The Best Pre-marital Advice I Never Got

May 19, 2021

It is amazing to me how many books and blogs have been written on the topic, “What questions to ask before getting married.” List upon list, some as many as 4,000 questions strong, all to help you learn about your partner and discern whether you are a good match. We all understand that placing the covenant of marriage around a relationship is a big deal, so we ask questions because we want to be as certain as possible. I mean, who would want to show up on their wedding day and think, “Finger’s crossed!” At the end of the day, it’s only natural for us to summon our inner blood-hound and chase down knowledge in the hopes of gaining certainty of marital bliss. I remember Betsy and I asking each other all sorts of silly and serious questions, building that same hope of bliss…and being very disappointed by the result.

Here’s the advice I longed for before I got married (but didn’t know it): Ask yourself lots of fearless questions, rather than your partner. Ask what you are experiencing in the vulnerable and terrified parts of yourself. Then be fearless in your search for the answers.

Do you remember that time when you built something up so much in your head that the actual experience was a total disappointment? What about when you were sure something wasn’t going to work, and then it did? It reminds me of a truism that says, you can inspect a parachute all you want, but you can never really know it will catch you until after you have jumped out of the plane and pulled the ripcord. In life, experience trumps information, every time.

It’s this truth that makes those fearless questions and answers of yourself so vital to the future of your marriage. They naturally bend your focus away from analyzing another person and toward noticing your own experience. Here are some examples to get you started: What is happening for me when I get angry with this person? What am I afraid to tell them, and why? When do I feel most at risk of being rejected or abandoned by them? How often do I really feel seen and understood by this person? When we fight, does it feel like we really repair afterward, or is it more like we just move on? What am I going through when I hurt or disappoint this person? Do I feel free to love this person as I want to instead of just how I ought to? How often am I anxious about what to say or do next with them?

If you allow these questions to trigger deep and courageous self-searching, you will learn about your own raw spots and the stories behind them. You will learn whether your partner is safe in vulnerable moments or willing to take ownership of their impact on you. You will learn if your partner is willing to take a deep look at their own insecurities instead of just blame you for bumping into them. You will learn how willing you are to actually risk being intimate on all levels with your partner. You will learn if your partner is prone to making space for your feelings as they are, rather than trying to correct or fix your emotions when they get scared. You will learn whether you are prone to do the same for them.

If you really want a good read on your future marriage, be fearless in asking yourself these vulnerable questions and be courageous in searching out the answers. The resulting information will actually be helpful. As opposed to information coming from questions like, “How many kids do you want?”