Practical conversations before marriage

My poor husband. Well, technically, my poor then-boyfriend.

We were dating long (and I mean LONG) distance. I was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he was in Kodiak, Alaska.

I really liked him but thought that distance might have made it hard for me to really know him. So on one visit, I asked if he would work through a book with me. In it, the author asked all sorts of questions regarding how we were raised, family dynamics, views on finances, faith, and communication. All the things that people “in love” might not be so practical about.

(One of the questions the book asked was not: Would the title Before the Ring freak out my then-boyfriend who would suddenly think I was pressuring him to propose? The answer, in case you were wondering, is that it did. That’s not at all what I meant. I just didn’t think we should waste each other’s time if it was clear we weren’t going to be together. Looking back, I see how the title may have given a really wrong impression. Anyway . . .)

While the title may have been off-putting, the concept and content was immeasurably valuable. Too often, couples rush into relationships and marriage because they are in love. But “in love” doesn’t always mean you know each other. 

So this month, as couples across the country are getting married, those who are considering marriage should ask each other some practical questions.

  • How did your family handle conflict? Do you have a temper, or do you clam up?
  • Could any past relationships cause challenges? How would we handle those? 
  • Is faith important to you? If so, how active are you in church? How will we celebrate religious holidays?
  • Do you have debt? If so, do you have a plan for managing it? Can we manage our debt together?
  • What traits do you like about me? What is one small change you would like me to make? 
  • Do you want children? If so, how many? How will we parent any stepchildren?
  • How were you disciplined as a child? Do you see yourself being strict or lenient?
  • How do you budget? What’s your perspective on investing?
  • Do you want me to participate in your hobbies, or do you want to do them by yourself?
  • How would you see us building our lives and faith together? Are you comfortable praying with me? Can we set aside devotion time?
  • Do you believe marriage is lifelong? 

Let’s be honest, you will never fully know what you are getting into. Life is not predictable, and struggles will come. Each new situation will require conversation and negotiation. Still, having practical conversations can prepare you to marry someone who will be compatible as well as complementary. 

Want some more marriage advice? (I mean, really, who doesn’t love being told what to do!) Check out this blog I wrote that shares advice from those who have been married a long time. 

Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. The title of the book isn’t the only faux pas she made while dating. About one month before the wedding, she took her fiancé to see Runaway Bride, again, not really contemplating what the title implied. 

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