Search
  • Charlotte McKernan

7 conversations to have before getting married or moving in together

Getting married or making another major life change with our partner is extremely exciting, but can also cause moments of doubt, stress, and uncertainty. Even if these feelings don’t arise, we are all looking to find long-lasting, fulfilling, and joyful marriages. I’ve found that there are seven major conversations that couples need to have in order to prepare themselves for the ups and downs of committed relationships.


These conversations can help people find the joy and intimacy that they are looking for before heading down the road to marriage! Read on for your marriage SparkNotes.

Psssst! While these are excellent conversations to have before tying the knot, most therapists will agree that these should be recurring conversations throughout your marriage. Maybe stow this list away for the future and check in every few weeks or months./


1. How will we continue to make time for each other and our relationship?

As relationships continue and life becomes busier, it is normal for couples to find themselves spending less and less time together, and thus feeling less and less connected, perhaps even feeling more like roommates than life partners. To avoid this, it’s important to establish early on ways to make time for each other and the relationship. For some people, this looks like going for hikes or a date once a week; for others, this means texting once or twice throughout the day to check-in and say ‘I love you.’ Find ways to prioritize your relationship that are exclusively yours and use these as reminders of your love and commitment throughout your life together.


2. What are your goals regarding children, finances, career, and the place you want to live?

While it’s not necessary to have the same answers on every single logistic detail of your future together, you and your partner should know where the other stands on these fundamentals and revisit this conversation as your views evolve. Don't expect your partner to change his or her views (they might, but they also might not), and be willing to negotiate and harmonize your perspectives. It is less vital to agree whole-heartedly on these things when moving in together than it is if you're considering marriage.


3. What could be going better or differently for you in our relationship right now?

It is absolutely essential that couples feel comfortable talking about things that aren’t sitting right for them or are feeling off. This conversation can help cut problems off before they become recurring and lead to resentment. Ask and answer this question openly, honestly, and non-judgmentally and be prepared to really listen without preparing a defense for yourself. You may be surprised at the little thing bothering your partner that you wouldn’t have noticed, or you may feel relieved and feel a sense of camaraderie that you both felt badly about the same thing.

4. What is going really well in our relationship for you right now?

A lovely antidote or preceding question to the one above, knowing what is going well for your partner gives you a chance to do more of that thing and create more joy in your partner’s life (and vise versa). It also gives you each a chance to express gratitude and appreciation for the little and big things that you do for one another!


5. What are your dreams and how can we best support each other in achieving our dreams?

Partners play an important role in helping or hindering our progress toward our goals. For some folks, a dream may look like becoming a successful businessperson and owning a beautiful house without debt. For others, it may look like paying for their children’s education and living peacefully. For yet others, dreams could involve traveling the world and checking off a bucket list. It’s important to understand what your partner dreams about in the future and to develop strategies that will aid in pursuing their goals. Having a supportive partner who believes in your potential and supports your dreams is paramount to having an equal and fulfilling relationship.


6. What are your expectations around sex and intimacy?

It is extremely important to be able to talk candidly about sex and beginning these conversations early can help mitigate intimacy problems in the future. Couples who communicate about sex generally have better sex and greater intimacy than couples who don’t. This conversation can take many forms, but if you’re looking for a place to start, try adapting questions 3 and 4 from this list as a jumping-off point.


7. Should we go to premarital counseling?

Finally, have a conversation about premarital counseling. If any of the above conversations seem difficult or uncomfortable to initiate on your own, a therapist can provide a safe and neutral environment to help you understand your expectations about marriage. Couples therapy can help address areas of potential conflict early on and help you learn effective strategies for discussing and resolving conflict.


If you have any questions about premarital counseling or couple’s therapy in general or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact me at charlottemckernantherapy@gmail.com.


Charlotte McKernan is a couple and individual therapist in Fort Collins, CO.