The Premarital Counseling Questions You Should Ask
By Mason Komay
Updated February 11, 2020
Reviewer Aaron Dutil
Did you know that there is a 30% higher success rate for married couples who engaged in premarital counseling than those who do not? In fact, marriage counseling isn't just for after you're married or when your relationship has problems. It's a way to strengthen your relationship before any potential problems occur - because let's face it, life happens. A lot of premarital counseling with a professional counselor involves learning how to communicate with each other. It also uncovers differences of opinion and allows the couple to find ways to deal with those differences and learn how to compromise. In other words, it teaches the couple how to argue and still have respect for one another. No matter how strong and blissful your relationship is now, there's no way for you to know how you and your partner would react to life's challenges (such as losing a job or getting into a car accident) unless you're thrown into these situations - or if you talk about it beforehand. Premarital counseling builds the foundation for talking to each other in constructive ways before you need to tackle more complex issues.
So what kind of questions should you be asking and answering before you and your partner's big day? Read below for a few suggestions.
Why Are You Getting Married?
It's important to be honest with each other about what you expect to get from the marriage. There are many different reasons to get married, and having relationship priorities that match up with each other will help you to work toward shared goals as a couple.
The first thing that a counselor may ask the couple is why they have decided to marry, which is often a difficult question to answer. It requires some introspective thought as individuals as to why each person has decided marriage is the next best step in their relationship. Will someone other than yourselves be disappointed if you decide not to marry? Is their opinion important? Is the decision to marry based on only religious beliefs? Do you or your partner practice your religion, and is it a problem if you or they don't? Do you expect your partner to join you in your church to pray? Are you comfortable if they do not wish to?
Why Were You Attracted To Each Other?
What qualities attracted you to your intended life partner? Have you honestly considered any faults the other person has? What are they, and are they easy to forgive?
Whether it is the first marriage for each or whether they have been married before, what are the expectations of this new marriage? If you have doubts, what are they? Have you discussed this openly with your partner at all?
How Would You Like To Help Your Fiancé Improve?
This question is not about criticizing your partner. It's about being supportive of helping each other grow, and how you answer it can say a lot about your future together. If you or your partner are quick to point out flaws that can be fixed, then you need to step back and ask whether you would both be happy if that flaw never went away.
What Issues Do You Disagree About?
No two people agree on every single subject, but that's okay. You don't have to be identical to be compatible. But you should be able to talk about those subjects honestly with each other. Can you discuss an issue you each think about differently in a way that makes both of you feel secure and respected?
How Will You Manage Your Finances Together?
There is no right answer to this question. You may have joint accounts, separate accounts, or some combination of the two. One of you may pay all the bills, or you may each have specific payment responsibilities. What matters is that you know before getting married how all of that will work out and that you both agree. (Of course, it's okay if you decide to renegotiate finances later. But you should both be able to discuss finances maturely.)
Do you know each other's financial status? Do you understand each other's financial commitments to institutions or individuals, such as loans and credit card debt? Do any of these financial commitments pose a problem, and have you discussed how to resolve these issues? Will you both contribute to a savings plan? Have you agreed to the reasons you have or don't have a savings plan? Are you planning to save for retirement, and have you agreed upon how to do it? What amount of money in your joint account is a comfortable amount? Do you intend to have "free spending money," and how much each month? Are you comfortable with the differences in salary if there are any?
How Will We Divide Chores?
If you've lived together before getting married, this one shouldn't be too much of an issue because you already know how the chores are divided. But if you haven't lived together, you should make sure your partner's ideas about household responsibilities are the same as yours.
Have you discussed the roles you will have in the marriage? Do you want to emulate the roles of your parents? Have you come to an agreement of who does what in the home, such as cleaning, cooking, washing clothes, and caring for the yard and vehicles? Do you agree, or do you or your partner have reservations?
Do You or Do You Not Want Children, and If Yes, How Many?
You and your partner have probably already discussed whether or not you want children. This can be a real deal-breaker for some relationships, so you shouldn't expect your partner to change their mind about this. That's not to say it can't happen, but it's best not to assume that they'll eventually have a change of heart.
Have you discussed having children? If so, have you agreed when you might want to start a family? Do you know your partner's feelings about abortion and adoption? Are you in agreement about how to handle discipline when and if you have children? Who will be expected to stay home if children enter the picture, or have you agreed on plans to handle this issue? Has there been a discussion about bringing children up in a particular religion? Have you talked about religious education for your children, and do you both agree? Do you want your children to have close relationships with their grandparents? If neither of you wants children, are you completely satisfied with that decision? Do you know and understand your partner's reasons for not wanting children? Are those reasons reasonable and acceptable?
Where Will You Live?
Have you decided where you want to live after you are married? Does the proximity of parents have anything to do with the choice of where to live? Do you have plans to own a house, and do you agree on the kind of house that would be affordable for your first home together? Have you discussed exactly how you intend to finance the purchase of a home? Does one or both of you already own a home, and do you have plans for one or both of the homes? Have you decided what to do with the proceeds if either of you decides to sell?
Should You Do Everything Together?
Do you expect to do everything together? Do you agree that each of you will need some time away from each other to be with friends or relatives now and again? Do you have issues with your partner's friends or relatives? Does your partner expect to spend holidays with parents and relatives? If so, have they considered your opinion? What holidays have you spoken about in particular? Have you agreed to not share your minor disagreements with friends and family, especially parents?
How often do you expect to have sex? What kind of sexual activity is taboo? Are you or your partner addicted to porn? Do you want that behavior to stop? Does either partner visit strip clubs, and is this something that you or your partner expects to continue to do or wishes it to stop? Have you committed to each other to not use sex as a way of getting your way or a way to punish the other?
Have you made your expectations clear about infidelity? If infidelity does occur, does your partner know how you are going to feel and react? Are they willing to seek counseling? Do you and your partner agree on what is considered cheating? Do both of you agree to never discuss your married relationship with others, male or female, outside the marriage except for a counselor or religious mentor?
Benefits of Premarital Counseling
As you may have noticed, many of these questions are about discussing uncomfortable or confrontational topics. And how well the two of you can confront issues honestly is a huge predictor for how well you can negotiate your marriage together. Working with a marriage counseling professional can help you learn to navigate communication pathways. Premarital counseing is nothing to fear. Not surprisingly, couples who devote time to ask important premarital questions are statistically proven to have longer, more successful marriages.
If you're preparing to marry your significant other, the last thing you should be dealing with is organizing yet another appointment to drive to. You're already thinking about meeting people for music, food, decorations, photography; the list goes on. This is where online counseling services like ReGain offer solutions. With the guidance of one of our licensed therapists, online counseling cuts out the need for long drives and inconvenient appointment times. Instead, you have the freedom to reach out to your counselor whenever and wherever you want to, at a fraction of the cost of in-person sessions. Below are some reviews of ReGain counselors for you to review, from couples who did premarital counseling.
"We have really loved working with Coralea. My boyfriend (now Fiancé) wanted to make sure we got some issues and better communication skills before getting engaged. Counseling has been incredibly beneficial to our relationship. It's such a great way to discuss difficult topics in a structured way. I recommend counseling for anyone!"
"I can't say enough of Teralyn and her approach to helping my fiance and I shore up our relationship before we get married. She constantly makes herself available. She does an amazing job making us both feel heard and has given multiple solid action points that have moved our relationship forward."
When you commit your entire life to your significant other, you want your marriage to be as successful as possible. After all, you're both head-over-heels for each other. Premarital counseling can help you and your partner with some of the most fundamental questions and decisions before the big day to ensure that you both live happily ever after. Take the first step.