What to Discuss with Your Partner Before Marriage

Local marriage therapists share what couples should be talking about before they walk down the aisle.

There are certain conversations you should have before you decide to get married. Big decisions you have to make as a couple that affect your life together. Which way does the toilet paper roll hang? Uber or cab? Yankees or Red Sox? (Duh.)

Then there are the big decisions—things that you might want to consider before signing on the dotted line as husband and wife. We asked area marriage counselors what to discuss with your partner before marriage. Here’s what they shared about what you should share.

“I think the most important topic for a couple to discuss is how they’re going to talk about topics,” says Waltham-based licensed clinical psychologist Andy Hahn, PsyD. “How will they make decisions and how much do they see themselves as a ‘we’ as opposed to a ‘two.'”

Once they decide on how they’ll decide on certain topics, Ruth Nemzoff, Ed.D., Brookline-based author of Don’t Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws Into Family, relays some advice on what those topics should be. “Of course, the couple won’t have an exact match on many of these, but they can begin negotiating with the understanding that time and events might change it all,” she says.

Major Issues

Finances: Separate accounts, merged, or a blend? What’s your financial priority—saving for the house of your dreams or going to Hawaii next week?

Children: To have or have not, and how many?

Housing: Where to live—urban or rural? Rent or buy?

Family obligations: Who decides how often you see your families? What financial obligations do you have (or not have) to your parents? Your sibs? Your grandparents?

Religion: Yours, mine, or ours? None? How will you honor each other’s traditions?

Cultural/class differences: What holidays will you celebrate with family? Remember, each and every family is a different culture unto itself.

Time: Do you expect to spend every night together? Every weekend? Every vacation?

The Lighter Side

Once the big topics are addressed, don’t forget the simple things in life and always have a sense of humor, according to Sabrina Askari-Dougherty, a licensed marriage and family therapist with a private practice in Salem. She suggests asking your partner:

  • What sports team would you cancel dinner plans with friends for to watch the big game?
  • Which freshener spray scent for the bathroom?
  • Would you prefer to summer up north (Maine ocean or New Hampshire lakes) or head south (say, to Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard)?

Your significant other’s answers might surprise you.


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