There are some matters we all know to discuss with a partner before marriage. Will we have children, and if so, how will we raise them? How will we manage our money? What’s the status of religion in our household?
With any luck, you sorted these issues long before you started planning the wedding. Most people do. The advent of online dating has been a benefit in this area – you can often tell whether a potential partner is on the same level as you just by reading their profile.
But a lifelong commitment calls for deeper discussions. Failing to ask the right questions of your partner before the wedding can lead to disappointment down the line. These questions aren’t always easy to answer, but they help pin down the foundation for a stable and honest marriage.
Where Do We Stand On Our Past Relationships?
Marriage occurs in media res. No matter how long ago a past relationship ended, they always have some impact on the present. This isn’t always a bad thing – often, past experiences in love help us see ourselves in a new light and understand what we want and need from a relationship.
But previous partners can be a major source of tension. You might think the details of your past are best left unsaid, but that can be recipe for disaster. It’s natural to be curious about your spouse’s past. Sealing that information away can inadvertently cause jealous and judgement. Those negative feelings often resurface in the midst of other conflicts, compounding the problem.
So, what did your ex mean to you? Where do you stand today? It’s better to answer that now, when the waters are calm, than in the heat of conflict years down the road.
How Much Are You Willing to Spend On…
The wedding is often the first big test of how well the couple’s financial goals align. But we often take for granted the fact that weddings are, well, expensive. There’s a lot more than that to discuss in terms of spending.
Spending habits are a constant point of conflict in many long-term relationships. It’s not just about big purchases, either. Many couples argue about minor things as well, like how much to tip a server.
Before you get married, you should ask specific questions about your spending habits and future plans for big purchases. A good test case is that of a car. How much are you each willing to spend on a new vehicle? Will you buy new, or used? This can be instructive as to whether your future spouse’s spending habits will get on your nerves.
How Did Your Family Resolve Conflict?
There’s no such thing as a conflict-free marriage. Not every couple gets into serious fights, but everyone disagrees on things from time to time. If it hasn’t happened yet (I’d love to know your secret!), it’s going to happen once you’re married.
Without a means of resolving day-to-day conflict, tension builds and the relationship deteriorates.
People are shaped by the family dynamics they grew up with, especially when it comes to resolving conflict. Talking about it can tell you whether your partner’s conflict resolution habits will work with yours.
Awkward as it may be, asking your partner what their family fought about and how they dealt with it can give you some valuable insight.
What If One of Us Gets Sick?
Most wedding vows include a line about loving your partner in sickness and in health. It’s a very important vow. Just about everyone falls ill at some point in their lives, and we trust our partners to support us through the worst of times.
Loving someone in hard times is easy – but maintaining a healthy relationship in the midst of a medical crisis can be hard for even the most stable and committed couples. You can’t imagine what it’s going to be like until it happens. And once it does, you may not have the time or the will to discuss it.
Just as couples should discuss their wills, they should ask questions regarding a potential health crisis. What happens if I can’t walk anymore? What if I need to quit my job? What if we need to move to another city, or state, to be closer to medical treatment? This will provide peace of mind.
How Much “Me” Time Do We Expect?
By the time you get engaged, you probably have a sense of how much independence your partner desires. However, those expectations can change once you’re married and living together full-time.
To avoid feelings of tension or rejection, you should discuss which hobbies, friends, and activities you’re going to share post-wedding, and what areas of your lives you wish to remain independent.