The Benefit of Premarital Therapy (Plus, 11 Questions You Should Discuss with Your Partner Before Marriage

Early in a relationship conversation and quality time together usually comes easy and flows, and there might be a natural quick connection and chemistry that pulls you in. It's hot and heavy.  It's a natural fit.  However amazing it feels, falling in love and initial infatuation in the beginning does not always prepare you for what is needed in order to wisely move into the serious commitment of marriage with knowledge and partnership.  As you move to the next stage of your relationship and there is less anxiety and excitement, but hopefully more stability and security, you may be contemplating taking your relationship to the next level.  If so, there are important conversations that you and your partner should have before taking this step.  You can discuss these over date night or with a therapist in premarital therapy.  Either way, these issues are going to come up at some point, and you will be more successful if you discuss them before taking that big leap. There are so many ideas, experiences, dreams and expectations we bring into a relationship and so does our partner.  If you can talk about these important topics on the earlier end, you have the ability to proactively prevent hurts, misunderstandings, and disappointments, and potentially strengthen your bond, deepen your connection and trust, and lead to a more connected, successful partnership.  The outcome of these conversations could also lead you and/or your partner to realize that you may not see a long-term future together and are not compatible.  Although that may be difficult, it is so much easier than finding that out down the road with more life complexities added to the mix. One survey estimates that for 93% of Americans, a happy marriage is one of the most important life objectives. Given how important this is, it only makes sense that investing time, conversation, emotions and finances into the relationship through therapy and education makes a lot of sense.  I often use the car analogy with my clients – you work really hard or dream really hard to save up or wish for that car.  When you buy or receive the car of your dreams, it is shiny, clean and runs great, however to make this car stand the test of time and run well and look great long-term, maintenance is required.  Oil changes, car washes, waxes, regular engine maintenance, charging or gasoline are all parts of maintain this car so it is something that lasts and maintains quality.  Time, money, effort, and care are invested on a regular basis.  Relationships are not all that different than cars in this way; they require the same amount of time, effort and maintenance, if not more, or they deteriorate, diminish in quality, passion and satisfaction. If you are ready to talk to your partner about marriage and making a long-term commitment, bring up the idea ahead of time and let them know that there are some topics and questions you would like to explore together as a couple.  You may want to pick one topic or question at a time, taking turns to each reflect on and answer the question, while the other is actively listening and checking back in to make sure you got the right message and meaning.  You can also work through these topics in Premarital Therapy sessions with a couples therapist whom can help create a safe space and guide you through these conversations and help you go even deeper. Premarital therapy is not super common for couples to do, however research shows that couples that participate in premarital counseling experience amazing benefits and outcomes.  One research study evaluating 23 studies on the effectiveness of premarital counseling found that on average, couples who participate in premarital therapy and education report a 30% stronger marriage than couples who do not, as evidenced by better at problem resolution using effective communication styles and higher levels of relationship quality, reporting they feel more sense of partnership and a smoother adjustment to married life (Stanley, Amato, Johnson & Markman, 2006). If you would like to receive education and lay a strong foundation for your marriage, we are here for you at Love Story Therapy – do not hesitate to reach out and schedule your first premarital therapy session today. Here is a list of 11 questions you should discuss with your partner before tying the knot
  1. Why do you think you should be getting married? Think about what makes the two of you compatible – do your values align? What are your strengths? Goals for future? What do you value the most about your relationship and partner?  What are your backgrounds individually?
  2. How will we handle finances once we get married and what are our goals about finances? Will we keep finances separate or together?  What is your relationship with money and how do you feel about debt, spending, saving? If you make different income – how can you make it equitable? Are we going to have a prenuptial agreement and if so, what is the purpose of it and how do both partners feel about that?
  3. How do you handle conflict? What is your view on conflict, what did you learn from parents, past relationships, about conflict, communication and conflict resolution and how does that impact your conflict style? Do you tend to bring up issues, pursue arguments, or pull away, shut down, avoid? You will have conflict, so how will you manage it and address issues?
  4. Do you want to have children and how many children do you want to have? What if we cannot have biological children or encounter fertility issues?  Are you open to fertility treatments or adoption?  WHY do you want to have children (value and meaning)?
  5. How important is your sexual relationship? What are your values and views on sex, what do you want and need in terms of frequency and sexuality of sexual intimacy? How do you feel about trying new things, talking about sex with your partner?
  6. Discuss the division of labor – i.e. household chores, shopping, cleaning, cooking, parenting and childrearing duties, the planning of social outings and dates, paying bills, managing finances, planning vacations and parties, etc.  How do you envision dividing this up among the two of you?
  7. How will you manage your friendships and outside relationships? With friends, family, coworkers.  How much time do you want to spend on those?  Are there any insecurities about that and how will you created trust and security around that?
  8. What are your priorities and how will you balance these? For example, if career is important, how will you balance that with your marriage and family. What are your expectations about work and who continuing career once you have kids – and if you both plan to continue pursuing and growing in your career, how will you handle childcare and family time?
  9. How do you want your spouse to show love and affection to you? What fills your cup?
  10. What is your vision and idea of a happy, healthy marriage? How will you support each other in more challenging, difficult times?
  11. How do you define betrayal and infidelity? What boundaries and commitments are important to you in a marital relationship.
(Some questions adapted from Laura Richer website