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  • Writer's pictureTerrell Pugh

Want a Long Marriage? 10 Questions to Ask Your Partner Before Getting Married

How to get a long marriage

Embarking on a journey toward a long and fulfilling marriage requires more than love and commitment—it demands a deep understanding of each other's values, expectations, and life goals. While love forms the foundation, the longevity and quality of a marriage often hinge on deeper compatibilities and understandings between partners. Drawing on research from psychology and relationship science, this article explores 10 critical, research-backed questions to ask your partner before getting married. These questions are designed to uncover important alignments and set the foundation for a lasting union, incorporating practical examples to illustrate their significance.

1. Expectations for Marriage

Clear, realistic expectations about marital roles, responsibilities, and daily life are essential for preventing misunderstandings and conflicts. Research by Huston and Houts (2001) in the Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy revealed that discrepancies between expected and actual experiences in marriage often lead to dissatisfaction. Discussing expectations allows couples to align their visions and mitigate potential disappointments.

Example: One partner expects to have dinner together every night as a way to connect, mirroring their upbringing. The other, due to career demands, sees dinner together as a less frequent, though special, occurrence. Discussing these expectations can help find a middle ground that satisfies both partners.

2. Handling Conflict

The Gottman Institute's research highlights that the way couples manage conflict can predict the success of the relationship. Constructive conflict resolution, characterized by respect, empathy, and problem-solving, contributes to stronger, more resilient relationships. Couples should explore their conflict styles and past resolutions to anticipate how they might navigate future disagreements.

Example: During disagreements, one partner prefers to address issues immediately, while the other needs time to process their thoughts. Recognizing and respecting these differences in conflict resolution can prevent escalation and foster healthier discussions.

3. Financial Goals and Habits

Financial disagreements are a leading cause of stress and discord in marriages. A study by Dew (2011) in the Journal of Family and Economic Issues found that couples with congruent financial practices and transparency experienced higher marital satisfaction. Addressing financial habits, goals, and expectations early on can help prevent one of the most common stressors in marriages.

Example: One partner is a saver, aiming for early retirement and financial independence, whereas the other values spending on experiences like travel and dining. Conversations about financial priorities can help develop a budget that accommodates saving for the future while enjoying present experiences.

4. Importance of Religion or Spirituality

Shared religious or spiritual beliefs can provide a shared framework for making decisions, facing challenges, and raising children. Mahoney (2010) in the Review of Religious Research discussed how religious homogamy contributes to marital stability by offering shared rituals and moral frameworks. Understanding each other’s religious beliefs and their importance can enhance compatibility and support.

Example: If one partner envisions attending religious services as a family, while the other is less observant, discussing how to integrate faith into family life (e.g., holiday observances, moral education) can ensure both partners feel their beliefs are respected.

5. Expectations Around Parenthood

Parenting is a significant aspect of many marriages, and differing desires or expectations regarding children can lead to conflicts. A comprehensive review by Twenge, Campbell, and Foster (2003) in the Journal of Marriage and Family showed that alignment on parenting philosophies and child-rearing decisions is crucial for marital satisfaction. Discussing desires for children and parenting styles can help ensure partners are on the same page.

Example: One partner might assume a parenting style that is more authoritative, based on structure and rules, while the other leans toward a permissive style, focusing on freedom and self-expression. Discussing and aligning on parenting approaches can help present a unified front.

6. Work-Life Balance

Balancing career and family life is a nuanced aspect of modern marriages. Research by Greenhaus and Beutell (1985) in the Journal of Applied Psychology indicated that satisfaction in one domain positively influences the other, highlighting the importance of support and understanding in navigating work-life balance. Conversations about career aspirations and family priorities can help couples support each other’s goals.

Example: A partner receives a job offer that requires relocation but offers more family time, contrasting with their current high-pressure job that demands long hours but provides financial security. Weighing the benefits of career opportunities against family priorities can guide decision-making.

7. Approach to Health and Wellness

Lifestyle habits and health priorities can significantly impact daily routines and long-term well-being in marriage. A study by Cobb, Graham, and Bowen (2010) in the Journal of Family Psychology found that couples with similar health and wellness values are more likely to engage in positive activities together, strengthening their bond. Discussing health and wellness priorities ensures compatibility in lifestyle choices.

Example: If one partner prioritizes organic eating and regular exercise, while the other has a more relaxed approach to diet and fitness, finding shared activities (e.g., weekend hikes, cooking healthy meals together) can align their lifestyles.

8. Relationship with Families and In-Laws

The dynamics with extended families and in-laws can influence a couple's relationship. Navigating complex family dynamics requires establishing healthy boundaries and clear expectations regarding family involvement. Fingerman, Gilligan, VanderDrift, and Pitzer (2012) in the Journal of Family Issues highlighted that effective management of in-law relationships can mitigate potential conflicts and foster harmony.

Example: One partner expects weekly visits with extended family, while the other prefers occasional gatherings. Establishing boundaries and expectations around family involvement can prevent feelings of overwhelm or neglect.

9. Needs for Alone Time and Socializing

Individual needs for solitude versus social interaction vary and can affect relationship satisfaction. Understanding and respecting each other’s needs for alone time and socializing prevents feelings of neglect or pressure, as discussed by Dainton and Aylor (2001) in Communication Quarterly. This balance ensures both partners feel fulfilled and respected.

Example: A highly social partner might feel energized by hosting gatherings, whereas their introverted partner might find these events draining. Balancing social engagements with quiet, restorative time can meet both partners' needs.

10. Handling Change and Uncertainty

Life’s unpredictability requires adaptability and resilience in marriage. Research by Randall and Bodenmann (2009) in the Journal of Family Psychology emphasizes the importance of coping strategies for managing stress and change together. Developing a shared approach to navigating life’s challenges can strengthen the marital bond in the face of adversity.

Example: Facing a sudden job loss, couples must navigate financial insecurity and stress. Employing coping strategies such as seeking support, exploring new opportunities together, and maintaining open communication can strengthen their bond during challenging times.

How Arise and Live Can Help

The journey toward a long, fulfilling marriage is enriched by engaging in deep, meaningful conversations around these 10 critical questions. By exploring each other's perspectives on expectations, conflict resolution, finances, and other key areas of marital life, couples can lay a robust foundation for their future together. These discussions are vital for understanding and navigating the complexities of married life, ensuring that both partners feel heard, valued, and aligned in their goals and values.

At Arise and Live Christian Counseling, we are dedicated to guiding soon-to-be married and already married couples through these important conversations and beyond. Our experienced counselors have helped thousands of couples explore these questions, fostering deeper connections and understanding between partners. Our approach is rooted in compassion, empathy, and professional expertise, offering a supportive environment where couples can openly discuss their hopes, fears, and expectations for marriage.

Beyond merely addressing these questions, Arise and Live Christian Counseling has had the honor of being part of couples' journeys to the altar, officiating weddings for those we've guided through the premarital process. This unique role allows us to witness the beautiful culmination of our couples' journeys of preparation and understanding, celebrating the start of their married lives with a deep sense of connection and readiness for the future.

Whether you're taking the first steps toward marriage or seeking to strengthen your existing bond, Arise and Live Christian Counseling is here to support you. Our goal is to empower couples with the insights, tools, and strategies needed to navigate the challenges of marriage, building relationships that are not only enduring but also filled with love, respect, and mutual fulfillment. By addressing the essential questions and beyond, we help couples create a lasting legacy of love and commitment, marking the beginning of a lifelong journey together.


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