5 "Super Important" Conversations to Have Before Getting Married, According to Therapists
Talk about these things now to save future heartache.
Cultivating a successful marriage takes time, effort, and most of all, planning. But the key pieces of that planning take place before you walk down the aisle. Ya know, things like asking each other how you'll blend households, divide finances, and decide if and when to have kids. But planning goes beyond those big Qs that most people cover by date three. Here, a love coach and therapists tell us the key things to discuss before you tie the knot. The future of your partnership depends on it.
What are some mistakes your parents made in their marriage that you don't want to repeat in yours?
Sometimes, the key to planning for the future is looking to the past. And in the case of marriage, it might mean unpacking the relationship your parents had.
In a TikTok video, love coach Sabrina Flores says a "super important" question couples should ask each other is: What mistakes did your parents make that you don't want to repeat? Flores notes that this shouldn't be a quick convo. Instead, she suggests discussing it over a few hours.
Not only will this align you and your partner on the things you do and don't want to do in a marriage, but it'll bring you closer emotionally since you're letting each other into a very personal part of your past. It can also help your partner understand any habits you may have developed because of how your parents interacted.
What unhealthy habits have you had in past relationships regarding conflict and communication that still come up in this one?
Conflict is a huge part of relationships. And in order to last for the long haul, married couples need to know how to have them effectively. That's why, in another TikTok video, Flores suggests partners ask each other about the unhealthy habits they had in past relationships that still come up in their current one.
"If you want to spend the rest of your life with your partner, and you want to have a healthy relationship, and you do not want this relationship to end up like your last one, then this is a conversation you need to have that requires you both to check your egos at the door," she explains. Again, set aside a few hours to tackle this topic.
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What does monogamy mean to you?
The term monogamy might sound like it has one definition, but licensed psychologist Nicole Prause, PhD, notes that couples' ideas of it often differ, which can lead to hurt feelings and even a breakup.
"Is viewing pornography cheating to you? Would you feel violated if they were flirtatious with someone at work without intentions of acting with them sexually? If they were unexpectedly kissed, would you want them to have been explicit in rejecting the person, or is pulling away enough?" she suggests asking. "Obviously a couple cannot anticipate every potential situation that may arise, but having some of these conversations can help establish the most important aspect: trust."
If you trust that your partner is trying to make the right choices, it'll eliminate unnecessary hurt.
What do you think makes a successful marriage?
Having a goal to work toward is always good. "This question helps to foster a deeper understanding of each other's values and priorities, as well as reveal how compatible the two people are," says Steve Carleton, LCSW, CACIII, a licensed clinical social worker and clinical director at Gallus Detox. "It also gives partners an opportunity to discuss topics such as communication, compromise, trust, respect, and commitment—which are all key components of successful marriages."
Use your responses as a blueprint for areas you'll make a point to work on throughout your partnership to ensure you're both happy.
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What are your expectations of marriage?
Knowing what you're getting into is also important. "Asking this question can help partners get a better grasp of what each of them expects from the relationship and how they plan to work together to make it successful," says Carleton. "It provides an opportunity for couples to talk openly about their hopes, dreams, and goals for the future—and hopefully come to some common ground."
With clear expectations, you'll have a solid foundation for a long-lasting, happy marriage—and no ugly surprises.