Did you know that the same small handful of issues cause the majority of divorces? When we’re dating, it’s often easy to gloss over issues like communication, finances, sexual intimacy, and child-rearing because we want to avoid conflict and hurt feelings. But by having these six conversations before you walk down the aisle, you can protect your marriage and start out on a solid foundation.
Experimental Wifery brings you six "conflict causing" issues to talk about with your husband-to-be and some discussion questions to get your started. Even though it might be awkward, try scheduling a time and a place for each conversation in advance. Take time when you're apart to reflect on your own feelings before you have the conversation together. Or, even better, write letters to each other answering the questions and then read them to each other before you start to talk.
- How are we alike? How are we different? How do those differences affect our relationship?
- What strengths do we have to share with others?
- What strengths from my family do I bring to our relationship? What weaknesses?
- Where do I see us on our fifth anniversary? Where does he see us? Can we agree on a shared vision? What will we have to do to bring it about?
- When have I experienced romance in our relationship? Disillusionment? Contentment?
- What positive thoughts or feelings do I find difficult to share with him? Negative thoughts or feelings?
- What area am I least open to sharing with him? Why? You might consider sex or money, two top marriage killers. Of perhaps future in-laws, marriage responsibilities, values, or lifestyle.
- What things do I talk about more openly with other people? What does that say about our relationship?
- How do we differ in the way we argue? For example, do I give in to avoid conflict? Does he get loud and emotional?
- How do we resolve conflict now? Does our method of conflict resolution need to change?
- What changes do I expect him to make after we are married? How important are those changes to a happy marriage?
- What does marriage mean to you? To him?
- What do I expect of myself as a wife? What do I expect of him as a husband?
- How much of my free time do I expect to spend with him? Him to spend with me? Do we have hobbies that might get in the way? How will we manage our time together?
- How will we manage housework? For example, who is in charge of grocery shopping? Who pays the bills? Who is in charge of home repair?
- What did your parents’ marriage look like? What do you think of as “the husband’s job” or “the wife’s job”? If you don’t agree, how will you resolve those differences?
- What is more important for me professionally–the amount of money earned or satisfaction? For him?
- How will we distribute our financial resources? Do either of us bring student loan or other debt with us? This might be a great time to make a tentative budget together that expresses your spending priorities.
- What does intimacy mean to me? What, besides sex, makes me feel intimate with him?
- What makes me feel loved? How do I like to express love?
- What are my expectations about our married sex life? Our honeymoon? Who will take the initiative in love-making? My or his sexual experience? Fidelity?
- Do I want to have children? How many and how soon?
- Do I expect to prioritize my husband or my children? How will my choice impact our marriage?
- Do I plan to be a stay-at-home mother? Why or why not? Does my husband expect me to be one?
- How do we plan to balance marriage, careers, and family?
- If we are from different religious backgrounds, how will we both practice our faiths?
- What values or traditions do I like in my family? In his? What values or traditions do I dislike?
- How will we balance our obligations to his family and mine?
Adam and I attended a weekend long retreat hosted by Engaged Encounter. Even though we considered ourselves a relatively open couple, we were still surprised by the number of important issues that came up that we had never talked about before. One of the most important conversations we had was about our expectations for housework. Adam thought about vacation-planning as “the husband’s job,” but I thought about it as “the wife’s job.” And both of us thought it was the other’s job to deal with household maintenance. It may sound banal, but working through these small cultural clashes early continues to prevent conflict within our marriage.
Overall, the most important lesson for us was the importance of open communication. When you practice baring your deepest emotions to the one you love, it breaks down barriers you didn’t know existed and makes it possible for you to be truly intimate with your spouse.
Single? We’d love to hear what you would consider a deal-breaker in a husband-to-be. Married? Share with us what you wish you’d discussed with your husband before you married.