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12 Questions to Ask Before Marriage

Marriage. It’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life, and it can be such a blessing! One of the best parts of my job as co-host of The Ramsey Show and our Ramsey Money & Marriage event is talking to people who are thinking about tying the knot.

And over the years, I’ve learned something from working with so many couples: Way too many people get married without learning important things about their spouse—like whether they’re in significant debt, want to have kids, or have the same religious views.

I know these topics can be awkward and uncomfortable. But marriage is hard enough when you and your spouse are on the same page about big things like money and faith. When you aren’t, things can get messy.

So, to give you some guidance, I’m going to share a list of 12 questions you should ask before marriage. The questions are geared toward people who are dating and wanting to make sure their partner is marriage material . . . but it wouldn’t hurt to ask these questions even if you’re already engaged or married. Let’s dive in.

Money Questions to Ask Before Marriage

1. How do you handle money?

Guys, money is one of the most important things to talk about before marriage because it’s one of the most common things spouses fight about, according to our State of Mental Health 2022 report. And those money fights are a leading cause of divorce.

This is the time to learn about your partner’s money situation and be completely honest about yours. No secrets. The point here is to understand your partner’s attitudes about money and habits for giving, saving and spending. You’ll also want to make sure they’re willing to combine finances once you’re married, which is something I recommend to every married couple.

2. How much debt do you have?

You also need to talk about how much debt you both have. And we’re not going to beat around the bush and say, “Oh yeah, I have some credit card debt from college.”

You need to know specifics. Like, “He’s got $42,321 in debt between student loans and credit card debt. He cut up the cards and started paying off student loans before we ever met, and he’s got a plan to be debt-free in 22 months.” Those are the kinds of details you need to share with each other.

Now, if you or your partner do have debt, that alone isn’t a dealbreaker. But the two of you should be unified about paying it off and not borrowing any more money in the future. That’s the important takeaway here. And hey, maybe you’ll get lucky and find out you both have a bunch of money saved.

3. How would we make a budget?

Budgeting isn’t optional, y’all! You and your future spouse must make a budget every month. Yes, really.

I’ll be honest, I don’t like making a budget—that’s more my husband Winston’s thing. But I do love having a budget, because it keeps our money organized. It also lets us spend money without feeling guilty or fighting about it, since we have a plan for every dollar we make.

Here’s a tip: When it comes to budgeting, I recommend starting by downloading the free EveryDollar app on your phone. It’ll let you set up a budget in just a few minutes—even if you’ve never done it before.

4. What are your money goals?

Chances are you and your significant other are in different stages of your money journey, and that’s A-OK. But you do want to make sure you’re aligned on your money goals for the future.

Here are some examples of great financial goals:

  • Paying off debt
  • Saving for emergencies
  • Investing for the future
  • Saving up a down payment on your house
  • Giving money consistently

The biggest thing is making sure your partner has a long-term vision with their money—and that they’re not the type to get paid on Friday and spend the entire check before Sunday morning.

Relationship Questions to Ask Before Marriage

5. How are our personalities different?

You guys, this is a big one. Whether you’re still dating or already engaged, make sure you learn about your partner’s personality and yours. That’s because your individual personalities will affect everything from how you handle conflict to what makes you feel truly loved.

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I’m a total nerd when it comes to learning about different personality types and communication styles, especially by taking tests like the Enneagram and DISC. I find it fascinating and fun! And this kind of self-awareness has helped me in my own personal growth, as well as in my marriage.

Here’s a tip: Learning about each other’s personality styles doesn’t always have to be super serious. Grab some Questions for Humans Conversation Cards and spend an evening learning about your partner while laughing a whole lot. (I recommend the Dating deck if you really want to get to know each other.)

6. What are your personal goals?

If your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t the type to get excited about New Year’s resolutions or super fired up about “crushing” their next goal, that’s totally fine. But it is important that they value personal growth and have a vision for their future.

So, as you learn more about your partner’s personality, ask them about their personal goals. How do they want their career to look in the future? What do they desire in their relationship with God? Which areas do they most want to grow in?

7. How do you handle conflict?

This is a question you should get an answer to without having to literally ask it. That’s because, as you spend more time with someone, you’ll naturally get a good look at how they handle conflict.

So, when you and your partner disagree, how do they respond? Healthy conflict usually involves calm communication and compromise. But if your partner tends to shut down or get defensive, you may have a problem on your hands.

8. What are your fears?

Fear is normal. But if we don’t talk about our fears, we can feel alone and as if nobody else worries about the same things we do. But that’s rarely actually true! So, you should ask your future spouse about what they’re afraid of, and you should open up about your fears too. Not only will it help you grow closer as a couple, but it can also help you find some peace.

This Event Will Strengthen Your Marriage

A weekend with your spouse to disconnect from crazy schedules and reconnect with each other? Um, yes please.

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Family Questions to Ask Before Marriage

9. Do you want to have kids?

Let me be clear: I do not want you to start asking questions about having kids on the first date—that’s a great way to really freak someone out. But as your relationship progresses and things start to get more serious, this is one of the most important questions on this list.

Ask about your partner’s expectations and make sure you’re on the same page about having kids—and how many you each want.

10. How would we raise our children?

If you and your partner both want kids, great! Then you can start imagining what raising them might look like. Here are some ideas to think about:

  • Values: Which values would we want to pass on to our children?
  • Discipline: What are the right (and wrong) ways to discipline kids?
  • Childcare: Who would care for the kids? Could one parent stay home?
  • School: Would we send our kids to public or private school? Or would we homeschool them?
  • College: Would we want to help our kids pay for college? If so, how would we plan for that?

You don’t need to have all the answers today. But these questions about starting a family are a good place to begin.

11. What are our religious views?

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:14 (NKJV), “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” When your faith is aligned (aka “equally yoked”), so are your value systems. A shared faith or spiritual view will help you navigate life’s ups and downs—because you share the same guiding principles.

12. What boundaries would we want to have with our in-laws?

You really need to find out what you might be getting into with your partner’s family—and vice versa. How much do each of you want your in-laws involved in your life? Lay out your expectations up front.

I know this isn’t the easiest thing to talk about, but here’s why it’s so important: You want to honor your parents while separating from them and becoming one with your spouse as a couple. If you don’t agree about what this looks like from the get-go, you may be headed for real trouble.

Asking Questions Before You Get Married Will Set You Up for Success

If you’ve been dating a while, you probably have the answers to some of these questions already. And others will probably come up in conversation.

For the rest, though, try not to treat it like a job interview. The goal is to make sure you and your partner are on the same page, not grill them like you’re one of those lawyers on TV. And remember, a disagreement isn’t always a red flag. It might just be an area to learn more about.

If you stay kind, calm and compassionate while asking these questions, I know the conversation will be a success!

Next Steps

  1. Go ask your boyfriend or girlfriend these questions! Or, at least, make sure you already have your partner’s answers to some of them after dating for a while.
  2. Like we talked about, being in sync with your significant other on money is super important. That’s why I wrote my guide for how to handle money well as a married couple. You can read the article to learn even more.
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Rachel Cruze

About the author

Rachel Cruze

Rachel Cruze is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, financial expert, host of The Rachel Cruze Show, and co-host of Smart Money Happy Hour. Rachel writes and speaks on personal finance, budgeting, investing and money trends. As a co-host of The Ramsey Show, America’s second-largest talk radio show, Rachel reaches millions of weekly listeners with her personal finance advice. She’s appeared on Good Morning America and Fox News and been featured in TIME, REAL SIMPLE and Women’s Health, among others. Through her shows, books, syndicated columns and speaking events, Rachel shares fun, practical ways to take control of your money and create a life you love. Learn More.

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