Many couples miss their opportunity to ask important questions before marriage.
And I get it. When you’re starry-eyed and in love, it’s easy to overlook asking some of these important questions before getting married. But the truth is, if you really love this person, you’ll be willing to put in some hard (and maybe even awkward) work on the front end to enjoy a life together where you thrive.
When you’re engaged, go through in-depth premarital counseling (not just one visit with the preacher, high five, walk out, and get married) and take some premarital classes. This is the best way to sort through the biggest things you need to discuss before marriage.
And wherever you are in your relationship, it’s never too early to ask these questions . . .
The 5 Things to Discuss Before Marriage
- Money: Where do we stand?
- Religion: What are our views?
- Personality Styles: How are you different?
- Children: Do we want any?
- In-Laws: What are our boundaries?
Let’s break down these five questions to ask before marriage so you’ll be ready for the conversation when the time comes!
1. Where do we stand on money?
This needs to be one of the first questions you ask before you get married, because arguing about money is one of the biggest causes of divorce. Put all of the cards faceup on the table. No secrets. It’s time to come completely clean and get in agreement about what’s going on here. When you do that, you’ll also learn a lot about that person’s habits, whether they’re a spender or a saver, and those kinds of things. (My 5-minute money quiz is a great place for both of you to start!)
Make sure you discuss:
Do you have any debt?
We’re not talking about, Oh yeah, I know he has some credit card debt from college. What you need to know is, He’s got $42,321 in debt between student loans and credit card debt. He cut up the cards and started paying off debt before we ever met, and he’s got a plan to be debt-free in 22 months. Those are the details you need.
What was money like in your household growing up?
Each home is unique, and every parent is different. For some, money is stressful and secretive. For others, it’s peaceful and positive.
How you grew up and the environment you were raised in shaped your money mindset and your habits with money in very specific ways. That’s why it’s crucial to examine your childhood. Growing up, more is caught than taught, and you absorbed a lot about money without even realizing it. For help working through this, check out my new book: Know Yourself, Know Your Money.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave with money?
Nothing will bring you and your significant other together like the power of dreaming. Dreams are the antidote to an unfocused life.
Do you dream about taking family vacations to make lasting memories for your kids? Or having enough money to go crazy and bless someone outrageously at Christmastime each year? Or when you’re gone, do you want to leave your loved ones a pile of money so big they can pursue dreams they never thought possible?
What are your financial goals?
At Ramsey, we say that goals are dreams with work clothes on. So, it’s time to get to work.
What must be true in order for you to make your dreams a reality in your marriage? That’s the lens that you should look at your money through. If you have a dream of adopting someday, what would it look like to save up for that together? Maybe early retirement is important to you guys. How much do you need to be investing each month to hit that goal?
2. How will our religious views impact our marriage?
If you have the same faith, it’ll be easier for you guys to stay together. When your faith is aligned, so are your value systems—your guiding principles. Your values are the natural road map through life and the tough times you’ll have to face.
3. How are our personality styles different?
You guys, this is a big one. Ever heard of irreconcilable differences? Your individual personalities will affect everything from how you handle conflict to what makes you feel truly loved.
I’m a total nerd when it comes to learning about different personality types. I find it fascinating and fun. And this kind of self-awareness has helped me in my own personal growth as well as my marriage. Some of my favorite personality assessments include:
4. Are we going to have kids?
Dig into each other’s expectations about kids and make sure they’re compatible. Some good questions to ask before marriage are:
- How many kids do we want to have?
- How far do we want to space them apart?
- What values do we want to pass on to our children?
- How should we discipline?
- How do we feel about childcare? Will one parent stay home?
- Do we want to pay for our kids’ college education?
Talk about how each of your families raised you—what you agree with and what you don’t. Kids may not be coming for years, but when they do, you need to know where your spouse stands and be in agreement early. Be sure that you discuss how you can raise money-smart kids. You don’t want to start sorting through this for the first time with baby number one on the way.
5. What boundaries do we want with our in-laws?
You really need to find out what you’re getting into with your in-laws. How much of your life do they want to be a part of—and how involved (or uninvolved) do each of you want them to be? Lay out your expectations up front.
I know this isn’t the easiest thing to talk about before marriage, but here’s why it’s crucial: You want to honor your parents yet separate from them and become one as a couple. If you don’t agree about what this looks like from the get-go, you may be headed for real trouble. If they live nearby, you might even consider renting for the first six months of marriage (even if you’re in a position to buy) in case you need to move farther away from one of your families than you thought!
Asking Questions Before You Get Married Will Set You Up for Success
Don’t put this crazy pressure on yourself that everything has to be perfect. Having a solid, healthy relationship is a great goal, but shooting for perfect is too much pressure. There’s no such thing!
The good news is this: Knowing these five questions to ask before marriage gives you the opportunity to focus on the important things before you ever walk down the aisle. You can turn what are trouble spots for most people into areas of strength and success that will hold you together for a lifetime.
That’s why I wrote my brand-new book, Know Yourself, Know Your Money. This book will help you and your signicant other:
- Discover your unique set of beliefs about money so you can understand why you handle money the way you do
- Overcome shame and embarrassment around money so you can feel confident in your money decisions
- Learn how to make lasting change so you can make actual progress with your money like never before
Buy it now and you’ll also get the audiobook (read by me!), the e-book and my video course on a top money fear for free. Don’t wait—these bonus items are only free if you buy now!