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Engagement and Marriage - Christian Couples and Newlyweds Resources

10 Important Things to Understand about Your Fiancé before You Get Married

  • Maria Cheshire Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
10 Important Things to Understand about Your Fiancé before You Get Married

After a couple gets engaged, everyone tends to focus on the wedding: Where will the ceremony be held? Have you found a dress? Who are you bridesmaids and groomsmen? The list goes on and on, and it’s easy to allow the checklists and details to distract you from the bigger picture: your future together. 

The wedding is a huge milestone, but there are important things to learn about your partner before you embark on a life together. Pre-marital counseling and honest discussions about important topics will help you understand your partner on a deeper level, and ensure that your goals and values are aligned. 

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1. Share you faith journeys and beliefs.

1. Share you faith journeys and beliefs.

It’s important to understand the path that brought you each to this point in your Christian faith. Did you grow up in the church or accept Christ into your life later? What caused this to happen? What questions do you wrestle with in your mind? Which topics do you feel strong conviction about? 

If there are certain church-related issues you feel passionately about, you should know where your partner stands as well. If your partner has a different position than you, seek to understand why rather than judge. Establish your relationship as a safe space for honest, thoughtful dialogue.

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2. Learn how your partner gives and receives love.

2. Learn how your partner gives and receives love.

Pastor Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The Five Love Languages is a useful tool in determining how your partner (and you!) give and receive love. Chapman outlines the following love languages: words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, and gift giving. 

If your partner feels loved when he or she hears words of affirmation (“I love you. I’m proud of you”), yet you buy tangible things instead, your gifts will not convey as much love to your partner as you intended. In order to fully feel loved, according to Chapman, we need our partners to communicate love to us in our primary love language. Understanding your partner’s needs before you enter marriage can help you be proactive and intentional about your actions.  

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3. Discuss past relationships.

3. Discuss past relationships.

Don’t shy away from the past; discussing and learning from past relationships is not the same as dwelling on them. Reflecting on what didn’t work in former relationships can help you and your fiancé avoid the same pitfalls. Communication, trust, and emotional intimacy are topics that may arise. 

Reflecting on past relationships can also affirm what’s right about your present relationship, and renew a sense of gratitude for your current partner. Sharing stories of heartbreak and rejection will also require vulnerability, which builds intimacy and trust.

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4. Understand your partner's expectations of gender roles.

4. Understand your partner's expectations of gender roles.

Do not rely on assumptions, but rather share your vision of how you will split the responsibilities of housework and parenting. Women, do you expect to be a stay-at-home mom or hire childcare? Men, do you plan on being the sole breadwinner so your wife can stay at home? If you both work outside the home, how will you share the responsibility of housework? 

Some couples have more traditional expectations and others naturally divide responsibilities among talents, likes, and dislikes. I know several husbands who do the majority of cooking for their family because they enjoy cooking and have the necessary skills. 

In traditional marriages, the man is the head of the household. Colossians 3:18 says, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Do you expect the husband to have the final call in decision-making, or do you plan to approach decisions equally? Talk about how you interpret this verse as a couple. 

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5. Discuss your plans for building a family (or not).

5. Discuss your plans for building a family (or not).

If you definitely want to have children, make sure your partner does as well. Do not marry someone and hope they will change their mind. If you both want to have children, you should discuss your opinions on birth control. God tells us to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Does this mean you should have as many children as you are able, or do you believe in using modern birth control and planning the size of your family? What is your ideal number of children to have? 

If you struggle with infertility, are you open to adoption or IVF? Children are a huge responsibility, expense, and joy. Make sure you are on the same page with your partner so you can both rise to the challenge of parenting with conviction and love. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). 

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6. Learn how your partner was raised.

6. Learn how your partner was raised.

We view the world through the lens of our experiences. Environment and interactions shape our perspective and affect how we respond to situations, as well as our assumptions about what is “normal.” Where did your partner grow up? New York City, the Midwest, California, the South, etc. all have very different cultures and growing up in these different environments will affect how a person views the world. 

Who raised your partner? A single parent or married parents? How was conflict handled in their house? Did they yell at each other, silently seclude to their bedrooms and simmer, or sit down and have a family meeting? Were they taught to discuss their feelings or told to “get over it”? 

Your partner may have an insecurity linked to childhood, or be easily triggered over something linked to the past. Introspection is crucial to understanding what makes us react the way we do. Once you understand, communicate that invaluable knowledge to your partner.

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7. Understand your partner's strengths and weaknesses.

7. Understand your partner's strengths and weaknesses.

Compare their qualities with your own and determine how your strengths and weaknesses can balance and complement each other. If your fiancé forgets to pay bills on time, perhaps managing the bills will become one of your roles. The morning person can walk the dog before work and the night owl can walk him after work. Do not criticize your partner for differences that you may see as shortcomings, but rather find ways to support each other and each other’s success. 

Gail Rogers reminds us that often our greatest weakness is simply a strength that is out of balance. An organization-savvy person may need reminders that not everything needs to be perfect and it is also important to make time to unwind. Encourage and help each other, using the gifts God gave you. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). 

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8. Understand that your partner's financial situation.

8. Understand that your partner's financial situation.

You need to be aware of your fiancé’s debt, spending habits, and financial goals. Dave Ramsey advises couples to “put all the debt on the table—all cards face up. No secrets.” Money is often a taboo topic and people often feel shame related to money. You need to discuss it anyway. 

If your partner does have significant debt, does he or she have a plan for paying if off? Do either of you currently use a budget? How much do you give to the church? How we spend money reveals our priorities, so be willing to reflect on your past choices and then plan together for your future.

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9. Understand how to communicate with your partner.

9. Understand how to communicate with your partner.

Your fiancé cannot read your mind. You will have to communicate your wants and needs, which may require vulnerability. If you need more help with housework, more intimacy, or even alone time, expressing your needs will help your partner respond appropriately. Do not rely on body language or “clues” which may lead to resentment if your partner does not receive your message. 

“Speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25). 

If you and your partner have conflict, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” and “… let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up.” (Ephesians 4:26-29).

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10. Understand that your partner needs time apart.

10. Understand that your partner needs time apart.

“Two become one” doesn’t mean you will do everything together. Healthy relationships strike a balance between togetherness, time with others, and time alone. If your fiancé chooses to spend an evening playing cards with his friends, for example, this choice doesn’t mean he values his friends over you. He just needs time with his friends, and you do too! Allow your fiancé room to breathe and your time together will feel even more valuable. “Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).

Remember that people grow and evolve, so your fiancé’s answer to some of these questions today may be different than his or her answer in a year, or 10 years. Agree to revisit important topics and commit to remaining open and honest with one another. Pray for understanding and the strength to be vulnerable with one another. With Christ at the center of your relationship, all is possible! 

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). 

Maria Cheshire is a third grade teacher in Virginia. She enjoys running, coaching, writing, and playing with her dog, Lilly. 

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