What you should do BEFORE you get married: A Premarital Checklist

     Preparing for a wedding is an exciting time in the life of a couple.  According to the Pew Research Center, the average couple spends $23,867 for a wedding ceremony and reception. But what about the investment made towards the marriage?  Not long after the bird seed has been pecked away from the church parking lot and the pictures from the reception have been developed, a couple discovers the honeymoon is over.  He becomes laid-off, she doesn’t see eye-to-eye with her mother-in-law, and the house is going to be foreclosed on if a payment is not made tomorrow.

If you find that you are preparing for a wedding, I urge you to put more time and effort towards the marriage prior to the wedding.

     This is a harsh contrast from the “goo-goo” eyes you may make at each other in the throes of premarital bliss, but marriage becomes so much more than that butterfly feeling you get in your stomach when you look at him.  If you find that you are preparing for a wedding, I urge you to put more time and effort towards the marriage prior to the wedding.  This requires a frank look at where you and your spouse-to-be stand on a number of issues.

     Prayerfully consider the checklist below, taking time with each other to learn where you as a married couple will stand.  Prior to completing the checklist, pray together.  This may seem awkward if you’ve never done this before, but it is the foundation of a healthy relationship.  You may have read that 50% of marriages end in divorce, and that this number is also true of Christian marriages.  These commonly spouted statistics do not take into account the level of spiritual involvement a couple has with one another.  Couples who pray together, do daily devotionals and read their bibles may be less likely to become divorced, than the national norm.  A couple’s devotion to each other along with God is harder to quantify and place among the statistics.

The Pre-Marital Checklist

Pray together, and then discuss these questions together:

Spiritual

1. Do you share the same spiritual background?  (If different, how so?)

2. How much spiritual involvement are you going to have with your spouse?  (How many times per week will you pray with each other?  How often will you do devotionals and study the Bible together?)

3. How much church involvement will you have?  (Sundays, Sundays and Wednesday night services, more, less?)

4. How much spiritual involvement/church involvement will you have with your future children?  (How many times per week will you pray together?  How often will you do devotionals and read Bible stories?  How often will you go to church?)

Family/Children

5. Do you want to have children?

6. If you say yes, do you believe that the mother should stay home with the child (children) after they are born?  For how long?

7. What kind of extra-curricular activities will you allow when they get older?

8. What kind of schooling do you want them to have?

9. What is your back-up plan if want to have children, but find that you are infertile?  (Would you consider adoption?  What are your feelings on fertility treatment?)

10. What are your feelings on family planning? (How will you be prepared for an unplanned pregnancy?)

11. Are there any family traditions that you want to pass along to your family?  Are there any ideas of new traditions you would like to start with your marriage?

12. Do you know each other’s medical history?

13. Consider your respective families.  Think of the possibilities that your parents, or your spouse’s parents may need someone to assist them with day-to-day living.  Would you consider having one or both of your parents or your spouse’s parents live with you?

14. What kind of time do you want to spend with each other’s family weekly, monthly, yearly?

15. How will you go about celebrating the holidays?

Money/Finances

16. How do you feel about the wife making more of an income than the husband? (Be honest, this one can be tricky and really bring about pride issues!)

17. What is your back-up plan if you lose your job?

18. Are you a saver or do you live beyond your means?

19. Will you make a weekly/monthly/yearly budget together?

20. Will you share banking/credit card accounts, or have separate accounts?

Sex

21. What are your sexual expectations? (This will change as you learn about each other in the marital experience, be prepared for compromise.)

22. How do you feel about your spouse being seen in public with someone of the opposite sex without you? (Should your spouse be in close quarters with someone of the opposite sex alone?)

23. Consider the possibility that injury or illness could prevent sexual relations for weeks to months on end. Discuss your feelings about this.

24. Also consider the possibility of absence from one another due to business trips, deployments, etc.     What will you do?

25. Have you considered having accountability partners?  (These are people of the same sex who you can talk about issues such as temptation.  It is very wise to find a strong Christian that you can discuss problems with.  Many men find accountability partners helpful with dealing the temptation of pornography and the temptation of infidelity.)

Miscellaneous (And yet VERY important!)

26. Do you want pets? (Are you a cat person, dog person, exotic animal person?)

27. How will you divvy up household responsibilities?

28. Do you have or will you get life insurance?

29. Are you an organ donor?

30. Do you have a living will?

31. Do you believe in being placed on life support in the event of a life-threatening illness or injury?

32. What are your eating patterns/routines?

33. How would you like to spend “free time” as a married couple?

34. What is your opinion of alcoholic consumption?

     Of course this list is a springboard for more questions you may have for each other.  Use this list as an opportunity to bring up other questions you may have for each other.

Posted by Laura Ketchie | Counselor

Laura Ketchie, LPC is a counselor who specializes in women's issues. Her favorite verse is: "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:8-9

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