If you’re reading this article, you’re probably engaged to be married soon. This is such an exciting time, knowing that you’ve committed to spending the rest of your life together. No matter how long you’ve known your future spouse, there are still important issues to discuss before the big day.
Throughout your relationship, you’ve both gotten to know each other, including interests, passions, likes and dislikes, and personality traits (and quirks!). At this stage of your relationship, you’re probably filled with happiness and anticipation about starting your married life.
But it’s also possible that you may have some mixed feelings. Maybe you’re concerned about some things in your relationship and wonder how they’ll affect your future. It’s okay to be nervous or have reservations about making such a huge commitment.
Whether you’re wholeheartedly ready and longing for your wedding day, or you’re feeling happy but a bit hesitant, it’s important to ask some questions before you take the step of getting married.
This is where premarital counseling comes in. It provides the opportunity and guided structure to discuss the major life values and decisions that will affect your relationship. Some couples even choose to get pre-engagement counseling so they can be fully prepared before the public engagement announcement.
Premarital Counseling Questions You Should Ask
One of the best things about pre-engagement or premarital counseling is that it requires an intentional focus on the relationship. This is definitely a recipe for success! So no matter how happy or hesitant you’re feeling right now, these who-what-where-when-why premarital counseling questions can benefit you as you contemplate your future marriage.
Who am I marrying?
This isn’t a surface-level question; it’s an opportunity to make sure you intentionally get to know your partner as well as you can. Do you know what’s most important to them? Can you identify what you most like (and dislike) about them? For the things you dislike, what are they, and are you expecting or hoping those traits will change?
Exploring this question can reveal a lot of layers; most prominently, securities and insecurities. In other words, what things about your partner make you feel secure? What qualities come to mind when someone asks, “Why do you love him/her?”
The things you love about your partner can range from their personality traits to skills or knowledge they have, or maybe their past or the way they were raised. How are the two of you similar in a way that benefits your relationship? And how are you different in ways that create a healthy balance?
It’s also good, although a little scarier, to discuss the insecurities you have related to who your partner is. Are there any red flags (even small ones)? These are the insecurities. What are the issues you desire to discuss but maybe feel uncomfortable bringing up?
Sexual history is one example of this, especially if you haven’t discussed past relationships or have only briefly mentioned them. An imbalance in the number of previous sexual partners can lead to conflict in the future if this isn’t worked through before marriage. This is particularly true if one partner has a sexual history and the other doesn’t.
This area isn’t limited to intercourse; it applies to any intimate actions. Addressing these issues in premarital counseling doesn’t mean you have to describe them in excruciating detail. A healthy approach would be to provide basic information so that there are no surprises in the future, and for each partner to listen to the other’s feelings in this area. It’s important that both of you feel you have a complete picture because things will probably come out someday either way.
Often, couples simply assume that they are on the same page in matters of faith, but fail to have explicit conversations about their beliefs. These assumptions can be misguided, which may lead to big problems in the future.
Once you’ve considered these questions about your partner, reflect them back to yourself. Do you have a healthy self-awareness? Whether you do or not, taking time to consider your values, identity, and how well your partner knows you can really benefit your relationship and your personal growth.
What does marriage mean to me?
After considering questions of identity, ask yourself what the institution of marriage means to you. Sometimes we assume that other people view marriage the same way we do. Do you view marriage as permanent no matter what? If you believe that divorce is justified in some cases, what specifically would warrant divorce in your mind?
Sometimes we sidestep these questions before marriage because they’re not enjoyable to consider. Beyond the big questions, think about the details such as dividing holidays between extended families, or dividing household chores between the two of you. What will those things look like if and when children come into the picture?
Also, think about your mental vision of marriage. What do you picture it being like? How will you balance living together and prioritizing your relationship with daily routines and managing a household?
While you’re considering what marriage means to you, think about the different components including spiritual, physical, emotional, and practical. Are you aware of any obstacles that would prevent your marriage from being what you want it to be? If so, now is the time to discuss those issues.
Talk together about what those obstacles are and how you can work on overcoming them now. Your partner may have a different perspective or be willing to offer solutions for the difficulties you’ve identified.
Where do I see us in 5, 10, 50 years?
Once you’ve thought about your view of marriage, consider your specific future together. Where do you see your life and marriage in 5, 10, 50 years? Do you want to have children? If so, how many?
Will adoption or travel be a part of your future? What are your educational and vocational aspirations? What are your partner’s? Do you want to stay in your current geographical area indefinitely?
Marriage counselors often hear the phrase “we grew apart” from struggling couples. To avoid growing apart, it’s so important to talk about your future before you start it! You’ll grow as people over time and the things you want will change, but at least you’ll both be on the same page at the beginning of your journey. This can help prevent so much misunderstanding and conflict later on.
Some other questions to ask: what are the goals you’d like to achieve as a couple? What activities do you enjoy doing together? How will you prioritize your marriage practically over the long haul, especially when juggling the responsibilities of parenthood and careers?
As you’re thinking about your individual and marriage goals, again consider any obstacles. Is your partner on the same page? Are they willing to help you reach your own goals? What areas will require compromise or sacrifice?
When you know your goals for the future, it helps you make wise decisions in the here and now. This way, you can grow together as a couple rather than growing apart.
When are we getting married?
Of course, before you actually get to the future, there’s the detail of getting married itself! If you’ll be getting pre-engagement counseling, it’s helpful to have a sense of the timeframe for your future. We all think about what season of the year we’d like our wedding to be in, but more importantly, what is the season of life you’re getting married in?
Are there any individual goals either of you would like to accomplish before the big day, like finishing a degree or a specific goal at work? Discuss these issues and decide together what you’d like to accomplish pre-marriage and what the time frame will be.
Maybe financial issues are presenting a barrier to getting married as soon as you’d like. How long will this be an issue? Are there ways you can cut back on wedding or other expenses in order to avoid having an extended engagement, which can lead to tension in your relationship?
Again, make sure you raise these issues with your partner, especially concerning your individual values about the engagement timeline. What is your goal for the engagement period? Do you feel that you still need to get to know each other and build your relationship? Or is it simply a matter of practicality to allow you to plan the wedding?
These questions aren’t meant to discover a right or wrong answer, but simply to foster open communication in your relationship. The goal is to have an agreed-upon timeframe that will not make either partner feel overly rushed but will also not draw out the engagement far beyond what is desired.
Why are we getting married?
Finally, ask yourself this: why are we getting married? Also, why am I getting married? Look at the relationships in your life that you see. You probably have examples of good and bad ones, and you probably are pursuing the former. Take inventory of what is working for them and talk to them about how married life has been.
And finally, although it might seem superfluous, ask yourself why you’re getting married. What are your reasons, both individually and as a couple, for making this lifelong commitment? Think about married couples in your life and ask what has contributed to (or detracted from) the well-being of their relationships.
Ask yourself, “What am I really looking for? What do I want? And will I find it in a marriage to this person?”
There are many possible reasons that people get married. In our culture, we often ask that question to such an extent that we simply decide marriage isn’t worth it. Since you’re considering or planning on getting married, what has made it worth it for you? Why now?
What role does religion play in your desire to be married? What about your family and friends? Are there social or cultural pressures that make you feel that you should get married sooner or later?
Marriage isn’t just merging two lives; it’s merging two extended families. Whatever skeletons you have in your family closet, those will become your partner’s, and the opposite is true as well. Are you prepared to relate to your extended families as a team?
It might seem like these questions are digging for dirt or trying to stir up trouble, but there are no wrong answers. Rather, the goal is to thoroughly explore these topics in order to build security and trust in your relationship and future.
Even if some of these questions make you feel doubtful, that’s okay! If you can ask yourself these questions and work through your doubts now, you’ll feel more confident in the future, and you can learn to love your partner better.
Knowing why you love your partner and what has led you to desire to marry them will help give you a sense of security even in the midst of future conflict. And it’s okay to not have all the answers now, either.
A huge aspect of premarital counseling is turning covert issues into overt ones, making sure things aren’t being left unsaid. This allows you to identify potential problems and deal with them proactively while you’re in a calm and structured setting.
Who, what, where, when, why – now what?
Once you’ve worked through these questions and you still want to marry this person, you’re more than prepared to enter the premarital counseling process with a professional Christian counselor or perhaps a pastor or counselor at your church. This will allow you to fully discuss the answers to these questions as a couple.
Thinking through things on your own allows you to have more helpful discussions as a couple. You can clearly identify your similarities and differences, and then consider how they will benefit each other or possibly cause issues.
Pre-engagement and premarital counseling can be an enjoyable way to grow closer together and prepare for marriage. It will allow you to feel confident in your communication and build healthy habits that can have lifelong benefits for your future marriage.
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