Use A Premarital Questionnaire To Learn More About Your Partner
Updated February 13, 2020
Reviewer Aaron Dutil
"Ignorance is bliss!" goes the old saying - but this is almost certainly not true when it comes to the person that you plan to marry. While some couples do avoid premarital counseling out of fear of what they might uncover, this is counterproductive. After all, according to Psychology Today, couples who engage in premarital counseling report higher relationship quality and satisfaction scores.
If you want to make any relationship work, you need to understand the person that you are entering into a relationship with. You need to make sure that you and your partner are going to be compatible. That doesn't necessarily mean that you agree on everything, but rather that you know what the other person likes, dislikes and does. You need to know them as a person, even if that person is different from you (and differences are good in many instances).
Why Premarital Questionnaires?
While self-administered premarital questionnaires aren't formal premarital counseling, they do work towards some of the same goals - that is, they aim to help you and your partner get on the same page about important topics, develop realistic expectations for marriage, and sort out potential conflicts before they become serious.
Working through a premarital questionnaire together could help you and your partner enjoy some of the same benefits as couples who complete premarital counseling. These include simple adjustments to the marriage, stronger communication, smoother conflict resolution, a deeper commitment to each other, and a stronger sense of working together as a team.
You can search the internet and find dozens of questionnaires to help you prepare for marriage, but here are some questions to get you started.
A Premarital Questionnaire For You
What Do You See For Your Future?
It's important for you and your partner to have a good understanding of what each of you wants in your future. If you don't have compatible goals and dreams, it's going to mean problems for you later down the road, even if you think it's okay now. This doesn't mean that all your goals and dreams need to be the same, just that they need to work together. If one of you dreams of life in the country, while the other is determined to stay in the city, you will have your work cut out for you to find a compromise.
As you discuss the future, beware of ways that similar dreams and goals can cause stress. For example, it's exciting to find a partner with the same drive for a high powered career as you have, but you need to be aware of how this could complicate a shared dream for settled family life. Similarly, if you share a dream career that doesn't make a lot of money, this can also be stressful for a relationship.
A strong, flexible relationship can overcome and accommodate many differences. This is easier, however, if you're aware of these differences before they become an issue, and have a game plan for working them out.
What Do You Expect From Your Partner?
Knowing what you expect from your partner and what your partner expects from you to feel loved and accepted is important to any relationship. You want to make sure that you have a good understanding of each other and that requires a good discussion before you get married, or you'll never feel complete in the relationship.
Expectations can take many forms, from social roles to household tasks, to romantic availability. Discussing these expectations ahead of time can help you accept areas where your expectations may not be met, find places where you each need to compromise and learn what your partner is expecting from you.
Many of us carry unrealistic expectations about marriage. Sometimes these expectations are even subconscious, and we can't figure out why we resent things that our partner does or does not do. By discussing your expectations ahead of time, you'll be able to form realistic and healthy expectations that can help you build a strong marriage.
Do You Want Children?
Knowing whether you want children or not needs to be addressed. If your partner wants them and you don't or vice versa can cause a strain in your relationship later on. You don't want that to happen because you want to live a happy and successful relationship.
The decision to have children or not is one area where compromise is difficult. If one partner doesn't want any children, and the other wants three, simply having one child isn't a compromise - it's a capitulation on the part of the person who didn't want any. For this reason, it's very important that you and your partner figure out a way to be on the same page. If you continue to disagree in this area, you may want to consider professional premarital counseling to help you sort it out.
How Are Finances Split Up?
Do you and your partner want to have separate accounts and keep your money separate? Is one of you going to work and the other stays home? Are you going to put all of your money into a joint account so that you can share the money? All of these things are going to be important for your relationship, and while many of them could work for you, it's important to choose one.
Our expectations about finances are often set up by our family and social examples growing up. If your partner doesn't share your expectations about finances, it's not usually a sign that they don't trust you, or that something is wrong with your relationship. Most of the time, it simply means that they had a different family or social example. It's important to be willing to compromise to find a financial set-up that both you and your partner feel comfortable with.
What Do Your Marriage Vows Mean To You?
Marriage can mean different things to different people. Understanding what those vows mean to you is crucial to making sure that you have a solid foundation. Make sure that each of you consider what you want your relationship to look like and what you're going to be willing to accept.
One of the most important aspects of your relationship to discuss is monogamy. Once taken for granted in Western societies, monogamy is becoming more and more likely to be considered optional. Defining the sexual and emotional boundaries of your relationship is crucial to your relationship's success. Even if you are both agreed that monogamy is important, you need to be clear about what you mean by the term.
Having a realistic discussion about the technical side of your marriage vows might feel like a buzz-kill to your shiny romantic engagement period, but it can be an important tool for keeping that love alive for the long-term.
What Are The Most Important Things To You?
Do you have specific things that are important in your life, more so than anything else? You'll want to consider what's important to each of you and how those things may differ or go together. Make sure that you discuss which you're going to work towards first and how they're going to play a part in your life.
Similar to your goals and dreams, you don't need to share all of the same most important things. You do need to be willing to support each other's pursuit of what matters to each one of you, and you also need to be sure that your important things aren't mutually exclusive. Some potentially important areas things to consider include religion, hobbies, lifestyle, and friends.
Some of these areas are more difficult to compromise on than others, but many couples have built successful marriages that include significant differences in these areas. This is more likely to happen for you if you find these differences early and make space in your relationship for discussion and compromise.
What Will Your Living Arrangements Be?
Are you going to move into their place? Are they going to move into yours? Maybe you're planning to get an entirely new place that's just for the two of you. Do you have different plans when you have children? Or different plans if you get a new job or promotion? Knowing these things are going to be important for your future.
In addition to the big question of where you will live as a couple, it's good to get to know each other's expectations for using the new space. If you feel a deep need for your own space, it's good to be clear about this early on so that you can both decide on the best use of your living space. Depending on the size of your is essential, you might need to figure out boundaries for having friends over, or entertaining overnight guests.
Deciding on your living arrangements now can help you avoid unpleasant surprises in the sometimes-stressful adjustment period after marriage. Most differences in expectations can be ironed out with negotiation early on, and your premarital prep time is an ideal place to do that.
What Is Your Communication Style?
Good communication is essential to a happy relationship, so it's important for you and your partner to know each other's communication style so that your conversations aren't derailed by a mismatch. It's hard to solve a problem or come to a compromise when you aren't truly hearing what the other person is saying.
Misunderstandings, resentment, and hurt feelings can crop up when you don't understand your partner's communication style or vice versa. If you tend to be very direct and assertive, your partner could mistake this for aggression. By contrast, if your partner makes their needs and wishes known in a very indirect manner, you might not even realize that they're asking for something.
Just as with most questions on this list, you and your partner don't need to have the same communication style. All that you need is to understand each other's style and be willing to learn to listen to what the other person is really saying.
Just The Beginning
Hopefully, this list of questions and topics has given you and your partner something to talk about as you prepare for your marriage. This is, however, certainly not an exhaustive list of questions. You can find many other premarital questionnaires online, ranging from the quirky to the lighthearted to the serious. Make it a habit to go through these kinds of questions with your partner.
Need More Help?
As you work through these lists of questions, you may find a few sticking points in your relationships. If you find areas where you and your partner have difficulty resolving differences, coming to a compromise, or understanding each other, it might be wise to employ the help of a trained therapist or counselor. Many therapists and counselors offer specific premarital counseling that address the topics that a questionnaire might cover, but in a lot more depth. Formal premarital counseling also has the advantage of being guided by a professional who can help you discuss issues effectively, and resolve any conflict.
ReGain is one place you can get the therapy help that you need and you won't have to worry about going anywhere to have those sessions because you get to talk with a therapist right in your own home, online. You can sign up for the site, invite your partner, and be matched with a certified professional who is a good match for the premarital counseling that you need. After all, knowledge is power - in this case, the power to build a strong, healthy marriage with the person that you love.