The choice to get married is filled with excitement. It is the culmination of uniquely intense feelings of emotional, physical and spiritual connection.
While it is easy to get caught up in the rush of emotions, slow down enough to insure that you know how your fiancé thinks and feels about different aspects of life and your relationship.
Here is a list of 10 inspired questions every engaged couple should consider discussing well before the big day arrives.
1. How do you feel about your fiancé having good friends of the opposite sex after marriage?
Before you are married, you may have friends of the opposite sex that you spend time with, but the nature of these friendships may need to be modified or end completely to assure that they are appropriate and non-threatening to your spouse after you make your vows.
2. Who is it appropriate to talk to about challenges in your marriage?
Deciding with whom it is appropriate to talk to about rough patches in your marriage will be crucial to maintaining unity and trust with your spouse. Is it appropriate for your spouse to call her mother or his best friend and discuss money or marital problems? This is up to you and your spouse to decide. Not talking about it (with each other) can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
3. What personality trait do you admire most in your fiancé?
Learning how to recognize and express what you love about your future spouse is important. Once married, it may become easier to see your spouse’s faults and if you aren’t careful, the focus could turn to what is wrong with your husband or wife instead of all that you appreciate about them.
4. What expectations do you have for where you will live?
This may not seem like a big deal if you date and meet while you are both away at college, but it is something you need to talk about. If your fiancé is committed to living a mile from her mom’s house in a town of 1,000 people, but you want to be a hot-shot attorney practicing intellectual property law in a big city, that can cause some friction later on in your marriage.
5. What factors will you consider when deciding if and when to have children?
While each couple decides together about having children — the number (usually) and timing of how your family grows — it will be important to know what your fiancé expects. If you are planning on a family with eight children and your wife is planning on being a career woman who doesn’t want children at all, you should find that out before you exchange marriage vows.
6. What is your philosophy on the role religion will play in the raising of your children?
One tendency while dating is to avoid conflict and minimize arguments and disagreements. That being said, an open and healthy discussion on each of your religious beliefs and how you expect to teach your children will be paramount to happiness down the road. Not being on the same page regarding teaching moral beliefs is one of the causes of conflict in a marriage. Some have the philosophy of teaching children from a very early age, while others take the opinion to not force religion on their kids. Find out early what expectations your fiancé has for how this will happen in your home.
7. In what ways does money influence your happiness?
Each person in the marriage comes from a different upbringing and different financial situation. Even those that share a common neighborhood or social status still need to know how their counterpart feels about money and how it affects their happiness. Talk about money and expectations early. Work together to create your own definition of what it means to be financially successful as a family. Does it mean you don’t have debt? Does it mean that you will have a certain amount of money saved by a certain age? It doesn’t matter what the measure is, just be aware of how your future spouse’s happiness is influenced by money.
8. COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE: "One thing I observed in my parent's relationship that I do not want in mine is . . ."
When people get married they have a preconceived notion of what marriage should be like based on their experience with their family. Many have happy memories, while others have been through painful divorces or disharmony. Our lens on life influences our perception of what we should expect out of marriage. Talk about things you saw in your parents' relationship that you liked and what you would like to avoid.
9. How much access do you feel your spouse should have to your social media sites?
Social media provides opportunity to connect with old friends and to keep tabs on extended family. These social websites have also leached precious time away from live interaction and enabled some inappropriate communication that would not otherwise take place. Talk about what you think is appropriate and how much access and transparency you expect with your spouse’s social media participation.
10) What does it really mean when one person says to another, "I love you?"
Men and women communicate and receive love in different ways as explained by Gary Chapman’s book, "The 5 Love Languages." Take time to figure out how your spouse feels loved in ways that are the same and different from you … it will make you look like a very thoughtful spouse.
While you’d like to have all the answers to life going into marriage, it is more important to have the right questions. Here are a few important options to start a life-long conversation.
Dave Specht is the creator of the Inspired Questions iPhone App. He also owns Advising Generations LLC, a multi-generational family-business consulting firm. Dave is a speaker and writer on the topic.www.inspired-questions.com