5 Crucial Questions to Ask Your Partner Before Marriage or Commitment

Love, at first sight, is romantic and magical, but it is also blind. If you and your partner want your relationship to last a lifetime, it is worth taking some time to shine a light on some of your blind spots by asking important questions and checking out your assumptions. You can avoid a lot of misunderstanding and unhappiness by initiating difficult conversations. Here are five questions to get you started, but of course the sky is the limit when it comes to learning more about your loved one. These questions are also good to revisit periodically as people grow and change.

1. What are your deal-breakers?

It’s a little awkward to talk about deal-breakers when you are newly in love and everything is going well, but it’s unwise to enter a commitment without clarifying your core needs. This isn’t only the obvious issues like violence and cheating, but it can include topics such as geographical re-location, child-rearing approaches, spiritual or religious practices, and whether or not you want children at all.

2. How do we plan to define our monogamy or non-monogamy agreement? 

Many couples assume they want the same things regarding commitment and exclusivity without specifically articulating their wants and needs in this area. It can be awkward to raise the topic out of fear that your partner will misunderstand your reasons for asking for clarification.. This is a reasonable concern, but more risky is saying your vows before knowing what the commitment actually means to you. I recommend courageously talking about how to manage jealousy and attraction and the boundaries of flirtation.

3. How are we going to stay connected while also maintaining our independence?

The joy of a primary romantic relationship is that it offers a life partner who will be there for you during joys and sorrows, and you’ll always have someone in your corner cheering you on. But it is also crucial to remember that you are two independent people with lives outside your relationship. It is too much pressure to put all your eggs in one basket. I recommend talking about ways that you’ll make sure you maintain independent hobbies and friendships as well as personal and professional ambitions. This way, you can plan to share your lives together while also thriving as individuals.

4. What makes you feel loved?

Take turns asking each other how you can help the other feel more loved. We know from Gary Chapman’s work that people prefer to give and receive love in different ways. It is wise to know how your partner likes to feel loved before getting married so that you give them what they want, not what you want. Similarly, tell your partner how you feel loved (you’re more likely to get the things you ask for 🙂

5. How do you like to deal with conflict?

We know from Dr. John Gottman’s work that there are 3 functional conflict management styles; conflict-avoiding, volatile, and validating (not to be confused with the 2 dysfunctional styles: hostile and hostile-detached). People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that their preferred conflict style is right, and all the others are wrong. By reading up on the benefits and risks of the multiple ways to handle disagreements, the two of you can explore an approach that works for you. 

Congratulations on having found love in your life! Good luck asking these questions and I hope they kickstart an informative and intimacy-building conversation.


Laura Silverstein, LCSW

Laura Silverstein is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist, and author of Love Is An Action Verb.  She has thirty years of clinical experience and is the founder and co-owner of Main Line Counseling Partners, based in Bryn Mawr, PA. Laura is a frequent contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog and has appeared as a relationship expert in media outlets such as the New York Times, ABC, and Today. She helps couples find more happiness as a research clinician, speaker, trainer, and writer with a positive, action-oriented style.

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