If you and your partner are
considering marriage, it’s natural to allow the excitement to take the reins. After all, feeling ready to make a lifelong commitment to someone implies that you both have created a strong foundation of love and a shared vision for the future. Before letting the sound of wedding bells come to the forefront of your mind, however, it’s important to have some honest conversations together. You’ll definitely want to come up with questions to ask your partner before getting engaged.
While some topics might be uncomfortable to discuss, having candid conversations with your partner is beneficial to your relationship. “One of the most important qualities of a relationship and an indicator of its ultimate success is its ability to adapt and to be flexible,” licensed professional counselor
Megan Broadhead, LPC tells Bustle. “This requires two people who are open to the other’s opinions and needs.” Both you and your partner should be open to having a wide range of discussions — from financial logistics to your plans for having kids — before you take that next step.
Once you both feel ready for the ring, consider these 15 expert-approved questions to ask your partner before getting engaged.
1 How are we similar and how are we different? Are there any differences we cannot accept?
It’s important to consider compatibility when you’re taking such a significant step in your relationship. Have an honest and open conversation with your partner about any possible roadblocks that your differences might cause, and if there are any disputes that might become irreconcilable in the future. “Oftentimes the differences we barely notice in the beginning of a relationship (and may even think are cute or interesting) become sore spots later,” licensed mental health counselor
Jim Urban, LMHC, tells Bustle. 2 How are we doing?
While it’s a simple question, really opening up about the true state of your relationship — and how you’re both feeling about it — is important to do before getting engaged. If you can both honestly agree that your partnership is in a good place, then you’re on the right path to taking that step.
3 How would you feel about setting up a monthly check-in conversation to keep us moving in the right direction?
It’s a sign of
healthy communication when your partner is open to checking in about how you’re both feeling in the relationship, not just when issues arise. Urban suggests making it a regular practice. “Having a conversation like this every few weeks can keep the [relationship] focused on a continual process of growth and improvement,” Urban says. “It also helps us learn to be vulnerable, brave, and humble when sharing our deeper needs and feelings on things.” 4 What are things I am getting right for you and our relationship?
Relationships are a two-way street, and you and your partner’s needs deserve to be considered. Asking each other for examples of what you’re doing well not only helps you better understand how to serve your partner but also provides affirmation for each of you.
5 Is there anything I’m doing that can make it harder to feel close to me?
Sometimes we do things that can push our partners away without realizing it. Not speaking up when our needs aren’t being met and allowing them to fester can foster a hostile environment, instead of one where there’s loving communication. Allowing your partner to gently confront those things and help you break any potential walls down can only strengthen your relationship.
6 How do you show and receive love?
If you haven’t already, Broadhead recommends taking the
“5 Love Languages” quiz with your partner so that you both better understand how to express your love to each other. “Our partner may have a different way of communicating love, so it's good to know so that we can meet them where they are and with what they need.” 7 What can I do over the next month to help you feel closer to me?
Accepting feedback is great, but taking active steps to improve your behavior is even better. Consider noting and implementing one specific need your partner has expressed each day, and building it into your routine. Whether it be putting the coffee pot on or turning your phone off and checking in with them emotionally before you go to sleep, make an effort to speak in their
love language and show each other that you’re truly listening. 8 How open are you to feedback and change?
Although it’s best to get an idea of this trait at the beginning of a relationship, it never hurts to reevaluate how well both of you are being open and adaptable. Because getting engaged implies readiness for a lifelong commitment, you’ll want to ensure that you and your partner can deal with the natural ebbs and flows.
9 How do you view growth and self-care?
As much as it might sound ideal, we can’t love someone into loving themselves. But you can find out how they view their growth and their self-care habits, Broadhead says. “It's important to know that your partner values themself and
takes care of themselves just as much as they value taking care of you!” 10 What is my deepest wisdom saying about this relationship?
Before you move toward such a big decision with your partner, make sure that you understand completely
how you feel about the relationship. “Many times your gut feeling is the biggest indicator of the best future steps for you,” Broadhead says. 11 Who plans to primarily handle the finances?
A significant decision like an engagement requires not just emotional preparation, but some logistical planning as well. Licensed clinical social worker
Maria Inoa, LCSW, explains that it’s important to understand which of you tends to be more adept at handling finances and is willing to take on that particular responsibility, or the best ways in which you can handle them together. 12 What are your financial goals?
Agreeing to get married implies that you both have a shared vision of what you want for the future, but elements like financial goals can bring up potential conflicts in that vision. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about what you would like to work towards as a couple with your
shared finances. For example, if one or both of you want to pay off your student loans, discuss how and when you would like to go about that process. 13 What debts do you have?
It’s an understatement to say that having significant debt often carries a lot of shame for some people, but discussing where you and your partner are at when it comes to debt is crucial to understanding the full picture of what your future marriage could look like. It’s an uncomfortable topic, Inoa says, but it’s an important one. “It's better to discuss them early on to minimize any unwanted surprises down the road once you're married.”
14 Do you envision yourself staying home with our children or would you prefer to work?
If you plan to become parents, it’s wise to decide early on what that looks like. Children are a huge responsibility, and will affect both of you once you get to that stage together; make sure you’re on the same page about things like childcare when it comes to your careers, to prevent clashing about such a monumental decision in the future.
15 How would you handle discipline with our children?
If you know you want to have kids together, it’s important to remember that everyone is raised differently and thus disciplined differently by their parents. “This is a big area that can create a lot of conflict for couples once they are parents,” Inoa says. To adequately prepare for a future of
parenting together, for the benefit of both your relationship and your future children, having a conversation about how you’d handle discipline with your kids is necessary as you’re planning for an engagement. Sources: Megan Broadhead, LPC , licensed professional counselor Jim Urban, LMHC , licensed mental health counselor Maria Inoa, LCSW , licensed clinical social worker and relationship coach
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