When couples get married, they promise to love and cherish one another “as long as you both shall live.” Most marital conflict comes from practical concerns. Addressing these questions before getting engaged can help avoid trouble during your marriage.
1. Do You Want Children?
Family planning is perhaps the single most important question to ask before deciding to get married. Knowing each person’s expectations around children is crucial to a successful marriage. Consider asking:
- How many children do you want?
- What birth control methods should you consider?
- How would infertility affect you?
- Would there be a stay-at-home parent?
2. What Happens When You Get Stressed?
Every marriage has stress, whether due to work, family, health, or grief. Find out how each person responds to stress and conflict by asking:
- What triggers your stress?
- What did fights look like growing up?
- What are your coping mechanisms?
- How can I help you when you are stressed?
3. What Does “I Love You” Look Like?
A lot of marriage counseling centers on spouses not feeling loved. Knowing how each person expresses their affection can make you more sensitive to their non-verbal “I love you” messages:
- Do you like compliments?
- Do you want to spend time together?
- Do you like gifts?
- Will you do things for others as a sign of affection?
- How important is physical contact?
4. What Role Does Religion Play?
Faith and religion can be a deal-breaker for some couples. In others, it is barely a consideration. Knowing how your partner’s religion will affect your marriage is critical:
- What everyday rituals do you observe?
- How does your family celebrate holidays?
- Do you expect me to attend services with you?
- Will the children be raised in your faith?
5. What are the Terms of Our Marriage Contract?
Addressing the day-to-day operations of the household can be important, too. Talk through your expectations about maintaining the household and family.
- Will both spouses work?
- How will housework be divided?
- Who will pay household bills?
- Who has final say about household decisions?
6. Let’s Talk About Your Ex
We learn habits from our past relationships. Sometimes, they result from trauma. Other times, ex-partners continue to play roles in our lives. Talk about your exes by asking:
- Are any former partners still involved in your life?
- Do you have any children with prior partners?
- Were you ever the victim of domestic violence?
- How would you feel if your ex spoke to me?
7. How Do You Treat Money?
Money trouble is one of the biggest causes for divorce. Knowing one another’s habits with money ahead of time is important to preventing marital conflict. Ask:
- Do you have any debt?
- Do you have savings, investments, or significant assets?
- What do you consider “essential” expenses?
- What is a fair price for a pair of shoes, car, or haircut?
8. How Do You Feel About Time Apart?
Some couples are together every minute. Others act as each other’s home base. Knowing each other’s expectations around privacy and time alone can be important:
- How often should “date nights” happen?
- How would you feel if I traveled without you?
- Do you feel comfortable if I look at your cell phone or email?
- Do you consider my friends your friends?
9. How Important is Sex to Your Ongoing Relationship?
People’s sexual appetites can vary between individuals and over time. However, living in a sexless or low-intimacy relationship can be a deal-breaker. Ask:
- How frequently do you expect to have sex?
- Are you open to masturbation or self-pleasure?
- What are your preferences in bed?
- How would you feel if we stopped having sex?
10. What Does the Future Look Like to You?
Everything is easier when there is a clear goal in mind. Creating a shared vision for the future can help couples overcome the hurdles along the way. Ask:
- What does life look like in 10 years?
- What would you give up for your career?
- What does your ideal home look like?
- What will you do after retirement?
Get Help Answering the Tough Pre-Marriage Questions
It can be difficult for couples to work through these important pre-marital questions. A couple’s therapist can help you set aside time and provide a supportive structure to find answers, making it easier for you to finally ask, “Will you marry me?”