If you’re engaged or thinking about getting married, then I’d first like to congratulate you on taking this big step! These questions are meant to help engage you and your partner in meaningful conversation and lead you both towards a strong marriage. There are more than just 12 questions here. Under each 12, there’s even more talking points. So, take a seat with your beau and travel through these important points together!
1. Is this relationship for you?
You probably think this is a weird question, but it’s one people forget to ask. They end up getting so caught up and taken away by the details of the wedding that they forget to step back and ask if they see this relationship working long-term. So, do you see this working long-term? I don’t mean a couple of years; I mean for life.
2. Do you know how to fight fair?
And more importantly, does your partner know how to fight fair? When you guys fight, do you bring past grievances into play or do you stick with the current situation? Is it a scuffle or a full-blown scream match? Do you get worked up about minor situations or do you get worked up about bigger issues every once in awhile? How big are these “bigger” issues? Do you fight about repeat issues? These are all important things to look at.
3. Are you on the same page regarding finances?
This is the number one thing couples fight about. You may not have grown up in the same financial situation as your partner and, thus, have different financial philosophy. Are you both savers or spenders? What is your debt game plan? Have to you come to terms with how much you both should have your account at any given time? Are you both on the same page with what is affordable for housing, car payments, loan repayments, etc.?
4. Have you spent more time on the wedding or the marriage?
Sometimes, you get so busy with all the details of planning a wedding that you forget to plan a marriage. Your flower arrangements and cutesy signs are great, but they won’t help you when it comes to marital hardships. How many books on marriage and healthy relationships have you read? How many of them are books you and your partner have both read? Have you sat down and discussed the answers to all of these questions with them?
5. Do you both still have secrets?
Keeping secrets while married is one of the ways to guarantee marriage mishap, and even divorce. Are you still keeping a piece of your history hidden out of fear they will runaway? Do you feel like you know your partner or are there pieces of the puzzle missing? How much do you know about each other’s childhoods and past relationships? Are there still big “family” secrets that you can’t be trusted with? Do either of you have any loose ends you need to tie up before tying the knot? These are all valid questions.
6. Do you have a game plan for setting boundaries?
Setting boundaries can be a challenge across the board. To safeguard you and your partner’s sanity, you will find yourself needing to set boundaries a lot, especially with close friends and family. Setting boundaries is never a feel good moment so it’s important that you both have a mutual understanding of how you will go about setting boundaries and what boundaries are being set on whom. Privacy is sacred to marriage. Take a close look at current situations (where you feel there should be boundaries) and potential, realistic situations. Create a game plan for both. Here is a post on how to set boundaries that you might find helpful.
7. Have you ever been to couples’ counseling?
Have you ever had your relationship evaluated by a professional? Have you ever sought an outside opinion, aside from your friends? Couples’ counseling creates a safe environment for you and your partner to talk about challenging topics in an effective and loving manner. I always recommend that any couple seeking marriage go to at least a few couples’ counseling sessions prior to the Big Day. A fresh perspective can aid in any ruts you and your partner may have so you’re going into the marriage with a renewed heart and in your best state.
8. What will you do if your marriage starts to fall apart?
Assuming that your marriage will never be on the rocks is not helpful if it gets there one day. Many people make the mistake of avoiding this topic before marriage. You’re not planning on that so why discuss it? Just like you have to set up game plans in other areas, it’s important to know what you would both do in this situation. Marriage is a serious commitment. It really is for better or worse. So what is you and your partner’s game plan if worse gets here? Obviously you can’t get too specific with the situation, but you need to know the general direction. Will you stay and fight? Are there some situations, like physical abuse or cheating, where there’s no time spent on trying to fix it? What are your strategies?
9. Have you come to a consensus about big life choices?
What will you do if one of your jobs requires you to relocate in order to keep it? How many kids are you planning on having? If you are planning on having kids, what are your main parenting strategies? Who watches them after school? Who takes care of them in the event you and your partner die? If you’re not able to have kids, is adoption an option? Would you stay in the US or do an international adoption? What happens if one car breaks down and there’s a need for a new one? What happens if one of your parent’s needs 24/7 care? Will they move in with you or would you hire an in-house nurse? What is your game plan for family time and major holidays? How important are things like vacations?
10. Do you still have ghosts? Does he?
It’s important to take care of as many ghosts as possible. When it comes to bad memories, they find their way to the surface. It’s not fair to project them on anyone else and they tend to come around during fights. Set you and your partner up for success. Do you still have memories that have an emotional attachment to them, like a death, break-up, or assault? Does he? Do you or your partner have childhood traumas that have not been emotionally taken care of? What kind of environments were you both raised in? Are they similar or are they different? How different? How will your family dynamics play into your marriage? How will past grievances play into your marriage? Are there any situations where you were hurt by your partner in the past that still stings or holds an emotional charge? How to you plan on making amends with those memories?
11. How long did your dating relationship last before the proposal?
Marriages tend to be better if you were dating for a substantial amount of time prior to getting married. If you have been dating for six months or less, then I recommend to not get married. What’s the rush? The reason why time is of the essence is because the longer the dating relationship, the stronger the likelihood that you and your partner will face a hardship together. How you both face hardships together is good indicator of what a marriage would be like for you both. If it’s been less than six months, take a step back. If it’s been a year or more, then examine how you both handle the hard times. Where do you both do well? Where can there be improvements?
12. Could you get married tomorrow and be happy? Could you get married 5 years from now and be happy?
Are you ready for marriage? An engagement is a time to prepare for marriage (not the wedding, but truly the marriage!). However, if you feel like there are still some loose ends to tie up, so much so you wouldn’t get married tomorrow, then may you should reconsider. On the flip side, do you cringe at the thought of being married 5 years from now? Why? Do you want to be married or do you want to love this specific person for the rest of your life? They’re two very different questions.