8 Questions to Ask Your Partner If You’re Discerning Marriage Together
So you think you’ve found a good partner, a good helpmate to walk this earthly life to sanctity with.
Well, there are some questions you should ask each other before you say, “I do!”
Make sure to have a meaningful conversation (or two! or three!) about these topics with your partner.
Finances are more stressful on a marriage than we tend to think. According to some studies, around 48% of couples say they fight about finances and approximately 41% of divorced GenXers said their marriages ended because of finances.
Unfortunately, cash rules everything around us, so couples constantly have to talk about money, spending habits, and salaries.
When you’re dating, observe how the other person spends his money.
Does he make lavish purchases or take out multiple lines of credit?
Does she hoard her money, never spending a dime even though she has enough to cover what she wants or needs?
Is she very nonchalant about money?
Is he responsible with his money, paying what needs to be paid, living within his means, and sticks to a budget?
These questions will help you understand if the two of you see money the same way.
Remember that if you or your partner don’t currently have good money habits, you can learn them! There are plenty of financial resources out there to help you learn good financial habits or get your spending in check (like Dave Ramsey).
Does he like quiz nights but you prefer movie theaters?
Is she interested in metaphysics while you tend towards psychology?
Do you both pray the Ignatian Examen before bed?
It’s good to observe each other’s interests and see how they fit together! When you’re contemplating a shared life with someone, you have to make sure you can share everything.
Just because your interests differ in some areas, though, doesn’t mean you’d be a bad match. Often we discover new interests through friends, so why should it be any different in a dating relationship or marriage?
My husband and I share a love of movies, but he tends towards sci-fi movies while I prefer comedies or romcoms. Well, now one of my favorite movies is Ender’s Game and one of his is 10 Things I Hate About You.
The people around us help us to expand our likes, interests, and understandings.
What are your personal goals?
Do you have any?
Do you want to earn your PhD and work in a research hospital on pediatric neural oncology?
What does your partner want to do?
What do you both want for the future?
Talking about our goals, both personal and shared, helps create a guide map for our lives and our lives together. Asking questions about what each of you want is very important.
These goals aren’t just limited to career or family life, either. Maybe one of you wants to live in the suburbs, while the other wants a vegetable garden and goats.
The key here is finding ways that your goals are compatible and making “my goals” into “our goals”.
4. Family life
How do each of you envision your roles in family life?
There are so many options here. Some envision very traditional gender roles where the man is the sole breadwinner and the woman exclusively cares for the house and children.
On the other side of the spectrum is a situation where both people work in excess and other people primarily care for any children.
Most people fall somewhere in between these extremes.
Who is going to cook the meals?
How will the children be schooled?
What are each of your professional goals and how does that fit into family life?
If you are going to make a life together, you need to understand what the each of you wants out of life together!
One person shouldn’t be completely giving up all of their goals and desires to satisfy those of the other partner. There should be a mutuality here as the family should be a place of nurturing and growth– for all members.
There will certainly be seasons where maybe one (or both!) partner will have to put something on the back burner or change his expectations for the good of the entire family, but it is a season.
Family life should be constantly evaluating and re-evaluating what is happening, what each person wants and needs, and what is best overall.
If you’re discerning marriage with someone, you have to have meaningful conversations about sex. Not in the “these are my desires” or “when do you want to” kind of ways (although those might be a small part of the conversation, especially after marriage).
You need to talk about expectations for sex and sexual fulfillment. Yes, sexual fulfillment. We are Catholics! Sex is holy and good!
How will you handle times of abstaining?
How will you handle physical changes such as pregnancy or chronic illness?
Just because we marry doesn’t mean one person has possession or dominion over the other’s body. We still retain full autonomy over our bodies.
We don’t deserve sex whenever we want it simply because we’ve “waited for so long” or because we’ve become one flesh. These are two bodies and two souls living as one!
If one person isn’t feeling well or there are other impediments to sex (illness, trying not to conceive, mental health issues) the other partner does not get to ignore that.
Sex is about giving all of who you are to all of who your spouse is and receiving all of who you are in return, both in “the act” and in the whole of the marriage.
Get this straight before you get married so you don’t hurt each other or fall into unhealthy (and un-Catholic) habits.
It’s no question that we are each unique. There are also a ton of ways to measure and understand our personalities: Meyers-Briggs, love languages, and temperaments just to name a few!
What we don’t always realize is how much personality influences our behaviors.
For instance, a morning person making a life with a night owl is going to run into some difficulties!
Same as an extrovert and an introvert, or someone who primarily talks through his problems married to someone who primarily ruminates on her problems and then takes action seemingly out of the blue.
Optimists and pessimists.
Neat freaks and slobs.
Organizers and free spirits.
The list of personality traits and opposites goes on and on.
The point here, though, is to know yourself and know your partner and accept each of you for who you are. Resolve and compromise, don’t accuse and demand.
7. Extended family
How each of you deals with your own family of origin, how you deal with the other person’s, and what kind of relationship you want with these extended families is very important.
When it’s said that you’re not just marrying a person but a whole family, it’s true.
Even if your partner doesn’t have a relationship with all or part of her family of origin, you’re marrying into that lack. Likewise, the man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, for a reason!
Pay attention to how your partner relates with his family, make your own relationships with that family, and set boundaries in your relationship.
Is he a huge mama’s boy who lets his mom influence every decision he makes?
Is she such a daddy’s girl that she expects a man to simply give her whatever she asks, no matter how great?
Do you feel happy and refreshed after spending time with your family?
Do you feel like you don’t know him very well but you know his mother a great deal?
Figuring these things out will help you set boundaries with family in your relationship and help determine how to create your own family.
8. Apologizing and forgiveness
“I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you;” two phrases we will (or should!) utter more than any other (except, hopefully, “I love you”).
Apologizing is a strength and forgiveness is an action. Sincere apologies are among the most healing things in any relationship, but especially in marriage. A sincere apology removes the barrier to healing.
Forgiveness, then, isn’t just reverting back to lovey-dovey feelings and forgetting that anything ever happened.
Instead, it’s an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and a decision that this person is worth rebuilding with, in some way.
However, forgiveness doesn’t destroy our memory, remove all consequences, rebuild trust, or always result in reconciliation.
If your partner is physically, verbally, mentally, or spiritually abusive toward you, you can forgive him but that doesn’t mean there are no consequences to him or that you should continue to be or live with him.
Forgiveness allows the person in the wrong to right their mistake and amend their life but does not sacrifice the victim to do so.
However, some of us apologize and forgive in different ways than others and this is worth figuring out. Miscommunication happens and it’s worth finding out if miscommunication is the case or if there’s a deeper underlying issue. Most things can be worked through.
Marrying someone is a big deal! It should be treated as such.
Dating and discerning marriage can be such a time of high emotions and it can be hard to see the trees for the forest.
The more grounded, realistic, and invested in the other person and your possible shared life you are at the outset, the stronger your relationship and marriage will be.