Before we were engaged, Josh and I asked each other a LOT of questions. Getting engaged is a big decision and we wanted to be as united as possible before making that jump! Recently I shared that Josh and I went on some “special” dates when we were dating (feels like ages ago – eight years!). These dates included:
- Leading a VBS group of 50 kindergarteners
- Taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course together
- A “sexpectations” talk over coffee
- Grocery shopping on budget together ($80 a month)
- Church dates – visiting different denominations and discussing
- Older couple dates – taking out an older married couple and asking questions about their relationship
These look a lot different than those Pinterest lists of farmer’s markets and ice skating, but they set us up for a great foundation when we got engaged. And while I absolutely ALWAYS recommend premarital counseling, we came to it unified and well-communicated on the major issues.
These dates weren’t just for giggles. They gave us a lot of fodder for discussion and brought up questions we could work through together. The answers to these questions helped us know ahead of time if we were each the kind of person we could see marrying. For me, it was important to know where Josh stood regarding parenting philosophy, money priorities, picky eating and more. While these might not seem like deal-breakers, they can make for a lot of pain in marriage. I wanted to know what we were getting into and how we could potentially work through those problem areas before getting engaged.
Before I share the questions we asked, I want to make one last point. People often say “You can’t help who you fall in love with.” More accurately, this statement is “You can’t help who you are infatuated with.” Josh and I feel strongly that you CAN help who you choose to love and unite yourself to for the rest of your life. Attraction is a part of that, but attraction comes and goes. Shared values are for life. That’s why chemistry isn’t enough to carry a marriage; you need to be looking together the same direction.
The following questions work best if you are actively participating in activities that facilitate the discussion; hence the dates! I really recommend making these a part of your dating life so you can see one another in action. As you do, you can discuss the following points.
These questions are phrased in a very direct manner – you don’t need to read them off, interrogation style! It’s possible to have these questions answered in a casual conversation. Josh and I frequently went to coffee and discussed these topics of our own accord.
You CAN talk about these things if you are already engaged, but I definitely don’t think they are “too serious” for a serious dating relationship. For us, some of these were deal-breakers that would mean we weren’t on the same page enough to move toward marriage. It’s easier to discuss BEFORE a ring than after.
Without further ado:
Parenting and Kids
- What was your childhood like? How did your parents raise you?
- Do you agree or disagree with their parenting? How?
- What would you do differently or the same?
- Who is someone whose parenting or kids you admire? Why?
- Do you like kids? Why or why not? What might be contributing to your feelings on that topic?
- What school did you attend (public, private, home)? How would you want to school your own kids?
- What are your thoughts on birth control? Have you researched this?
Food and Eating Habits
- What kinds of food did you eat growing up?
- Are you a picky eater? Why? What about?
- Are you open to trying new foods? Why or why not?
- If being picky negatively affected our food budget, how would you help work through that?
- How would you respond to a picky eating child?
- What do you think is a “healthy diet”? Is that a priority to you?
- Do you think what we eat matters on a spiritual level?
- Do you have any history of eating disorders or struggles with food?
Money and Finances
- Do you have any debt? What kind and how much?
- Do you have a plan to pay it off? Do you use a budget? Why or why not?
- Did your parents teach you any money habits? Are you willing to learn them?
- Are you willing to take a financial class together so we can get on the same page about this?
- If we needed to pay down debt in our future, what would you be willing to do without in order to do so?
- What items do you think are absolutely necessary (eg cable TV, game tickets, clothes shopping)?
Church and Theology
- In what denomination or faith did you grow up?
- What did you agree or disagree with?
- What church do you attend now? Why? What do you like most about it?
- Have you explored other denominations? What do you think of the ones you’ve visited?
- Are you open to attending several different churches and discussing them?
- What is your theological perspective (e.g. Calvinist, Arminian, Catholic)?
- Can you see merit to other theological views within conservative/biblical Christianity, or do you think yours is the only way to interpret these passages? (say this nicer, but you get my drift: are they teachable and open-minded?)
Sexuality and Sexual Past
- Do you have a history of sexual or porn addiction?
- What are you doing to actively combat this or prevent it?
- What are your physical boundaries in this relationship?
- How did your parents teach you about sex? Was that a positive or negative to you?
- How did the church talk to you about sex?
- What do you think a healthy married sex life looks like? How frequently would a couple be having sex?
- If one spouse has a higher/lower drive, how do you think that should be navigated?
- What is your opinion on oral sex? Or sex toys?
- What would you do if your spouse was uncomfortable with doing a certain sexual act in the bedroom?
- Do you believe a wife “owes” sex to her husband? Or vice versa? Why?
Questions to Ask an Older Couple
- What drew you two to each other?
- What three things have made your marriage last?
- If you could advise your younger selves, what would you say?
- How do you stay connected with small kids?
- What things did you find most important to agree upon?
- How do you seek Christ together/individually?
As previously stated, adapt these to the conversation and change the phraseology while achieving the same end: To find out where you stand on these big-ticket issues before stepping into the next stage of commitment!
Many are answered naturally as you spend time in settings that promote discussion OR go on dates to talk about the topic. Going deeper than hobbies and music preferences is essential to a good foundation as you move toward the unity of marriage!
A few final recommendations: Josh and I loved and benefited from the books Sacred Marriage and The Meaning of Marriage, as well as You and Me Forever. These gave us perspective and foundation during our premarital counseling period.
Best wishes on your relationship!