I looked out the window. I was nervous. I tried to focus on the trees whizzing by instead of the big lump in my throat.
We were 10 minutes away.
I knew it was important. Better than anyone!
But for whatever reason, I was nauseous, sweaty, pulse-racing, nearly-crying nervous for our first session of premarital counseling.
(Me. The Certified Family Life Educator. How’s that for ironic?)
If you know me at all, you know how I firmly believe in the importance and purpose of relationship education.
Yet there I was! Pitting out my cardigan.
What I didn’t know then was that I was under a terrible misconception that just so happens to trouble plenty of others.
I thought that premarital counseling was going to dive deep into our psyches, dig up all of this ugliness and then say “Aha! You need to sort this out before you get married! So uh.... go figure it out!” or worse, make my fiancé and I doubt whether we even should be getting married.
As it turns out, a large part of premarital counseling revolves around starting simple conversations that will help ensure you and your fiancé are on the same page, and know each other well.
(Not so scary, right?!)
It encourages you to become a student of your spouse. To really study them.
And it just so happens that this is the first of seven steps to building up your marriage.
One of the easiest ways you can get to know your partner is to simply ask questions and listen.
But what if I don’t know what questions to ask?!
Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. (And I've made a cheat-sheet!)
I recently answered a question on Quora that asked “what are important questions to ask your partner before getting married?”
The more I thought about it, the more questions came to mind based on my own experience, and academic/professional knowledge. Pretty soon, my list was over 80 questions long!
That was too many.
So instead I did my best to sum up the important topics you should cover before getting married.
I came up with 10. (But I've since come up with 13 more!)
In this post I’ve covered these 10 important topics with more depth, added some things, and I’ve included a few ideas of questions to ask to get the conversation going.
So with no further ado, here is my take on the 10 conversations you need to have before getting married.
(P.S. These are still great conversations to have, even if you're married!)
*You can also download or print this list to reference it during your day-to-day conversations, keep it in your wedding journal, or otherwise have it on hand.
Do you want kids? How many?
How do you want to discipline our kids?
How do you imagine our kids being raised?
What about your childhood do you want to recreate/avoid with our kids?
What is most important to you in creating a fulfilling, satisfying sex life?
What are your sexual boundaries?
What constitutes cheating? How will you handle infidelity?
Do you have a history of sexual abuse, victimization, or addiction I should be aware of?
How do you make financial decisions?
Are you in debt? How much?
What is your credit score?
How will we budget our income?
What boundaries do we need to set with each family?
What does it mean to you to leave our families and “cleave” (cling) to each other?
Who will we spend the holidays with?
What are your future goals and bucket list items?
When do you want to have kids?
How do you picture our family life in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
How will we resolve conflicts? Can we leave the house, walk away, yell, etc.?
What are your “hot buttons” that I should be careful to avoid?
What offenses do you consider unforgivable?
Is divorce an option in your mind?
What spiritual practices or traditions are most important to you?
What are your expectations for my level of involvement in your/our religion?
How will we raise our kids regarding religion?
What are our spiritual roles, and what do each of those roles look like?
What does it mean to be a husband? What does it mean to be a wife?
How will you divide housework and other responsibilities?
Do you expect one person to take on the bulk of cooking, providing, parenting?
Will one person be the leader or decision maker of the family?
What are your core values, and how do you picture us living them out?
What values do you want to instill in our children?
What does your list of priorities look like? Do I have permission to keep you accountable?
How will we encourage each other to stay true to who we are?
What do you think will be our greatest obstacle to overcome as a couple?
If I ever asked you to give up something important to you (a job, a friend, a nice house, a hobby, personal habits and comforts) for the survival of our marriage, would you?
Side Note: This last question is particularly important because the strength of your marriage truly is in how willing you are to sacrifice things for your partner, embrace personal growth and change, and accept their influence on your life.
I knew marrying my husband was the right decision because I didn’t even have to wonder whether he would give up something significant for the sake of our relationship. If I ever presented him with an ultimatum of “it’s me or ______”, he would choose me. Without a doubt. And I would choose him, too. THIS quality is what made me certain about my marriage. And you should be certain of this, too.
I know conversations like this can seem daunting, but they are SO worth it in the long run!
It's my prayer that this list helps bring you closer together, and establishes a firm foundation for your marriage.
And please, keep me posted. I'd love to hear how these conversations go!
Access the free printable version of today's post here.
If you'd like to get the FULL list of Conversations to Have Before You Get Married,
with over 80 specific questions to ask your partner
My Quick Start Guide to Understanding Yourself and Your Partner for FREE - click here!