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Sharp Health News

5 topics to discuss before marriage

Oct. 11, 2018

5 topics to discuss before marriage

It's easy to get caught up in the idea of getting married: the engagement ring, planning the wedding, special attention from family, and all those feelings of love and excitement. However, all too often, I see couples who aren't focusing enough on the marriage that will follow the wedding.

When we're looking to buy a house, we do a lot of research on the process and ask questions to ensure we're making the right decision. Not unlike purchasing a house, marriage is an investment in another person. So, why not do the research when we're considering proposing or are already engaged?

You can use these five topics and sample questions to start important conversations as early on as possible. Avoiding these questions prior to marriage does not make issues go away; instead, problems can become more difficult to solve the longer you wait to address them.

1. Finances

Money makes the world go 'round, and it can drive a huge wedge between a couple who doesn't agree on how to handle finances.

Ask questions, such as:

  • How are we going to save money?
  • Who will pay the bills?
  • How will decisions be made about spending money versus saving it?

Moreover, it's important to ask questions and remain open about savings, credit scores, debt and joint bank accounts. This is literally the business aspect of the relationship and where it's beyond valuable to have the money working for the relationship, and not against it.

2. Communication

Communication is everything within a marriage. It's important to know how your loved one communicates in general. Knowing when your partner needs to be heard and validated, how to actively listen, and how to fight well are fundamental tools in marriages.

Ask questions, such as:

  • How do you prefer to discuss difficult topics?
  • Will ongoing therapy be an option when we can't agree?
  • What are barriers to our best communication?

3. Spirituality

For some, this isn't a huge issue; for others, it's a make-or-break situation. The issues pertaining to spirituality can become more complicated when children are involved, and they can cause a deep chasm within a couple.

Ask questions, such as:

  • Are there fundamental spiritual differences between us and can we truly be OK with them?
  • How will we raise a family with our spiritual practice(s)?
  • Will church/temple/mosque be expected of our routine and does everyone have to go?
  • What will our daily spirituality practices look like?

4. Health

Addressing issues of health may not be a big deal when you're in your 20s and 30s, but it becomes increasingly more important with age. Differences in health and lifestyle can play a role in either connection or disconnect, and can give you a clearer understanding of what it might look like to actually grow old with someone else.

Ask questions, such as:

  • How much importance will be placed on health?
  • What practices will we hold one another accountable toward?
  • How will each of our health issues be handled supportively by the other?
  • How active will we be in seeking out and receiving routine medical care?

5. Expectations

Asking questions around expectations allows the couple to look into their future and collaborate, rather than build resentment when expectations are unspoken or unmet.

Ask questions, such as:

  • Will children be part of our plan and how many?
  • How are chores going to be shared?
  • How will we handle rough patches in our relationship?

These conversations require some bravery and assertiveness. My recommendation is to use these questions as prevention, not intervention. Be proactive about challenges in your relationship, and don't get to the point where you're seeing a professional because things have started to break down.

Lindsay Kramer is a marriage and family therapist with Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital.

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