1. Do you want to marry me, too?
“Make sure the person wants to marry you, too. It’s shocking, but there are people who think proposals are legitimate surprises, as in it’s never been discussed and you asking ‘will you marry me’ isn’t a guaranteed ‘yes’ ’cause you did it before. Please, for the love of public embarrassment, talk to your partner before asking.”
2. What is your actual debt?
“What is your actual debt? It’s not sexy but it’s important. I didn’t know that my spouse was 40k in debt (non-college loans) and hadn’t filed an income tax for years before we got engaged. 18 years later we are still married but man those first few years sucked and there is still some residual issues.”
3. How do you plan to raise our kids?
“Not just whether you want kids, but how you plan to raise them. My fiancée earns nearly twice what I do, but says she wants to be a stay at home mom until the youngest is 10-12 years old.
Happy to rise to the occasion but can’t say I’m not a little bit nervous about working hard enough to at least maintain our current quality of life.”
4. What would you do in the case of infertility?
“In the event of infertility, are you OK with:
Fertility treatments like IVF?
Only after we went through that question, I realized I wasn’t ok with sperm or egg donation. I’m fine with adoption, but I’d always feel like I’m carrying another man’s child or raising another woman’s child with sperm or egg donation. I rather adopt than do it with someone else. Plus, there’s a lot of children who need parents.
Came in handy because after the wedding, I found out I have an autoimmune, Sjögren’s, and that increases the chances of a fetus in carrying getting a heart defect. It was a stressful time and if I didn’t know how my husband would react beforehand, it would’ve been more stressful.”
5. Will you be there for me?
“You should ask a thousand questions to someone you’re going to marry. A million. What if you saw an injured baby deer by the side of the road? What if your father left your mother when she had cancer and your mother was alone? What if you won fifty-thousand dollars? What if we had a four-year-old who poured a glass of milk into your hard drive? What if we had a baby who wouldn’t stop crying? What if we had only $400.00 in our bank account and I wanted to go away for the weekend, but we needed new tires for the car? What if you are suddenly hit with depression? What if I am? What if I start drinking too much in the afternoon? What if we meet a great new couple we really like, but the guy flirts with me? What if I start/stop wanting to go to church? What if you hate your new job and want to quit without another one? What if I do? What if you get a hobby that takes you away every weekend? What would that hobby be? Do you like to go out and party or stay home? Do you like to go camping or clubbing? What do you think about abortion? Why do you think people decide to be vegetarian? What do you think about those people? What if our son has trouble making friends? What if our daughter has autism? What if we plan on not having children but I get pregnant and want to keep the baby? What if your mom doesn’t like me? What if my mom doesn’t like you? What if one of us loses our job and we have to move to a small apartment that doesn’t have air conditioning? What if I think our kids would do better in private school? What if one of us gets an illness that prohibits intercourse for months at a time? What if I can’t live in a house without a cat? What if you want four big dogs that shed all the time? Can you stand the thought of living in a city? The country? The suburbs?
Marriage is about a million different compromises. Things that you will never think to ask will come up. Life will fucking punch you in the stomach sometimes. What you really need to know is: Do you love me? Do you respect me? Will you be there for me? Can I count on you? Will we decide things together or will you try to decide them for me? Can we compromise effectively? Are each of us prepared to give more when the other person is only able to give less? But do we promise to give as much as we can?
And finally, can we communicate things to each other as we go? Do we promise not to retreat, feelings hurt, to our side of the bed and close off, but to express our feelings and try to work things out?
(Married 22 years.)”
6. How much space are we willing to give each other?
“Be as patient and loving as you can, but you need to know where each other stands on some things and how firmly.
A lot of thing you’ll know if you’ve been together long enough. do they go to church/temple/mosque regularly or on the holidays or not at all? Are you of the same religion and piety (My wife’s okay we don’t go to church and is fine with ‘goddamn’ but gets offended by ‘Jesus fucking Christ,’ so I watch my mouth.) if neither of you are active do they intend to start attending worship in the future? do you? I’m currently off the gods, she wants to go occasionally. We go.
Kids? yours? adopt? one or both of you already have them? if kids are no, move on. if yes or maybe, how will they be raised? maybe you have to revisit religion here. child care? are parents close/willing/suitable caregivers? do you make enough to stay home? who wants to? can one or both of you work from home?
Money? what’s your monthly nut? debts? plan to pay off? retirement goal? wanna buy a house? budget? I advise 5 bank accounts Long term, short term, joint, and each gets their own. bills are paid jointly, long term for the roof/car/etc. , short term for Xmas or vacation, date night or hobbies come out of your individual accounts. how old is your car and how important is it to replace?
Hobbies? What do you love that they don’t get? How much space are you willing to give each other? Are you comfortable doing your own things sometimes?
Family? where do you spend which holidays? trade off years? Are there deal breakers? Are there relatives one of you just can’t abide? What’s the plan? What are your deal breakers? What would make you walk away? If the answer is shallow don’t get married. If the answer is ‘nothing’ you’re lying, don’t get married. What drives you crazy about the other? Can you deal with it the rest of your life? Do you want to? can you change that thing the other person hates about you?
If you are in full agreement on every aspect of you lives and your future…run the fuck away because somebody’s lying and this won’t end well. If you love this person and agree or compromise on most stuff (I mean you just wanna punch their kinda racist uncle in the face, but you can refrain if you only have to see him at weddings and funerals. maybe your SO likes Dr. Phil, but you have an Xbox and headphones and they’re okay with that.) If you can compromise and start to imagine growing old with this person, take my advice: In a small notebook, write down everything you love about this person. Big stuff, small stuff, goofy inside jokes that always make you laugh, everything you love. It should be a lot, but there should be room. THEY NEVER SEE THIS. NOBODY KNOWS IT EXISTS. Every year take some time on your anniversary or birthday or Groundhog Day and add anything new to the notebook. Then one day you’ll find yourself fighting and on the verge of dropping the bomb. You know by now what you can say to this person that there’s no coming back from. you can scorch the earth and win the fight! TKO and all you have to do is say it. SAVOR THIS MOMENT…step back, read your notebook and fix this shit, because if you say it, you lose everything in that notebook.
I hope it works out for the best for both of you. Marriage is hard. With the right person, it’s worth it.”
7. How will we split the chores?
“Expectations and gender roles. Sounds small and petty but after you say I do and your spouse expects you to be responsible for the lion’s share of the work (professional & domestic) resentment builds up fast. Your idea of equally splitting chores may be far from theirs. Feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and unappreciated in your relationship will kill it as quickly as anything else.”
8. How would you handle a sick child?
“How you would handle a sick (physical or mental) child. In utero and if and when it’s born. Would you want an abortion? Would a parent stay at home with him? Would you let him be raised in a group home setting, etc.? What kind of treatments would you seek-religious, holistic, scientific? Hard and personal topic that could easily drive you to divorce if it pops up.”
9. Do you have any secrets that could end up with us featured on the 11 o’clock news or Who the Fuck Did I Marry?!
“Do you want children? Do you plan to keep working after we get married? If we have kids, do you plan to take time off to raise them? How important are your religious beliefs? Do you have any family traditions that we need to commit to after marriage (like a certain holiday is always at so-and-so’s house, no exceptions)? Do you always want to live here or would you be OK moving for work? How do you want to spend your retirement (travel, community, Boca, Alaska)? Do you have any significant debt/bankruptcy/terrible credit stuff/student loans? Do you want to file jointly on our taxes? Do you have a criminal record; if so, what for? Do you have any secrets that could end up with us featured on the 11 o’clock news or Who the Fuck Did I Marry?! Do you like pets, what kind and how many do you want to have? Do you want to rent or own?
This is just a small sample of questions you should know the answer to before marrying someone.”
10. Are you willing, regardless of anything else that is going on, to be open in communicating about what is on your mind?
“My number one question to ask is this: Are you willing, regardless of anything else that is going on, to be open in communicating with me about what is on your mind?
If both of you agree to this, you can get through a lot of stuff that can otherwise kill a relationship. It creates trust and it pre-empts problems, and just as importantly it stops those little irritants from lingering until they suddenly become horrible, bitter arguments.”
11. Why do you want to marry me?
“As someone who got married in a hurry (wife was 8 months pregnant at our wedding…we’d been together for about 9 months) and is now headed for divorce, I think I can shed some insight.
I think the single most important question you can ask—and it can’t be while you’re fighting or otherwise angry or distressed—is, ‘Why do you want to marry me?’
If the answer is genuine and makes you happy, you will probably have a good marriage. If it sounds ripped from a Nicholas Sparks novel… fuckin’ run, man.”
12. Where do you see yourself in 30 years?
“Anything to do with pre-nups, kids, and where do you see yourself in 30 years.”
13. What kind of sex life will we be having?
“I think you need to have a real hard conversation about the kind of sex life you’re going to be having. I think the norm is for the partner with less interest in sex to stick it out until the marriage is finalized and then bring the frequency of intercourse down to their preferred level.
Because…well, at that point, their partner is stuck dealing with it. So you gotta figure out whether you both really affirmatively enjoy having sex with each other and can maintain a high enough frequency over time, or whether one of you is just humoring the other one until they’re trapped.”
14. What do you consider cheating?
“What do they consider cheating? There’s a chance they only consider physical interaction cheating.”
15. What is your dirty laundry?
“Myself and Wife 1.0 aired our dirty laundry to each other. Finances, people we had dated, former pregnancies…everything. This way there would be no surprises later on. We also agreed to not hold any of these issues over each other’s head, for whatever reason. We have been married for 22 years FTW!”
16. Do you believe in divorce?
“Do you believe in divorce?
Do you believe in abortion? What if I do? How will you handle the difference, and what happens if you have a child that will not make it or is severely disabled and you find out pregnant?
Political differences? Can you talk politics and beliefs that are vastly different from each other without name calling or resorting to ugly behavior?
How do you spend money?
Mental health history? (my husband stuck with me after my mom committed suicide, and still married me- after seeing me in what could easily be considered the darkest ugliest year of my life- most of which I do not remember- He took care of me. And still wanted to marry me.
How to raise kids.
1 yr, 5 yr, 10 yr plans/goals. IN EACH AREA home, family, personal, professional- those goals change, talk about them yearly.”
17. Where do you want to live?
“Where do you want to live? Do you want to stay where we are, or move? Are you the kind of person who will move for a job, or will we both only seek job opportunities where we are now? My spouse and I both left our hometown and then came back and plan to stay because our aging parents are here. This could be a major point of contention if you don’t figure it out ahead of time.”
18. How do you feel about religion?
“I’m gonna say religion (everything else I thought of has already been said). Keep in mind this is coming from someone with a Christian background so take it with a grain of salt if you’re of different beliefs. I’m not Christian but was raised in a Christian family.
However, it can cause a huge wedge in relationships. If your religion is important to you, how could you possibly mesh with someone who disagrees with its core values? There’s also everyday habits—getting up early to go to church, praying, helping out, seeing bibles everywhere—and how you raise your kids too. And things like swearing and stuff also come into it.”
19. What are your deal breakers?
“Every relationship has its own boundaries, hard limits and things people are willing to compromise on… figure out what those are for each of you and make sure they align well. Define what each of your deal breakers would be. Find out how much debt that person has and share your info as well. No one gets married planning to divorce so cover as many topics as you possibly can and be honest, even when it’s uncomfortable, unsexy and awkward. Once it’s all out of the way (assuming you know marriage is the right choice) you’ll be glad.”
20. Are you willing to sign a pre-nup?
“Are you willing to sign a pre-nup?
Like most young adults getting married for the first time, it never occurred to me to do this, and if my fiancé had brought it up, I’d probably have battled with injured feelings and doubt, but even if neither of you have a dime starting out, and even if you can’t imagine money ever being a point of contention between you, the fact remains that financial issues are one of the primary precursors to divorce, and you’ll be doing yourselves and any children (existing or potential) involved a big favor by ruling it out from the get-go.”
21. How much time do we want to spend with each other?
“How much time do you want to spend with each other? We never lived together until we got married, and found that I only wanted to be social about an hour a day (note that I’m an extreme introvert and borderline autistic), and that she wanted about that much time apart. When I had my own place, she didn’t notice when we weren’t together as much, because she couldn’t see it. It took us both a while to learn to compromise and understand the other on how to make it work.”
22. Are we sexually compatible?
“Be absolutely sure you’re sexually compatible. If one of you is low-libido and the other is high, you’re going to have a bad time. Even if everything else is perfect, with that core of intimacy missing, the marriage is doomed. Little things build up and build up over months and years, and without that solid foundation, that essential connection, there’s nothing really that sets it apart from a really good friendship. Be very certain, you both like fucking to the same degree.
Source: came out of a doomed marriage.”
23. What do you want to happen after you die?
“What do you want to happen after you die? Do you want to be buried or cremated? Do you have certain requests for your funeral? Where do you want to be buried? If you’re on life support when do you want the plug pulled?”
24. Who will be your priority: me or your mommy?
“Who will be your priority: me or your mommy?”
25. How do you feel about drugs and alcohol?
“Drugs. Not just pot and the like, but smoking and alcohol, too. Are you fine if they smoke in the house? In the car? Are you fine with dragging a falling-down-drunk spouse home, and if so, how often?
Are you willing to quit any of these if your partner insists on it? Even if it’s not for health/religion reasons?
If you plan on having kids, is their presence going to affect the answer to any of the above questions?”
26. Can I trust you with my feelings?
“Are you my friend? Will you be there for me when I need you? Can I trust you with my feelings? Will you be supportive when times are hard? Am I important to you? Do you think I’m a good person?
If you have reasonable doubt about any of these, don’t marry the person. There is nothing worse than being married to a back-stabbing critic who always assumes the worst about you.
Trust me. I know. Oh, do I know.”
27. What realistically would cause you to leave the marriage?
“Kids; who wants them, how will you raise them, how will you support them (dual income or stay at home)
Deal breakers/the nature of the commitment: people go into marriage with different expectations. What realistically would cause you to leave the marriage? If you are seeking true lifetime commitment that is genuinely felt and pledged on your wedding day, a good question to ask yourselves is, ‘If divorce did not exist would I still be doing this?’
Financials: expectations, direction you plan to go together and ho you’ll do it. For example, I am a SAHM. Our financial plan is to always keep our family’s needs under my husband’s income. I plan to eventually go back to work again, but our goal is to always use my income for “whipped cream”- the things we want but don’t need (private education, vacations, etc.). We also set a goal to live debt-free (with the exception of mortgage) and have managed to achieve and maintain that.
Extended Family/Religion: what prominence do each of you expect these things to play in your life? Are there conflicts? How will these things play out with kids and holidays?”
28. Do you want children or not?
“Kids—do you want children or not? This is major. I do, and I wouldn’t want to settle down with someone who is fundamentally opposed to having children. It would not work in the long run.
Religion—I’m not religious at all, and I prefer to know my potential husband would be on the same wavelength. While I wouldn’t necessarily mind marrying someone spiritual, the ones who strongly identify with any kind of formal religion and actively practice might want to raise their kids the same way. If that’s the case, it could be an issue and I’d want to know sooner than later. I wasn’t raised to believe in religion, and I’m not planning to raise my kids any differently, so it would potentially be an issue if it wasn’t sorted out early.
Sex—likes and dislikes. This is a convo that happens well before marriage anyways, but some people might spring crazy shit on you at the last minute that you couldn’t necessarily handle for the entirety of a marriage. I’d want to know as soon as possible beforehand if we are sexually compatible. I’d also like to know their stance on cheating—it’s a deal breaker for me, and would make me think twice about tying myself to this person for life if they have a ‘flexible’ view on this kind of thing.
Finances—bill payments, family/joint vs. individual accounts, tax filing, rent/mortgage payments, etc. Boring but very important—I like to keep my money in my own accounts and prefer to split other large costs 50/50. I also don’t like to be hounded on how I spend my own well-earned discretionary income. If someone has an issue with this, I’d want to know so we can resolve it. I’m weird about money because I like having control over my own finances, and I’d never want to be left to hold the bag alone without being able to stand on my own two feet, so the matter of how to split costs is a big one.”
29. How many social events am I required to attend?
“Unrealistic expectations of social events are one thing me and my wife argue about. She has a best friend who has 3 kids, we get invited to all 5 of those people’s birthdays along with her best friend’s sister’s birthday, and their parents’ birthdays and aunts and uncles.
This comes out to something going on each month. I show up but don’t really interact. Then get asked why I don’t get in the middle of things, to me these people are acquaintances and nothing more. I haven’t known them my entire life, so it’s hard to get excited about seeing people I don’t have much in common with.”
30. Joint or separate bank accounts?
How do you budget? Thoughts on debt? Joint or separate bank accounts? Save for retirement how? Expectations for the future? Definition of ‘affordable?’ Etc.
Do you want them? How many? When? Circumstances in which pregnancy could/should be terminated? Expectations for working or staying home with child(s)? Philosophy on punishment and responsibilities? Handling potentially major shocks like kid coming out, failing out of college, being an unexpected prodigy? Extended familial involvement? Baby names (can be surprisingly divisive)?
Do you have it? Do you want it? Do you want your kids to have it if you don’t? What if kids want different religion? Do you need both partners to be the same religion?
General Future Goals.
Where to live/retire? Career goals and what it takes to get there? Long-term personal goals for accomplishments and what support will be required there (aka, don’t spring it on your husband 2 years into marriage that you’ve always wanted to hike the blue ridge parkway so buck up buster, it’s happening. Tell him when you’re still dating so he’s not shocked when you bring it up)? Expectations for caring for elderly parents?
How to Handle Change.
Biggest one I can tell you to discuss. Talk about what if he loses his job. What if she decides she doesn’t want kids. What if his brother gets in an accident and needs you to be his medical advocate for the rest of his life. What if she decides to go back to school. What if he needs to make a midlife career change.
What a lot these have in common is that they are representative of truly possible changes. The people you are when you get married are not the people you are 2, 5, 10, 30 years from now. The lives you have and dream of are not necessarily the ones you will get. You have to discuss how you will face inevitable change, and learn how to actually do it long before you get married. If you cannot grow together (aka change), you are doomed.”
31. How are you gonna handle the parents, especially when they’re older?
“Talk about how you’re gonna handle the parents, especially when they’re older. This was a big thing with me and my ex. My mom is financially responsible and could retire whenever she wants at this point. My ex’s parents had a terrible work ethic and literally nothing in the bank. I spent a lot time helping my ex to learn to be financially responsible and prepare for the future. I didn’t want her parents to be drain on that. It would’ve been one thing if they had had a run of bad luck, but her mom refused to work and her dad was always a latest get rich scheme kinda guy, so I had no sympathy for them. I loved them to death, but I wasn’t gonna pay for their bad choices.”
32. What happens if a spouse gets the chance at a dream job somewhere else?
“Money is of course the big one… The overall picture is important, AKA what debt, retirement, savings do we have, but how it will be handled in the future is more important… do we both agree on not buying toys or vacations on credit, do we agree on the type of cars, houses, clothes, toys, etc., we will buy, do we have the same retirement goals, how will be figure out disagreements, how or will we combine accounts, etc.
Kids are probably the next big one, my wife and I are 100% no’s on that one so it’s a non-issue for us at least, and it’s been that way for long before we met each other so there’s not much concern about either of us changing our minds. Are we going to vaccinate our kids, or are we unfit parents who shouldn’t reproduce?
Pets can be a big one too, not to the degree kids are, but there’s expenses and logistics and allergies, and everything else to consider… if your 12-year-old shelter dog has major issue, are you going to spend $7000 to fix it so they get another good year or two, or pet them down?
Where you want to live is huge… what happens if a spouse gets the chance at a dream job somewhere? What happens if you want to move away from or closer to family? What does each person ideally want near them as far as big cities, open countries, oceans, hiking, fishing…?
Again, we lucked out with family, but how will issues with relatives, especially elderly, disabled, troubled, etc. be handled? Is there a potential a parent or sibling would need care in the future from one of us?
Vacations… this sounds silly, but people can have very different ideas of what they want to do with down time… You would probably have to pay me to spend a day at Disney, yet some people love it. Some people can’t sit still on the beach for 30 minutes straight, and some would love to for weeks on end. Carrying over into the family section, are we going to be enjoying our time off, or traveling to visit family often that one of us may not enjoy seeing?
How are we going to handle household duties? Especially if one works and one is a homemaking/stay at home parent? Who can/will/wants to cook? On that subject, and financially, what will we eat and how often will it be out versus at home? Will you agree not to try and make me eat tofu instead of steak if you go vegan? Are we going to hold each other accountable and support healthy eating habits and some sort of exercise, or are we going to be lazy, gain a combined 200lbs, and end up getting diabetes and hip replacement together at 40?”
33. Clarify that you are mostly in accordance of each other’s outlook in life.
“In no particular order…
Sexual Preferences and Orientation You must establish your sexual preferences before getting married. Your husband / wife’s satisfaction is a top importance to your relationship’s longevity. You can do group sex / go poly if you both agree on that or just lock-up yourselves in a tall tower never to be disturbed forever. No lies here. Be honest if you have a tendency to go gay / straight or whether you are open or totally not into it.
Outlook in Life Clarify that you are mostly in accordance of each other’s outlook in life. Admit it, people can’t truly be neutral, and we all have biases based on how we are brought up and the environment we lived in. Major differences are possible red flags in marriage. Not saying it’s impossible but lesser risks means lesser arguments as you know what to expect and how to handle situations. This involves principles, culture and choice of lifestyle. You don’t want to have a racist partner who says he respects you but mocks your people. If you want kids and are open to having many, be cautious of a pro-choice partner. I mean, know before you dive at least so you can adjust your expectations.
Religion I agree there is always a middle ground but when you have kids this can be complex. Freedom of religion is true, but since you will be living under one roof this is a challenge. You can’t be sensitive since you have to give space and you can’t be insensitive since this will involve your kids. Imagine Catholic+Wiccan or a Buddhist+Muslim. Think about crucifix, pentagram, fasting and other wives. Also, that religion extends to his/ her relatives who you will be meeting and spending holidays with.
Stability Not much of a question if you are in for a life of hunting and gathering or a person with great survival skills. You don’t need a lot of money to be happy but at least you should have ENOUGH. If you are a thrifty / a person with reasonable expenses you would certainly hate it if your husband/wife spends a hundred dollars for a fancy meal that only covers merely a tenth of your hunger meter.
Leisure You can’t just have sex whenever you’re bored. No. Don’t compete with rabbits. Take into consideration that you will mostly want to spend your time with each other and you can’t do totally different things when you’re together. One would not enjoy being a mere caddy while you’re golfing or a personal assistant while you are shopping. You have to share or be flexible to learn and enjoy each other’s hobbies.
Life Skills Are you sure you want to marry someone who can’t even cook an egg? Can’t recognize mold on bread? Can’t pay bills? Can’t talk to customer service? Can’t run an errand? Is too gullible to strangers? Experience is the best teacher and there is always a first for everything… but if you want a longer life and not die of poisoning or some freak accident at least know half of the basics before thinking of getting married. Be wary of people who keeps on saying excuses…at least try right?”
34. Do we agree on politics?
“Politics. I’m a wedding DJ. I had clients who got married in Sept 2015 and are already divorced because he was a staunch Republican Trump supporter and she was a free-spirited liberal Bernie or bust.
Also, I would say religion. I got very lucky because my wife and I never discussed these topics before marriage and it just happens that our views align, but I can’t imagine being with someone who didn’t feel the same as I do on such important issues.”
35. How are you going to manage finances as a family?
“‘Talk about money’ or ‘ask to see their credit report’ isn’t the right way to approach it. You’re not trying to get a loan or considering a new employee. You’re entering what is designed to be an exclusive, life-long partnership. You need to be aware of a person’s general financial state long before getting to this point, then have a level conversation: how are you going to manage finances as a family? What habits, experiences or events led to any noteworthy problems in the past? Were they one-offs, or were they repeated? Do you trust the person, and do they trust you, to have some say in each other’s financial decisions? By this point in your relationship, past financial mistakes shouldn’t typically be a game-changer, but how are you going to help each other avoid future problems (assuming there is any history of such)?
This kind of conversation isn’t easy, but marriage is (supposed to be) kind of a big deal.
Aside from issues that are directly money-related, questionable relationships need to be examined. Does your significant other have an aunt, uncle or cousin who frequently ‘borrows’ money, to whom your SO can’t seem to say no? Is there a long-time good friend who, despite having their positive qualities, has gotten your SO in trouble through their (the friend’s) drug use? Basically, is there anyone your SO has trouble saying ‘no’ to, who has demonstrably taken advantage of this on more than one occasion?
Are there crazy exes who pop up every 5-10 years? This is one of the most commonly-avoided topics in long-term relationships prior to marriage. Your SO might have a former partner who is prone to causing personal and professional havoc in their lives, whom they don’t know how to deal with, but honestly don’t want to have sabotaging their new relationship. All too often, people assume that this kind of issue will simply ‘go away’ once the ex sees how serious they are about their new life (‘they’ll leave me alone once I’m married’).”
36. Can we handle traveling together?
“I asked a ton of questions, but ultimately I wanted to see how my wife stood up and compared when we traveled together. On our first trip, we skimmed or way through Italy, taking buses and trains and being to lug our luggage around. I wanted to know how she reached to the stress, as I have always been a person who gets to the airport 3 hours early. It was important to me to see how she handled it and the decisions that she made because there are always going to be times when you both are under tremendous pressure. Also when she stuck by me as I got really sick with an incurable disease really helped me understand that this it’s the woman that I want to marry and spend the rest of my days living, arguing, traveling, and fighting with. Marriage isn’t easy, but it had been the best experience of my life.”
37. Who will be paying the bills?
“Figure out who is paying the bills (not covering the cost, I mean literally sending off the check) and if you want a joint account to do that. My husband is terrible at remembering to pay bills so I took that over.
How much will you save each month? We, sadly, didn’t have this very important conversation and it took almost ten years to finally nail it down. We have very opposing philosophies on it.
How much ‘allowance’ will you each get? We each take $100 in cash each month to spend on whatever we want so that if I want lunch out or he wants to eat donuts, we aren’t seeing that in our credit cards each month.
I strongly encourage you to have separate credit cards. We didn’t do this until recently and boy, did it drive home for both of us our spending habits that we need to work on. Feel free to have a third just for household expenses like utilities.
Set a limit on how much either person can spend without the other knowing until after the purchase. For example, we have a deal that anything over $100 that doesn’t include groceries or normal expected bills (i.e., mortgage) has to be run by the other first for approval. This was created after he spent $500 of money we didn’t have.
Set a budget for how much money you can spend on fun stuff like eating out, movies, etc. And when you run out of that discretionary fund, you don’t go out.
Set goals. For example, we paid off both our cars. We talked about how to achieve that and we did that before paying off his student loans. Now we are actively building an emergency fund that is much bigger than what we had before. How big do you want yours to be? Vacation fund? Some couples don’t care about vacations whereas we travel several times a year. What’s important to you?
Kids. Do you want one? When do you plan to start? Can you afford it? Child Care is expensive. Find out all the costs first. You can wait until you’re a little older, early 30s for example, to set yourself up to afford it.
Write down a list, both of you, of how you see your lives going and what you’ll need to get there. Maybe you have a dream to get a degree down the road. Maybe he wants to fix up a car. I had no idea that my husband wanted a workshop until we finally started making good money. But I know he would have written that down had we done that simple exercise. Goals and dreams take planning, combined efforts, time and money. These things have to be discussed many times and at length.
Sex… How often do you each want it? Arguing… What is or isn’t acceptable? We aren’t allowed to call each other names, for example. We can say we need a break to cool off and walk away for a while or sleep on it. Pets… Do you want any? What types? How many?
Your spouse or significant other is your partner in living your dream and vice versa. Work together to make it happen! Good luck and happy living 😊”
38. What do you want in life?
“If you’re young, discuss education. If one of you is still in school or planning on pursuing a master’s or Ph.D. or something, you really need to sort this out to figure out financials. Not to mention you probably won’t be able to settle down until you’re both done.
Where do you want to live? I just don’t mean city or state, but that’s important too. Also discuss if you want to rent or buy. I know a lot of millennials want to rent and live in the city. But I really love the suburbs I grew up in and wouldn’t mind living there forever. Luckily my wife also agrees.
Finances both short and long term. Do you want to own a house? Do you want to rent and invest money? Do you want to rent and just blow all your money? Do you want children in the near future?
Children. How many would you find ideal, and when? On the flip side, some people don’t want kids, and that’s also incredibly important to discuss.
Career. My wife wants to be a stay at home mom and I think that’s awesome. But I wanna advance in my career so I can provide my family with a steady income in their own house. So I’m rushing to live as fast as I can. So no kids for a few years. Wife was kind of bummed about this, but I made my case and she understands. (For the record, I really want kids but I wanna give them my full attention without having to worry about finances)
What do you want in life? I guess this one really brings everything together, and it’s important to discuss the big picture. Do you wanna be a great parent? Or perhaps you want to travel with your spouse for a few years before settling down. Maybe you want kids but your main aspiration is making a large impact on the world. Maybe you really wanna excel in your career.
Discussions are essential. Planning is essential. But so is knowing the fact that circumstances can change, and so you’ll have to re-plan accordingly. As such, I think it’s important to be vocal about all of these decisions even after marriage.”
39. What are the plans for when things get rough?
“What are the plans for when things get rough? Marriages go through ups and downs. Some couple’s ‘downs’ are 50 times better than other couple’s ‘ups,’ but nevertheless, things fluctuate. You absolutely need a plan for when things get rough. Decide at what point you, as a couple, will agree to marriage counseling and how to communicate this to your spouse. In those first years, you’ll think ‘I’ll never ever be that upset with you’ and the idea of needing help from an outside source seems ludicrous.
Decide how you handle conflict. No sarcasm (for the love of God, no sarcasm). Raised voices need to be minimal and the other party should be allowed to say ‘time out, we need to take a break.’ Where and when will you talk about difficult things? Decide who it’s okay to discuss your problems with. Are you okay having a close friend that you can confide it and are you okay with your spouse having the same? Or should all problems be resolved directly with your spouse.
I speak from a failed marriage. Next month is our 25th anniversary and we’re in the process of getting a divorce. I wish we had dealt with these things. Quite frankly, I don’t know if it would have helped, but I could have at least said, ‘but we agreed to this.’ Three years ago, I had enough of her selfishness and said we needed counseling and she refused. She agreed to try on our own, but then wouldn’t follow through. The night I asked her ‘why do you love me?’ and all she could give me was ‘because you’re a good father’ was when she finally agreed to see someone. But when we did, she didn’t follow through. Read The Five Love Languages, he told us. I’d already read it. She didn’t read it until I decided to see him on my own and he asked me to ask her to come in on her own. When she finally read the book, she told me she could hear 4 of the languages in me and she laughed saying ‘I’ll never be able to do that’ as if it was a joke. Then she did none of them, not even the two I identified.
I know it’s easy for someone in my position to blame their spouse. Over these past few years, I’ve learned a lot about myself and about her. I’ve recently learned of cluster B personality disorders, which includes narcissism, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. I read the descriptions of these and see how her behaviors fit so many of the traits. Lack of empathy. Inability to control emotions. The need to be the center of attention. Imagining relationships are more intimate than they really are. I know the tendency to blame the partner is there, but I can list incident after incident of how she’s exhibited these traits. If fact, the last one is the only way I can justify why a relationship she had with another woman isn’t an affair—I found numerous books on lesbianism on her Kindle, books about being in love with another woman while married to a man. It’s been a rough three years, but the end is near. Thank God.”