If you and your partner have been together for a while, you might begin to wonder whether marriage is a good next step for your relationship. According to experts, there are some questions you should ask your partner before marriage to figure out if it’s time to take that next step.
It may seem obvious, but the moment that a discussion about engagement arises, ask your partner if they have any hesitations about marriage. This is a great open-ended question that can let the two of you know what issues you need to work through before committing to getting married. “Better to ask this question before an engagement than right before you walk down the aisle,” Adina Mahalli, MSW, a certified relationship expert and mental health consultant, tells Bustle. “If there are any reasons you two shouldn’t be together, they should be discussed before you’re legally married.” This could look different for every couple.
Maybe your partner is a little hesitant about having kids one day, for instance, and thinks that if you get married, that might become an issue between the two of you. Talking this out before getting engaged can give you both the opportunity to really thoroughly discuss solutions for any worries, and give you the time to put marriage on hold if you or your partner aren’t quite ready.
Here are some questions you should ask your partner about marriage, according to experts.
1. “What Does Marriage Mean For You?”
“In today’s day and age, it is important to define what monogamy means for each person.” Margo Regan, a relationship and sex therapist who counsels couples before marriage, tells Bustle. Perhaps your partner is wary of marriage because of their parents’ nasty divorce, or maybe they’ve had a previous fiance break off an engagement. Asking about whether your partner has experienced a previous betrayal can tell you a lot about how they’ll approach a marriage, Regan says. It can show how easily your partner trusts someone and whether they see marriage as a permanent commitment or as something more casual.
2. “How Do You Feel About Religion?”
Even if you or your partner doesn’t currently practice a religion, it’s important to ask them where they stand on the subject. If they grew up in a religious background, for example, they might want to keep some of those cultural traditions going if you decide to have children one day. Maybe they want to incorporate religious rituals into your wedding ceremony, either for their parents’ benefit or for their own. “If there are differences, it’s important to talk about this,” Regan says. Working out whether you’ll incorporate religion into your lives together ahead of time is crucial, so that fights about it won’t arise during your marriage.
3. “What’s Your Money Philosophy?”
One major issue that couples fight about is differences in spending money. Before getting engaged, you probably have a good idea of whether your partner is a big spender or prefers to save, but it’s still wise to ask them how they feel about money, Regan says. While the two of you certainly don’t have to share a bank account after you’re married, planning for who will pay for what can prevent future arguments. If you don’t exactly have the same ideas, that’s OK. “Healthy couples have conflict,” she says. “It OK to have different opinions than your partner.” But getting those opinions out in the open will give you the opportunity to brainstorm solutions that work for you.
4. “What Are Your Dreams?”
While you and your partner are probably infatuated with each other and excited to make your relationship official, you might not have had a clear conversation about what your future together would actually ideally look like. Would one of you like for you both to spend some time living in another country? Do you dream of quitting your job and opening your own business some time in the next few years? Would you like a whole houseful of kids, or none at all? Ask your partner what their dreams and plans are, and then consider whether they fit with yours, Regan says.
5. “What Is Your Ideal Work/Life Balance?”
Some people are so passionate about the work that they do that they’re happy to get to the office early and leave late. They thrive on the contribution they’re making so much that they’re happy to sacrifice some free time. Other people see a job as mostly just a paycheck. Ask your potential future spouse what a work/life balance looks like to them, Regan says. While you might have a good idea of how they feel about it from the time you’ve been together already, taking a moment to verbalize where your priorities lie can help you get on the same page.
6. “Do You Have Any Issues With My Family?”
“This may be a difficult question to ask and probably an even more difficult question to answer, but you need to know.” Adina Mahalli, MSW, a certified relationship expert and mental health consultant, tells Bustle. “If your partner has some underlying issues with your family, then that may be something you want to work out before you tie the knot.” While your partner probably can’t avoid your family forever, taking the time to verbalize any issues before the wedding can give you the chance to brainstorm ways for them to bond. If your family will be at the wedding, knowing that your partner has reached out can give you major peace of mind.
7. “Are You In Any Debt?”
“No one wants to admit that they are in debt, but it’s an extremely important conversation to have, even if it’s awkward,” Mahalli says. If the two of you are planning to share finances, it can be important to know ahead of time how much money you’ll need to budget for things like student loans, car payments, or medical bills. This is definitely something to bring up long before the actual wedding day, Mahalli says, because the price of a wedding is sure to bring additional costs. Plus, hiding something as important as debt isn’t a habit to get into in a open, truthful marriage.
It can definitely be nerve-wracking to bring up some of these uncomfortable topics, even with the person you’d like to marry. But take a few deep breaths, clear away any distractions, and dive in. It can really pay off in the long run.