12 Topics You Must Discuss Before Getting Married

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Answering these 12 topics and 75 Questions before your get married will keep you from having surprises.

Ever wonder what you need to talk about before you get married?  As a marriage counselor for many years, I have selected these as the most important topics along with questions for you to explore before you walk down the aisle. Trouble discussing any of these issues might suggest to you that sitting down with a premarital counselor could be helpful.  Don’t hesitate to start off on the right foot as you build your relationship to last a lifetime.

If I can be of help, please don’t hesitate to reach out, especially if you’re in the NYC, Midtown Manhattan or Westchester areas of New York. You can reach me directly at 914-548-8645. I’m happy to offer you a free consultation to explore what we can do together.

1. Meaning of Your Marriage Commitment

A. Describe what commitment means to you as you make plans to walk down the aisle?
B. Of all of the persons in your life that you have met and could have married, why are you choosing your partner?
C. What attracted you to your partner initially and what do you believe your partner will help you become?

2. Your Life Long Goals

A. What do you hope to achieve in the near future and the distant future regarding your career?
B. How do you plan to care for your community alone or separately?
C. Do you hope to leave a legacy after you die?

3. Your Mutual Expectations

A. What do you expect from a marital partner regarding emotional support during exciting times, sad times, periods of illness and job loss?
B. Will you set aside one night just to be together alone to catch up with each other and have fun?
C. What size house is important and in what kind of neighborhood do you hope to live in both now and in the future?
D. Are you both clear how much alone time the other needs?
E. How long does your partner need to spend with friends separately and together?
F. Do you agree how much time is appropriate to give to work?
G. Do you both expect to support the family financially and will that be different when kids arrive?
H. Are you both comfortable with the salary differential between you?
I. How will you deal with times when one or both of you has reached a midlife career point, and you need to change some aspects of your life?

4. Your Living Arrangements

A. How do you plan to live together?
B. Where will you live after the arrival of children?
C. How do you determine if a new career path or job is reason enough to move?
D. Do you hope to live in the same house or area for a long time?
E. Will you need to be close to your parents either as you get together now or as they get older?

5. Will you have children and if so how many?

A. When do you plan to start a family?
B. How far apart would you want your kids to be in age?
C. Would abortion ever be acceptable before or after that?
D. What kinds of philosophies did your parents have about child raising and do you agree or disagree?
E. How do each of you intend to shape your children’s values
F. What kinds of punishment are appropriate or not appropriate?
G. What kinds of expectations do you each have about money spent on toys, clothes, etc.

6. Money

A. Will you have separate or joint checking accounts or both?
B. If you do have different accounts, who will be responsible for which expenses?
C. Who will pay the bills?
D. Do you agree to have full financial disclosure about each of your personal financial situation at all times?
E. How will strong disagreements about spending money be resolved?
F. Is there any debt that either partner has incurred before the marriage (ex. college or graduate school loans or credit card debt).
G. What amount of available money does each of you need to have to feel comfortable?
H. Will there be a savings plan for the first house?
I. Do you plan to keep trading houses as you can afford it?
J. How much credit card debt or home equity loan debt is acceptable?
K. Agreement about taking care of financial needs of parents if likely?
L. Do you plan to send your kids to private or parochial school?
M. What will be the plans for children’s college education?
N. When do you hope to begin savings for retirement?
O. Will you use a financial planner?
P. Who will complete the taxes ?

7. Parents and In-laws

A. How much time does each of you need to spend with your parents and how much do you expect your partner to join you?
B. How do you plan to spend holidays?
C. What will be the holiday expectations of each of your parents and how will you deal with those expectations?
D. What kind of support do you expect from your partner when the parents are putting pressure on you?
E. Is it OK for either of you to talk with parents about the problems of the relationship?
F. What kind of relationship do you expect your kids to have with your parents?
G. Do you anticipate that you will ever want a parent to live with the two of you when you grow old

8. Gender Role Expectations

A. What did your parents model for you concerning who did what in the family?
B. Did you feel that was fair and do you expect something different?
C. Does each of you have some preferences that might be unrelated to gender?
D. How will you deal with household or yard maintenance? How will you divvy up these responsibilities or hire someone?
E. Do both of you expect to work if you have children?
F. When the children get sick, how do you decide who stays home with them?

9. Do you agree on issues around erotic moments together?

A. How often do you want to enjoy an intimate evening with each other?
B. How do you intend to resolve differences in sexual preferences?
C. Can you work out an agreement about how to deal with differences in frequency of sexual desire?
D. Are there certain things that are clearly off limits?
E. Do you agree to talk about your sexual concerns at a time when you both are feeling creative and relaxed and not during sex?

10. How will you resolve heated conflicts?

A.  What can you learn about how your partner likes to deal with conflict based on their experience in their family of origin.

B. What feels comfortable to each of you, as your partner gets upset?

C. Can either of you ask for a time out to calm down and be creative in your problem solving?
D. What rituals will you develop to reach out to each other after a big fight?

11. Spiritual Life

A. What does spirituality mean to each of you?
B. What kind of participation do you expect in each other in some form of spiritual community?
C. How will you share what means something to you with them?
D. Will your children be expected to attend any regular services or religious education?
E. Will the children go through certain rituals such as baptism, christening, first communion, confirmation, bar or bat mitzvah?

12. Agreement about extramarital relationships

A. Do you want to establish from the beginning that affairs are not an option?
B. Do you agree that affairs of the heart are equal to a sexual affair?
C. Will you talk to your partner about someone that you feel drawn to as a colleague or erotically since this can build the bond between you and your partner rather than the outside person?
D. Will you commit to never talking to a person of the opposite sex (except a therapist or clergy) about your relationship with your partner since this builds a bond outside of your relationship?

In talking with your fiance about any of these you may find some questions cause you to feel upset or concerned. Dr. Walkup offers premarital counseling in NYC  at his Midtown  office inManhattan and Westchester office in White Plains  for couples who are committed to building their marriage and gaining the skills for communicating and avoiding fighting that damages the relationship.   Call Dr. Jim at 914-548-8645 to talk about whether premarital counseling would benefit you at this time.  His many decades of marriage counseling experience can save you much time and heartache.  

Other Topics for further reading:

Premarital Counseling

What If I am Hesitant About Walking Down the Aisle

Other Articles To Read Before You Get Married

Leave your email address below if you would like to receive notice of future workshops led by Dr-Jim.  Include Premarital Counseling Workshops in the note and which office is best for you to visit (Midtown Manhattan or White Plains).  Feel free to suggest topics or questions you would like to find answered in this section of the website.

 

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Comments

  1. Goodday I am a marriage officer and i am doing informal pre- marriage coonseling i need more info, i am a Pastor.

  2. Stephanie on September 15, 2014 at 4:27 pm said:

    My boyrfriend and I have been looking into resources like yours for a few weeks. We feel that we “know” in that way we often hear about in romantic stories in the 2.5 months we have been dating, but we are also wary of how things feel in the beginning and are trying to be extra careful to approach are desire to marry responsibly and logically, despite advice from friends that seems to say “you guys have a lot of life experience at this point… you probably just know by now what works and what doesn’t” (we are both well over 30 😉 ). I just wanted to thank you for posting this list of questions… it’s probably one of the most comprehensive yet succinct overviews of topics that we have seen. We actually plan to take one topic per week over the next few months. I am leaving a comment not only to thank, but to ask a question… we were considering which topic to start with and one option was obviously to go from 1 to 12. However, we had mixed thoughts about starting with topic number 1. Might you please share your thoughts about the order in which they are presented? have you considered other orders by chance? Thanks so much!
    Stephanie & Mark

  3. Steven Bina on March 5, 2015 at 7:04 am said:

    I am so greatful for what I have read in your site. This is a great way to help those who intend to be partners for life. I am an ordained minister of the gospel and I enjoy advising and taling to young people on topics of this nature. Thanks for sharing and asking for comments. I am looking forward for your future presentations.

  4. Steven Bina on March 5, 2015 at 7:07 am said:

    I am so grateful for what I have read in your site. This is a great way to help those who intend to be partners for life. I am an ordained minister of the gospel and I enjoy advising and talling to young people on topics of this nature. Thanks for sharing and asking for comments. I am looking forward for your future presentations.

  5. Steven Bina on March 5, 2015 at 7:08 am said:

    I am so grateful for what I have read in your site. This is a great way to help those who intend to be partners for life. I am an ordained minister of the gospel and I enjoy advising and talking to young people on topics of this nature. Thanks for sharing and asking for comments. I am looking forward for your future presentations.

  6. Pingback: Planning a Marriage: Premarital Talks | Weddingbee

  7. Paul K.B. Youngar on May 26, 2015 at 7:32 pm said:

    what are some things you should see in a person before deciding to marry them?

  8. drjim on June 4, 2015 at 10:51 am said:

    Great question Paul.

    1. Look for someone whose values you admire. Notice how they deal with others, especially people who serve.

    2. Find someone whom everyone sees as trustworthy, including his family, friends and your close friends.

    3. See if your fiance makes it a priority to be there when you need them.

    4. Observe if you partner really tries to “get you”, empathize and validate with why you might be feeling that way.

    5. Does this person really know how to negotiate or is it my way or the highway?

    6. Search for someone who can stay grounded in the midst of chaos and can turn to you to get through difficult situations.

    7. Look for someone who knows how to talk you down when you become overwhelmed.

    8. Avoid someone who seems to use drugs or alcohol as the major way to self-soothe.

    9 Attach to someone who has a commitment to learn and grow, apologize and change, and get counseling help when needed.

    10. Most of all, find someone that you can imagine having fun with for the rest of your life.

  9. Dr. Jim,
    This is a great list! I especially like that you address extramarital relationships, sex, and intimacy. As a therapist who specializes in sex, intimacy, and relationships, I know that both of these are paramount to openly discuss and unfortunately, it just doesn’t happen like it should in premarital counseling or otherwise until it becomes an issue.

    Warmly,
    Dr. Lily A. Zehner,
    Marriage & Family Therapy Candidate

  10. I want to more readings breadings before and marriage.

  11. i would love to get post of premarital counseling

  12. Fantasia on September 25, 2015 at 10:21 am said:

    Very helpful. Thank you

  13. My wife and I had our pre-marital counselling with our church elder. And I must say, it was most beneficial! We took temperament tests which showed areas where we are most compatible and others where we needed to work on. In my opinion, not only is it beneficial but a definite must.

    The important thing when undergoing counselling sessions, is to have a great attitude about it, be open-minded and teachable. After all, they are there to help you and your future spouse be prepared of what lies ahead in married life. Great post and thank you fro sharing.

  14. callen nyamwange on October 15, 2015 at 3:48 am said:

    it is good I discovered you

  15. Luutu Jacob Mukasa on October 30, 2015 at 2:55 am said:

    I thank you so much for the labor you render to help the world became a better place for the married.

  16. Pisces in absorbtion on January 19, 2016 at 4:08 am said:

    This list was very helpful. It helped me to really understand main, need to be talked about issues about how serious marriage really is, although I always valued marriage and its meaning I think this would be a very good exercise for my fiancée and I to complete

  17. Lakomegum denis on March 14, 2016 at 6:35 pm said:

    Fantastic service. please, keep it up, it is the best elmet to the troubles that strikes married couples.
    Ignight the momentum, it will help many who will take.

  18. Cynthia Odidi on March 19, 2016 at 4:35 am said:

    Thank you so mufor the words.Am preparing for my marriage and this has given me a lot of insights to questions I have been asking myself.

  19. Wayne aarons on April 25, 2016 at 2:55 pm said:

    Me and my wife to be will like to make an appointment to see a counselor befor our wedding

  20. Im glad reading these. .. I would like to ask . Why should I have to change completely for a marriage. ? What are the most characteristic?

  21. Kate on May 6, 2016 at 12:55 am said:

    Hi,

    I want to know if you can add advices on step children and ex-wife. I feel there’s not enough out there on blended families i want help to navigate the subject and be the best person for thoses kids. Thank you.

  22. Doctor Jim on May 19, 2016 at 4:36 pm said:

    Thanks for your question. Unfortunately this is not my area of expertise. Googling stepparenting will lead you to a wealth of resources. Best regards, Dr. Jim

  23. I am getting married soon and I want to make sure that my fiance and I will have a good marriage. I like the questions you present, especially about parents and in-laws. My fiance wants to stay living close to his parents, but I don’t. It’s not a big issue now, but we might need coaching on how to resolve major decisions as a couple. Thanks for the help!

  24. Really very happy to say,your post is very interesting to read.I never stop myself to say something about it.You’re doing a great job.Keep it up

  25. joyce on June 11, 2016 at 2:55 pm said:

    I met my man 20 years ago. We were just acquaintances until recently. We have been dating for 4 months now and he wants to marry me. I suggested pre counselling but he is not keen to attend, thank you for this information, it will surely help us in preparation for our marriage.

  26. Doctor Jim on June 12, 2016 at 12:38 pm said:

    Thanks so much for your comments Joyce, Many men aren’t dying to come into any kind of therapy. Anything you can do to let him know what it would mean to you to have him come in will help
    Tell him how much you want to start off with all the tools and skills you will need. Too much suffering occurs because couples simply have not had the resources to guide them in making their marriage work.

  27. Doctor Jim on June 12, 2016 at 1:37 pm said:

    Wayne, I apologize, I missed your request for an appointment. Please feel free to email directly at jimwalkup@gmail.com or call me at 914 548 8645 to make an appointment if you would still like one. I would like you to get started on the right foot even if you have already gotten married. Best regards, Jim

  28. Doctor Jim on June 12, 2016 at 1:40 pm said:

    Dear Cynthia, I hope this does send the two of you off on the right foot. Thanks for your comments. Best regards, Jim Walkup at 914 548 8645

  29. Doctor Jim on June 12, 2016 at 1:40 pm said:

    Wow a belated thanks to you. Best of luck, Jim Walkup at 1914 548 8645

  30. Doctor Jim on June 12, 2016 at 1:43 pm said:

    A belated thanks to you for your comments. I hope the two of you grow in love. Best regards, Jim Walkup at 914 548 8645

  31. Doctor Jim on June 12, 2016 at 1:52 pm said:

    Stephanie, I just reread your comment. Thanks. Let me know if I can ever be helpful to you and your beloved. Jim Walkup, dr-jim.com, 914 548 8645, jimwalkup@g,gmail.com

  32. Paperter cheruiyot on July 13, 2016 at 3:05 pm said:

    Thanks for for the information on premarital counseling . This is paster and I request more on that.thanks

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