Illustration of couple with bright future wondering, “what questions to ask before marriage?”

Premarital Counseling Questions:

Questions to Ask Before Marriage

There are so many questions to ask before marriage. Marriage is a union based on mutual respect and understanding. So before you put on your dress and walk down the aisle, or don a tux and wait for your soon-to-be betrothed at the altar, it’s smart to come up with questions to ask your fiance that might proactively generate greater respect and understanding. 

Money. Kids. In-laws. Sex. Communication. The Pez-dispenser collection that is not going in the living room. (Or… is it?) And how, specifically, the dishwasher should be loaded, and unloaded, and when. (Kidding slightly but I have actually worked with couples for whom correct dishwasher procedures were a serious point of contention). Certainly, there are so many things to talk about before marriage. After all, your goal is to have your partnership last a lifetime. 

But where should you start? Given that there are perhaps endless possibilities, it’s a challenge to know where to begin without the support and guidance of a premarital counselor or a pre-engagement counselor.

A good marriage and family therapist who can serve you as a premarital counselor will be able to narrow down the questions to ask before getting married. The counselor will also help you and your partner dive deeper into the topics uncovered by these questions, to spark deep, meaningful and productive conversations that will provide insight, strengthen your relationship, and build useful relationship skills.

Whether you do premarital counseling online, or in-person premarital counseling in Denver, good pre-marital counseling is a growth experience that helps you and your partner achieve that mutual respect and understanding of one another that all great marriages are built upon. It’s an important step to take — premarital counseling can make or break a marriage. And, when you consider how many problems it can help you avoid down the line, including divorce, the cost of premarital counseling is well worth the value.

Here are some of the premarital counseling questions that you’ll be working through, over the course of genuinely meaningful premarital counseling conversations.

Questions to Ask Before Getting Married

There are conversations you should have before commitment, and questions to ask a future husband or wife are plentiful, but there are some foundational things to talk about before marriage — topics that will be discussed in high-quality premarital counseling, whether you choose private sessions, a premarital class, or a premarital program.

What are our strengths and what are our growth opportunities?

Every couple, even the healthiest ones, have growth opportunities — things that you and your partner can work on together to build a better unit, not in spite of differences but because of them. Discussing your strengths will help you understand what elements of the relationship you and your partner can rely on most, and build those growth opportunities upon.

The first step of good premarital counseling is a premarital counseling assessment. A comprehensive quiz with sometimes hundreds of questions that help you both get clarity about what your expectations for your relationship are, where you’re in alignment, and what aspects of your relationship could benefit from some coaching. If you do premarital counseling with Growing Self, that’s where we’ll start. You’ll both take this assessment, and then your premarital counselor will use the results to guide your sessions and ensure you’re both talking about the important things that you need to address in order to set your marriage up to last a lifetime.

If you’re interested, you can even take our super basic (and free) “How healthy is your relationship quiz” right now, to get a high level snapshot of your relationship’s strengths and growth opportunities. Of course, a real premarital assessment is much more in-depth, but our free relationship quiz is a fun and easy way to get the conversational ball rolling.

What have we not talked about that we should talk about before marriage?

You may have noticed that your relationship changes after you get engaged. There may be little niggling concerns in the back of your mind that weren’t there before. Is there something — anything — that you want to discuss before marrying your partner? Are you putting it on the back burner because you’re worried about what will happen when it gets mentioned? Yeah, you should still discuss it, but just broach the subject with mindfulness, tact, compassion, and openness.

Also, be ready to listen with an open mind and an open heart. There might be things that are important to your partner that are not as important or meaningful to you, and that’s okay. Learning how to listen with empathy, validate their feelings, and make what is important to them important to you is a foundational skill for a healthy, happy relationship. There is no time like the present moment to practice this!

Who are you?

Maybe you’ll think this question strange or at least one that has an obvious answer. You love your partner, so of course you know who they are. But think about this a little longer. How deep does that knowledge really go? How does your partner define themself? The answer could be eye-opening and helpful as you mutually co-create your path forward.

Related to this question is the invitation for your partner to help you understand them in the context of their life experience. What was their family like growing up? What were life shaping experiences, both for the good and the bad? What did you learn about money growing up? Or gender roles? What are your strengths as a person, and the favorite parts of your personality? What are the inner demons you wrestle, or your own personal growth goals?

Authentic, honest conversations like these open the door to increased emotional intimacy and understanding, which are vital to the success of a long and happy marriage.

Growing Self Counseling and Coaching

Let’s Talk: Start With a Free Consultation

If you’re ready to grow, we’re here to help. Connect with us, and let us know your hopes and goals. We’ll follow up with recommendations, and will help you schedule a first, free consultation.

What is important to you?

This is the kind of thing that falls under the umbrella of the above question, “Who are you?” Get to know what your partner values and consider how much of it you can live with and deliver. Questions like, “what makes your life worth living?” Or, “what does true success mean to you?” If you want to go really big, asking a question like, “on the last day of your life, what will have been the most meaningful and important things you ever did?” Knowing these essential things about your partner (and having them know the same about you) will make you both better able to co-create a truly joyful shared life together.

What do you need to feel loved and respected by me?

Have you ever considered what your partner truly wants and needs from you? (And what that will mean for you, if your intention is to be a good partner to them?) Asking them about the times they feel most loved and respected by you is the clue about their love languages, and what to do more of. If it’s not always easy or natural to relate to your partner in the way that’s ideal for them, that’s okay — you now know where to invest your time and energy in learning and growing. (And if you’re not sure what that even means, a good premarital counselor can help you with that.)

How can you hear me? (And when can you not?)

Communication might be the number-one, most important aspect when it comes to maintaining a long-term relationship and successful marriage. Ask your partner how they want to be communicated with — and what shuts them down. Marriage is a partnership between two people, so it’s not just about what you think you’re capable of or what you think you’re good at when it comes to communicating. Ask for feedback, take it on board, and commit to learning how to communicate in a more helpful way for your partner.

What are your favorite parts about our relationship?

Again, these kinds of questions allow you to know where your foundation lies, how strong it is, and how to build upon it. The answer from your partner might be very revealing, and offer you guidance on how you can do more to make them happy and build a better marriage. (Not to suggest this is a one-way street! They should reciprocate, of course.)

Knowing about the best parts of your relationship, through your partner’s eyes, gives you the chance to build on them, but also to celebrate and cherish these “magical moments” between you.

What are the hardest parts of our relationship?

This question can really trigger those growth opportunities I mentioned earlier. How would you know the answer with certainty without asking? Perhaps there are aspects of the partnership you’d be willing to work on, but you didn’t even know your partner wanted you to!

Asking this question and listening to the answer provides you with not just information about your partner’s experience. It gives you an opportunity to practice an essential relationship skill — non defensive listening. If this feels really hard to do, it’s okay. It’s simply a sign that you need to work on this skill, as many people do. Getting connected with a good premarital counselor can help you build this, and add it to your “relationship toolbox.” Once acquired, you’ll use it over and over and over again, for the benefit of your marriage.

What do you see as the problems we need to solve?

Again, maybe the solution will be simple, but how would you know if you don’t ask? Even if a question like this unearths a challenge that you and your partner struggle with, at least it’s at the surface and it’s being addressed and worked on, together.

You might not agree with their perceptions of the current or potential problem areas in your relationship. But listen anyway: The biggest mistake you can make is minimizing their concerns. Take them to heart, and show them your willingness to take active steps towards improvement. If you don’t know how to do that, again, it’s okay. Nobody knows how to “do” relationships without support and guidance. Good premarital counseling can help you learn and grow together, and develop core skills like being able to validate and take influence from your partner.

What could I do differently that would make you feel more satisfied with our relationship?

Focused questions like this one, where you’re seeking specifics, can really show your partner how much you want to engage with them and how dedicated you are to making the relationship work. Sure, you want them to invest in you as much as you invest in them, but making sure that exchange happens amicably can start with you taking the first step and asking your partner something like this. If their answer to your question makes you feel defensive (or even hurt) that’s actually a good thing: You just got important information about a “growth area” for your relationship, that you can now do something constructive with.

The goal of asking all these premarital questions is to prepare yourself for marriage, which in turn means assembling a tool box of essential relationship skills. Your partner’s answer to this question is providing you with a gift: Direct, explicit feedback about what tool is the most important — to them.

Growing Self Counseling and Coaching

Let’s Talk: Start With a Free Consultation

If you’re ready to grow, we’re here to help. Connect with us, and let us know your hopes and goals. We’ll follow up with recommendations, and will help you schedule a first, free consultation.

If you had a magic wand and could “poof” us into your perfect, ideal reality 20 years from now, what would be happening?

This is a fun framing device to discuss long-term goals and dreams isn’t it? Maybe their answer will reveal something the two of you can start excitedly planning today! But it also reveals important information about their long term hopes, values and goals. Understanding what these are is important when you’re planning to design a life together.

What are your greatest hopes for our shared future?

Again, just asking this reveals to your partner how open you are to meeting their needs and brings perhaps previously unsaid desires to the surface, giving the two of you the opportunity to dream and plan. As you ask this question, be listening for more than the circumstantial stuff like where to live or when to retire. Listen for their hopes about your relationship — what it will feel like, how they’ll feel connected to you, and what they’ll enjoy most about being with you in the future.

What are your biggest concerns about getting married?

This is a big question, and can feel scary to talk about, but it is so, so important. Your partner may share concerns that you didn’t realize were troubling them. These concerns might be related to “known issues” in your relationship, or not have anything to do with you at all.

But asking them with authentic, compassionate curiosity and staying open to the answer will not just give you an opportunity to solve potential problems. It will give you the chance to build an even closer, more emotionally intimate relationship with the person you’re planning to spend your life with.

How are we going to solve problems when we see things differently? Or want different things?

A question like this can really shine a light on what you’re signing up for in a marriage to someone, right? It’s easy to think about how great your marriage will be when times are good and conflict is non-existent. But what makes a partnership truly thrive over time — lots and lots of time — is how the two of you handle inevitable conflict. Coming to an agreement about approaches to solving problems when there are contrasting points of view will have an outsized impact, because it’s bound to happen. 

It’s also important to know that some problems aren’t “solvable.” In these cases, the path to having a healthy, happy relationship isn’t fixing the situation; it’s staying compassionate and emotionally connected with each other in spite of having differences.

Do you feel understood by me?

At the core of every strong, healthy relationship is empathy: a true knowing and caring of another person. The emotional bond of a relationship is based on the sense that you are fundamentally understood by your partner, and that you are accepted and valued for who and what you are. If your partner feels misunderstood by you, or that you only love parts of them and not the whole enchilada, it’s incredibly important to get that out into the open.

When marriages fail, it’s not usually because of some dramatic bomb going off. Marriages fail due to a lack of authentic connection, persistent feelings of devaluation or invalidation, and absence of emotional intimacy. Authentic understanding is the heart and soul of emotional intimacy. If you’re going to pay attention to cultivating one thing in your marriage — let it be that.

Do you feel emotionally safe with me?

Inquiring directly as to whether or not your partner believes they can be totally open with you — not just by sharing their thoughts but also expressing themself in the moment — will go a long way in strengthening your bond and keeping it sound going forward. If they reveal that they don’t tell you things because they anticipate a negative response from you (or believe that you might not care) it can be hard to hear … but absolutely essential to know!

How can I be a better partner and friend for you?

The friendship element of a romantic partnership is huge, if only because you’re spending more time with each other than anyone else. So you’d better get along, be aligned in crucial ways, and just like being in each other’s company. But friends are also there for each other in times of need, as are partners. What, specifically, makes your partner feel like you have their back, care about them, and are a supportive friend through thick and thin? Their answer will reveal, among other things, their love language. If you feel that being a good friend is by spending time together, but they really feel cared about through the things that you do for them, you need to know that.

How will we manage our finances?

One of the biggest points of conflict for many couples is around money. Money is highly symbolic, and means very different things for different people. (Security, freedom, fun, or even love). Money is also often a repository for all kinds of core beliefs and values inherited from our families of origin, around roles, responsibilities, and even “the meaning of life.” Deep stuff, but that’s why conflict around finances can become so intense and emotionally fraught (something a financial counselor for couples can support you with).

Financial counseling for couples is frequently part of a meaningful premarital counseling experience. Unearthing core beliefs about money and marriage, and expectations about how it will be handled will lay the foundation for understanding and acceptance of each other’s perspective. It will also help you develop a mutual plan for how it should be handled in the family that you’re co-creating, as well as the nuts and bolts of who, specifically, will be opening the mail and keeping an eye on the autopay.

How will we deal with children and parenting duties?

Perhaps there’s no more important question you and your partner should get on the same page about because the answers will impact the lives of one or more young, developing individuals. There’s no greater responsibility than that of raising your children, and the weight of that challenge can lean heavily on a relationship that’s out of sync in this area.

There are big, macro questions like, “Do you want kids? And when?” but also questions like, “Will one of us stay home? Do we put our infant in daycare? Who, specifically, will be the primary parent? Or will we both work part time?” 

On an even more granular (but more deep) level are questions like, “How were you parented?” and, “What do you think is the most helpful way to guide children?” and “How do you want our children to feel with you?” Like it or not, the default setting for all humans is to parent our kids pretty much the same way that we were parented. Unless you’re consciously doing things differently, you can expect your partner to bring in the things they inherited from their family experience, for better or for worse.

Furthermore, if you two are going to be blending families, there is a lot of pre-planning involved in order for that to go well. The number one thing that will tear a second marriage with kids apart are disagreements about how the other person is parenting, or interacting with the kids. Step parenting is complex, and difficult. Wise couples go into it with a solid parenting plan, ideally one that has been co-created with an experienced marriage and family therapist.

Growing Self Counseling and Coaching

Let’s Talk: Start With a Free Consultation

If you’re ready to grow, we’re here to help. Connect with us, and let us know your hopes and goals. We’ll follow up with recommendations, and will help you schedule a first, free consultation.

What do we each believe needs to be done to run a functional household? Who is going to do what? And when?

Life requires so much maintenance, the bulk of which occurs in your household. Who will keep the cabinets and refrigerator stocked with food, who will walk the dog and when, who will cook and/or do the dishes, and so many other responsibilities that really never end are all part of a great big system in a functioning household that should be built in premarital counseling, or at least before a marriage begins.

You can create these systems the easy way (through proactive premarital counseling) or the hard way (through a series of battles and power struggles). It doesn’t have to be that hard! Getting in alignment about the matter of fact aspects of daily life will help you step into a smoothly operating system from the start.

What are our agreed-upon boundaries for our family? And how do we set those with each other’s family of origin?

Your parents as well as your partner’s parents — and other relatives, too — might have a lot of advice to give, and there’s a chance they might try and help a little too much. Asking your partner questions like, “How much time do you want to spend with my family?” or “How much influence do you think my (or your) parents should have over our life?” are really important premarital conversation topics, especially if you’re in a cross-cultural relationship, where expectations may be vastly different.

If your marriage is a mixed-family situation, where kids from a previous relationship and their parents (your or your partner’s Ex) are involved, there’s a whole other layer to this question of boundaries and expectations. Set them up now before someone crosses an unmarked line and feelings are hurt.

How do we navigate “Me time” vs. “We time”?

Everyone is different when it comes to the amount of time they want to spend with a partner. Heck, there are perfectly healthy married couples who sleep in different bedrooms, for example, but the reason they function so highly is because such an arrangement was discussed openly and honestly well ahead of time. Are vacations alone OK? Will you eat dinner together and watch TV til bedtime or watch your own shows separately? Maybe Sunday is the day you make dates, while the rest of the week is reserved for work, friends, family, etc.? I can’t answer what your boundaries will look like, but you can — and you should.

When we run into a rough patch, how will we know?

What’s the “canary in the coal mine” for your relationship? For some couples, it’s when one partner stops wanting to have sex. For others, it’s a feeling of emotional disengagement, or a lack of shared time together. 

If you’re still a new-ish couple, you may not yet have experienced that with each other. But knowing each other as well as you do, what are the first signs that one of you is starting to feel resentful, or hurt, or frustrated? 

And, even more importantly…

What will we do to get our relationship back on track?

All relationships have ups and downs. All couples have things to work through, things to learn, and “growth opportunities” as the years go by. This is normal and expected. The fact that they happen is not a problem. The problem is when couples don’t know how to handle these moments effectively. Without that competence to get back on track, they avoid issues or have unproductive fights that don’t lead to resolution. Without the ability to get back on track they can’t grow together, so they grow further apart. 

Learning healthy relationship skills going into your marriage, knowing how to stay connected with each other emotionally, knowing how to communicate effectively, and how to solve problems constructively are the tools in your toolbox. You’ll use them all the time to take care of small maintenance issues before they become big problems. You’ll also use those to fix cracks in the foundation, or replace the roof if something big happens.

Those healthy relationship tools aren’t things that we’re explicitly taught, unfortunately, as we’re growing up. They are acquired intentionally, once we arrive into adulthood and start having relationships. Sometimes, couples only start learning how to do these things in marriage counseling — when it feels like their marriage is on the brink. I believe with all my heart, that the better way to do this is through genuinely deep, meaningful premarital counseling that prepares you with a toolbox to handle problems before they start.


I am a marriage counselor, but I’d honestly rather not see you in marriage counseling when you and your partner are throwing a “Hail Mary” to keep the relationship going on the brink of divorce. Couples counseling is positive and easy when couples still fundamentally like and trust each other, and are committed to each other. But it’s harder to repair a damaged relationship. I’ve had very sad sessions with couples for whom it was too late for marriage counseling, and it’s terrible. 

That is why asking these questions and doing good work in premarital counseling before you get married is so important. Skipping it is the biggest mistake engaged couples make. If you start thinking about (and talking about) all the things I’ve outlined above, and take proactive steps to build your toolbox, it will prevent problems in the future. And if you’d like to help an engaged couple in your life do the same, you can even give them the gift of premarital counseling.

So — a lot of information, but I hope you receive it as a wedding gift from me to you. I hope that this honest discussion helps you and your fiance go into your marriage with open eyes, open hearts, and a growth mindset.

Your partner in growth, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Meet a Few of Our

Premarital Counselors