No big life discussion should be off the table when you’re engaged to be married, but experts say some conversations are absolutely non-negotiable.
Below, marriage therapists share 11 questions you should ask your partner and have answers to before walking down the aisle.
1. How do you define monogamy?
“In this age of easy sexual accessibility (thanks to apps like Tinder or Grindr), you need to know if you both have the same definition of monogamy. Get specific. Ask: Do you believe online sex ― chats, cam videos― is OK? Is it OK to message a hot guy or woman you don’t know on Instagram ‘just to be friends’? How much porn do you watch, and would you be willing to watch less if it’s interfering with our sex life? Is it OK to be physical with someone else as long as it doesn’t include intercourse? What about emotional affairs? You’d be surprised how many people get married with absolutely no clue that their beliefs about monogamy are incompatible.” ― Virginia Gilbert, a Los Angeles-based marriage and family therapist
2. Do you have any debt I should know about?
“Almost everyone’s got debt, but most of us are embarrassed by it and ashamed to share the true specifics. Not knowing your spouse’s full financial picture is a huge red flag before marriage. I’m counseling a couple now that is struggling because the husband did not disclose his unpaid child support and restitution he owes the court.” ― Kurt Smith, a therapist who specializes in counseling men
3. What’s your hidden passion or dream job?
“If money wasn’t a factor and the options were limitless, what would your partner be doing with their life? Do you know what excites them and lights a fire in their heart and soul? Knowing the answer to this question can help you encourage your partner to dabble in things that you know interest them. If you can remain curious about your partner’s passions and desires in life, this shows that you not only care enough to know about their internal world, but will also keep the excitement and fervor alive in your relationship as they pursue their inner longings.” ― Liz Higgins, a marriage and family therapist specializing in premarital and newlywed millennial couples
4. What’s the most reliable way to make you orgasm?
“It’s really important for a couple to know how to have great sex. Great sex makes life’s stresses seem a lot less sinister, supports a good mood and a healthy relationship.” ― Laurel Steinberg, a New York-based relationship therapist and professor of clinical sexology
5. How do you handle stress?
“People deal with stress in different ways. Some people need to take some space and withdraw from their partner. That’s fine. But how long does it last? How long are you shut out for? Are you still able to have your basic needs met? Are you going for weeks without sex? A person should be able to take care of themselves, but also understand that you have feelings, too, and exist as a person outside of them.” ― Caroline Madden, a marriage and family therapist and author of How to Go From Soul Mates to Roommates in 10 Easy Steps
6. If you could change one personality characteristic or tick about yourself, what would it be and why?
“Being able to answer this question speaks a great deal about how vulnerable you and your partner are able to be with one another. If either of you is unable to answer this question, asking this could create further discussion about personal growth. If your partner says they wish they could be more assertive in work meetings, you can empathize with their situation and possibly offer advice.” ― Danielle Kepler, a therapist in Chicago
7. Do you want kids?
“Often I find that when couples in my practice decide to wait to see if they align on having kids, it can be devastating to learn that they greatly differ on the subject. I suggest having this talk very early into the dating relationship because it’s something that cannot be compromised on.” ― Kari Carroll, a marriage and family therapist in Portland, Oregon
8. Do you have anger issues, and if you do, are you working on managing them?
“Does your partner think it’s normal to speak in an angry tone of voice? To curse? To call each other names? And how similar or different is that to your views? The three big A’s that lead to divorce are anger, affairs and addictions. It’s best to get expectations regarding all three out in the open before you seal the deal, especially anger, which isn’t often talked about.” ― Susan Heitler, a psychologist based in Denver, Colorado
9. If we experience a rough patch in our relationship, are you willing to go to therapy?
“If one person is very averse to counseling, then there will be no possibility of using this resource if things get tough in the marriage. A decided ‘no’ to this question may also signal a discomfort with emotions and introspection in general. Additionally, this partner may be against you or your potential kids seeking help in this way.” ― Samantha Rodman, a psychologist in Takoma Park, Maryland
10. Do you think it’s my responsibility to make you happy?
“Know your partner’s beliefs around relationships. A partner may believe that it is your responsibility to make them happy or provide for them in a specific way. This belief may be assumed and when a partner doesn’t live up to that belief, you feel disappointed, angry or resentful. Beliefs affect a partner’s behavior and roles they take on in a relationship. Sometimes beliefs are faulty and need to be challenged, and sometimes they are old programming that are not aligned with current values. We need to know about a partner’s values and beliefs before making a long-term commitment like marriage.” ― Shannon Chavez, a psychologist and sex therapist in Los Angeles
11. What’s your biggest sexual fantasy?
“Being able to answer this indicates that you go deeper than the surface when it comes to your sex life. You may know some of the actual activities they enjoy sexually, but knowing their fantasies indicates that you know a deeper part of your partner’s psyche. To be known on this level increases intimacy and also shows a level of vulnerability. It shows that you and your partner are willing to share desires which can help build a solid sexual bond.” ― Kristin Zeising, a sex therapist in San Diego, California