Are you thinking about getting engaged or married soon? Inspired by Courtney Robertson’s book I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends and some of my own experiences in dating, I decided to compile a list of questions to ask your significant other before taking the next big step in your relationship.
Some of the following questions are directly inspired by Courtney Robertson, and others are inspired by my own experience. While I am by no means saying your marriage is doomed if you do not ask them, knowing where you each stand on these issues will prevent any surprises from cropping up down the road.
1. What are your religious views?
For many people, religion is an important part of life. While it is likely you will know the religious views of your partner by the time you reach engagement, it is important to make sure there is clarity on what those views are before you go any further. While religious views may end up changing during the course of a relationship, knowing where you stand going into marriage is important.
2. What are your political views?
I would love to say it is as easy as asking what party they usually vote for in elections. Unfortunately, there is so much variety within each party that it is important to ask what political issues are important to your partner. If one of you is very interested in political activism while the other doesn’t vote at all, that may be an issue that needs to be talked through. Even if you have very similar views, it is likely you will find differences. Making sure you can differentiate between small differences you can live with and philosophical differences you cannot is something you will be wiser to do before you get married.
3. Is your career or future career compatible with mine?
This question is probably not applicable for many people. However, in some cases it can be a major question with serious implications if the answer is “no.” Because I am a female called to be a minister, this question was at the top of my list when I was dating seriously. Unfortunately, it ruled some people out. When I was dating my husband and asked him if my being a pastor would be a problem, he answered something along the lines of, “My mom’s a pastor, so no.” Conflicts other couples may face are jobs that require moving around like the military, or jobs that require the spouse to be in the spotlight. Even jobs that may not seem to pose any conflict are worth discussing.
4. Do we like each others’ families?
I used to hate when my grandma told me, “When you marry someone, you marry their family.” I hated it so much because it was usually said when I was dating someone whose mother despised me. It felt like her subtle way of telling me my relationship was doomed and I may as well move on. As much as I hated it, though, it is important that you are able to get along with the family of your spouse. While there may be some minor conflicts or even a few family members you don’t like, it is important that you’re able to get along with the people you’ll be spending holidays with.
5. Do you have the same ideas about raising children?
This question opens a whole can of worms. Do you both want children? How soon? One child or more than one? How do you plan to discipline them? Will you home school them or send them to public school? While children may not be on your mind for many years, it is a good idea to make sure you and your partner have the same ideas in this area.
6. How will housework be divided?
While it may just fall into place naturally, making sure you have a discussion on how housework will be divided is important. Will it depend on who is working more hours? Will both spouses take equal amounts of the housework? It is worth a discussion before getting married to avoid any misunderstandings later on.
7. Are we compatible?
Even if you’re in a relationship, it does not mean you’re compatible. In one of my longest-lasting relationships, the main problem we had was that we were completely incompatible. We really cared for each other, but we were different in ways that drove each other crazy. When you take a step back from a relationship and look at it, you can usually see whether or not you’re compatible.
8. Are you addicted to anything?
When you ask this question, your partner may answer with something as benign as caffeine or video games. However, it is important to know if there are addictions like alcohol, drugs, or pornography in your partner’s life. And maybe your partner will tell you he or she is addicted to naps. Guilty! Discussing what addictions you’re okay with and which ones you’re not is important. I’m sure my husband would have liked to have known about the naps before we got married…
9. What do you like to do for fun?
It’s important to have something in common with your significant other beside liking each other. While you may have a good idea what he or she likes at this point, take some time getting to know what all they enjoy doing. Even if you only have one thing you like to do together, make it your thing. My husband and I have very different hobbies. While I love to read and read all the time, he hasn’t read a book in over a year. However, we’ve found that we love watching movies together. We’ve also worked at stretching ourselves to at least try things the other enjoys from time to time so that we can do more together. If you have more hobbies in common with your partner, it may be even easier to find things to do together as the years stretch on.
10. How did your previous relationships end?
We all have our biases when answering this question. But it is good to hear your partner answer it and talk through their previous relationships. If they’ve been significantly hurt by a previous partner, you’ll know. If they were cheated on, you’ll know. Whatever baggage they’re bringing into the relationship, you’ll know. While we all use some degree of “my crazy ex” language, how your partner describes his or her exes will also speak volumes about your partner’s character.
What questions would you add to this list? Leave your feedback in the comment section below.