Picture this…. you’ve been dating someone for a few months, or maybe a few years. And everything seems to be going perfectly. There have been barely any arguments, only a few disagreements. It looks like this person is the person that finally gets you. They understand you when you express yourself. You can be your complete self with them, and they don’t judge you. It seems like you’re in heaven. You know everything about this person, and they know everything about you, so it’s a no-brainer to say yes when they pop the big question, “will you marry me” but do you know everything about them?
It’s impossible to know EVERYTHING about a person but before you walk down the aisle to marry this person and start a life together, have you guys discussed the important topics before knowing for sure that this person is the one?
I am no marriage expert by any means, but my husband and I did attend premarital counseling before we got married. We read “Preparing for Marriage: Discover God’s Plan for a Lifetime of Love” by David Boehm, Brent Nelson, Jeff Schulte, and Lloyd Shadrach while doing counseling and all the topics in the book we had already discussed throughout our dating life. I highly recommend doing premarital counseling before getting married because when people marry, they don’t usually marry to get divorced after a few years. Still, too many couples do end up divorced.
Here are three topics that should be discussed before getting married.
You may think you know everything about your fiancé. Still, you’d be surprised at what you’d find out when you ask questions or things that might come to light later because they didn’t think it was a big deal to say before getting married, which is why it is important to talk about everything pertaining to their history.
For example, personal history, like where did they grow up, went to school, etc.? Family history, are they close to their family, were both parents around and just one, etc.? Family history plays a significant role in people’s personalities, so this is important. Sexual history, your significant other should be open about this with you; if they aren’t, that may be a red flag, but that is a whole different topic.
Talk about previous relationships, how did they end and why did they end? This is important because wounds and trauma of earlier relationships affect present or future relationships even when people think they are ‘over it.’ Do they still communicate with their exes? If so, why, how often? Sometimes relationships don’t end on bad terms, and some exes may stay as friends but discuss with your partner how comfortable you are with this. Also, were they previously married, are there kids from that marriage, why did they divorce? You’d be surprised at how many people don’t really think this is a big deal to discuss. Ask questions!
We’ve heard the statistics before that the main reason why couples divorce is because of finances. And if you are at the point of being engaged, I’m going to assume you both have had some discussion about finances, like who earns more money. If not, definitely need to have this talk, and also, does it matter to the other person who earns more.
Men are usually labeled as the ‘provider’ of the family, so it is common or the ‘norm’ for them to earn more, but that isn’t always the case. Have this discussion early and make sure no egos are hurt if the woman earns more money. At the end of the day, finances should be ‘ours,’ not his and hers, although every household is different.
How will the finances look in your household? Will there be one joint account, maybe his and her accounts? Some couples have one together and then each of their own. Many couples do finances differently, which is okay; you don’t have to do what your other married friends do. Come up with a plan that works for you both, that you both agree.
Other questions to ask: Who will pay the bills? All of the bills or just some? Who spends more? Can you guys stick to a budget? Please talk about the debt’s you guys have, since after marriage, it becomes debt for both. What is your partner’s credit score? Are you willing to help them if they have bad credit? It’s essential to get these questions out the way first and set a plan for the future, so this doesn’t become an issue in the long run.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but expectations should be discussed because you two are two individuals coming together as one, and you both think differently and might have different expectations for this marriage. It’s better to get them out now before the wedding than during a heated argument.
The book has a great worksheet that you can do with your finance about your expectations for every area of your life. The worksheet about expectations starts by stating, “Expectations are so basic that we often don’t even recognize them, yet they influence our behavior every day – how we treat people, how we react to different situations.” Speaking about expectations to your significant other is vital prior to getting married.
Let me give you some examples of areas and questions discussed:
Marriage and Relationship: How will decisions be made and how will disagreements get resolved?
Home: where will you guys live and what type of home does this look like?
Social/Entertainment and Home Environment: how often will people be invited to the home, and how often will date night be? How will the television be watched, and are there any guidelines about what is watched? Who has hobbies? What are they? Will they be done together, or will this be something always done individually?
I have an excellent example on this one; my hobbies are reading and writing, and before I post any blogs, my husband reads them over to make sure I didn’t miss any grammar errors or need to change anything. Before I write, I discuss the topics with him and sometimes get his insight on things too. When I’m reading a book, I’ll discuss anything I find interesting with him, or he sometimes asks me questions about the book. He takes an interest in what my hobbies are. One of his hobbies is to watch boxing, I’m not a big fan, but I’ll ask him questions, or I’ll watch a boxing match with him; I also put an effort to be a part of his hobbies.
One of the hobbies we have in common is that we like the same sports team, so we enjoy attending those games together and watching them together.
Ok, now more questions and examples from the book:
Household Responsibilities: Who will cook, clean, laundry? This is a big one because we are no longer in the 1950s when women did not work.
Parenting/Children: How many children, if any? When do start having children? How will you discipline your children?
These are a few examples of the expectations that should be discussed before getting married; the book does an excellent job at going more in-depth on more topics, which sometimes you don’t think you need to discuss until the time comes. Still, it’s better to discuss before so you know where each of you stands when it does come.
As my husband and I were going through the book, and we were answering the questions, some of them I knew how he would respond because we had talked about it before, but it gave me such peace of mind that I was making the right decision with marrying this man. Even though I knew he was the one, he’s the man I prayed for….more about this on a later post, LOL. But I want the same reassurance for you. I want you to feel secure that when any challenge comes your way, which they will, that you guys will face them together, not against each other.
Marriage isn’t the same as being in a relationship, it’s much more profound, and it’s a more significant commitment. You are making a promise to share your life with this person as long as you both shall live. That is not something to be taken lightly.
A book all couples should read is “The Five Love Language, By Gary Coleman.” Yes, you can take the quiz online to know each other’s love language, but I suggest you guys read it together. This way, you get an idea of how to fill up each other’s love tanks and keep them full. 🙂
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