Steve & I have been married for a little over two years now (you can find our full story here), and even though our engagement was only nine weeks, we made sure to go through pre-marriage counseling before our big day.
Pre-marriage counseling isn’t a biblical or legal requirement for marriage, but we found it helpful in so many different ways. It served as an excellent foundation for our life together and allowed us to see how other wiser and much more experienced couples keep their marriages healthy and Christ-centered.
One of the most useful parts of our counseling was simply talking through different things together. We had a work book that asked us to talk about what we expected from ourselves and from each other in marriage, who would take on which roles, and how we would expect certain scenarios to go.
It was so good for us to talk through those things before we were actually married and living life together. That way, once we were married, we had the same expectations for most of our everyday life, which reduced a lot of potential conflicts.
There were also a few things that we missed talking about, partly because we had such a short engagement. So, here’s a good list of things that it helped us to talk about (or I wish we had discussed) before our big day:
1. Everyday roles – Iron out your expectations of who will do the cooking, cleaning, groceries, trash, maintenance, bug killing, etc. You may have grown up with a mother who did all the cooking, and his father did it all. Which of you will do most of it? Or will you share equally?
2. Finances – Figure out what your income will look like and start working on a budget. Decide who will be primarily in charge of keeping track of the budget and paying bills, and how much you’ll tithe.
3. Kids – When would you like to have kids? How many? How spaced out? How do you feel about adoption? Where do you stand on birth control?
4. What does the future look like? Where do you see your family in 2 years? 5? 10? Will either of you get more education? Do you see your family doing long-term overseas missions? Where? Are you likely to move in the next few years? Where and why?
5. What are your basic needs? What do you need from your spouse, practically, emotionally, and with regard to love, security, respect, etc.
6. Careers – Will you both work? Will you both go back to work after having kids? Or would you plan on being a stay at home mom?
7. Holidays & Family Time – How do you see splitting up holiday time? Which holidays are the biggest in your family? If your in-laws live far away, do they expect frequent visits? Will you celebrate holidays separately as your new family unit or always travel to be with extended family? What about after you have kids?
8. What do you need from your spouse to cultivate your relationship with the Lord? Talk about how you spend time with the Lord daily, how you will keep each other accountable, and how you will spur each other on in those relationships.
Not all of these questions are things that need to be answered right away or before you walk down the aisle. But it’s a good idea to at least get the ball rolling and start thinking about your expectations for life after the wedding day. Once you start talking about it together, your separate ideas and expectations will be able to line up better with each other, which should help them to line up better with reality.
Married readers – I’d love to have your feedback. Did I leave out anything important? Let me know in the comments if I need to add anything to this list!