Questions to Ask Before You Get Married
Giving Your Marriage the Best Start Possible
In the midst of all of you other wedding planning, it can be difficult to arrange weekly or monthly times where you can get together with your officiant or a professional counselor to spend some time in preparation for what will come the day after the wedding.
Here is a collection of questions which touches on common issues that arise during the first year of marriage, and you can approach them a number of ways. The best thing to do is to answer the questions separately and then come together with your written answers and discuss them. Be honest with each other if any of the questions raise a concern in you, or if they require you to critically analyze other relationships in your life (to people, objects, worldviews, etc.). The questions are broken into four basic groups: family of origin, time and finance management, future plans, and conflict resolution; if you'd like, you can break it up over a number of evenings, or spend an entire day working on the whole list.
Family of Origin:
- What religious or spiritual values did your parents instill in you (if any), and which of these values are you planning to take with you into the marriage?
- Did your family outwardly show affection, and if not, how did they convey love for each other?
- If you could describe you childhood in a few short sentences, what would they be?
- Name a few things that you like and dislike about your own family
- Name a few things that you like and dislike about your future spouse's family.
- Was there a divorce in either of your families? If so, how do you think that might affect your current relationship (emotionally, scrambling to spend time with multiple people at holidays, etc.)?
Time and Finance Management:
- Which of you is the spender, and which of you is the saver? What sort of issues can you see that causing?
- Discuss (if any) the amount of debt that each of you have, and the steps that you are doing to pay it off (both individually now, and together as a couple later).
- What are your cleaning preferences? (i.e. do you clean on a constant basis or do you wait for a mess to accumulate and do a big clean) Beyond that, how do you plan to divide up chores?
- What are some savings goals that you have? What sort of a time frame do you think are suitable for these goals?
- Is one person going to be assigned the duty of money management, or will you approach it as a couple?
- How do you want to spend your free time when you're married? Is it necessary for you to spend all of that time with your spouse?
- How do you want to raise your children?
- Do you want to have a house and savings before you begin a family?
- Are there any goals or desires you'd like to fill before starting a family (such as travel, career changes, etc.)?
- What kind of a parent do you think you will be?
- How do you plan to spend your retirement?
- Is there anything else you'd like to do in the future that you may need to save for, or that will take an extended period of time?
- How do you personally resolve conflict?
- How does your spouse?
- While you've been dating, what issues have caused the biggest fights? Will these remain issues when you are married?
- How will you make decisions when you are married?
- Are there any changes that you want your spouse to make before or after you're married? What are they?
- How are you different? How are you similar?
- Do you hold a grudge or are you able to forgive easily?
Overall, these questions are only meant to act as a guideline as you spend some time getting to know each other better, and preparing in advance for some of the obstacles that may arise in the future. If there are any problems that you have identified that you need to deal with before you are married, talking with a professional counselor or a pastor may help, as problems only tend to magnify once you are married.
Divorce is a big issue these days, and it is important that couples be proactive about 'divorce proofing' their marriage. I like to recommend to couples that they sit down together before they are even married (and having to deal with all of the new stresses that presents), and create a plan for how they intend to keep their relationship from heading toward divorce. In your plan, lay out the ways in which you will keep the romance alive in your relationship (such as regularly scheduled date nights, performing rituals that are meaningful to you as a couple (such as repeating a date that you had while dating), or anything also that is suitable for you as a couple), if you feel your relationship starting to go sour, what are the steps that you will take to try to get it back on track? There is a reason why your vows read something like "for better or for worse"! Every marriage has its rough spots, and will need both partners to take the time to reinject it with that passion you had in the beginning. Another great tip is to write out a list of everything you love about your spouse (you can let them read it if you want to). Then, store it in a safe place, but one that you will once in a while notice it, and have the opportunity to reread it. We sometimes forget all of the reasons we fell in love with a person in the first place (especially since some of those same things can become annoying after a while!), but this type of exercise can help you to see your spouse with new eyes.
Your preparation for marriage doesn't have to stop here. There are an abundance of great books out there that can help you wrestle through more tough questions together, and set you on a path for success. Below I've listed a few that I have read and found useful, however a trip to your local bookstore or a search online will easily provide hundreds more!