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Premarital Counseling Questions to Ask Before Tying the Knot
The title of this article assumes that you are in fact, going to premarital counseling before you get married. If you aren't considering it, I HIGHLY recommend it. In fact, I think it should be law....well, that may be a little bit extreme, but there is no other commitment in life that is quite as terminal as marriage.
1. Jobs you can quit.
2. Kids grow up and move out.
3. Parents get old and die.
4. Friends move on.
Marriage is the only commitment where you agree to spend the rest of your life (and theirs) being together. That's serious!
The truth is that there is no way for you, in the haze of romance, to see the other person clearly. A third party can help immensely, if he or she asks the right questions.
Here is a list of questions you should absolutely discuss before walking down the aisle. Some of these might seem a bit unconventional but trust me- it's worth the question mark.
Have either of you ever been unfaithful in any prior relationship?
Even if you were 14 and your boyfriend was a schmuck, the kiss in the locker room with Joey was still technically cheating.
So why would you need to rehash these unfortunate mistakes with your betrothed? Because infidelity is far more common that you realize. You will be tempted at some point- that is almost a sure guarantee.
The point of talking about it is to discuss the situation leading up, how it all happened, how forgiveness was extended or not, the aftermath, and the consequences. How will you both deal with an affair should it creep into your marriage?
I know it seems like a dismal conversation, but why do you think you are not subject to the same temptations as the rest of the world?
Have you combined your money?
This isn't a discussion on whether or not you should combine accounts, but rather to explore how you both prioritize your funds. It's one thing to argue over Chinese or Italian takeout, but what happens when the budget is tight and one person thinks you should cut little Lucy's piano lessons and the other one thinks you should eliminate alcohol from the budget?
If you've had a big purchase or vacation or some other experience where you've combined finances for a common goal, you are more likely to know the other person's quirks and tendencies.
Have you talked about what happens if one of you changes your religion?
Religion is a hot topic in premarital counseling. You want to discuss how the kids will be raised and all that. But what happens if your die hard catholic husband becomes a Buddhist a few years later? How would you both handle a major shift in spirituality?
This especially becomes important if you plan on raising your children with a certain belief system. Change is the only sure thing that remains the same. Chances are, one of you might have a spiritual awakening of some sort. What happens then?
My personal experience with a no-sex relationship
Have you functioned together as a couple without sex?
Inevitably babies, sickness, or job pressures creep into romance. You will have seasons of abstinence, whether you mean to or not. How does your relationship stand up to that kind of pressure?
How are the holidays getting divided among families?
"Oh that's easy," you think. "We just alternate."
That works fine until one year Dad has cancer or Aunt Mary has another baby. In reality, one person's family will eventually trump the other as far as time spent. It just ends up that way because of location or level of intimacy. Have you prepared for that reality?
How has the time been divided up so far in your relationship? It's a good indicator of things to come.
Have you discussed personal habits?
The reality is that you probably already know most of their bad habits like forgetting to put the toilet seat down, etc. But there are more troublesome habits that you might not care about right now while you're young and kid-less. As soon as children enter the picture, your feelings may change about:
1. Video games
4. Excessive cursing
5. Internet p-rn
6. Hunting or keeping firearms
7. Fantasy football
8. Weekly pedicures and shoe shopping sprees
9. Fast food
10. Adopting pets
Have you gone through a financial crisis together?
In your relationship, have either one of you lost a job or come into financial hardship? Money issues are at the root of many divorces. If you've never had to navigate those waters before, you may be in for a rude awakening.
What were your parents' marriages like?
Two sets of divorced parents aren't a nail in the coffin, but it definitely doesn't help matters when it comes to creating a lifelong relationship. Whether you want it to or not, your parent's marriage greatly influenced you about all sorts of matters. Take a very close look at the relationship you grew up under. It'll give you a foreshadowing of the issues ahead.
Would you go into business with your spouse?
Huh? What does a business have to do with love? Well surprisingly, I know a lot of couples where one or the other would say, "No way in hell would I go into business with him or her!" Do you realize that many of their problems have to do with the exact same reasons they would never sign a business contract?
- Meeting deadlines
- Too stingy or generous with funds
- Works too much
- Works too little
- ADD and never finishes what he/she has started
Have you outlined your personal dreams and goals?
It never ceases to amaze me how many people get married knowing that one person has a pipe dream to become a famous musician while the other wants to farm organically with 13 kids. I don't understand why people think that love conquers all.
It doesn't. Well, real love does. But real love is largely absent in this world today. And two people madly in love with each other are usually high on hormones. It isn't until all of those die down that you see what's left to work with. It's not to say there isn't real love there, but two people with very different dreams and goals might find that "love" as they define it is not enough to sustain the marriage.
How many other relationships have you had?
There is a trendy school of thought that goes like this:
"Sow your wild oats so you are ready to settle down."
It's hogwash. Better to say, "Make sure you've lived out your single dreams before you get married."
The reality is that someone who's had a lot of experience hopping from relationship to relationship has never had to settle into what it feels like when the new relationship energy is gone. It also sets the person up for a lot of comparing!
It's best to leave no stone unturned
This is a lifelong commitment. There is a reason the divorce rate is sitting above 50%. People haven't turned over all those stones before they say, "I do".
Even still, some things will come up that you did not expect. That's where the commitment to stick it out is necessary. At least you will have done all you know to do so that you can avoid becoming a statistic.
About the author
Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer and blogger with a degree in Clinical Psychology. She's been married to her husband for a decade- a success in and of itself because they were so young when they wed. In addition to that obstacle, as a couple they've faced financial hardship, three children in three years, mental illness, close family members dying, and a horrifically toxic in-law relationship between father and daughter. Her memoir Wanted, which is available on Amazon documents the story of her and her husband as they dealt with Julie's adoptive reunion to her birth father.