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12 important questions to ask your partner before marriage, according to experts

Make sure you're on the same page before you tie the knot.

If you’re engaged or considering marriage, you likely already know it’s not all sparkly rings, floral arrangements and catering selections. Before you walk down the aisle, it’s important to make sure you and your future spouse are in agreement on the life you're building together.

“One of the most difficult parts of a long-term romantic relationship is setting boundaries,” Dr. David Helfand, PsyD, licensed psychologist specializing in couples therapy, neurofeedback and brain mapping, tells “Telling someone you love 'no' can be excruciating, so it’s helpful to have some level of information about their vision of the future and other core values about life before you commit to them.”

Ahead, therapists and relationship experts share the most important questions to ask before marriage. Whatever you do, don’t say “I do” without reading this helpful guide — and then take a deep breath because we know you probably need it right about now.

What helps you relax?

There’s no doubt that your marriage will encounter tumultuous times, both in terms of your partnership and with external factors.

During very stressful times, people often forget what can help them,” Helfand tells “If you know how they like to decrease stress, you can either remind them or help them explore other similar options they might not have considered.”

For example, if your partner relaxes in a bubble bath in times of stress, light a candle, set up a bath caddy and suggest they take a soak.

What makes you feel loved?

“Take turns asking each other how you can help the other feel more loved. We know from Gary Chapman’s work that people prefer to give and receive love in different ways,” Laura Silverstein, LCSW, Certified Gottman Method couples therapist and author, says, referencing Chapman’s“The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.”

As Silverstein points out, it's important to know how your partner feels the most loved before getting married so that you give them what they want, not what you want. “Similarly, tell your partner how you feel loved," she adds.

What is our financial situation?

Holly Battey, PsyD, dating coach and founder of Find Love At Last recommends working through the following questions: What are our credit scores? How much debt do we have? What are our incomes? How will we divide our financial responsibilities? 

“The No. 1 cited reason for divorce is finances, so it’s important that you go into your marriage with eyes wide open," she says. If you feel like you can't handle your finances on your own, seek help from a financial coach "to avoid the pitfalls and set you up for success.”

What have you experienced that was really traumatic in your life?

“Traumas shape us. If you know what experiences were truly terrifying for your partner, you can better understand who they are today,” Helfand says. By doing this, you will be more in tune with their sensitivities since, as Helfand says, most people are triggered by small events that resemble feelings from a past trauma.

Where do you draw the line between secrecy and privacy?

Amy Morin, LCSW, psychotherapist and editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind, warns that couples who disagree on what should be private will often engage in unhealthy behaviors, like sneaking around and snooping. “So it’s important to discuss ahead of time what your expectations would be in terms of things like social media passwords, past relationship experiences and friendships with other people,” she explains.

How do you like to deal with conflict?

Everybody has their own way of handling moments of strife in relationships.

“We know from Dr. John Gottman’s work that there are three functional conflict management styles: conflict-avoiding, volatile and validating," Silverstein says. “People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that their preferred conflict style is right, and all the others are wrong."

Instead, read up on the "benefits and risks of the multiple ways to handle disagreements" so you can find an approach that works for the two of you.

What role should extended family play in a relationship?

Even if you’ve been dating for years, you want to make sure you’re on the same page about family time. “Extended family is a huge source of contention for couples who don’t establish expectations up front,” Morin says. “If you imagine your parents coming over each week, advising you on financial issues, and babysitting your future children, but your partner thinks extended family should play little role in your lives, you’ll have issues down the road.”

What are our deal breakers?

Everybody hopes their bond lasts forever. Still, while we walk into marriage expecting it will last a lifetime, there are unspoken (and often unconscious) deal breakers that get in the way.

“Be real with yourself and your partner about what could lead to divorce for you. It’s important to establish the boundaries around your relationship, as well as the consequences of a breech," Battey says.

Make sure you're honest about your feelings surrounding adultery, abuse and addiction. "Take the time to set a healthy foundation for your marriage. Because it truthfully begins before you walk down the aisle,” she adds.

How are we going to stay connected while maintaining our independence?

Focus on how you can strengthen your bond as the years go on. “The joy of a primary romantic relationship is that it offers a life partner who will be there for you during joys and sorrows. But it is also crucial to remember that you are two independent people with lives outside your relationship,” Silverstein says.

That said, come up with ways to maintain your " independent hobbies and friendships as well as personal and professional ambitions."

"This way, you can plan to share your lives together while also thriving as individuals," Silverstein says.

How will we divide domestic labor?

Avoiding this conversation can come back to haunt your relationship years from now. “Many women who are unhappily married end up feeling resentful because they do the majority of the domestic labor. It should be fair and suited to each partners’ strengths,” Battey says.

Nail down the basics now. "Decide now who will cook, clean, do dishes, laundry and make the bed. And if you like a clean house but no one wants to do the dirty work, outsource it,” she continues.

The good news: Gender roles are ever-changing. "They are no longer prescribed, they’re decided. So be an active co-creator in your relationship and strike a deal that feels fair to both partners.”

What's something about me that concerns you?

A bit of a curveball, but there's value in posing this unexpected query. “This question opens the door to giving one another feedback and to discussing difficult subjects,” Morin says. “It can be a way to learn about yourself, your partner and even an opportunity to work through uncomfortable conversations.”

What is our shared vision?

Battey says that partners should always be “heading in the same direction" — on the same timeline, no less.

“Map your vision for the next five and 10 years to ensure you’re on the same page, as couples with shared goals are more likely to last," she says. You may want to do this exercise with the help of a couples’ counselor to work through any roadblocks and ensure a smoother process overall.