Questions couples should ask (or wish they had) before marrying

John gave me this set of questions early on in our sessions together. It was a reprint from a 2006 NY Times article of the same title.

J and I did not sit down and discuss many of these topics in depth, though we probably thought we knew what each other believed. I definitely fall in the "wish we had" category. I am now a believer in, if not some pre-marital counseling, at least openly discussing these issues ahead of time. It is foolish to make assumptions and try to fill in the blanks on your own. When life pressures mount, and the storm clouds roll in, you better have discussed #1 - #14 if you will have any confidence in the answer to #15 .

1) Have we discussed whether or not to have children, and if the answer is yes, who is going to be the primary care giver?

2) Do we have a clear idea of each other’s financial obligations and goals, and do our ideas about spending and saving mesh?

3) Have we discussed our expectations for how the household will be maintained, and are we in agreement on who will manage the chores?

4) Have we fully disclosed our health histories, both physical and mental?

5) Is my partner affectionate to the degree that I expect?

6) Can we comfortably and openly discuss our sexual needs, preferences and fears?

7) Will there be a television in the bedroom?

8) Do we truly listen to each other and fairly consider one another’s ideas and complaints?

9) Have we reached a clear understanding of each other’s spiritual beliefs and needs, and have we discussed when and how our children will be exposed to religious/moral education?

10) Do we like and respect each other’s friends?

11) Do we value and respect each other’s parents, and is either of us concerned about whether the parents will interfere with the relationship?

12) What does my family do that annoys you?

13) Are there some things that you and I are NOT prepared to give up in the marriage?

14) If one of us were to be offered a career opportunity in a location far from the other’s family, are we prepared to move?

15) Does each of us feel fully confident in the other’s commitment to the marriage and believe that the bond can survive whatever challenges we may face?


matt said...

In my pre-marital counseling, I require couples to discuss the 5 "F's" (Yeah, came up with that catchy title myself)

1- Family (how you were raised and how that goes into making you who you are today)
2- Faith (how you were raised and what you believe now)
3- Finances (full disclosure and budgeting process)
4- Frustrations (how to fight fair)
5- Future (where you want to live, children etc)

Done well, pre-marital counseling can really help a couple go into marriage with their eyes wide open.

BTW - I require that the couple promises to call me and give me a chance to talk with them if they ever consider divorce. I'm batting 1000 so far (but I think that says more about my friends than me).

Me said...

Excellent, excellent questions. These should be listed on a marriage license application and the couple should have to answer them before being granted the license.

Reading these questions would make anyone think twice before taking the plunge.

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