10 questions to ask before you get engaged
My husband and I act as a support couple for couples thinking about getting married. We help to facilitate conversation between them, and encourage them to talk about any areas that may be contentious. After talking with one couple recently I realised that there are some questions people don’t think about asking each other unless prompted.
It could be because they don’t want to be awkward, or don’t want to seem like they are in a rush. But if you’re a Christian in a serious relationship, the chances are you do want to get married. If this is the case, it is definitely worth asking some serious questions and knowing where you stand.
You may find that some of these questions are deal breakers for you, and if your views differ you may decide not to pursue the relationship. Or you may find that you can both find a middle ground, and your relationship is more important to you than agreeing on a certain principles.
I’ve put together a list of 10 questions worth asking if you’re in a relationship that you hope will end in marriage. This list is by no means exhaustive, and they are in no particular order.
- Who should have the final authority in our marriage? It’s important that God has the final authority in a Christian marriage. It’s not about who is right or wrong, but about both husband and wife allowing Biblical principles to govern their marriage. Where there are situations that the Bible does not deal with specifically, then it is up to you to agree on how you make decisions.
- What do you think are the roles of men and women in a marriage? Some people believe in traditional roles for men and women in a relationship, but no matter your personal view, it’s important that you both agree on who does what in the marriage. This can be a bone of contention in many relationships. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter who does what; what matters is that you put each other first, agree on your roles, and there is no resentment.
- What are your views on saving sex for marriage? Most Christian couples would have dealt with this early on in their relationship. The Bible advocates sex only within a marriage setting, so it is worth making sure you’re both on the same page.
- Do you want children? Not everyone wants kids, so it is worth asking this question, or letting the person you’re dating know, as soon as possible, if you don’t want to have kids. If you both want kids, discussing how many kids you would like, if everything were to go to plan, is also important.
- How should we discipline our kids? Still on the topic of children, everyone has differing views on how to discipline kids. Most of the time this is based on how we were disciplined ourselves. Some would choose to do things the same way their parents did, and some would want to do things differently. A husband and wife must be on the same page when it comes to disciplining kids, to avoid a ‘good cop, bad cop’ situation.
- What is your relationship with your parents (and wider family) like? There is an African saying that ‘when you marry someone, you marry their family’. Therefore, it is important to know what kind of relationship your partner has with their family, and how that could impact on your own relationship.
- How do we manage our finances and other assets? Money can be an awkward topic to discuss, and many relationships have broken down because of financial issues. It is therefore important to talk about things like budgets, who pays for what, joint or separate accounts, etc.
- Do you have any health issues I should know about? This may be another uncomfortable conversation to have, but there should be no secrets between a couple thinking about marriage. Some long term health issues could have a significant impact on the relationship and it is important that this information is shared and discussed.
- What is your sexual history? Now I don’t mean that you should ask for details of every sexual encounter your partner has had, but it is especially important to know if one or both of you have slept with other people in the past. Being open and honest about your sexual history allows both of you to deal with any physical or emotional issues you may have, as well as your expectations for your sexual relationship when you get married.
- What church should we attend when we get married? If you don’t already attend the same church, you will have to decide which church you want to attend. This can be a difficult decision to make, especially if both parties are actively involved in their own church. But by talking things through, hopefully you can both come to an agreeable decision.
Like I mentioned earlier, this list is not exhaustive. If a couple are thinking of getting married, I would strongly recommend attending a marriage preparation course, or going for pre-marital counselling, where these questions and many more are dealt with. If you have any other questions you would add to the list please share them in the comments!