5 Conversations Every Successful Couple Has Before Marriage

Don't let your bliss cause you to miss a critical conversation.

Last updated on Mar 03, 2024

newly engaged couple Fabian Centeno | Unsplash

During the starry-eyed romantic beginnings of relationships, we don't always want to talk about more serious issues.

They can highlight differences, bring up disagreements, and have painful discussions. However, we know the ability to talk about difficult things is part of a sign we're with a good partner.

Many articles talk about what to know before you get married and what to talk about beforehand — the obvious ones like how you deal with money, how many kids you want, or how important physical intimacy is to you.


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Here are 5 conversations every successful couple has before marriage:

1. How did your family deal with conflict?

The "movie" we watched growing up about how conflicts are dealt with had a significant impact on how we solve problems. We unconsciously revert to those same behaviors. So if your partner grew up with reactivity, drama, abuse, and the like, are they committed to being a conscious communicator? And are they willing to get help with you if needed?

2. Can you each give up the need to be right?

Or do you fight to the end to get your point across? Answering this takes some honest self-reflection. It takes a mature partner who can contain, let go, and be willing to admit they are wrong. In Imago relationship therapy, we have a saying: "You can be right or you can be in a relationship — you choose." If you can give up holding on to a point of view, all the issues to be discussed will elicit much better discussions.




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3. Do you like each other's parents?

As a therapist specializing in couples, I can't tell you how often this issue has become a painful one. So, discussing how to navigate these relationships in a way that honors each person in the couple with love and empathy can prevent a lot of heartaches. Some cultural differences show up here. An example would be a couple whose wife comes from a family that likes a lot of togetherness; they like to help and be involved. The wife experiences this as loving and helpful. The husband, who grew up in a much more hands-off family, experiences this as smothering. It's vital for the wife to understand her partner might need a little more space and to have his back around that. The husband does not criticize her family but sees it as a way loving families operate.

 love and smile with a couple on a sofa in the living room


Photo: PeopleImages.com - Yuri A via Shutterstock

4. How much togetherness are you picturing as normal?

How much autonomy? Holding on to ourselves as individuals who can stand on their own two feet, maintain their sense of being a good person, and have separate interests can lead to a much happier marriage. But sometimes, our partners envision more togetherness than we might want. For example, some partners feel hurt if the other partner wants to see friends separately, say on a Friday night, and end up feeling jealous or hurt. Discussing these scenarios ahead of time, where we can give our partner comfort — "You're my number 1, but sometimes, I want a weekend night with my friends. It's important to me" — can avoid a defensive fight later.

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5. How similar are your lists?

In Imago therapy, we have a wonderful exercise called the Relationship Vision, where each of you writes in the present tense, as if it were so, all the things you see for your future together — emotional things like "We solve conflicts peacefully" to practical things like "We are good at saving money". Then, compare your list with your partner's and co-create a single list from there, putting at the top the things that are the same or similar on both lists and then continuing to work on the others as you go through your many happy years together!




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Evie Shafner is a licensed MFT, clinical psychologist, and Imago therapy practitioner who wants to help people take the helm of their lives.