7 Questions To Ask Each Other Before Getting Married To Lower Your Risk Of Divorce
It's no secret that relationships are complicated (and nonetheless confusing). And although it would be nice to be able to predict the future with our partner to see how things fare, it's just not possible. However, if you're looking to be proactive and avoid future heartache, there are conversations you can have with your partner before you jump to tie the knot. In fact, before you get married, there are questions to ask your partner that can help prevent divorce.
You may think you and your partner are in it for the long haul, but then life might pull you two in totally different directions. In fact, this is pretty common amongst American couples. According to The American Psychological Association, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States will end up getting divorced for a plethora of reasons.
"We wouldn’t dream of working without a plan in any other area of our lives — from schooling and career to finances and even health, we formally discuss our goals (often with experts) and record them for future reference," Jess O'Reilly, Astroglide's resident sexologist, tells Bustle. "We check back in, revisit, rewrite and reroute as needed. We should be doing the same in our relationships."
So if you're looking to decrease your odds of divorce, here are some questions to discuss prior to getting married, according to experts.
1. "Do You Like Animals?"
According to divorce and co-parenting coach Rosalind Sedacca, this question may seem silly, but actually goes a long way and can tell you a lot about your partner and your future together. "When one partner loves animals and the other has little interest in or respect for them, this is a major chasm in the bond behind a relationship," Sedacca says. Animal lovers can also tolerate dirt, sickness, and messiness, and other complications that come with owning a pet, Sedacca says, and are willing to sacrifice in order to reap the rewards of owning a pet. While not all people are animal people, if your partner doesn't care for your pet, this can be a potential clue to how they might treat you, or possible your future children, so it's something to keep in mind.
2. "How Much Do You Typically Save, And What Do You Save For?"
Money can be a taboo subject to talk about, especially with your potential life parter. Nonetheless, it's certainly important. Dr. Jess O'Reilly tells Bustle that it's normal to have different views about money. "You will inevitably disagree about money, as your financial expectations intersect with your upbringing, familial beliefs, personal values, insecurities, conceptions of responsibility and more. Money is an emotional issue and the best way to reduce the likelihood of conflict is to plan ahead," Dr. O'Reilly says. What's more, according to a study conducted by TD Bank, one-third of married couples admitted to arguing about money at least once a month, while 44 percent of divorced couples admitted to having money-related arguments at least once per month. So figuring out your joint priorities about your finances is a good idea.
3. "What Does Commitment Look Like To You?"
This question seems vague and obvious, but in fact, it's important to actually spell out your expectations of one another once you're a married couple. For example, this could come into consideration when you or your partner is scheduling social plans. "If one partner expects to spend every night together, and the other continues to go out with [friends] and excludes their new spouse, conflict is created resulting in a feeling of rejection," Sue Moss, partner at Chemtob, Moss, Forman & Beyda, tells Bustle.
4. "Are There Times When You'll Want To Prioritize Work Over Family?"
Some people are deeply passionate about their careers, while others prefer to have more of a work/life balance. Whatever the case is, it's important to be clear and ensure your partner is on the same page as you are in order to maintain a healthy, strong relationship. If not, it could lead to conflict down the road. For example, let's say in five years, your partner gets a promotion, but they are forced to move across the country if they accept it. "It’s therefore important to discuss how you allocate your time and energy and how you balance your personal and professional investment of time," Dr. O'Reilly says.
5. "What Are Your Expectations Once We're Married?"
According to relationship expert and owner of Her Asperation Sonya Schwartz, this is the most important question of all. " Just because you’re in love and assume you have common goals it doesn’t mean you can’t actually have different expectations from your marriage," Schwartz tells Bustle. It's important to know what the plan is post-marriage. For example, is your partner planning to quit their job and travel with you, or are they looking to settle down right away? It's important to talk these things out before committing to one another to make sure you two have similar expectations after you say your "I dos."
6. "Do You Want Children?"
Back in the day, it was assumed that marriage was synonymous with having kids. Today, that's not the case. In fact, according to The National Center for Health Statistics, in 2017, only 3.8 million babies were born in the US, the lowest number in 30 years. So, if you're going into your marriage with the assumption that your partner wants kids, you could be mistaken. "You would be surprised how many couples do not decide whether or not they want children before the marriage," Moss says. But this can later lead to issues which may ultimately end in divorce.
7. "How Did Your Family Argue When You Were Growing Up?"
Let's face it: A marriage goes way beyond two people. In fact, a marriage unites two completely different families, and hopefully, everyone gets along. But regardless, different families have different ways of dealing with conflict, solving problems, and supporting each other. "Having frequent arguments that escalate quickly [...] may leave one or both partners feeling unsafe, attacked, frustrated or defensive," licensed marriage and family therapist Renee Sher-McMeans, tells Bustle. However, it's not the arguments themselves that are the issue, but if the two of your aren't compatible when it comes to your conflict style. "When we feel unsafe, attacked and defensive over time, we can become resentful. Resentment is highly toxic in relationships and can erode the relationship past the point of repair, so it's helpful to work these things out now," Sher-McMeans says.
All in all, these questions won't necessarily save your relationship, but they can help to paint a clearer picture of what you and your partner are looking for and expect out of their future. Therefore, by addressing these possible concerns directly and head-on by asking questions, you can help to avoid stress or heartache in the future.