Wedding planning is inevitably stressful, “chill bride” vibes be damned. Obsessively checking your weather app, double-checking with the caterer that your vegan/keto/Whole30 friends all have at least something to eat at the reception, remembering cute flats for when you can’t bear your heels anymore…there are a lot of potential anxiety triggers. But hopefully, wondering if the person at the other end of the aisle is truly right for you isn’t one of them.
Whether you’re in the beginning stages of dating or are in a relationship with someone you believe (or at least, hope!) you will end up marrying, licensed clinical psychologist, author, and eHarmony dating expert Seth Meyers, Ph.D, says there are some important questions you should get to the bottom of before the big day.
Some of the questions you can ask in the early dating stages while others are best asked when marriage is more closely in sight. Here, Dr. Meyers explains what and when to ask six important questions before marrying someone. Keep reading for his intel.
The whole “what do you do for fun” question is one that comes up in those very early dates, but Dr. Meyers says it holds important clues for long-term compatibility. “If someone says that they like to spend their weekends meeting up with friends, going to concerts, or pursing other activities, that can clue you in on what your time together could look like down the road,” he says. “If you’re someone who doesn’t like their free time all booked up, that might not be the best match for you ultimately.” Early stages of dating are often activity-based because both people are looking for ways to spend time together, but if someone tells you they actually prefer to just chill in their spare time, Dr. Meyers says to really listen to that.
This is another one of those safe, early date questions Dr. Meyers says actually is pretty major. For some people, the answer is just as important as if someone wants kids. “If someone knows they love dogs and always wants dogs in their life, but the other person has an allergy and can’t be around them, well, that’s something to know,” he says.
Yep, we’re getting to the more challenging-to-ask questions now. “It’s not only important to ask your partner if they want kids or not, but you should also ask them specific questions about what this would mean for your careers,” Dr. Meyers says, adding that the more closer to getting married you become, the more specific questions you should ask. “Does your partner expect that you will stay home with the kids or to continue bringing in an income? Does he or she want to stay home?”
“With some people, you marry into a whole social life related to their family,” Dr. Meyers says. In the early stages of dating, he advises asking how close someone is with their family to get a feel of the extent of the connection. When you’re getting close to getting married, he says you can then ask more specific questions, such as how much time—weekends, holidays, vacations…—you are expected to spend with them. Otherwise, there may be confusion—and frustrations—later.
This is another question that Dr. Meyers says should become more specific the longer you are together. “It’s not enough just to ask someone if they are religious, because that can mean different things to different people,” he says. “One person may believe in God but not go to a temple or church, for example, while someone else may go to church twice a week,” he says. As you get further along in your relationship, Dr. Meyers says it’s also important to ask if future kids (if you both want them) would be raised with regards to religion.
It should be noted that Dr. Meyers doesn’t think it’s necessary that both partners have the same beliefs. “I do not believe that in a marriage both people need to practice the same religion, but the relationship will only work if each person accepts and respects the different choices they make,” he says.
If you want to avoid fighting about money later, talking about finances now matters. Dr. Meyers explains that when you’re dating, you can discuss what your various financial goals are (Traveling the world? Owning a home?) which can tip you off as to if your visions are aligned. After getting engaged, it’s a good idea to talk more specifically about how you plan to split bills, if you will share a joint account, what debt either person is bringing into the marriage, and other nitty gritty questions. Even after getting married, having regular money dates can help on this front.
When asking the big questions outlined here, Dr. Meyers is quick to say that just because you may have different views, it doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed to fail. While it’s important to know what your deal-breakers are, he also says that figuring out ways to compromise can also be part of the conversations. The point is that you’re having the conversations, which gives you a better idea of your partner’s needs and expectations—and your own. That way on your wedding day, those jitters won’t even be a thought in your mind.