Deciding to marry is one of the most important and life-changing decisions you will ever make. This checklist is designed to help you start to communicate about important issues and to help you identify any areas that might lead to future conflict or difficulties within the many seasons of your marriage.
Remember, one of the cornerstones of a solid marriage is communication. It's important to be honest and non-judgemental when talking to each other so that you can both feel safe in expressing yourselves.
Here are some issues that are important to discuss before the big day.
Your Parents Relationship-What have you learned?
Your parents are your first teachers when it comes to male/female relationships. It’s important to look at both the verbal and non-verbal messages they have given you about marriage & relating to the opposite sex.
1. Explore the background, culture & values of your partner and their family.
2. What was the nature of your home environment?
3. What was your parent’s relationship like?
4. Do you see similarities in your own relationship?
5. If divorced, do you know why?
6. Was there abuse, neglect or abandonment?
7. Did they drink or use drugs? What are your feelings about this?
8. What people and/or events have shaped your lives?
Your Past Relationships-What have you learned?
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. You can learn a lot by exploring past relationships, as difficult as this may be. It’s important for you to look at your past relationships to help you identify and avoid unresolved conflict in your current relationship. This will lead to more honest and open communication between you and your partner.
1.Were you or your previous partner loyal?
2. What did you argue about?
3. Was the relationship calm or chaotic?
4. How did the relationship end?
Religion and Spirituality
1. Are you from the same faith?
2. How will you manage differences?
3. How will children be raised regarding religion & spirituality?
4. Is religion central to your relationship?
1.What are your current spending habits?
2.What kind of lifestyle do you anticipate?
3. How do you currently manage your money? Does one spend & the other save? What are your financial goals?
4. Do you currently have outstanding debts? How shall they be paid?
5. Who will be the primary breadwinner? One or both?
Sex, Romance & Intimacy
1.Are both parties satisfied with current sexual relationship?
2. Are you able to freely discuss sexual needs & desires?
Many conflicts arise in a marriage once children have arrived. It’s important to talk about your expectations with regard to having and raising children. It’s also especially important for couples with blended families to discuss issues such as custody, child support and visitation.
1.When will you have children and how many?
2. Will both continue to work outside the home? Feelings about daycare?
3. How will you discipline? Do you believe in spanking?
4. If blended family, how will you discipline?
Dealing With Conflict
Successful marriages usually involve some conflict. However, it’s important to identify your partner’s style of resolving conflict. These questions are designed to help you look at the arguments you’ve had in the past and see how successful you are in dealing with conflict.
1. Are you open to compromise?
2. Do you hold a grudge?
3. Do you use verbal or physical threats?
4. Are you reluctant to say, “I’m sorry.”
5. Do you avoid conflict at all costs?
6. How do you argue and deal with your anger?
Although many of these questions do not seem very romantic and may be difficult to talk about with each other, it’s important to understand that we should enter into marriage with a clear understanding of our partner’s needs and expectations. If, for any reason you are having severe doubts, anxiety or depression, please do not hesitate to talk to your parents, pastor, or counselor to help you sort out any unresolved concerns you may have.
Pam Wilson, Psy.D., MFT (949) 922-7758