Topics Every Couple Should Discuss Before Marriage
Studies suggest that couples, who adopt a “happily-ever-after,” “Cinderella and Prince Charming,” and “all we need is love” mentality have the highest risk of having an unsuccessful marriage. Why? Well, because it’s unrealistic and can cause both partners to set unrealistic expectations of what marriage should be like.
The truth is: most, if not all marriages, experience issues at some point. Maybe the issues are minor, or maybe they are gigantic – either way it’s something both partners have to work through if they want their marriage to remain intact.
It is important to understand that the success or failure of your marriage may depend on how well you and your spouse can communicate and work through any issues (i.e. finances, kids, household chores, family involvement, sex, religion, and priorities and life goals) that arise. These are important topics that should be discussed before tying the knot and regularly revisited during the marriage.
The ability to effectively communicate with each other (even when it’s difficult) is a hallmark sign of a happy and healthy relationship, so it’s important that you work on your communication skills before you get married.
Being compatible and united on fundamental values is also a must for a healthy and happy marriage. Why? Because, you will experience “tests” as a married couple – “tests” you will have to address and work through together.
So, the best way to tackle some of the “trials” you will experience once you are married is to address a wide-variety of topics, while you’re still dating. More specifically, it is vital that you have these conversations before you decide to spend the rest of your lives together. The good news is this article will provide you with topics that you and your partner can discuss before walking down the aisle.
Listed below are topics every couple should discuss before marriage:
Money can make or break a marriage. According to studies one of the main reasons couples divorce is because of finances. One spouse is a tight budgeter, while the other one spends money freely – sound familiar? So, it is important that you discuss this topic with your partner before you get married.
Sit down and talk about how you handle money vs. how your partner handles money. Also, discuss how you will handle finances once married.
Financial questions you may want to talk about before getting married:
- Are you a budgeter and/or “tightwad” with money? Is your partner the same way or is he/she more of the “free spender?”
- Do you or your partner have a lot of debt or do you or partner value saving money over spending it?
- What will you do if one or both of you loses a job? Will you take whatever you can find to support your family or wait until you get what you want?
It’s important that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to money, especially if you are thinking about getting married. Ask your partner what he/she likes to splurge on and how often he/she thinks one should be able to do this. Also, ask him/her what he/she considers “a lot of money to spend on something.”
It is common for married couples to put their finances together in one joint bank account, so this is a really big deal. A joint bank account means you both have access to it, and can deposit or withdraw money from it at any time. So, it’s vital that you know your partner’s spending habits if you are thinking of building a life with him/her.
Moreover, once married, most creditors will not separate you from your spouse, when it comes to bills. In other words, your credit score will drop along with your spouse’s, if you are late or delinquent on bills. In other words, bills your spouse doesn’t pay can affect both of you – and vice versa.
So, the last thing you want to do is join your money with someone who is reckless when it comes to his/her money. Address this topic with your partner before you consider marrying him/her.
Another “touchy” subject that a lot of couples try to avoid is KIDS. Still, it is a topic that definitely needs to be addressed in-depth before marriage.
Questions you may want to discuss before “getting hitched:”
- Do you want kids? Does your partner want kids? If so, how many and when?
- What values and morals do you want your kids to have?
- What about education – private or public school?
- Do you expect the mother to stay-at-home with the kids? What about the father, can he stay-at-home with the kids instead?
- What do you think about gender roles?
- How will you and your partner feel if one or more of your kids turns out to be gay or transgendered?
- What do you think about circumcision for boys? What about your partner?
- Are you pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine? What about your partner?
- How do you plan to discipline your kids? How does your partner?
- How do you and your partner feel about surrogacy or adoption, if you can’t have children the “natural way?”
These are extremely important topics that should be discussed, in detail, before getting married and before having children. The quickest way to divorce is if one spouse is ready to have kids, and the other one is not sure he/she wants them or doesn’t want them at all.
This can become a major problem if it’s not addressed before marriage. The worst thing you or your partner can do is pretend that you want kids or may want kids in the future, knowing you have no intention of starting a family with your spouse.
Pretending is one of the most heartless, selfish, and inconsiderate thing you can do to the person you say you love. Why? Well, because it prevents the other person from finding someone who shares his/her dream of being a parent.
For many couples this is a deal breaker that can rapidly lead to divorce. The truth is if you and your partner have conflicting views on having kids, you probably should not get married. If the spouse that wants kids “settles” by staying married to the spouse that doesn’t, both partners will probably end up being unhappy and unsatisfied.
If you definitely wants kids, but your partner is unsure, then what? Well, talking to a couples or marriage counselor could help your partner decide if kids are in his/her future. If they are, then you can look forward to having a family together. However, if your partner decides he/she absolutely does not want kids, you may have to re-evaluate your relationship. So, talk about this subject before you get married, and be honest and open with one another.
Another biggie that couples should discuss before getting married is household chores.
Questions you may want to talk about before “tying the knot:”
- How do you and your partner feel about gender roles, when it comes to household chores?
- Do you expect the man to work outside of the home, fix things around the house, kill insects, and take out the trash? What about your partner – how does he/she feel about the man doing these specific chores?
- Do you expect the woman to stay at home and take care of the household by cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids? What about your partner – how does he/she feel about a woman doing these chores?
- Or, are you more fluid and gender neutral about chores? In other words, are you okay with the woman taking out the trash and working outside of the home, while the man cooks, cleans, and takes care of the kids? What about your partner – how does he/she feel about this?
- How will chores be divided between you?
You and your partner must be on the same page or it will cause issues in your marriage. So, get this “hashed out” before you “tie the knot.”
A topic every couple should discuss before getting married is family involvement.
Questions you may want to discuss before marriage:
- How involved do you and your partner think your immediate and extended families (i.e. family, siblings, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, and in-laws) will be in your lives once you get married?
- Should you and your partner expect to see both families during holidays, vacations, and special occasions?
- Will you and your partner be expected to see your families every weekend, a couple times a month, during holidays, or at church every Sunday?
When it comes to in-laws, it is imperative that you always have a united front. Once married, never contradict your spouse in front of your family, and especially not in front of your parents. If you always have each other’s backs, in-laws will have fewer nasty things to say about your spouse. And, they will be more likely to treat your spouse with respect and kindness.
On the other hand, if you continuously complain to your parents about what your spouse did or did not do, they will probably end up not liking your spouse, which could cause problems in your marriage.
A good test? How your partner treats you in front of his/her family, while you are dating. If he/she “sticks up” for you, he/she probably won’t change once you get married. But, if he/she continuously allows his/her family to “put you down” and disrespect you, you can expect that behavior to continue once you are husband and wife.
Sex is an important part of any relationship, but especially marriage. Some couples shy away from talking about intimacy, and specifically sex. Maybe, it is because sex is often linked to vulnerability or emotional attachment. Or, maybe, it is because of past sexual experiences or societal expectations. Regardless of the reason, it is a topic that every couple should talk about before getting married.
Keep in mind that sexual expectations may be different when you’re dating vs. when you’re actually married. For instance, when you’re dating, sex may be a marathon (long and satisfying), however a decade into marriage, the sex may be a sprint (short and quick), if it happens at all. Why the difference? Well, because when you’re dating, you want to make the experience fulfilling for both partners, so it may take a while. However, when you’ve been married for a while, a “quickie” may be required because you have children to raise, job responsibilities, and household tasks to perform.
You just may not have the time for a long sexual experience. So, you “settle” for what you can get. The good news is, there are couples and marriage counselors, who can help you in this area. Counseling may also be especially beneficial, if you have been married a while, and feel as if you are sexually disconnected from your spouse.
The truth is you can’t predict your sex life down the road – even if you talk about it while you are dating. So, a relationship expert is a good resource, if you start to have issues in the bedroom later on. However, once married, it is essential that you make time to sexually re-connect with your spouse from time-to-time.
What does that look like? Well, if you have kids, it means sending them to their grandparents for a night or hiring a babysitter, while you spend the night or at least a few hours at a local hotel. If they are pre-teens or teens, it means sending them for an overnight sleepover with one of their friends.
Questions you may want to ask about sex before you “get hitched:”
- How often do you expect to have sex once you are married? What about your partner?
- What is your favorite position? What is your partner’s favorite position?
- What does sex mean to you? What does it mean to your partner?
- What are sexual activities that make you uncomfortable? What about your partner?
- What are sexual activities you enjoy? What about your partner?
- What do you think about foreplay activities? What about your partner?
These things matter in a relationship – any relationship, but especially if you plan to spend the rest of your lives together. If you ask these questions before you get married, you’ll have some idea of what to expect when you finally make your relationship “official.”
Religion is another “hot button” topic that every couple should explore before marriage. Now, it’s not as crucial if you are just dating and not really thinking about marriage, but if you are, it’s worth talking about in advance. Why? Well, because once you are married you’ll have to take in consideration religious holidays, religious traditions, and children (what religion they will follow). While if you are just dating, you won’t have to participate in these activities unless you want to.
Religious questions you may want to ask before getting married:
- How important is religion to you? What about your partner?
- What religion would you like your children to follow? What about your partner?
- Will you expect your spouse to convert to your religion (if yours is different)? What about your partner?
- What religious activities do you participate in and why? What about your partner?
- How will you handle religious holidays and traditions, if you are of a different religion? How will your partner?
Many married couples experience conflict over religious matters, because they did not discuss this topic in advance. If you “hash out” all of these things before you get married, you be less likely to squabble over them once you are married.
Priorities & Life Goals
The last topic every couple should discuss before marriage is priorities and life goals. Why does it matter? Well, it matters because if you and your partner have different things you want to accomplish in life, your marriage may not work, especially if you can’t find a compromise that satisfies both of you.
For instance, if you want to join the military, but your partner wants to “settle down” and live a more “traditional family life,” you will most likely experience major issues once you have “tied the knot” – especially if you are both set on these lifestyles. So, it is extremely important that you know these things before you decided to tie yourself together for forever.
Questions you may want to ask your partner before you get married:
- Where do you see yourself in the future? What about your partner?
- What are your priorities in life? What are your partner’s?
- What are your life goals? What about your partner’s?
- Do you want to “settle down” or do you want to travel and see the world? What about your partner?
- How do you feel about having kids in the future? How does your partner feel about that?
- Would you like to go back to school? What about your partner?
- Would you like to live in another city, state, or country or are you satisfied living where you are now? What about your partner?
Get this out of the way by talking about it before you contemplate getting married. The last thing you want is to get “stuck” on one lifestyle, when you spouse has another idea.
The truth is having a happy and healthy marriage takes work – lots of work. It takes unconditional love, good communication, respect, loyalty, trust, compatibility, openness, commitment and fidelity, patience and tolerance, a deliberate effort, and a willingness to compromise and work through issues.
It’s a big step – one that signifies you willingness to stay around for the long haul. Sadly, however, sometimes love just isn’t enough to keep a marriage afloat. This is especially true, when the differences between the two spouses are so big and overwhelming that they are impossible to overcome.
One way to combat issues that can arise in marriage is to discuss them before thinking about or planning to get married. Talking about these issues in advance can save both you and your partner a ton of heartache and disappointment. The answers to these questions can help you and your partner decide if you’re truly ready to take the next step in your relationship.
If you are able to compromise on issues you don’t fully agree on, then the outlook for marriage look promising, but if you can’t, it may be time for you and your partner to re-evaluate if you are truly meant to be together forever. Regardless, it’s worth exploring before you get married.
- Bredow, C. A. (2015). Chasing prince charming: Partnering consequences of holding unrealistic standards for a spouse. Personal Relationships, 22(3), 476–501. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/pere.12091
- Loftus, M. (2004). Till debt do us part. Psychology Today, 37(6), 42–52. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a2h&AN=14843379&site=ehost-live
- Kazemi, P., Tarkhan, M., & Golpour, R. (2018). Predicting of marital conflict based on religious attitudes in women applicants for divorce. Journal of Fundamentals of Mental Health, 20(4), 278–283. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a2h&AN=131822950&site=ehost-live