Thinking about getting married? It’s exciting! Before you take the big leap, though, it’s important to bring up certain topics with your partner to ensure you’re on the same page.
Here is a list of 20 questions you should ask your partner before walking down the aisle:
1. What does marriage mean to you?
Everyone has their own perception of what marriage means, usually inspired by their parents’ relationship, others they have witnessed, or their own romantic relationships. It’s important to determine whether you and your partner are on the same page about the concept of marriage and what you expect from it.
2. What marriage vows are most important to you?
Which vows are most sacred? Understanding which marriage vows are the most important to your partner will help you to understand what they prioritize in the relationship.
3. How did your family resolve issues?
Our family dynamics (especially during childhood) play a huge role in how we navigate conflicts as adults. Some families hash things out with fights, others resort to passive-aggressiveness, while others have more healthy, more constructive coping mechanisms.
While it’s possible to learn healthy conflict management strategies outside of your family dynamic, it’s still important to understand how your partner learned to resolve issues in their family. This can help you manage inevitable conflicts with their family in the future.
4. What is your relationship with your family?
Are they close with their parents? Their siblings? Are they expected to be caretakers at some point? As the saying goes, you don’t just marry the person, you marry the family. This can be a blessing in some cases and a curse in others, but either way, it’s important to understand family dynamics (and disclose your own family dynamics) before deciding to spend your life together!
That said, this is by no means a make-or-break for the relationship, just something you should discuss before saying “I do.”
5. What is your relationship with your exes?
It’s definitely awkward to talk about old relationships with your current partner, but it’s important to understand what they were like. Understanding how the relationships ended, why they ended and their current relationship with them is helpful as you and your partner become more serious.
6. Will debts be shared?
While this should not make or break the relationship, you don’t want to blindside a partner with overwhelming debt. If you do have debt, it’s important to understand how the debt will be managed moving forward. Do you plan to share your assets? Combine bank accounts? Or keep things separate? How will this work with debt? And if you take on more debt as a couple, how will this be managed? Remember that financial stress is a leading cause of divorce, so be as honest as possible!
7. What are your priorities in terms of finances?
In addition to talking about debt, it’s important to talk about your priorities in terms of finances. If you have debt, do you want to pay it off as quickly as possible? Do you have long-term saving goals in order to buy a house? Or would you rather spend your money on travel?
It’s also helpful to discuss your comfort levels when it comes to financial risk. Are you willing to invest in a risky venture, or are you conservative with your spending and investments? Though finances are not the sexiest thing to talk about, they can actually cause devastating problems if you’re not on the same page.
8. How important is religion?
Some questions to consider: Are you and your partner religious people? Are you of the same religion? Is religion important to your relationship? Do you expect a partner to convert if you are not of the same religion? Is your family supportive of your religious practices? For many people, religion is at the core of who they are and all of their relationships. For others, religion is not an essential part of their life. It’s important to find out where you and your partner stand before tying the knot.
9. How important is sex?
Sex is typically constant in the early stages of a relationship (unless you and your partner are waiting for marriage), but it often becomes less common over time. After the honeymoon phase, sex can get put on the back burner as you and your partner build a connection in other ways.
Some people are comfortable with sex taking a backseat in the relationship, while others want it to remain a priority. It is important to talk to your partner about your sex life and your sexual needs before deciding to get married.
10. Is independence a priority for you?
How important is your partner’s independence (and yours)? Do you expect to become more or less independent as a married person? Make sure that you and your partner are on the same page about the amount of time you plan to spend together and apart as a married couple. While you may have already addressed this while dating, sometimes people’s expectations can change when marriage is on the table.
11. Do you believe in monogamy?
Marriage is a big step, so it’s important to understand if your partner believes in the possibility of monogamy in the long term. It’s still possible to have a happy and healthy marriage even if you do not believe in monogamy, you just need to be on the same page. (Especially if polyamory is a possibility.)
12. Do you want to have pets?
While not a deal-breaker, it’s still helpful to figure out their stance on pets. How important is having an animal to you or your partner? Are your views on pets compatible?
13. Do you want to have children?
This is a biggie! It’s so important for both of you to be on the same page about kids. Some questions to consider: Do you want to have biological children? Are you open to adoption? Do you or your partner have children with other people? How do you plan to co-parent or step-parent moving forward? Or are children not in your future at all?
14. What will be the division of labor in the house?
If you and your partner do decide to have children, how will you divide the labor in the house? Will one of you take parental leave? Do you both plan to? Are you on the same page about who will take on the role of the primary caretaker?
Even if you do not plan on having children, it is still important to consider how labor will be divided in the household. Are you both planning to work? If so, how will you split up household chores? If not, how will the household labor be divided up? Like the other questions in this list, there is not a correct answer here. Each couple has to figure out what works best for them!
15. What are your short-term goals?
Understanding what your partner wants in the next few years is important for the future of the relationship. If you have had conversations about children and pets, are these things that you want in the next few years? Or five years down the line? Do you want to be married as soon as possible? Or is marriage something you want to pursue once you have reached a certain age? Or point in your career? Understanding each other’s short-term goals helps you support each other and ensure you’re on similar paths moving forward.
16. What are your career goals?
If both you and your partner are working, you’ll need to understand each other’s career goals and their implications. Will you have to move a lot? Will you have to help put a partner through school so that they can achieve their career goals? Will one of you have to put your goals on the backburner to help support the other? Talking through these goals will give you a clear vision of the future and whether you have compatible aspirations.
17. Where do you see us in 10 years?
While there is no way to anticipate or plan for all the things that life will throw at you, you can talk in general terms about the things you want to prioritize. Do you want to focus on traveling as a couple? Do you have financial goals you are trying to reach? Do you want to live close to family and stay in one spot for the foreseeable future? Do you have an interest in volunteer work and philanthropy? It’s important to be on the same page about these types of things so that you are both moving towards shared relationship goals.
18. Are there any deal-breakers for the relationship?
What are the serious deal-breakers that would end the relationship? It might not be the most pleasant thing to talk about (especially if you are discussing marriage), but it’s important to understand their standards and boundaries for certain things. Deal-breakers can be anything from disagreements about religion to children, to finances. If there are incompatibilities with how you view these things, it is often impossible to overcome the differences.
19. What will you do when things just aren’t working?
Marital conflict is bound to happen, so how do you plan to address it? This question is related to conflict management, but also how you will show that you are fighting for the relationship. Are you willing to take time apart to work things out? Are you willing to go the extra distance to fight for the relationship? Though you will never know what life will throw your way or what conflicts you will have to address, you can ensure that you are well equipped to deal with these hurdles if you talk about strategies before these conflicts arise.
20. Are you open to counseling?
Are both of you open to counseling if needed? Marriage counseling is a great way to keep your relationships healthy and communicative even if you are not necessarily having problems. Counseling can be the saving grace for many relationships if both partners are on board with the process.
Marriage is such a fun journey, especially if you are with the right person! By taking time to ensure you’re on the same page about anything that might come your way, it’ll put you on the right track to a lifetime of love and happiness.