Deciding to spend the rest of your life with someone as your partner is a big decision. There can be doubts, uncertainties, and misunderstandings stepping into this new stage of your life. Going from being a bachelor to a married couple brings many changes. Hence, it is always better to understand what you and your partner expect from this union. An honest conversation with each other before marriage can lay the foundation for a strong bond.
Marriage is a new beginning for most people. Our expectations are usually based on what we have seen with our parents or other relatives. Moving away from that and compromising to adjust to each other’s beliefs and goals is vital. Once you have aligned your expectations with your partner’s, moving forward becomes easier as you both are on the same page.
Premarital Counselling provides a space for you both to get to know each other on a deeper level. This is where you can address potential conflicts in your marriage that may create problems later. Through this, you are taking a proactive stance. There are also some important topics that you will need to cover during your discussion. Preferably, you should have a licensed therapist conduct these sessions. They can navigate the session better and in the right direction.
There are chances of differences in opinions, and it is okay to have them. This particular sort of counseling is to align the differences only. A therapist is better suited to help you express your thoughts and listen to your partner with an open mind. As these can get heavy, a specialist can ensure you learn and develop an understanding through them.
What to Expect From Relationship Therapy
Discussing topics that may affect your marriage in the premarital phase will help you get a sneak peek into your married life. There are some general topics that you will cover in these sessions. You can add more issues and questions based on your doubts and the equation you share.
It is important for you to keep an open mind. This is not a debate about who is right or wrong. Instead, it is about finding a middle ground where neither of you feels neglected. You are not locked into anything. The discussions are just to guide and feel free to revisit them whenever necessary. Don’t get defensive; always try to see where your partner’s argument is coming from.
There may be a need for compromise and sacrifice from both ends. Don’t take that personally. Take time to clear disagreements. And if it gets too heavy, know that you don’t have to find a conclusion to everything in one sitting. Go back, think clearly, and actively attempt to understand each other. All this is to give you an idea of what the future looks like for the two of you.
1. Basic Questions About Your Journey
These questions are to set the pace and have the therapist understand you as a couple. They could be as follows:
- Who initiated the relationship? Who was more skeptical about it?
- What do you appreciate about each other the most?
- What do you value about your relationship?
- When did you decide to get married? And what does marriage mean to you?
- What do you expect to change?
- How quickly do you adapt to change?
- What do you expect from your partner and the marriage in general?
2. Habits, Roles, and Responsibilities
These questions could help the therapist understand both the parties involved as separate individuals. Some questions could be:
- What are your hobbies?
- How much alone time do you need? How do you prefer to spend that time?
- Do you enjoy autonomy and independence more than togetherness?
- What are your ideas about the division of household chores?
- Who has what responsibilities? Who will handle finances, chores, breadwinning, childcare, elderly care, etc., respectively?
- What level of cleanliness do you need to feel comfortable?
- Any unhealthy habits that the other person should be aware of?
- Who will take charge in an adverse situation?
- Who is a problem-solver, and who needs time to process things?
- What sort of emotions do you find hard to express?
3. Spirituality and Religion
These questions help learn about personal beliefs. Some questions are:
- How do you feel about religion?
- How crucial are your religious beliefs to you?
- To what extent do you want your partner to follow your traditions, if at all?
- How will you practice your spirituality or religion?
- Do you want your children to grow up around the same practices and traditions?
4. Money and Finances
Learning one’s opinion on finances is crucial before entering a marital relationship. Some essential questions are:
- What are your financial goals?
- How many assets do you have? Are there any liabilities?
- Are you okay with combining your money, or do you want full autonomy of your earnings?
- Who takes care of what expenses?
- How much do you intend to save in the next 5-10 years?
- How much money is enough before you retire, or is it more about a certain position you want to reach?
- What do you do with savings? Where do you invest?
- Are you a free spender? How compatible are your spending habits?
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5. Family Planning and Parenting
Both partners must be on the same page regarding certain aspects. Some important questions about family planning and parenting are:
- How close are you to your family?
- How do you relate to your partner’s family?
- How do you imagine relating to your family of origin when you have your own family?
- Do you want children? If yes, how many?
- When do you want to try conceiving a child?
- What if you conceive before your planned timeline? Will both partners be comfortable with abortion?
- Who will be responsible for parenting?
- How do you want to raise and educate your child?
- What if the baby isn’t fully abled? How will you handle the pregnancy?
- Are you comfortable with adopting?
- How will you handle rewarding and disciplining your child?
6. Sex and Intimacy
Marriage is not a free license to sex and physical intimacy anytime or anywhere. Consent will always play a crucial role. You must know these things about your partner and yourself:
- How important is the sexual relationship to you?
- What expectations do you have when it comes to intimacy and sex?
- Do you have any insecurities about yourself or your relationship?
- Do you want to set boundaries for relations outside marriage, such as around friends and co-workers?
- What do betrayal and infidelity mean to you?
7. Conflict Resolution Strategies, Trust, and Forgiveness
It is always advisable to be clear about certain things in a marriage. Some important questions to consider are:
- Does anything about your partner annoy you? Can they do anything to change it?
- Do you quickly lose your temper when things don’t go your way? What if that affects your relationship? Will you be actively trying to control that aspect?
- How quick are you to apologize? How fast are you to forgive?
- Do you have an emotional outlook on problems or a practical outlook?
- Will you take charge of things when they go downhill, or will you let your spouse be the active agent in making things right?
- What do you need when you are going through an emotional phase; space, reassurance, validation, physical touch, etc.?
- What if there is no resolution to a conflict? How do you approach that
- What are deal breakers for you?
- How do you react if your partner raises their voice in an argument?
8. Job and Career Goals
Nothing should stand in the way of your career goals. Here are some things you need to be clear about:
- What are your career objectives?
- At what position do you label your career as successful? Is it when you have earned a specific amount, reached a particular position, or created a legacy?
- How supportive are you of your partner’s career goals?
- Are you comfortable with your spouse earning more than you?
- Do you have an equal say in home expenses even if the earnings are uneven?
- Would you be okay with taking a back seat and taking more care of household responsibilities in order to push your partner’s career forward?
- What happens when both of you are not willing to sacrifice your careers? How do you make sure that your relationship gets enough time?
- When do you see yourself retiring from work?
9. Expectations of Marriage
It is essential to be on the same page with your partner regarding expectations of marriage. Some questions are:
- What do marriage and commitment mean to you? How important is it to your relationship?
- What role are you expecting your spouse to play?
- Do you think you can be what your spouse expects of you?
- What kind of support do you want from your partner in a marriage? Is it financial or emotional?
- How will you support them?
- Will you be okay with involving your spouse in the decision-making of things that matter to you?
- How important is your personal identity to you? How will you ensure to maintain that identity without downplaying your partner’s?
- How do you define a loving, happy, and successful marriage?
- Where do you see yourself as a couple in the next 10 or 30 years?
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These are a few of the general questions for all couples. You can add more based on your personal experience. All these can be overwhelming for you and your spouse to go through. It is also easy to come across disagreements.
You don’t want your new life to start with disagreements and arguments. There are bound to be differences, but the whole point of this relationship therapy is to understand each other better. This is to ensure that before you step into that new phase of life, you are ready for it. Our therapist can help you and your partner in counseling. They can navigate your discussion, so you can better understand your partner’s expectations from the wedding and vice-versa. You also learn what you can do to work towards it.
Book an appointment and consult with our counselor to give your relationship a solid foundation. This healthy start can transform itself into a long and loving bond.