every second.
The question is, “Are you ready to commit yourself to someone else for the rest of your life? Are you willing to go the distance?”
The future has not been written, yet there will be no turning back when the words “I do” are said.
You’ll have to make sacrifices, put your needs aside, and learn how to compromise. But if you’ve found that special someone who makes you feel like you were created just for them, then you should definitely consider getting married.
“Am I emotionally prepared for marriage?”
Marriage is a commitment, so you need to be sure that you’re emotionally prepared. Marriage requires patience, understanding, and tolerance.
You also need to accept each other’s flaws and weaknesses; therefore, you must be mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come with marriage.
Commit to your partner to attend pre-marriage counseling. This way, you can work out any emotional conflicts that might arise and identify the strength and weaknesses you both bring into the marriage.
“Do you include healthy communication skills, problem-solving, and conflict resolution?”
If you don’t communicate well, you may find problems arise between you and your spouse. It’s, therefore, important to develop healthy communication skills before tying the knot.
If communication is the key to a successful marriage, then listening skills must also rank high on this list.
This means being able to listen without interrupting, asking questions, and offering suggestions. It also includes being able to express feelings clearly and honestly and offer support when needed.
“Do you see yourself building a family together?”
Before you tie the knot, you need to consider what kind of family you want to build together. The number of children plays an important role in this decision. If you plan on having kids, you should know they require a lot of attention and care.
A stable environment is necessary to aid their development. Other factors include finances, lifestyle, and education. These things will all play a part in whether or not you decide to start a family with your partner.
“Can we discuss financial matters?”
Financial issues are often overlooked during dating. However, once you get engaged, you should sit down and discuss these topics. Definitely discuss the cost of the wedding and honeymoon. Both of you should be financially responsible.
You should also talk about:
- Money management
- Debt, savings
- Retirement plans
If the two of you can agree on these things, then you’re more likely to stay happy throughout your marriage.
Many happily married couples end up in a divorce because of financial disagreements. So, it’s best to avoid any surprises later on.
“What do your religious views bring to the marriage?”
A person’s belief system is very important when deciding to marry. Religious beliefs can affect many aspects of a couple’s lives, including their sexual behavior, parenting style, and even their view of God.
Take the necessary time needed before marriage to establish a clear understanding of your own beliefs.
“When you envision what marriage together would look like, what do you see?”
It is very much the culture of current society to look at relationships as an experience of falling into quick love and chemical attraction.
When people believe they have found their one true soulmate (a myth), they can feel like it’s wrong to ask questions.
In fact, the best way to have a lasting and healthy marriage is to thoroughly know one another before making such a big commitment. Questions open up important discussions and lead to learning.
In guiding thousands of couples through the premarital exploration process, I’ve learned that couples relax more when a third party like me raises questions instead of them.
There are hundreds of questions that couples can dive into. Some, though, are most important to ask each other, and it’s wise to carefully listen to and evaluate the responses.
As you pose questions, keep in mind what you see as important for you to have in common.
Below are some questions to put at the top of your list to explore together:
Purpose and meaning
- What are your main dreams and wishes for the future?
- When you envision what marriage together would look like, what do you see?
- What do you see as the primary purpose of your life? What motivates you to stay actively engaged in life?
- What do you believe about God, religion, faith, and spiritual practices? How might these affect any children we have?
- What have been your observations and experiences of a healthy marriage?
- Have you experienced any family traumas that are still affecting you today? In what ways? What help have you sought? What more in the way of help is needed?
- What elements of your family and ethnic culture do you consider important to carry forward into a marriage?
- What is your view of how we discuss matters and make decisions that affect us and our family? Do you view us as equal partners with equal voices, or are there matters you think should just be up to one of us to address?
- If we disagree, what are your preferred ways to address this matter?
- How do you respond to encouragement? To criticism?
- What are your main stresses, and how do you deal with them? How do they affect the ways you communicate?
- In what ways are you willing for us to learn how to be successful at marriage?
- Do you want to have children together? If so, what are your wishes or expectations for how many children we have and the preferred timing for them? If fertility becomes an issue, how would you see addressing it?
- Do either of us already have children? What would be our parental roles with them? How do we see the process of blending our families? Are you willing for us to take classes or read books on the topic so we can be more successful?
- What would be our roles in the household and family?
- How would our children be educated?
- How would our children be disciplined?
- Are there other former or current family members who would play an important role with our children and family? How would we navigate that in unity?
- What responsibilities and debts do you have? How do you manage them?
- What key future financial obligations do you see for yourself? For your extended family?
- What are your views about earning, saving, investing, spending, and managing money?
- What are your views about full disclosure about finances before and after marriage? About making solo versus mutual decisions about finances? About maintaining separate or shared financial accounts?
Intimacy and Sex
- What are your choices about sex before marriage? Cohabitation? How could these choices harm or benefit us?
- What are your expectations about sex after marriage?
- What is your experience with and use of pornography?
- Have you ever experienced sexual trauma? How has it affected you? What help have you sought?
- What are your views about how we would each spend our time after marriage?
- What does quality couple time look like to you? How often do you see that happening after marriage?
- What activities outside of our marriage, family, and household are important to you? What would we do separately and what together? How much time do you see these activities taking?
- If I have concerns about us not getting enough time and attention, would you be open to discussing the matter and potentially making changes?
- What is your view about truthfulness between a couple? With others?
- What demonstrates that you are trustworthy and dependable?
- How do you show respect toward others?
- What examples are there in your life of practicing self-discipline?
- When you face difficulties, are you able to be creative, flexible, and persevering? If not, how do you handle problems that come up in life?
- What types of words and actions do you consider as ones that are compassionate and kind?
- Are you able to be forgiving of others’ mistakes? How would I know that you have extended forgiveness to me?
- What is your view of and practice of faithfulness within marriage to your partner?
- Are you generally friendly toward others? How do they respond? When is friendliness difficult?
- When would it be natural for you to be thoughtful and of humble service to a marriage partner or family member?
For a couple to explore such questions in depth, the relationship cannot be instant or a decision to marry made quickly. It takes time together and with family, friends, and others to really get to know someone.
I often have married couples tell me how happy they are that they were thorough, as they were confident in their decision to marry, and it has minimized challenges and misunderstandings between them.
Certified Matchmaker | CEO, Select Date Society
“What purpose do we share?”
Couples thrive when they have a shared purpose. Your purpose as a couple could be:
- Volunteering to support a cause you are both passionate about
- Building a business together
- Raising children together
- Any other shared passion
Discussing your vision for your purpose as a couple before walking down the aisle is essential.
“Do we share the same values?”
We always advise couples we’ve introduced to discuss their core values to make sure they are on the same page before taking the next step in their relationship.
Your values don’t have to be identical, but they shouldn’t be polar opposites, either. Make sure you share common ground on how you view the world, your community, and your family.
“What makes you laugh?”
Sharing a similar sense of humor will hold your marriage together when you face challenges as a couple. Talk about what makes you laugh and how you find joy in life. You should have some “inside jokes” that the two of you share before you’re ready to say, “I do!”
“Are you a risk taker or risk adverse?”
Many relationship experts will advise you to discuss finances before getting married.
You may want to iron out the details of how you will share expenses and discuss how you will save for retirement, but it’s even more important to discuss your thoughts and feelings about money.
“Are you each savers or spenders? Does one of you take a more conservative approach to retirement planning while the other is more of a risk taker?”
Understanding your partner’s money mindset is important before you start sharing expenses.
“What do you want our family to look like?”
The basic question here may be: “Do you want to have kids?” But today’s families are often more complex than that.
You may already have children and be blending families, or you may be getting married in your 40s or 50s and considering options for having a child through adoption or surrogacy.
Talk about how you see your own family unit and your extended family unit as well: “Who’s family will you spend the holidays with? Will you adapt traditions from each of your families or create new traditions together?”
It’s important to discuss what the new family you are creating together will look like.
Related: Why Is Family Important?
Author | Associate Professor of Sociology, Missouri State University
It’s important to discuss core issues, values, and practices to avoid future challenges. Often, we go into marriage thinking love alone will be enough, but many times it simply isn’t.
Finding sources of potential incompatibility is essential.
Expectations about sex
In my research on infidelity, people often marvel at the fact that they didn’t discuss matters of sexual compatibility before getting married. As a result, they now find themselves in untenable situations with no clear path forward.
The women I interviewed suggest that before marrying, we should ask our partner their expectations around sexual activity. Specifically:
- How often do they expect to have sex?
- How would they want to handle a future situation where sex became impossible due to their health (in other words, your partner is unable to participate in sexual intercourse, but you are still able and willing)?
They also recommend we discuss how you might address a disparity in sexual desire between partners (for example, you want to have much more sex than your partner, or your sexual interests don’t align).
How to deal with conflict, chores, and children
Beyond frank discussions about sexual expectations, we need to inquire about conflict management. Ask about how the conflict was managed within their family dynamic and share your own history in that regard.
What are their tendencies when faced with a conflict? Household labor and childcare can become difficult tensions to navigate. It’s better to have clarity now.
Discuss expectations about the division of household labor. What chores do they expect you to complete and vice versa? Then expand that discussion to child care.
Who will do what for future children you may have? Does your partner plan to change diapers and get up in the middle of the night, or do they expect you to handle that?
Discuss family arrangements and finances:
Family and finance are also big factors to navigate.
Discuss your expectations for time with extended family
Family and finance are also big factors to navigate.
How much time do they expect you to spend with their family, and how much time are they willing to spend with yours? Where will you spend your holidays (and with whom)?
Ask your partner about their debt and reveal yours
How will you handle those debts (e.g., split costs, handle your own payments separately)? Will you mingle your funds in a joint account or keep separate accounts?
Or perhaps have a joint account, and each keeps a separate account, in which case, you need to discuss how much each of you will contribute to the joint fund and what will be paid from that account. How will you handle routine expenses as well as saving for big purchases?
These are tough conversations to have, but talking these issues through now will help prepare you to face tomorrow’s challenges.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | California LCSW | Florida Telehealth Provider
“How long do you see yourself in a marriage?”
It can be an awkward question, but asking and answering, “How long do you see yourself in a marriage?” allows a couple to be aware of and understand how each partner views the time commitment for the longevity of marriage.
Marriage often has these implied vibes of being a forever thing, yet society and culture are rich with evidence that it both is and often isn’t.
While it’s impossible to predict the future with 100% certainty, knowing and sharing each partner’s expectation of the longevity of marriage with which each partner enters the marriage can help create a sense of transparency and understanding.
People view the time commitment of marriage differently
Some people view marriage as a commitment for life—with or without a couple of exceptions for abuse and infidelity. Other people view marriage as something they commit to for as long as it serves them, is more fun than work, or until someone more compatible comes along.
If a couple does not ask each other the question, “How long do you want to be married for?” a partner who views marriage as a lifelong commitment could be promising their life to someone who views marriage as something they do until they don’t, and vice versa.
Heartache, resentment, and frustration could have been prevented if each person knew the level of commitment that both they and their partner were entering the marriage with and were clear about what promises they were making to each other and how the other understood those promises.
How to discuss views about how long marriage lasts:
Sometimes, conversations about views and beliefs about marriage come up organically, but other times, the conversation needs to be started intentionally.
If you want to start the conversation, here are some tips that could help it be a more positive experience. These tips can be used for any important conversation you need to have with your partner, too!
- Ask your partner in advance if you can schedule a conversation for a certain time
Share the topic that you would like to discuss but wait to actually talk about it until the agreed-upon time. This could help both people feel prepared and prevent someone from feeling blindsided by a conversation they’re not ready for.
If both partners feel truly ready to talk about it immediately and you both are in a calm and compassionate headspace, you don’t have to wait to talk about it. Just make sure that no one feels forced or pushed into having a conversation they don’t want to have.
Own that it might be an awkward thing to talk about and use a gentle tone to lighten the mood. If you’re searching for words to use to start the conversation, you could always blame it on this article.
Say something like: “I read something online recently about how it’s important to talk about what each person’s expectations are for how long they want their marriage to last, and it got me thinking. Does marriage feel like a lifelong commitment to you?”
- Stay calm
If you don’t like where the conversation is going, or the emotions are getting heated, pause. Remind yourself why you both are together and gently ask to continue the conversation later after you’ve both had some time to cool down.
- Remember that nothing has to be decided immediately
It can feel unsettling to hear that your partner has a different view on the longevity of a marriage commitment. And it can feel really refreshing and exciting to hear them say that they view the commitment of marriage similarly to how you do.
In both situations, you don’t have to make a decision immediately. Give yourselves time to continue to grow.
- Work with a couples therapist
Work with a couples therapist. A couples therapist can help you both navigate the questions you have about marriage as well as help you develop skills to have great interactions and communication with each other.
The time leading up to marriage is a special time, and this is just one of many important questions to ask before you get married. The best part is that you don’t have to figure it out alone.
Find a licensed couples therapist who specializes in premarital counseling to work with to help you navigate your relationship and build a strong foundation together.
They will help you know that if or when you enter into marriage, you have asked the questions you need to ask to give yourself the best chance of making it work and truly enjoying your lives together.
Founder, Heartbreak to Happy
It’s safe to say that if we could do things differently when choosing our life partner, we would all do things differently.
Here’s what I mean: Marriage is a beautiful thing, and when you do life with the person, you choose and go through the seasons of life, where you both change. And sometimes those changes don’t sit so well with the other person.
My divorce triggered my past experiences and trauma from childhood. All the feelings of not being good enough, rejection, and abandonment came up.
My ex and I went through hell and back during our relationship, but that itself wasn’t good enough to hold our marriage together. I figured because we went through those things, we could get through anything. I was wrong.
Now, looking back on my own healing path, these are the questions I should have asked when I decided to make that commitment to marriage, and it’s the same questions I asked my new partner before we committed, which is the exact partnership I’ve always wanted but never knew how to go about getting it.
Related: How to Move on After Divorce
“What is your partner’s attachment style?”
Attachment styles are how we interact with others based on past experiences.
There are four attachment styles:
Understanding this allows both of you to create a safe container for you to effectively communicate rather than say hurtful words during arguments and suppress your feelings. This is important in navigating challenging times and not having them break you.
“Do they have a growth mindset?”
Are they looking for new ways to expand their thinking and how they move around in this world? Is that person willing to learn and grow with you through the good and the bad? Saying it is very different from doing it.
“Is the relationship you’re in a safe container to authentically be you?”
Do you give support, and do you feel supported? This goes deeper than just saying the words. It’s in the action steps. Do they hold space for you, and do you hold space for them without judgment or criticism?
“Do you set boundaries with them to help you stay on track with your dreams?”
Your relationship is icing on your cake, but you should have a set of your own dreams that you want to accomplish just for you.
“Are you willing to co-regulate your nervous system with your partner?”
As you blend your lives together, there are going to be times when things get uncomfortable.
Are you both willing to navigate soothing your nervous system and learning about it so that you can create space to overcome challenges rather than grow distant?
When you get on the same page with this person, and they are willing to show up and do the work with you and not just say you do it, then you can create a richer, more meaningful partnership that will allow both of you to have a life that you love together.
I hope anyone in today’s dating culture would be wise enough to insist on open discussions about these topics.
Discuss your respective sexual histories
First, before embarking on a sexual relationship, honestly share your respective sexual histories. Being given an STD is not a great way to start a loving relationship.
Both must be completely transparent about your financial conditions
Before marriage, each of you must be completely transparent about your financial condition. This includes your debts, monthly payment schedules, how long it will take to eliminate those debts, and any future financial responsibilities you expect to take on, such as supporting aging parents.
As part of your financial disclosure, do either of you have alimony payments to make? Or dependents to support?
One smart couple I know agreed to each pay off their respective debts before marriage so they could begin their lives with a clean slate financially.
Learn about stepfamily dynamics if either of you has a child from a previous relationship
If either of you has a child from a previous relationship, learn all you can about stepfamily dynamics. The strategies recommended for creating a successful stepfamily are very different from those implemented in a nuclear or first marriage couple.
Ask if the two of you could attend communication and conflict management skills classes
Ask your prospective partner if the two of you could attend a class to learn great communication and conflict management skills. Marriage tends to bring out the worst of the traits or skills we inherited from our families of origin.
Learning and practicing respectful methods of communicating is the best way to build and sustain a loving, lasting relationship.
Melissa Fecak, Esq.
Founder and Owner, South Jersey Divorce Solutions Melissa Fecak, Esq. LLC
“Will you sign a prenup?”
The question someone should ask before marriage is, “Will you sign a prenup?” Asking this question can be very telling as to the success of the marriage.
First, if you cannot talk to your soon-to-be spouse about finances and a prenuptial agreement, that can be a sign of possible trouble later on.
Is it a fear that:
- They will get mad?
- A fight will start?
- You do not want to talk about your financial situation?
In any case, if you cannot talk about your finances before marriage, how do you think you will do when issues arise during the marriage?
Second, prenuptial agreements require the disclosure of what assets/debts you have now.
If you want to hide assets from your fiance/fiancee, ask yourself why:
- Do you not trust your significant other?
- Are you afraid of judgment?
Answering these questions may mean you are not ready to marry or marry the wrong person.
A prenuptial agreement can establish how you wish to handle potential issues that come up in your marriage. It does not guarantee that the marriage will be unsuccessful. It can actually set up a framework for how you and your future spouse will address issues as they arise.
In the unfortunate event that the marriage is unsuccessful, it can ease the divorce process and allow you both to move forward quicker without incurring unnecessary and costly legal fees.
Life Coach, The Rebuilding Coach
“Will one career take precedence over the other?”
Before I got married the first time, my fiancé and I went to the pre-marriage classes that were required by our church. We took a compatibility quiz.
I will always remember this: The counselor who administered the quiz said, “Dawn, you are more even-Steven when it comes to issues of child-rearing, cooking, and homemaking.”
I totally blew it off. At the time, I thought, “Oh, that’s no big deal.” “It’s nothing I need to worry about now.” “Things will be different once we have kids.”
No. That was an indication of what was to come.
We had different expectations, and it all came up later. Resentment built for 15 years. Then, we divorced. Each of us suffered longer than necessary.
I ignored things I should not have. I call these things yellow flags.
It’s not that the desires of one fiancé are bad. It simply indicates that the couple may not be on the same page. A yellow flag is a topic that has to be investigated.
Now, I work with clients who think they are the victims of their ex. And undoubtedly, we find ways in which big topics are ignored. Couples ignore everything from the desire for kids to how they’ll spend and save money.
Engaged couples are often too focused on the venue, the dress, and the honeymoon. But the wedding day is just one day. Married life lasts forever—in theory.
So yes! Ask all the questions. But most importantly, ask yourself first:
- What are your standards?
- Do you have any dealbreakers?
- Will one career take precedence over the other?
- What about moving?
- What about the amount of time spent with in-laws?
- Who will get up in the middle of the night with the babies?
- Who will do the cooking? The shopping? Pay the bills? Work?
- What about discipline and kids?
Also, ask questions about the things that may seem too embarrassing to talk about:
- Is porn okay?
- What about being FB friends with an ex?
- What about spending money and not telling the other person?
The idea is that if you think you should not ask the question, ask it. Don’t assume. Don’t gloss over it.
Besides being practical, it will also increase intimacy. If you can’t talk about this stuff now, don’t assume it will get easier with time.
Senior Editor, Tandem
You’re sitting on your couch, watching a half-hour comedy that you streamed. The characters on screen are married, and the subject of kids comes up. It seems that this wasn’t discussed before they got hitched.
But would this happen in real life? Unfortunately, things like this do happen.
If you want to avoid awkward situations, there are some important questions to ask before you get married:
“Where will you live?”
Even if you live together now, you might not be in a great space once you marry. You could need some extra space if your marriage plans include having kids. Make sure to talk about your living situation to ensure that where you end up is where you both want to be.
“Do you want kids?”
A great source of conflict between couples is the matter of kids. I have some good friends who broke up before they got married because one wanted kids, and the other did not.
Of course, they had strong feelings for each other and ended up meeting in the middle. The one who wanted children desired to have 4 or 5 kids, so they compromised on two. Today they have been married for over 15 years!
Remember that kid conversations don’t stop with how many you will or won’t have. If you plan on having kids, take the time to talk about how much each of you will be expected to contribute—especially when the kids are babies.
“How will the bills get paid?”
This is another source of conflict, though this question goes deeper than who is the person responsible for going online and making payments. You also have to determine who will pay for what or how much. There is no one right answer for what is fair and equitable.
One person in the relationship might make significantly more than the other. Deciding now how much each of you will contribute can save countless headaches later.
If either of you has debt before getting married, you’ll want to ensure you discuss this as well.
“How much will change, and what will stay the same?”
Being married certainly does not mean that things are going to change. In fact, things should not change too much simply because you have a piece of paper.
If you have expectations about things you want to change or see change, then you need to discuss this before your wedding date. Don’t presume someone’s personality, hobbies, or anything else will simply change because they are getting married.
“Do you like their parents?”
This isn’t necessarily something you need to ask your partner, but it is surely something you need to think about. When you marry someone, you aren’t just marrying them. You are marrying into their family.
If there are things about their family that upset you, these issues might not go away. Talk to your partner if you think this could cause an issue in the future or even in the present.
You could and should ask plenty of other questions before getting married. You’ll want to know things such as the expectations for sexual relations and what your partner’s future goals are.
Hopefully, however, you will already know this, as you would have discussed this during your relationship. But if you are open and honest, and you keep your eye on the prize of marriage, you can live happily ever after.
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