Are you recently engaged or planning on getting married? Or, is your relationship getting serious, and you’re starting to talk about getting married? Before you and your partner begin planning the venue, the cake, and the ceremony, it’s critical to spend some time together discussing what marriage means to you! Marriage expectation setting can take shape through premarital counseling or other premarital programs such as evidence-based Prepare-Enrich. Before you say “I do,” dedicate some time to align your wants, needs, and expectations about marriage.  

What do you expect in your marriage? 

In the early days of dating, “what I expect from marriage” probably wasn’t at the top of your discussion list. While you and your partner were dating, you probably spent many days and nights talking about your families, interests, dreams, and day-to-day lives. And once you become engaged, it’s common to get swept up in wedding planning and forget to tackle big-picture questions.

When we come together in a union such as marriage, it is important to articulate our expectations in order to better understand how our partner will blend into our values and lifestyle. Even though we may have different views on our marital expectations, it is essential that we talk thoughtfully about what those differences are and how our expectations will show up in our marriage. These conversations are crucial for building a strong foundation of trust and understanding to start our marriage. 

Ask Your Fiancé These Questions Before You Get Married

The below questions create a framework to help you and your fiancé define what marriage means to each of you. Although you and your fiancé may have already explored love maps within your relationship, these questions allow you to build on existing love maps and gain clarity about your upcoming marriage. 

By walking through these questions and answers, you’ll better understand each other’s views on marriage based on joint personal beliefs, value systems, and family of origin. This exploration will allow you both to build a foundation that sustains a strong marriage. Since we may have a different family of origin or upbringing from our partner, it is important to begin these conversations with careful consideration and an open mind while we learn our partner’s marital expectations. These questions may lead to deeper discussions, sparking strong emotions or beliefs. Allow yourself some time to process and share your thoughts with you partner, when going through this process. 

Premarital Checklist: Defining and Discussing Marriage Expectations

Expectations on Marriage:

  • What does marriage mean to you?
  • Do you believe that marriage is supposed to last forever?
  • Is divorce a part of your family history? How might that impact your current relationship? 

Expectations of One Another: 

  • Out of all people, why did you choose me to marry me?  
  • Do you consider me to be your best friend?
  • What are your feelings or emotions about marrying me?
  • Why do you want to get married now? 

Expectations on Relationship Health:

  • When do you feel appreciated in our relationship?
  • When do you feel the most connected to me?
  • When do you feel most listened to and understood?

Expectations for Extended Family and Friends:

  • Does your family support our relationship? 
  • Do your closest friends support our relationship?
  • Are you concerned there will be times in our relationship that I’ll choose my family or friends over you?  

Expectations of Conflict:

  • When you were growing up, how was conflict addressed in your home? 
  • How do you feel about conflicts? Healthy? Normal? Why or why not?
  • Do you want to resolve an issue immediately or need time to think things through?
  • In which ways are we different and similar when navigating conflict?

Expectations of Our Legacy:

  • What are your hopes about your future, personally and professionally? 
  • How do you envision our future together?
  • What are your feelings about having children?
  • If you desire a family or children, and we have difficulty conceiving, what are your thoughts about IVF, adoption, or other options?

Expectations of Roles: 

  • Caretaker: How do you imagine we take care of each other when we are sick?
  • Provider: Who contributes financially? How will we establish career growth and priorities? 
  • Planner: Who plans holidays, leisure time, and vacations? 
  • Sex initiator: Who initiates sex? How can you positively decline a proposition?  

After discussing these questions with your fiancé, you can begin to open further discussions on your marital expectations throughout your marriage. When you align your core values, you create the opportunity to strengthen your lifestyles of likeness and your future marriage. 

So much to do before “I do!” 

These questions are just a starting point for couples ready to walk down the aisle. There’s so much you can do for each other and the success of your marriage. For more information on premarital counseling, we offer the Prepare-Enrich program to all couples dating with intention. Please reach out if you’re ready to schedule your premarital counseling or monthly marriage check-ins! We offer virtual and in-person sessions at our Charlotte location.