Whether you are already in a relationship or are considering marrying a partner, these questions could be the start of a conversation about your mutual expectations of one another.
- What are the duties of a husband and a wife? What roles should a husband alone perform, and likewise a wife? Are these set in stone or are they negotiable? How traditional are these roles, i.e. should a wife clean the house and a husband always work outside the home?
- In a relationship, who should initiate sex? What are the "rules" about who should pursue whom when it comes to sex?
- How often should a couple have sex?
- Will there be children, and how many? When is the right time to have children? What are the reasons for having children?
- Who will be responsible for the children, and how will they be raised?
- What will happen if the couple is infertile?
- How will a relationship change after children, and what do you expect your life to be like after children?
- How much involvement do you expect with in-laws and extended family?
- Does the other partner have "veto power" in the relationship? Does anyone have the role of "head of the household"?
- What constitutes infidelity in your relationship? What do you agree to and what is your understanding of your boundaries when it comes to other people?
- What are your work values? What happens with unemployment and how do you feel about retirement and what it entails?
- Who is responsible for the finances of the couple, and how is money shared and managed?
- How do you feel about the relationship changing over time? For example, what would happen if your partner pursued a completely different career or radically changed their appearance?
- What are your religious or spiritual beliefs, and what life philosophy do you follow?
- How involved are you in your community and do you think this should change when part of a couple?
- What are your political affiliations and how do you see yourself as participating as a citizen in current events?
- What do you think is the best way to deal with conflict? What happens when boundaries are broken and what are your beliefs about divorce?
- Do you have any "deal-breakers" that are important to you, i.e. drug use?
- How much time do you believe is healthy for a couple to spend together vs spending time apart?
- Ultimately, what is your main motivation for pursuing a relationship? In other words, what makes a relationship important to you?
You may discover more as you explore these questions in more detail. Of course, 100% agreement on everything is not likely or even desirable. But it is important to have the conversation, and to understand for yourself what your values and expectations are.
by Lyndsay Wilson