Topics for engaged couples to discuss--Imput needed


#1

Hey guys. So my fiance and i took the Focus test. We relaized it is a great starting point for convestations but it is not complete. I want to buy a book of questions to ask before you married but i couldn’t find one at the book store so i am turning to you guys. What topics do you think are important to ask before heading down the isle?

Questions we have discussed
1.) Finances (Joint checking, paying off loans, how we track and pay bills)
2.) Where to live and what our goal are (ie the style of house, the number of roms, location etc)
3.) End of life (life-support, organ donation, where to be buried)
4.) Raising kids
5.) Staying at home ( We both agree that this is something that we can only talk about in general because no matter how many plans we make they could change but we want to have a clear path on what avenues we would agree to take like homeschooling especially until we pay off my law school loan or which one might stay home.)
6.) Faith (both of us are catholic, we go to the same parish so our kids will be raised catholic.)
7.) Pets (maybe a dog but no cats and none right away)
8.) Jobs (what are goals are for our careers)

I know ther are other areas but what are they?

Also how does one talk about sex in the abstract? This was one of the problems with the focus test. It asked sexual questions under the unasumption that you are having sex. “I am uncomfortable about some sexual activities my marriage partner may ask of me.”…How am i (we) suppose to know the answer to this? We aren’t having sex or anything close to it. I can’t say that i won’t do something yet. So how does one talk about sex when you don’t have any experiences or expectations of what it will be like?

Thanks for all your help!


#2

[quote="beckers, post:1, topic:197026"]

I know ther are other areas but what are they?

Also how does one talk about sex in the abstract? This was one of the problems with the focus test. It asked sexual questions under the assumption that you are having sex. "I am uncomfortable about some sexual activities my marriage partner may ask of me."....How am i (we) suppose to know the answer to this? We aren't having sex or anything close to it. I can't say that i won't do something yet. So how does one talk about sex when you don't have any experiences or expectations of what it will be like?

Thanks for all your help!

[/quote]

God bless you for making the right choice. You need to, however, be able to talk about it with your fiancée. I heard someone say that the three things that can doom a marriage are Sex, Money, and Children (No, it's not a scientific statistic, but it is a good point).

Why don't you say something like , "Honey, we're about to be married. My body is yours, and yours is mine-why don't we talk about how we want to share it with each other?"

It's not something I would talk about with strangers, but I would certianly talk about it with a future spouse.

Also talk about the silly, stupid things in life-Do you care if he plays video games all day once in awhile? Can he go to a mosh pit with his friends and have you be okay with staying home with the kids/dogs/by yourself or with friends that night? Can he be okay if you go shopping with the girls?

Sure, it's serious, but try to have some fun as well.


#3

so many of the categories you presented are rich for conversation.

take finances: questions like, what are thr priorities? savings? paying loans? charitable giving? how much? what constitutes frivolous spending do changing circumstances change the standard of ‘frivolous?’ when things get tight, what are you willing to give up first? last?

how about children: what gender roles are valuable? harmful? what constitutes spoiling? what if baby has a favorite? what about your parents-- how much intervention/ interference do we allow? invite? what is the least favorable quality in a child? most favorible attribute? is it different between boys and girls?

of my coping methods, which is my most admirable? most burdensome? what about of my humor-- most admirable? burdensome? and of my energy levels? of my outlook on life? of my acceptance of you?

in what ways might my most admirable qualities become annoying?

can i ask you to pray with me? can you ask me to pray with you? how much prayer life is too much? how much is not enough? what constitutes leniency in faith matters? what constitutes scrupulosity? would you like our family to have a specific devotion? consecration?

of these following, i’m having dificulty seeing how these questions wouldn’t be too provocative for a couple who was practicing chastity, but here goes my best shot:

what if i’m not comfortable being naked in front of you? what if you deem me too comfortable being naked in front of you? once we experience marital intimacy, will abstinence times become harder than chastity is now? will we be able to talk about it? what if we’re struggling with NFP-- will be able to talk about it without blame or defensiveness? what if, when we’re avoiding conception, i feel tired. is there a good way to say no during ‘safe’ times?

how’s that?


#4

Excellent post!

One thing that I saw missing from that list is household responsibilities. How do you like things organized and what are your expectations? Do you generally agree that you’ll split dishwashing duty and laundry? What household chores do you like to do, and which ones do you hate? This is just something nice to be aware of before you share a home.

As for sex, before getting married my husband and I both read JPII’s Love and Responsibility and listened to some Christopher West CDs (“Naked without Shame”) during a long road trip. We didn’t really need to talk about it after that. We’ve run into a few problems in the bedroom since (pain, NFP interpretations), but we dealt with those on the spot and it has worked out just fine. As long as you’re on the same page theologically, there’s no need for you to get into details at this point. (Although Monica’s suggestions are fantastic!)


#5

Ask the questions about inlaws, and how you will handle the holidays, how you feel about the role of grandparents in your family, what happens if one of your parents need adult care, etc. Ask any question of what could potentially happen that you never thought would happen and how you each feel about it.

Ask each other how you see a typical day in your week playing out, how you handle going out with your friends, separately or together.

And you really need to ask every question you can possibly think about when it comes to kids. Because that really seems to be the one area that brings out stuff you never thought about asking each other, until you’re a parent. How are you going to discipline? How important is involving the child in sports? How will you handle it if your child has a learning disablility or a physical handicap?

And the really hard, hard questions: what if you suffer from infertility? How do you feel about NPF? What happens if you find out you’re having a baby and there are complications, etc, etc. What happens if one of you becomes disabled yourself in your lifetime? How will you handle it if the unthinkable happens in every area of your life? You have to ask this stuff now, before the marriage when things are ideal.


#6

You have received SUCH great suggestions for really specific questions here! I'd talk about ALL of them!

I think it is very important to step back and talk about marriage in general as well. What do you understand the sacrament of marriage to be? What does it mean to become "one flesh"? How do you understand marriage imitating the perfect, self-giving union of Christ with the Church? What are your roles as husband and wife? What does this vocation mean to you? How do you understand marriage as a lifelong covenant? Under what circumstances would you ever consider divorce or annulment (the answer to this question should be 'never' or 'in case of abuse')? How do you understand your wedding vows, and how do you plan to live them each day?

If you share an understanding of marriage as a lifelong covenant where your main goal is getting one another to heaven, you will be able to face together whatever struggles come your way.


#7

[quote="monicatholic, post:3, topic:197026"]

of these following, i'm having dificulty seeing how these questions wouldn't be too provocative for a couple who was practicing chastity, but here goes my best shot:

what if i'm not comfortable being naked in front of you? what if you deem me too comfortable being naked in front of you? once we experience marital intimacy, will abstinence times become harder than chastity is now? will we be able to talk about it? what if we're struggling with NFP-- will be able to talk about it without blame or defensiveness? what if, when we're avoiding conception, i feel tired. is there a good way to say no during 'safe' times?

[/quote]

These are very good suggestions. My husband and I talked about sex and our expectations and fears before the wedding. We found that it helps to either have this conversation over coffee/lunch/whatever (in a secluded part of the restaurant, of course) or even through email or IM. That way you avoid most occasions of temptation, and for me at least it was easier to talk about sex through writing rather than in person (that changed after the wedding, of course).

The important thing is for both of you to be honest. What are your fears and anxieties regarding sex? What are your expectations of the wedding night (no need to get incredibly specific)? Will you try to consummate no matter what, wait and see how tired you are, or let NFP dictate? What are your expectations for the honeymoon? (It helps to know if your future spouse expects to have sex every day and night!). Is there anything that your future spouse should know before the wedding night? (I'm thinking especially along the lines of NFP-related stuff, such as the seminal fluid instruction or end-of-day instructions for intercourse; also, most men don't realize that women can experience pain and bleeding with intercourse, especially the first few times.) You don't need to get really specific, and probably don't know how before the wedding, but can if it's necessary (as in "I don't think I would be comfortable with ____").

I've heard good things about the book Holy Sex! by Greg Popcak. Maybe it would be helpful to read it separately and then talk about it?


#8

Even if you're not having sex, don't you have some idea of how frequently you'd want to have sex and what kind of sexual behaviors you're interested in?

Probably something you should talk about. Women seem to have a lot of issues when their husbands either use pornography, masturbate, or demand unconventional types of sex (like anal sex) or even want to have sex too frequently for the woamn. Even if you're waiting for marriage to do it, you probably shouldn't leave it undiscussed.


#9

As a married woman, I really, really like Monica’s list. The questions she asked mainly deal with your and your fiancé’s outlook/expectations about crucial aspects of marriage.

In relation to the questions you OP listed, I would caution you not to get caught up in specific arrangements (style of house, the number of rooms), so as to be able to depart from your plans if needed, and not complain about ‘what was agreed before marriage’. Having the woman stay at home with the kids as a goal is good, recognizing that it might be the best way to raise the kids is good, but please do not forget that life does not conform to our plans, and you need enough flexibility to handle changes with grace, and not get stuck grieving a dream life. Really, you never know what may come your way…infertility, or on the contrary uber-fertility, a sick father/mother who needs 24hrs care, job loss or a very demanding job…Once again, don’t make specific plans that will keep you from seizing various opportunities in life with grace.

Don’t forget to talk about in-law relationships - again, not so much the specifics (holidays) but rather think about what is appropriate to share with parents, what not, what is an unhealthy dependence on your parents’ opinion, what is a close family…


#10

I think you should talk about the silly as well as the serious. It's hard to think about everything that may come up but you never know when one day you spend alot of time planning and making his favourite meal and he carelessly says this doesn't taste like my mother's and you may just lose it. This is just a skewered example but you will know what applies to your life. But in-laws can be very touchy, even if you get along now that may change when the kids come.

Always remember you were raised in different households with different ways of doing things. Your way is not necessarily right and neither is his. This I think is something to definitely talk about.


#11

:rolleyes:Indeed you got great tips here, and I would especially like to emphasize Rach's contribution about sex.

[quote="Rach620, post:7, topic:197026"]
The important thing is for both of you to be honest. What are your fears and anxieties regarding sex? What are your expectations of the wedding night (no need to get incredibly specific)? Will you try to consummate no matter what, wait and see how tired you are, or let NFP dictate? What are your expectations for the honeymoon? (It helps to know if your future spouse expects to have sex every day and night!). Is there anything that your future spouse should know before the wedding night? (I'm thinking especially along the lines of NFP-related stuff, such as the seminal fluid instruction or end-of-day instructions for intercourse; also, most men don't realize that women can experience pain and bleeding with intercourse, especially the first few times.) You don't need to get really specific, and probably don't know how before the wedding, but can if it's necessary (as in "I don't think I would be comfortable with ____").

[/quote]

Even though you don't have any idea of HOW Sex will be, you sure have expectations about how it should be. Your upbringing, your environment, the novels you read, the movies you saw, the conversations you (over)heard, all this will have impregnated you, whether you're aware of it or not.
Well, you'd better get aware of it, because indeed these expectations need to get discussed as soon as possible.

I didn't realize until after several painful months of marriage that I had gotten married with expectations that were totally irrealist on this matter and, waouh, did it help once I accepted that those were expectations, not reality.:rolleyes:
Example => As a Catholic that was led to being a witness to "following the Church's teachings leads to a great happiness", I had this pressure that our couple had to be the living proof that Catholics could have a great sex life, and I somehow equated that with "had to have sex almost every non-fertile day when using NFP to TTA" (if not twice a day while we're at it):blush:
Oh my.


#12

French Gwen-- "impregnated" you . . good one!

Anywho, yes, lots of good topics to discuss. Unintended pun aside, French Gwen's suggestion that you discuss how your views on sexuality were formed, by whom, your attitudes, and understanding of the Church's view of marriage as a sacrament is a really good one.

Part two, discuss communication styles, and what you will do if your innate communication styles aren't getting the job done. Speaker/listener technique has really helped the communication in my marriage at times. In essence, how to share, argue, discuss on the things you don't agree on.


#13

I think it is nice to talk about these things, but I wouldn’t expect the answers to be binding in any way. Marriage is a long time. Situation changes. Ideas change. People change. The most important question is: Do you love this person with all of your soul?

Here’s an example. I have been married for six years. In that brief time, our answers to almost all of your list of questions has changed, because our lives have changed.

1.) Finances: I went from making 30K per year to making six figures, in less than four years. Now we’re considering going on mission and making nothing for four years. Neither of these could have been foreseen when we got married.

2.) Where to live and what our goal are: Our goal of raising a family has remained consistent, but we have lived in three places in the last six years. We may be moving again. See above. None of the moves were foreseen when we got married.

3.) End of life: I can’t say we talked about this, but after we had children we both got life insurance. We hadn’t thought about this before we had children (two years ago).

4.) Raising kids: I didn’t want to raise my children in a third world country. My wife is from one. Now we might be moving there with two kids.

5.) Staying at home: At first we thought this was essential. After two kids, we are reconsidering.

6.) Faith: Although we both are Catholic, our level of activity in the Church has greatly increased over the last few years. It just kind of happened.

7.) Pets: We almost bought a dog before the kids. Now I don’t want one until they are old enough to help care for one. My wife still wants one now.

8.) Jobs: In six years, I have worked in four places. My wife has worked in two, and now works taking after our children at home.

  1. Sex: Kids really changes this one. Not worse, just different.

My point is to talk about anything you want, but don’t expect the answers to be binding. Marriage is about the permanence love through change, not the permanence of life. Life is not going to be permanent.


#14

[quote="ChangeWorkPeace, post:13, topic:197026"]
I think it is nice to talk about these things, but I wouldn't expect the answers to be binding in any way. Marriage is a long time. Situation changes. Ideas change. People change. The most important question is: Do you love this person with all of your soul?

Here's an example. I have been married for six years. In that brief time, our answers to almost all of your list of questions has changed, because our lives have changed.

1.) Finances: I went from making 30K per year to making six figures, in less than four years. Now we're considering going on mission and making nothing for four years. Neither of these could have been foreseen when we got married.

2.) Where to live and what our goal are: Our goal of raising a family has remained consistent, but we have lived in three places in the last six years. We may be moving again. See above. None of the moves were foreseen when we got married.

3.) End of life: I can't say we talked about this, but after we had children we both got life insurance. We hadn't thought about this before we had children (two years ago).

4.) Raising kids: I didn't want to raise my children in a third world country. My wife is from one. Now we might be moving there with two kids.

5.) Staying at home: At first we thought this was essential. After two kids, we are reconsidering.

6.) Faith: Although we both are Catholic, our level of activity in the Church has greatly increased over the last few years. It just kind of happened.

7.) Pets: We almost bought a dog before the kids. Now I don't want one until they are old enough to help care for one. My wife still wants one now.

8.) Jobs: In six years, I have worked in four places. My wife has worked in two, and now works taking after our children at home.

9) Sex: Kids really changes this one. Not worse, just different.

My point is to talk about anything you want, but don't expect the answers to be binding. Marriage is about the permanence love through change, not the permanence of life. Life is not going to be permanent.

[/quote]

Good advice. BUT, if at any time you do disagree as a couple when going through these talks, and it could possiblily be a deal breaker, you can not think that getting married is going to change your intended to your way of thinking and thinks are going to magically work out. Of course you have to adapt to what life throws at you as a married couple, but fundamentally you should both have a firm, shared value system.


#15

I don’t really agree with this at all. Not many of the issues mentioned should be real deal-breakers (pets? jobs? the need for life insurance?), and I know many married couples whose slightly different ways of thinking changed to fit with their spouse’s more deeply-held beliefs on certain subjects.

As you said, “fundamentally you should both have a firm, shared value system.” Debating dog vs cat or even stay-at-home-mom vs working mom don’t really pertain to the core values that are necessary for a couple to successfully navigate life together as a married couple. Flexibility and adaptability are more important qualities than any of these other very specific issues, because an engaged couple doesn’t have anything close to a comprehensive idea of what challenges they will face after the wedding.


#16

I was referring to my previous post, where I brought up the really hard issues about how a couple would handle if one becomes disabled, if they are infertile (do they believe IVF is ok for Catholics), what would they do if and when they had a baby they found out the baby had a physical handicap or learning disability in vitro, etc, etc. Those are the deal breakers I was referring to, and those situations can and have broken up what seemed like the best of marriages. I’m not talking about the stuff most couples deal with on a daily basis. I’ve seen marriages of friends break up over these kind of issues, becasue they never took the time to talk about such stuff, because they never, ever thought the unthinkable would happen to them and were blindsided and heartbroken that their spouse didn’t agree with them.


#17

[quote="PatriceA, post:16, topic:197026"]
I was referring to my previous post, where I brought up the really hard issues about how a couple would handle if one becomes disabled, if they are infertile (do they believe IVF is ok for Catholics), what would they do if and when they had a baby they found out the baby had a physical handicap or learning disability in vitro, etc, etc. Those are the deal breakers I was referring to, and those situations can and have broken up what seemed like the best of marriages. I'm not talking about the stuff most couples deal with on a daily basis. I've seen marriages of friends break up over these kind of issues, becasue they never took the time to talk about such stuff, because they never, ever thought the unthinkable would happen to them and were blindsided and heartbroken that their spouse didn't agree with them.

[/quote]

But do we know for sure how we would react in these situations when we are getting engaged? Once again, talking about these things is certainly good. Yet, I would not ascribe much validity to the answers to these questions when given outside of the real context of a situation like this. They may serve as a guidepost, but they are not a map to a good marriage.

Thus, I would not decide to marry or not marry based on whether or not you agree on infertility with your fiance. You may find that there are things that you agree on now that you will not agree on in the future. You may find that there are things you do not agree on now that you will agree on in the future. The basis for marriage must go far deeper than a compatibility test.

Talk about these and other issues—Yes!

Decide to get married based on them—No!


#18

Thanks guys! You have given me some good coverstational starters. basically we do want to discuss as many things as possible so that we know that we are on the same wave length even if we don't agree 100%. We agree that you can't actually plan too many things because life does change. Just don't want to be shocked thinking we are on the same wave length when we aren't. Thats why we talked about life ending issues. Figured if i was his emergency contact i should know his wishes!


#19

sorry for the pun. I think one can notice English's not my mother language at this one.:o:rolleyes::D

[quote="beckers, post:18, topic:197026"]
Thanks guys! You have given me some good coverstational starters. basically we do want to discuss as many things as possible so that we know that we are on the same wave length even if we don't agree 100%. We agree that you can't actually plan too many things because life does change. Just don't want to be shocked thinking we are on the same wave length when we aren't. Thats why we talked about life ending issues. Figured if i was his emergency contact i should know his wishes!

[/quote]

that's a great attitude ! Indeed, your thinking may evolve, but talking about this now is necessary exactly for that reason: not falling off the roof when realizing you think differently. AND having talked about this before getting married will make it easier to broach the subject again later, once needed.:thumbsup:


#20

And the really hard, hard questions: what if you suffer from infertility? How do you feel about NPF? What happens if you find out you’re having a baby and there are complications, etc, etc. What happens if one of you becomes disabled yourself in your lifetime? How will you handle it if the unthinkable happens in every area of your life? You have to ask this stuff now, before the marriage when things are ideal.

But do we know for sure how we would react in these situations when we are getting engaged? Once again, talking about these things is certainly good. Yet, I would not ascribe much validity to the answers to these questions when given outside of the real context of a situation like this. They may serve as a guidepost, but they are not a map to a good marriage.

Thus, I would not decide to marry or not marry based on whether or not you agree on infertility with your fiance. You may find that there are things that you agree on now that you will not agree on in the future. You may find that there are things you do not agree on now that you will agree on in the future. The basis for marriage must go far deeper than a compatibility test.

Well, I have to say, I totally disagree with the bolded in the second quote.

As an adopted child, and with the knowledge that both my mother and her sister and aunt were not able to have a sucessful pregnancy, it was at the forefront of my mind that some women are not able to have babies.

Before we got married, I made sure that my husband and I were on the same page regarding what we would do if I was not able to concieve or carry a pregnancy. I was relieved to know that my DH was fine with adoption, and I was even more relieved when his brother & SIL adopted a baby, and I saw how loving and accepting his entire family was of the new addition. :slight_smile:

It would have been a total deal-breaker for me if he had said “Well, adoption is OK for some people, but I want a baby of my OWN.” Seriously, I would have had to end it.

I know THREE couples who have broken up over disagreements on this very subject – all three tried IVF and other fertility treatments, and when they were unsuccessful, the marriage ended. One man I know actaully TOLD his wife, “I am leaving you because I need to find a woman who can give me children.” :eek: The other two couples just could not get together on adoption (One was for it, the other against) and the marriage faltered, stagnated, and finally failed over their heartbreak and inability to agree on what to do.

So I say to the OP – talk about what you would want to do, should you be unable to conceive a baby.


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