Congratulations! You just got engaged!
(Or you hope to be soon, at least.)
While engaged, my husband and I got advice from trusted older family members, as well as taking a 4-afternoon class that had speakers topics like finances and communication, and also gave us great conversation starters so we could continue talking about those things on our own.
We were also gifted a variety of books that we read together chapter by chapter, some before we were married and some shortly after. I’ll show you some of our favorites a little later.
Now, you can’t possibly foresee and come to an agreement on every situation you might encounter as a married person…
- Would you ever purchase a manual transmission vehicle?
- Who do you imagine painting the fence, when and if you get one?
- Will brussels sprouts ever be served in your household?
Sure, these are important questions, and it can be pretty fun to discuss these things, but that’s not the point here.
In addition, our love for others increases as we grow in our faith. God changes us through the years, but discussing our beliefs up front can help prevent disagreements down the road. Plus, it’s also just a great way to get to know your future spouse. And it’s not just about preventing fights, but about learning what to do about disagreements, and seeing what direction God is taking you together.
This is not an all-inclusive list or a substitute for counseling or reading together, but we hope this will get you started.
Finances: Money is one of the top things married couples disagree on. You might want to discuss things like:
- What are your beliefs and expectations about tithing and giving?
- Will you give to your local church congregation, to Christ-honoring organizations, or secular organizations doing work that you believe is important?
- Do you expect that you will buy things like a house or a car using loans/credit?
- Do you have student loans or other debt?
- Will you agree on a set budget?
- Will you have a joint bank account, separate, or some of each?
- What habits and skills did you learn from your parents or other role models about finances?
- How do you think we can honor God with our finances?
- What do you think the most challenging teaching in the Bible about money is?
- How do you plan to communicate about boring everyday things like where you’ll be and when, who has the car, and (blah, blah, blah) all of these mundane things?
- When you’re upset with your spouse about something, how will you approach them about the issue? (A good rule of thumb I’ve heard is to avoid saying “you always…” and “you never…” and instead use ‘I’ statements such as “I feel that you often…”)
- Will you have a set time daily or weekly to read to share and discuss concerns and pray together?
Children and Family Life:
- THE BIG ONE: Do you plan to have children?
- When and how many do you imagine yourselves having?
- Will you use a method of family planning, and if so how will you decide on something that is safe and ethical?
- Do you consider yourself pro-life, and in what situations would you consider or not consider having an abortion?
- How would you describe your family growing up?
- Do you expect to parent and discipline in a similar way?
- What habits do you think make a strong family (eating meals together, prayer, etc.)?
- Do you expect that one of you will take time out of the full-time work force to care for your children?
- What do you think your children’s education should be like?
- How would you finish this sentence: “I want my children to grow up knowing that God made them ________.”
- Health organizations consider circumcision medically unnecessary and culturally motivated – it causes severe pain and removes a healthy body part. Would you ever consider putting your child through surgery just for cultural reasons such as “looking like dad”?
- What are some ways parents can be loving servants of God and stewards of their child’s health and development (physical, spiritual, mental)?
There is so much more that can be discussed and prayed about, I haven’t even touched here on areas such as church membership and attendance, physical intimacy, and relationships with your new extended families.
Below are a few books that some Little Images staff members have learned a lot from. Read reviews or find a copy to scan through to see which ones might be helpful for you and your future spouse. (Click on the pictures or links to view these titles on Amazon.com.)
- Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs
- Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
- Love for a Lifetime by Dr. James Dobson
- Intimate Allies by Allender Longman
Blessings on your engagement and marriage, and I pray that God is preparing to use you together in a big way for his kingdom!