Hey there, soon-to-be newlyweds! Wedding season is almost upon us. It’s a crazy and exciting time. Soak in every moment as you plan your wedding this summer. However, I want to take a minute to stress the importance of planning what comes post-wedding. Allow me to tell you the story of the worksheet that saved my marriage.
How Did I Find This?
First, I need to tell you a little back story. My parents got divorced when I was very young. As I grew older, I found myself saying that I never, ever wanted to get married. My therapist helped me realize that this was because the only marriage I really knew was one that didn’t end well.
When asked about marriage, I could only list negative things. I couldn’t see anything positive about it. My boyfriend at the time (who is now my husband) patiently helped me realize that being married is actually a super positive thing. It was a process, but it happened!
Not all of my problems were solved, though. I had received spiritual confirmation that this man was the one I should marry, but I refused to jump into it. I needed to make sure we were compatible. However, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like it would take a lifetime to really get to know someone as much as I wanted.
I continued talking with my therapist about this and he gave me a worksheet with 12 topics/questions on it. He said for my boyfriend and me to fill it out separately and then discuss our answers. Ladies and gentlemen, this saved my marriage. I have to share it with you.
There are a lot of different topics here and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You don’t have to do it all at once! Try just doing one a day or two a week. It’s almost impossible to do this all in one day (especially if you want to be thorough).
Take your time with each section. Allow your discussions to be guided by the Spirit. You will be prompted to talk about other things that aren’t exactly listed here. That’s okay! Go with it.
It is crucial that you answer these questions on a sheet of paper separately. Once you’ve written all of your thoughts down, read them to each other. If your answers differ, congrats! You get to practice compromising! This skill will be used throughout your married life, so get comfortable.
The goal of this exercise is not to break up your relationship. It is here to strengthen it, find out if you’re compatible, and prepare you for marriage. I am so grateful my husband and I had the chance to learn these things about each other before we got married. So, without further ado, here are your discussion topics!
How much will you work? Your partner? How will you manage bank accounts and how will bills be paid? How will you handle tithing? How will you make decisions about major purchases?
There is no one right way to manage money in a marriage. The reason it leads to so many problems is due to a lack of communication. I’m no therapist, but I believe that if you’re both on the same page when it comes to finances, your relationship will be able to handle whatever money problems life throws at you.
2. Children and Parenting
Will you have children? How soon? How many? What is your approach to parenting? Who disciplines and what types of punishment will be used? Is spanking okay?
It may seem strange to talk about this so early on. Perhaps you haven’t even thought about your approach to parenting! However, this topic is so important. Take time to think about this and talk about it deeply.
3. Decision Making
How will you make big decisions (where to live, jobs, etc.)? Small decisions (what movie to see, where to eat, etc.)?
This can definitely be tricky. It’s hard to know exactly how you’ll feel when the big decisions show up. My husband and I promised to keep the Lord on our side so we could have the Spirit help us when those came up.
4. Communication and Conflict
How will you handle disagreements? Do you prefer to “give it space” or talk about it? Is it okay to go to bed angry? What is acceptable communication within arguments? What is unacceptable?
You will have conflicts in marriage. The important thing is that you make an effort to work through them. We all handle disagreements differently, and that’s okay! My conflict resolution style has changed over time. Re-evaluate this question occasionally with your partner.
How often? What are you comfortable with? Who initiates? How will you handle occasions in which one of you does not want it?
I had a lot of anxiety regarding sex. I was absolutely terrified of it. Can you imagine how awful the wedding night would have been if my husband and I weren’t on the same page? Make sure your partner knows about your expectations and thoughts. In my opinion, this is one of the most vital conversations to have.
Smoking? Alcohol? Other drugs? Exercise? Types of hobbies? Pets?
Your lifestyles are going to be different. How will they affect your relationship and time together? How important are they to you? Some of us live the Word of Wisdom differently. What do these things look like to you?
7. Leisure Time
What does a typical Friday night look like? Saturdays? How much time will you spend with your own friends (without your partner)?
This is another aspect of life that will change depending on time and circumstances. Come back to this occasionally and be open about your feelings. My husband moved far away from family and didn’t have any friends around when we first got married. It was important for us to discuss the fact that he would feel lonely if I was out with my friends all the time.
8. Marriage Roles
Who does what in regards to work, housekeeping, and cooking? What are your opinions on gender roles and priorities of what should get done around the house?
For example, I despise washing the dishes. My husband promised that he would take care of those. In return, I promised to make sure the toilet was always clean because that’s his least favorite chore. Of course, I have to wash dishes sometimes, but we do our best. We take care of each other!
What role will religion play? What activities will you participate in? How often?
You might think that if you’re part of the same religion there’s nothing to talk about here. That’s not true! Do you wear your church clothes all Sunday long? Are ward activities important to you? What movies are/aren’t okay to watch? How often do you pay your tithing? Don’t skip out on this topic.
How much time will you spend with your family? Your partner’s family? Will you discuss arguments or major decisions with parents?
Family relationships can be a hard thing to navigate. Work together and communicate often. Your loyalty should always be to your spouse first and foremost. In our marriage, we have chosen to never say anything negative behind the back of our partner. Our families should only hear the positive! Of course, some circumstances require otherwise. Follow the Spirit.
11. Fidelity in Marriage
Are you comfortable with your spouse talking to friends of the opposite sex? What boundaries do you expect?
This topic is similar to the family relationships section. What is it okay to talk with your friends about? What should you keep to yourselves? Find out how you both feel about the subject.
What is your commitment to the marriage? Under what circumstances would you consider divorce?
In our relationship, we decided to not even joke about divorce. Like I mentioned earlier, I come from a divorced family. I want to do everything I possibly can to avoid this situation in my future. Discuss how you feel about the matter.
In a few sections, I mentioned that you should revisit some of the questions later on in life. Keep this article on hand! My husband and I go over our packet every so often. Life changes fast and so does your outlook.
When having these discussions, the Holy Ghost is so important. He will help you find a middle ground and discuss the questions that may not have been listed here. Stay open-minded!
I wish you the best of luck during this exciting time! Married life is the best, especially when you communicate well and work together. I hope this list helps you and your partner. Have fun!
Don’t forget to share this article with anyone you know that’s getting married soon! Thanks for reading!