“We can talk about anything.”……”We’re very open with one another.”……”I can tell him (her) anything.”……How many times have we heard ourselves say this to our family and friends about the person we have decided to marry? It is with much regret, however, that couples whose marriages didn’t make it realize they didn’t talk about the important topics, weren’t open enough on the hot subjects, and hesitated in telling her or him everything on their personal agenda. It is not so much a failure to communicate as it is a failure to have specific conversations on critical issues that can undermine the bonds and foundations to any relationship.

Though many future married couples have lived together, we still feel that there are so many new dynamics that come into play, once married these conversation topics are relevant. For couples who have maintained their own places, these conversations are critical. In the worst case, honest conversation and discussion on these topics may make one reconsider their choice for a life-long mate. In the best case scenario, anxieties are reduced, compromises are made, and the skill for careful listening and communicating is honed.

These are not questions meant for casual conversation; rather these are topics that require scheduled time and introspection. We recommend that you print these questions and give them to your future spouse to review and think about before you sit down to discuss. The two of you should agree on a mutually convenient time to spend discussing these topics. Make sure it does not conflict with responsibilities one or both of you have to attend. Our most important recommendation is to recognize and adhere to the following discussion rules:

– Opinions and feelings are personal and should never be attacked.
– Disagreements with another’s opinions and feelings can often be a result of misinterpretations & lack of information thus try to learn more rather that attack.
– Ask questions that are open-ended. For example: “How often do you feel this way and how long have you felt this way?” instead of just “Why?”
– Never interrupt. If one tends to be wordy set a time limit to whomever has the floor.
– The goal is not to change the person, only that person is capable of making serious changes in themselves.
– The goal is to learn about and evaluate the compatibility of you and your mate and that you have similar values and goals.
– There are no bad ideas. No-one is wrong stupid or weird.

Work Careers not only evolve, but we evolve with them. Taking time to examine questions relative to the direction of your careers, the potential for further education/training, and your mutual expectations about work -now and in the future – are essential, not only before you marry but throughout your relationship. Here are some questions that are worth your consideration and introspection. If you feel a little unprepared to answer some of these questions, but feel that your future partner needs to give his or her input, candidly state your position. Just remember to play by the rules. ◾Do you have an idea of how you see your career progressing? What does that look like in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years and 20 years from now? Do you see me helping you in your career path and if so what role would I play?
◾How important is work to you? Where does it rank among things like sports, friends, family, partying, travel, home life, bank account?
◾Would you like to have several careers over the next 10 – 20 years? How do you see yourself achieving those career changes?
◾How do you view relocation as a job consideration? When is relocation out of the question and when is it a real consideration?
◾Do you enjoy socializing with co-workers? How often is not enough and too much socializing with your co-workers? Do you like to socialize after work, on weekends, at home or in cafes/bars or restaurants? How do you see the costs associated with socializing in our budget?
◾Do you see me involved with socializing with you and your co-workers? Do you see yourself socializing with my co-workers?
◾What benefits are you looking for in your career?
◾Do you believe bringing your work home will be part of your job and or something that you will do for your personal and career growth?
◾How predictable are the hours of your job? Will you know in advance when you have to work late? How frequently will you be working more than 9 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours, 14 hours?
◾What interest do you have in my career and how would you describe it? Can you see yourself helping me with my work, if so explain?
◾What do you think of my career path?
◾If I choose to telecommute ( working from home ) what advantages and disadvantages do you see? If you had the same opportunity would you consider it?
◾How often do you experience work burnout? What do you like to do to cure it?
◾Describe how children would effect your career and professional goals?
◾How do feel about one of us not working to raise a family? How long do you think a parent should stay home with their children? What is your opinion about my work contribution financially, socially and intellectually? What expectations do you have in regards to my career? financially etc..?
◾Do you see that we will have a double income couple for the balance of our lives?

If any of the questions resonate with you, you should seriously consider adding them to your list to ask during the conversation. Hopefully this list will inspire your own series of questions that are more relevant to your circumstances.