[Source can be found at the end of the article]
1. Sex life
I think you need to have a real hard conversation about the kind of sex life you’re going to be having. I think the norm is for the partner with less interest in sex to stick it out until the marriage is finalized and then bring the frequency of intercourse down to their preferred level.
Because…well, at that point, their partner is stuck dealing with it. So you gotta figure out whether you both really affirmatively enjoy having sex with each other and can maintain a high enough frequency over time, or whether one of you is just humoring the other one until they’re trapped.
2. The small notebook
In a small notebook, write down every thing you love about this person. big stuff, small stuff, goofy inside jokes that always make you laugh, everything you love. It should be a lot, but there should be room. THEY NEVER SEE THIS. NOBODY KNOWS IT EXISTS. Every year take some time on your anniversary or birthday or groundhog day and add anything new to the notebook. Then one day you’ll find yourself fighting and on the verge of dropping the bomb. You know by now what you can say to this person that there’s no coming back from. You can scorch the earth and win the fight! Step back, read your notebook and fix it, because if you say it, you lose everything in that notebook.
Marriage is hard but with the right person it’s worth it.
3. Agreements on the most important things!
You really need to agree on a few things:
There’s a LOT in there, but if you’re not aligned on whether you want kids, how the household finances will be run and what would happen if say, one of you got a massive promotion to another city etc, then you’re gonna have a bad time.
4. Kids, travel and secrets
Do you want children? Do you plan to keep working after we get married? If we have kids, do you plan to take time off to raise them? How important are your religious beliefs? Do you have any family traditions that we need to commit to after marriage (like a certain holiday is always at so-and-so’s house, no exceptions)? Do you always want to live here or would you be ok moving for work? How do you want to spend your retirement (travel, community, Boca, Alaska)? Do you have any significant debt/bankruptcy/terrible credit stuff/student loans? Do you want to file jointly on our taxes? Do you have a criminal record, if so, what for? Do you have any secrets that could end up with us featured on the 11 o’clock news or Who Did I Marry?! Do you like pets, what kind and how many do you want to have? Do you want to rent or own?
This is just a small sample of questions you should know the answer to before marrying someone.
5. Make sure the person wants to marry you too
It’s shocking, but there are people who think proposals are legitimate surprises, as in it’s never been discussed and you asking “will you marry me” isn’t a guaranteed “yes” cause you did it before.
Please, for the love of public embarrassment, talk to your partner before asking.
6. Raising children
Not just whether you want kids, but how you plan to raise them. My fiancee earns nearly twice what I do, but says she wants to be a stay at home mom until the youngest is 10-12 years old.
Happy to rise to the occasion but can’t say I’m not a little bit nervous about working hard enough to at least maintain our current quality of life.
7. Debt talk
What is your actual debt? It’s not sexy but it’s important.
I didn’t know that my spouse was 40k in debt (non-college loans) and hadn’t filed an income tax for years before we got engaged. 18 years later we are still married but man those first few years sucked and there is still some residual issues.
8. The one book to read before marriage
My aunt made me go through this book called The Hard Questions by Susan Priver. It’s REALLY good and I now recommend it to all couples getting serious. It’s just a list of questions for both of you to go through ranging from easy ones that seemed like no big deal but could potentially drive someone nuts like:
What kind of environment do you want to come home to? One that’s calm and relaxing? One that’s full of laughter & excitement?
How long can guests stay over? Are there exceptions? What about family members?
How would we spend family/religious holidays?
To tough ones like:
In the event of infertility, are you ok with:
Fertility treatments like IVF?
You need to talk about money. Really you need to talk about everything and work hard to build and protect trustworthy communication. You should be able to sit down and discuss anything.
10. Why do you want to marry me?
As someone who got married in a hurry (wife was 8 months pregnant at our wedding… we’d been together for about 9 months) and is now headed for divorce, I think I can shed some insight.
I think the single most important question you can ask and it can’t be while you’re fighting or otherwise angry or distressed is, “Why do you want to marry me?”
If the answer is genuine and makes you happy, you will probably have a good marriage. If it sounds ripped from a Nicholas Sparks novel… run!
11. Kids or no kids?
Whether you both want kids. Dont get married if your opinions differ on the subject. You can’t have half a kid. One of you will be happy and one of you will be miserable no matter what you do. Worse case scenario you can make a grand total of 3+ miserable people in this situation: the two parents and the kids themselves.
12. Expectations and gender roles
It Sounds small and petty but after you say I do and your spouse expects you to be responsible for the lions share of the work (professional & domestic) resentment builds up fast. You’re idea of equally splitting chores may be far from theirs. Feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and unappreciated in your relationship will kill it as quickly as anything else.
13. How you would handle a sick (physical or mental) child
Would you want an abortion? Would a parent stay at home with him? Would you let him be raised in a group home setting, etc? What kind of treatments would you seek-religious, holistic, scientific?
Hard and personal topic that could easily drive you to divorce if it pops up.
14. The right time
Generally speaking I feel like you can sort out a lot of these (but not the far-future things, like kids) if you live with someone for a full year before marriage.
If after a full year, you’re still iffy about being with them… you should either break up, or live together for another year and see if you’re sure about marriage then.
The right time to get married is when you feel like you already are married and are living that way, and you’re just making it legally official.
15. Open communication
My number one question to ask is this: are you willing, regardless of anything else that is going on, to be open in communicating with me about what is on your mind?
If both of you agree to this, you can get through a lot of stuff that can otherwise kill a relationship. It creates trust and it pre-empts problems, and just as importantly it stops those little irritants from lingering until they suddenly become horrible, bitter arguments.
16. No surprises
Myself and Wife 1.0 aired our dirty laundry to each other. Finances, people we had dated, former pregnancies everything. This way there would be no surprises later on. We also agreed to not hold any of these issues over each others head, for whatever reason. We have been married for 22 years!
17. Specific questions
Do you believe in divorce?
Do you believe in abortion? What if I do? How will you handle the difference, and what happens if you have a child that will not make it or is severely disabled and you find out pregnant?
Political differences? Can you talk politics and beliefs that are vastly different from each other without name calling or resorting to ugly behavior.
How do you spend money?
Mental health history? (my husband stuck with me after my mom committed suicide, and still married me- after seeing me in what could easily be considered the darkest ugliest year of my life- most of which I do not remember- He took care of me. And still wanted to marry me.
How to raise kids.
1 yr, 5 yr, 10 yr plans/goals. IN EACH AREA: home, family, personal, professional- those goals change, talk about them yearly.
18. Are you willing to sign a pre-nup?
Like most young adults getting married for the first time, it never occurred to me to do this, and if my fianc had brought it up, I’d probably have battled with injured feelings and doubt, but even if neither of you have a dime starting out, and even if you can’t imagine money ever being a point of contention between you, the fact remains that financial issues are one of the primary precursors to divorce, and you’ll be doing yourselves and any children (existing or potential) involved a big favor by ruling it out from the get-go.
19. Spending time with each other
Something my wife and I had to do a lot of working through. How much time do you want to spend with each other? We never lived together until we got married, and found that I only wanted to be social about an hour a day (note that I’m an extreme introvert and borderline autistic), and that she wanted about that much time apart. When I had my own place she didn’t notice when we weren’t together as much, because she couldn’t see it. It took us both a while to learn to compromise and understand the other on how to make it work.
20. Stay or move?
Where do you want to live? Do you want to stay where we are, or move? Are you the kind of person who will move for a job, or will we both only seek job opportunities where we are now? My spouse and I both left our hometown and then came back and plan to stay because our aging parents are here. This could be a major point of contention if you don’t figure it out ahead of time.
21. Sexual compatibility
Specifically, making sure that both you and your partner have your needs met.
Does this mean that someone who wants sex every day can’t marry someone who is asexual? No, of course not. But you need to talk about this issue and reach some kind of understanding on it. If you don’t want to have sex at all, even after you’re married, you need to tell your partner that.
Every relationship has its own boundaries, hard limits and things people are willing to compromise on figure out what those are for each of you and make sure they align well. Define what each of your deal breakers would be. Find out how much debt that person has and share your info as well. No one gets married planning to divorce so cover as many topics as you possibly can and be honest, even when it’s uncomfortable, unsexy and awkward. Once it’s all out of the way (assuming you know marriage is the right choice) you’ll be glad.
23. Unhide secrets
Ask them of any secret they might be hiding from you. It may not be in all aspects, but as much as possible, include all the critical ones (financial, religion scopes and delimitations, rules inside the house, etc.). And make sure they are really determined to marry you in the first place, as there may be some factors that could have been putting him/her to the edge, leading to the decision of “forced” marriage.
Not just pot and the like, but smoking and alcohol, too. Are you fine if they smoke in the house? In the car? Are you fine with dragging a falling-down-drunk spouse home, and if so, how often?
Are you willing to quit any of these if your partner insists on it? Even if it’s not for health/religion reasons?
If you plan on having kids, is their presence going to affect the answer to any of the above questions?
25. Conversation about death
The stuff that nobody thinks they need to talk about early in a marriage like death. My husband died recently and I wish I had conversations with him years ago about what kind of end of life care he would want, when he would feel okay with me dating again, how he would like me to handle major issues in our kids’ lives, etc.
When you get married in your 20s you never think that you will have to talk about these things but it would have been a lot easier to have those conversations without being clouded by the emotions that come along with a dying spouse.
26. Testing your partners reaction
I think every relationship needs a test before getting married. Both parties need to see how the other reacts in a situation that strains the individual. I know it’s not a conversation necessarily, but seeing how someone responds to adversity will give you a window into their thought process later on.
27. Trust and friendship
Are you my friend? Will you be there for me when I need you? Can I trust you with my feelings? Will you be supportive when times are hard? Am I important to you? Do you think I’m a good person?
If you have reasonable doubt about any of these, don’t marry the person. There is nothing worse than being married to a back-stabbing critic who always assumes the worst about you.
Trust me. I know. Oh, do I know.