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Thoughts about
Premarital Counseling

What a great idea!  Premarital counseling can deepen your understanding of one another and enrich the ways you love each other.

I no longer offer premarital counseling, but I do have three suggestions:

1. I'd be happy to refer you to a colleague who is expert in guiding couples to the deepest enjoyment of one another.

2. You may find a professional to guide you into your married future.

3. You can explore your love for one another directly by sharing your thoughts about the various questions on websites such as these and the questions I've placed below.

You do not need to complete any one set before you marry -- you can use such questions to continue learning about your beloved after your wedding. You migth even want to review them on your anniversaries.

I have not had a chance to examine these as closely as I want, so please use them as they might be useful for you,





If you cannot access these three articles
in the NYTimes, let Vern know.

"Researched-based Vows"

How to fall in love with anyone

The 36 Questions That Lead to Love


The 36 Questions That Lead to Love

By Daniel Jones
Jan. 9, 2015
In Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” she refers to a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one.

The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue.

The final task Ms. Catron and her friend try — staring into each other’s eyes for four minutes — is less well documented, with the suggested duration ranging from two minutes to four. But Ms. Catron was unequivocal in her recommendation. “Two minutes is just enough to be terrified,” she told me. “Four really goes somewhere.”

Set I

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?


25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling ... “

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share ... “

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

The Premarital Counseling Questions You Should Ask

There are existing statistics that indicate there is a 30% higher success rate for married couples who engaged in premarital counseling than those who do not. Almost half of the couples contemplating marriage agree that premarital counseling is a good idea.

Marriage counseling isn't just for after you're married or when your relationship has problems. It's a smart move to go through some premarital counseling questions before you enter a long-term committed relationship, and especially when you intend to make it legal. So what kind of questions should you be asking and answering before you and your partner make it official? Here are a few suggestions.

A lot of premarital counseling with a professional counselor involves learning how to communicate with each other. It also uncovers differences of opinion and allows the couple to find ways to deal with those differences and learn how to make concessions. It teaches the couple how to argue and still have respect for one another.

Premarital Counseling Questions

Talking to each other openly right from the start of your marriage is the best way to build good communication strategies. And communication is one of the biggest issues that marriage partners have down the road. So, it makes sense to build the foundation for talking to each other in constructive ways before you need to tackle tougher issues.

Why Are You Getting Married?

It's important to be honest with each other about what you expect to get from the marriage. There are many different reasons to get married, and having relationship priorities that match up with each other will help you to work toward shared goals as a couple.

The first question that a counselor may ask the couple is why they have decided to marry. This is often a difficult question to answer. It requires some introspective thought as individuals as to why each person has decided marriage is the next step in their relationship.

Will someone other than yourselves be disappointed if you decide not to marry? Is their opinion important? Is the decision to marry based on only religious beliefs? Do you or your partner practice your religion, and is it a problem if you or they don't? Do you expect your partner to join you in your place of worship? Are you comfortable if they do not wish to?

Why Were You Attracted To Each Other?

What qualities attracted you to your intended life partner? Have you honestly considered any faults the other person has? What are they, and are they easy to forgive?

Whether it is the first marriage for each or whether they have been married before, what are the expectations of this marriage lasting a long time? If you have doubts, what are they? Have you discussed this openly with your partner?

How Would You Like To Help Your FiancÚ Improve?

This question is not about criticizing your partner. It's about being supportive of helping each other grow. And how you answer it can say a lot about your future partnership. If you or your partner are quick to point out a flaw that can be "fixed," then you need to step back and ask whether you would both be happy if that flaw never went away.

What Issues Do You Disagree About?

No two people agree on every single subject. That's okay. You don't have to be identical to be compatible. But you should be able to talk about those subjects honestly with each other. Can you discuss an issue you each think about differently in a way that makes both of you feel secure and respected?

How Will You Manage Your Finances Together?

There is no right answer to this question. You may have joint accounts, separate accounts, or some combination of the two. One of you may pay all the bills, or you may each have specific payment responsibilities. What matters is that you know before getting married how all of that will work out and that you both agree. (Of course, it's okay if you decide to renegotiate finances later. But you should both be able to discuss finances maturely.)

Do you know each other's financial status? Do you understand each other's financial commitments to institutions or individuals, such as loans and credit card debt? Do any of these financial commitments pose a problem, and have you discussed how to resolve these issues? Do you have plans for a joint bank account? Do you also have plans to have a separate account that is just yours? Who will be in charge of paying the bills? Will you both contribute to a savings plan? Have you agreed to the reasons you have or don't have a savings plan? Are you planning to save for retirement and have you agreed how to do it? What amount of money in your joint account is a comfortable amount? Do you intend to have "free spending money" and how much each month? Are you comfortable with the differences in salary if there are any?

How Will We Divide Chores?

If you've lived together before getting married, this one shouldn't be too much of an issue because you already know how the chores are divided. But if you haven't lived together, you should make sure your partner's ideas about household responsibilities line up with yours - as in, they don't expect you to do everything (unless that's your agreement).

Have you discussed the roles you will have in the marriage? Do you want to emulate the roles of your parents? Have you come to an agreement of who does what in the home, such as cleaning, cooking, washing clothes, caring for the yard and vehicles? Do you agree or do you or your partner have reservations?

Do You or Do You Not Want Children and If Yes, How Many?

Ideally, you've discussed whether you want children before you were engaged to be married. This can be a real deal breaker for some relationships. You cannot expect your partner to change their mind about wanting children later on. That's not to say it can't happen, but don't get married with the assumption that they'll come around to your opinion on the matter.

Have you discussed having children? If so, have you agreed when you might want to start a family? Do you know your partner's feelings about abortion and adoption? Are you in agreement about how to handle discipline when and if you have children? Who will be expected to stay home if children enter the picture or have you agreed on plans to handle this issue? Has there been a discussion about bringing children up in a particular religion? Have you talked about religious education for your children and do you both agree? Do you want your children to have close relationships with their grandparents? If neither of you wants children, are you completely satisfied with that decision? Do you know and understand your partner's reasons for not wanting children? Are those reasons reasonable and acceptable?

Are Your Goals Compatible?

What are your life-long goals? Do you have a career, or do you anticipate having a career? Do you both agree that a career outside the home is practical and achievable? Have you decided how to give support when the other fails in their career or becomes ill? What are your plans should pregnancy happen that interrupts your career or your partner's career? Have you agreed to discuss the possibility of either of you wanting to change careers later in your marriage? If a career change happens, have you discussed the possibility of having to move to accommodate that career change? Is one of the careers more important than the other and have you made that decision willingly together?

Where Will You Live?

Have you decided where you want to live after you are married? Does the proximity of parents have anything to do with the choice of where to live? Do you have plans to own a house and do you agree on the kind of house would be affordable for your first home together? Have you discussed exactly how you intend to finance the purchase of a home? Does one or both of you already own a home and do you have plans for one or both of the homes? Have you decided what to do with the proceeds if either of you decides to sell?

Should You Do Everything Together?

Do you expect to do everything together? Do you agree that each of you will need some time away from each other to be with friends or relatives now and again? Do you have issues with your partner's friends or relatives? Does your partner expect to spend holidays with parents and relatives? If so, have they considered your opinion? What holidays have you spoken about in particular? Have you agreed to not share your minor disagreements with friends and family, especially parents?

Sexual Compatibility

How often do you expect to have sex? What kind of sexual activity is taboo? Are you or your partner addicted to porn? Do you want that behavior to stop? Does either partner visit strip joints, and is this something that you or your partner expects to continue to do or wishes it to stop? Have you committed to each other to not use sex as a way of getting your way or a way to punish the other?


Have you made your expectations clear about infidelity? If infidelity does occur, does your partner know how you are going to feel and react? Are they willing to seek counseling? Do you and your partner agree on what is considered 'cheating"? Do both of you agree to never discuss your married relationship with others, male or female, outside the marriage except for a counselor or religious mentor?

As you may have noticed, many of these questions are about discussing uncomfortable or confrontational topics. And how well the two of you can confront issues honestly is a huge predictor for how well you can negotiate marriage together. Working with a marriage counseling professional can help you learn to navigate communication pathways.

Not to complete all b4, good to review each anniv.

You must share every thought with your spouse

You musty limit your friendsips.

Marriage is more like two people looking in the same direction than looking at each other.

Mrriage is two separte people sharing much of life together.

Two people who marry become one soul.