10 Upfront Conversations Before Getting Married

Conversations before getting married

4. Being Accountable to Each Other Means Being Self-Reflective

Being self-reflective is the fundamental skill you will need to address conflict in your marriage. It is this quality that allows you to be accountable for your part in conflicts. In my work with couples with troubled marriages for over 30 years, the ability and willingness to be self-reflecting was either absent from the beginning or it had become extinct. When couples enter therapy, they always see the other person as the problem.

  • How good am I at stepping-back and looking at my part in how things go wrong between us?
  • Do I react too quickly when I think something is not going my way?
  • Do I sometimes or often take things personally?
  • Am I quick to label my partner’s actions that I don’t like negatively?

Jennifer Porter has a good description of what it means to be self-reflective: “The most useful reflection involves conscious consideration and analysis of beliefs and actions for the purpose of learning. Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions.” [3]

Also read Choosing the Wrong Partner: 7 Reasons We Settle for Less Than We Deserve

5. Be Proactive in Negotiating Your Sexual Relationship

You will want to be proactive in creating a satisfying sexual relationship. Remember, you are hoping to be together for a long time. A discussion about sex requires considerable self-reflection.

Here are some ideas about important topics to cover in this pre-wedding discussion. Be sure to add thoughts of your own.

  • How did you learn about sex?
  • How is sex important to you?
  • Has either of you had a traumatic sexual experience?
  • What fears do you have about your body?
  • How often would you like to have sex?
  • What kind of sexual acts do you like?
  • How shall you initiate sex with each other?
  • Do either or both of you watch pornography? How do you feel about that?

This discussion about sex will set the stage for ongoing discussions about sex throughout your marriage—start the discussion habit now.

Also read 8 Dangers of Dating an Emotionally Unavailable Person

6. What About Fidelity?

The conventional idea about marital fidelity is that it is agreed upon once you take your marriage vows. We have enough data on infidelity to suggest that we need a different approach, one that understands fidelity based on conviction, not convention. This means fidelity is a choice you are making together—it is a negotiated choice. Here are some ideas about how to discuss choosing fidelity.

  • Take the time to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings about sexual fidelity in your marriage.
  • Examine your implicit ideas about monogamy that come from your religious beliefs, traditional sex roles, personal moral values, and personal insecurities.
  • How are you going to define fidelity in your marriage?
    • Honesty and openness: What should you tell each other about your relationships with other people?
    • Outside relationships: What limits do you want to set on the nature of your relationships with other people, e.g. Is it okay to share personal information?
    • Sexual fidelity: What about lusting after someone, pornography use, and internet emotional relationships?
  • Honesty and openness: What should you tell each other about your relationships with other people?
  • Outside relationships: What limits do you want to set on the nature of your relationships with other people, e.g. Is it okay to share personal information?
  • Sexual fidelity: What about lusting after someone, pornography use, and internet emotional relationships?

Remember—fidelity is about conviction not convention.

7. Having and Raising Children

Today, having children is an intentional action. This means you must plan how you will work together to be effective parents, maintain gender equity, and sustain your relationship. Here are important questions that can guide your discussion.

  • Do you want to have children? Why?
  • What are your parenting philosophies?
  • What is your plan for having and raising your children?
  • How will the children impact your lives?
  • How will you share the responsibility of caring for your children?
  • If you choose not to have children, how will you handle the pressure you may experience to have children?

Philosopher Christine Overall proposes the best reason to have a child is simply the creation of the mutually enriching, mutually enhancing love that is the parent-child relationship. [4]

Pages: 1 2 3
nv-author-image

Catherine Aponte

Catherine Aponte is a clinical psychologist who worked with couples for more than thirty years. She writes a Psychology Today blog and contributes posts to The Good Men Project. Throughout her career, she has been devoted to helping couples create and maintain a committed and equitable marriage. Her guide to achieving a committed, equitable, and vibrant family and work-life is in her book A Marriage of Equals (https://www.marriageofequals.com/). She trained at Duke and Spalding Universities and taught marital therapy courses at Spalding University as an Associate Adjunct Professor.View Author posts