Posted by jaelithe on 12 Apr, 2013
Back when I first saw Susan Piver promote her book, The Hard Questions: 100 Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do”, on Oprah, I was one of those girls desperately hoping my boyfriend would propose. Now, too many years later, I’ve got a year of marriage under my belt (yep, same guy) and I still think about that book. Here are some questions that I’m glad we talked about before our big day (and a couple we didn’t, but I wish we had).
Remember to keep an open mind and heart when having these conversations; you’re trying to find the places your lives mesh and understand where they diverge. You might learn some new things about your partner, and there is a small possibility that some of the things you’ll learn are game changers. Be honest about what you really want—it’s the best way to ensure both of you are happy for the long haul.
Do We Want Kids?
This is a big question for a lot of couples because there isn’t much middle ground. How many kids? Would you adopt if you couldn’t conceive? What does a happy family look like to you?
How Will We Manage Money?
Should you share a bank account? If you get a bonus, what happens to that money? How much debt do you each have today and what kind? You can’t start building for the future until you know where you stand, so talk openly and create a plan together. Money is one of those things that couples often fight about when they really want to be fighting about something else, so plan ahead to spare yourself the pain.
Where Will We Live?
City or country? Beach or forest? House or apartment? Ideally, you’ll want to cohabitate with your fiancé or fiancée after you tie the knot. But you may not have discussed some of these fundamental things. Do you need to be able to walk to a coffee shop or wake to the sound of birds? Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of living abroad. Chances are there are big overlaps in your dreams that could take the two of you places you never even dreamed of.
What Makes You Feel Loved?
Sometimes the smallest gestures speak volumes, but they can also go unrecognized if they aren’t the things that speak to our hearts. Some people really appreciate unexpected gifts. Others like dinners out or letters or to have the door held open for them. There is no wrong answer to treating each other right.
How Do You Want Me to React When You Have a Bad Day?
Bad days happen to everyone, but we can be very individual in how we handle them. Some people want space to think, which might include a walk, a half hour reading, or TV time. Others want to talk about what went wrong during the day.
What Role Does Spirituality/Religion Play in Your Life?
Some couples bond over faith. Others live happily in interfaith relationships. If your religion is a big part of who you are or who your intended spouse is, you should talk about how you will celebrate holidays and other big moments in your life. If you are planning to raise children, what do you want them to believe?
How Do We Incorporate Our Families Into Our Lives?
The mother-in-law jokes come from somewhere. Even if you adore your in-laws and want them to be a large part of your lives, you and your partner should discuss how often you want to entertain and whether visiting relatives should stay with you or in a hotel.
What Happens if I Get Sick?
It’s the last thing you’re thinking about as you’re preparing to get married. I wish you a long and happy life together, but just in case, you might want to talk about how you would want to handle some of life’s harder days. You can’t predict what form the hardships will come in, but they will come and go as they please. Talk about how you’d like to be taken care of and whether you’d want your partner to remarry if the worst were to happen.
What Do You Want Your Life to Look Like 5 Years From Now? 10? 30?
This question gets to the heart of your priorities. Work, family, and self all play an important role in our lives, but the balance we strike between those is unique to each couple. How are responsibilities like housework, income generation, and child rearing shared?
What is Your Biggest Dream?
If money was no object, what would your life look like then? This conversation can be the first step to working together to achieve those big dreams.
I’m really glad that Susan Piver encouraged me to ask my guy some hard questions before we got married. It started us on the path of talking honestly about our hopes and fears. To start the great habit of broaching important conversations in your relationship, read Susan Piver’s book. And don’t be afraid to really open up to the one you love.
This post was written by Isla McKetta, a novelist. She and her husband (a painter) are living out their artistic dreams in Seattle.