Questions To Ask As A Couple Before Getting Engaged
When it comes to marriage, love doesn’t conquer all. Being on the same page with your significant other also is key to a successful relationship.
In fact, according to Michael Batshaw, LCSW, a relationship expert and author of the book 51 Things You Should Know Before Getting Engaged, he’s seen “a lot of couples get into trouble not being on the same page.”
As Denver psychologist Susan Heitler, Ph.D, said, walking down the aisle involves walking down a life path together. “The biggest mistake couples make is to avoid [discussing] the areas of differences before they walk down the aisle.”
This is why talking about the kind of life you want to build with each other is so important, said Batshaw, also author of the forthcoming Things You Need to Know Before Getting Married: The Essential Guide to a Successful Marriage. In addition to love, couples do best when they have “an inherent compatibility in terms of shared life goals as well as daily living,” he added. But you don’t have to be compatible on all levels, he noted.
Having similar interests and hobbies isn’t necessary, agreed Terri Orbuch, Ph.D, a psychologist who specializes in couples and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great. But being similar in underlying values and beliefs is key to the happiness and stability of your marriage, according to her research study tracking the same couples for almost 24 years.
In addition, it’s important to see “how well do we understand and accept each other’s differences,” according to Robert Solley, Ph.D, a San Francisco clinical psychologist specializing in couples therapy. “In some ways, this is what most (if not all!) conflicts boil down to,” he added.
Disagreeing isn’t a recipe for disaster or splitsville, but it does demand dialogue. How you ask questions is a critical consideration, according to Heitler, who’s also author of the book The Power of Two and co-creator of an online program by the same name that helps couples build strong and successful relationships. “Instead of ‘do you,’ [ask] ‘are you?’ Good questions are open-ended. [It’s] how, and what, plus a sprinkling of when or who.”
For instance, instead of asking “do you want kids,” and assuming that a “maybe” will likely turn into a “yes” eventually, ask “how do you feel about having a family with a batch of kids?” Heitler said. This opens up a discussion with a deep layer of detail, so you aren’t making inaccurate assumptions.