First comes love, then comes marriage, but if you don't fit "getting to know each other" somewhere in the mix, you could find yourself experiencing anything but marital bliss. Sure, wedding bells are lovely, but if you want to avoid alarmbells in the future, you'd better know the answers to these important questions.
1. What's your family's style of arguing?
It may seem to be a silly question, but if your parents calmly discussed tough issues over dinner while your soon-to-be in-laws threw china on the floor and lost their voices screaming, you could have some issues down the line. Your spouse may not be the same as his or her parents, but that influence will likely show up.
2. How do you see yourself as a parent? Career mom? Hands-on dad? Nannies and boarding school?
If you two are planning to have children together, it's a good idea to discuss and define roles early on - before he says he never saw himself changing diapers.
3. What's the role of religion in the home?
Whether you hail from different religious backgrounds or are both agnostics, it's important to define the role of religion in your home. Today, more American homes are interfaith - 42 percent in 2010, up from 15 percent in 1988, according to the Chicago Tribune. But depending on the tenor of your religion, these differences could cause some strife down the line.
4. What's your love language?
If you've read "The 5 Love Languages" you know that people feel and express love in different ways. How well do you understand each other's needs? You might need verbal affirmation, while your spouse wants physical touch.
You're an adrenaline junkie, and your spouse is a homebody. That's not a deal breaker, but both of you may need to stretch yourselves to accommodate your spouse's favorite hobbies. Are you willing to trade a quiet weekend at home for a zip lining, cliff-jumping Mexican vacation, and vice versa?
6. What's your credit score?
If you will be financing a home - or anything - together, it's best not to be caught by surprise when one of you is rocking 800 while the other can't seem to climb above 575.
7. Should we put a TV in the bedroom?
Hey, this is an important question. Is the bedroom a place of relaxation and intimacy, or a place to indulge in your mutual adoration for reality TV and late-night Netflix binges?
8. How much time should we spend with our families?
Marriage isn't just between a man and a woman. It's also between two families. And if the dynamic between either you and your soon-to-be in-laws or your spouse and yourfamily isn't ideal, it's best to discuss the amount of time you'll be spending with each.
9. What's your vacation style?
You're all about lounging on the beach, while your significant other wants to scale a mountain. You can switch off types of places you go, or look for destinations that will work for both of you at once. For example, you might opt for a resort that's great for both the beachgoer and the adrenaline junkie. A place like Xel-Ha Playa de Carmen can provide the perfect fit.
10. Where do you see us in 10 years?
Defining your expectations for your marriage now can prevent some bitterness later. Do you both expect a family life with kids and dogs, or do you crave a career-minded, jet-setting lifestyle? Either is fun, but it's best to get on the same page before you say "I do."