Questions Everybody Should Ask Before Getting Married
Marriage: the most important decision you'll ever make in your life. Your partner is the person you are going to share your life with — every part of it. That isn't a decision you want to take lightly. You want to have all the facts.
Compatibility and knowing what you both want in life is key. While some questions you need answers to may be uncomfortable, they’ll help ensure your first marriage is also your only one.
What Are Your Thoughts on Finances?
If you're at the point where you're ready to marry somebody, you should already have a good sense of their views on finances. However, legally linking your finances requires an even more in-depth knowledge of your partner’s approach to money.
You should discuss whether to share bank accounts or maintain separate ones, and you should have a conversation about savings goals and practices as well as procedures for making major purchases. It’s not exactly romantic, but it will ensure you have a stable and prosperous future.
Are Either of You in Debt?
Again, if you’ve been with somebody long enough to want to marry them, this has probably been brought up. However, couples sometimes do enter into marriage with undisclosed debts belonging to one person or both, so it’s important to have this conversation early, ideally even before the proposal.
Debt can affect how you want to handle your finances moving forward and even if marriage is financially the best move for you and your partner as a couple. Remember: money might not be as romantic as a nice dinner and night out on the town, but you need the former for the latter.
How Important Is Alone Time?
Some people value their alone time more than others. If you haven’t lived together previously, however, it can be a surprise when you get married and your significant other either never leaves you alone or becomes a ghost.
How much time do each of you like to spend alone? What does that alone time mean to each of you? In relationships, you need to be upfront about these things; otherwise, you’ll face a lot of arguments in the future. It's better to have the topic of 'alone time' out in the open before committing to a lifetime together.
What Role Does Fitness Play In Your Life?
The type of lifestyle you both live is also important. Fitness is a way of life for many, and if one person values fitness a lot more than the other, there can be problems unless it's discussed. If you aren't sure, have the conversation.
What part does fitness play in your life and your potential partner's life? How much time are you both willing to commit to it? How comfortable are each of you with the others' preferences? Many couples are fine making divergent life choices, but the only way to find out is by talking.
Is Jealousy an Issue?
Jealousy is a topic that comes up one way or another in a serious relationship. If you're ready to get married, you may have already seen some form of jealousy or lack thereof. Even so, jealousy is worth touching base on periodically throughout a relationship, and before marriage is no exception.
Where are each of you prone to jealousy, if anywhere? How do you want to approach it when it happens? Are there any ground rules that might help resolve future disputes? Answering these questions in advance can safeguard your marital future. If either or both of you experience severe jealousy, counseling is strongly recommended.
Have You Been Tested?
Many couples discuss sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) early on in their relationships. Nonetheless, not everyone does, and the subject can be worth revisiting either way. Along with physical and emotional health, sexual health is a key pillar of any marriage.
We get it — it's uncomfortable. But some conditions, such as herpes, are long lasting and persist even if it’s been years since your partner was intimate with someone else. For a marriage to function, honesty and openness about sex is an absolute must, and STDs are part of that.
Do You Have Any Bad Habits?
This isn’t a yes or no question, since rest assured, everyone has at least some bad habits. However, when you’re joined to someone else for life, those bad habits become your problem as much as your spouse’s.
If you have lingering concerns over your partner’s behavior, now is the time to either talk about it or set it aside as unimportant once and for all. Whatever you decide, having the talk with a bit of grace and compassion can go a long way.
Where Do Both of You Want to Live?
You should make sure you're both on the same page when it comes to your living location. The perfect location is going to work for both of you, at least in part. Take into account your budget, commutes and the things you both want to have in your home.
Ideally, this conversation should take place even before you get engaged. Because a home is an investment of not just money but also time, you want yours to be in a place that meets your needs not just in the present, but also the future.
What About the Holidays?
How will the two of you spend the holidays? Will you divide time between both sides of the family, host a mix of the two or spend most holidays with just the two of you? Having this conversation early can save you a lot of disagreements in the future.
Holidays as a newlywed couple are even more volatile than usual because they’re the combination of two people’s traditions, and no matter what, some things will change. By being upfront about your priorities, you can minimize holiday regrets and drama.
Should You Get Life Insurance?
This may seem a bit macabre, but as uncomfortable and depressing as this conversation might be, it's an important one to have. Depending on your situation, especially when it comes to your finances, the death of your prospective spouse could be something you need to prepare for.
You should discuss whether or not you both want to get life insurance policies and what those policies should look like. While it’s certainly a sad topic, a destitute widow or widower is even sadder. In any case, couples should be able to talk about anything, including death.
How Should the Wedding to Look?
Weddings are expensive. How are the two of you going to pay for the actual wedding? Deciding on a budget will save you a ton of headaches and stress down the road, as you don't want to be arguing throughout the entire wedding planning process.
Of course, you also need to decide what sort of wedding you want to have in the first place. Discuss what you and your partner want upfront so that your vision of the big day is satisfying and meaningful to both of you.
What Role Will Friendships Play in Your Lives?
Your spouse will be the most important person in your life, but that doesn't mean other relationships aren't necessary and worthwhile, too. You probably know your future spouse's friends already, but it's important to discuss how you both feel about the other person's friendships.
There should be talks about boundaries within these friendships and what both of you are going to be comfortable with moving forward. Make sure that you’re both comfortable with who your partner is hanging out with and vice versa. While you don’t have to like each other’s friends, you should feel safe and comfortable with them.
How Often Will You Travel?
From vacations to business trips, you should each be on the same page when it comes to travel. How often do the two of you plan to travel? What are some places you want to travel to? Is travel even that important to both of you?
Have this talk prior to marriage to make sure your priorities as a couple are in order. You don't want to marry somebody who loves to travel all the time if you would prefer to save money and stay at home.
Do You Want Pets?
Pets are part of the family for many people, so ironing out their place in your new household beforehand is a necessary task. From allergies to vet bills to who cleans the litter box, you need to make a mutual decision on how pets will fit into the picture.
Does your partner want the same pets that you do? How many are you both comfortable with, if any? Failure to have this conversation early on could lead to major heartbreak down the road.
What Big Ticket Items Are Important?
Again, discussing finances is essential when it comes to being together for the long haul. You need to make sure that your financial values and priorities match up and come to mutual understandings where they don’t. Items like homes, cars, vacations, time-shares, and other big purchases should be discussed.
How much are each of you comfortable with spending on these items? Which of these items are most important to you in your future? Having this discussion will help you coordinate your financial efforts going forward.
Do Either of You Have a History of Medical Conditions?
While you’ve likely talked about this to some degree already, it’s best to delve deep into each of your medical histories before you get married. From potentially expensive medical conditions to reproductive complications, discussing your medical histories early can help you plan for the future.
Are there health conditions that run in your family? If so, how do you plan to deal with them? By getting out ahead of these issues, you prevent future problems from being shocking surprises and mitigate the damage they can do.
What About the Parents?
The parents, aka your potential in-laws, will be a big part of your future, so you should talk about them early. Do both of you like the others' parents? Do either of you have any problems with them, or even your own?
You also need to talk about what role your future in-laws will play in your life. How often will visits happen? Should they have a key to your place? Do they need to give notice before coming over? Inlaws can end up causing a lot of problems in a marriage if they’re not talked about first.
What Are Your Thoughts on Sex?
Things in the bedroom can make or break a lot of couples. From what acts you’re comfortable with and what turns you on to how often you want to get it on, there are a lot of potential sexual sinkholes out there.
The only way to ensure you’re both satisfied is to establish clear and open communication early. Even if you’ve avoided discussing it in the past, talking about it now can set you on course for a healthier, happier sex life going forward.
What Are Your Retirement Plans?
Retirement is often portrayed as the golden years, but it won’t be if you don’t plan for it in advance. Once again, money is a huge factor since it determines everything from when you can finally quit your nine-to-five to your quality of life during your final years.
At what age do you both hope to retire? What do your plans for retirement look like? Discuss how you both plan to save for retirement and what it looks like to both of you. By getting on the same page early, you set yourself up for future success.
How Important Is Religion?
The importance of religion varies from person to person. Even if you and your partner share a religion, you may have different ideas about the place it should have in your life. Does it matter if you both attend the same place of worship or not? How do you approach holy days and daily rituals?
Once kids enter the picture, it becomes even more complicated. Should they be raised in a particular religion, or should they have the freedom to find their own way? If you and your partner don’t practice the same religion, how do you ensure that both of your faiths (or lack thereof) are each treated with respect. Answering these questions now can avoid arguments later.
Do You Want Kids?
Of course, arguments about your children’s religion requires you to have children in the first place. You may assume your partner wants children, but unless you ask them, you could be in for a nasty surprise. If one of you deeply wants children and the other doesn't or isn't sure, you need to come up with a plan — now.
Lay it all out on the table. Do you want kids? How many? How should the process of raising the children work? Financially, can it work? All these questions need to be answered to make sure your vision of a family matches your partner’s.
How Will You Handle Household Chores?
The division of household chores can cause a lot of problems in a marriage if it's not initially clear who is responsible for what. Who takes on which responsibilities? Dishes, laundry, and all those not-so-fun household chores are part of what makes the home a home, and someone needs to do them
One person doing more than the other can breed resentment, and so can one person having to remind the other to do all of their chores. You should both aim to be proactive in making your household function, and even if one of you is a stay-at-home parent while the other works, you should both actively participate in the labor of making your household run.
How Important Is Physical Appearance?
While a marriage needs to be about more than just looks if it’s going to last, that doesn’t mean physical appearance is wholly irrelevant. From arousal in the bedroom to success in the professional sphere, physical appearance matters.
Discussing such a sensitive topic requires trust on both sides, so if your relationship isn’t as steady as you think, this conversation will reveal those problems. Nonetheless, it’s a necessary risk if you truly want to be happily married.
What Are Your Thoughts on Divorce?
It may seem weird to talk about divorce before you even get married, but it's a conversation you'll be happy you had. If things get bad, what would make either of you call it quits or stick things out? What’s unforgiveable to each of you?
Knowing your partner's thoughts on divorce before diving in is just a good idea. You don't want to be blindsided later when things get hard, and knowing your partner’s red lines can help you avoid catastrophe later.
How Will You Handle Arguments?
If you have been together for long enough to be thinking of marriage, you’ve probably had some arguments already. However, you may not have examined the ways in which you argue or talked about your preferences when settling a disagreement.
Do you like to get right to discussing solutions, or do you need time on your own first? What makes you feel threatened in an argument, and what calms you down? Identifying and discussing these traits can ensure future fights aren’t terrible.
Do Either of You Have Cold Feet?
While some anxiety before marriage is perfectly normal, failing to properly acknowledge and address that anxiety can cause problems down the line. If you’re experiencing doubts or concerns, it’s important to be honest about them and work with your partner to fully understand the source of your anxiety and what can be done about it.
Granted, if your relationship isn’t built on mutual trust and respect, this conversation could very well end your engagement. If that happens, however, you’re probably dodging a bullet, since the marriage wouldn’t have been a happy or healthy one anyway.
What Are Your Future Goals?
Knowing what you both want for the future is hugely important when deciding to marry somebody. Are you aware of your partner's goals? Are they aware of yours? Have the two of you talked about what it's going to take to accomplish them?
You both need to fully understand not only what your partner's goals are but also how they plan to accomplish them. From where to live to how to save money to where to spend your time and effort, your goals affect everything you do as a married couple, so it’s best to get on the same page as soon as possible
What Are Your Biggest Fears?
You probably know many of your partner’s fears at this point, but some may surprise you. While some may have little no impact on your lives — say, a fear of spiders or disease — others, like abandonment, can have a serious impact on your relationship and how you live your lives.
As with most of these questions, a safe and loving relationship is a must for getting honest and productive answers from your partner. If you don’t feel like you can share your deepest fears with your partner, you should also reconsider the marriage.
How Do You Show Love?
The ways in which you express and desire affection are often referred to as your love language. Whether you crave physical contact, words of affirmation, gifts or something else, it’s important to let your partner know how they can best show their love and affirmation.
Of course, the most important part of love languages is not what type you have, but rather your partner’s. By making an effort to learn what your future spouse thinks and needs, you can ensure they feel safe and supported in your relationship.
What Does Marriage Look Like To You, Ideally?
Most importantly, you need to understand what your partner sees your marriage looking like. Why do you each hope to get married, what do you hope to get out of it, and where do you want your marital journey to take you?
If you approach marriage not as some goal to be achieved or a static state to exist in but as a voyage you’re both embarking on together, it will be much easier and satisfying to enjoy the good times and brave the bad ones.