Are you compatible with your prospective spouse? 


When people marry, they each have an agenda, which they may assume that the other understands, though they may have never discussed it, at least not in detail. For example, he may assume that she knows that he has no intention of changing his religion, and that he intends to finish college before becoming a parent. He may assume that he will get a decent job, get settled into a house they want, have some furniture paid for, and then begin to produce children.

She may assume that he understands that she expects that they will both have the same religion. She intends to start having babies as soon as they are married, and they will move into a nice house almost immediately. His graduating from school will have to be put on hold. He will get the first job he can find, and will begin supporting her.

Though she has a profession, she intends to quit her job and begin raising children. They get married, each with their own assumptions, and will begin working on making them reality. What do you think will happen?

Perhaps if they had been clear about their respective agendas, they wouldn't be in the mess they have made.

They may avoid discussing these things, because they don't want to "spoil the deal." After all, what they really want to do is get married, and love will conquer anything. But will it? Will they have to discuss these things later, anyway? Will their differences be irreconcilable? Will they eventually lead to divorce?

How would you both answer the following questions, and on how many of these do you agree?

Should the wife take on the husband's last name, keep her maiden name, take a hyphenated one, or both take a hyphenated one?

If there are children, what will their surname be?

If there are already children of one of them, who will discipline them? Who will make major decisions, like what school they will attend? What kind of respect would the children be expected to show to the new spouse?

Birth control: What kind? Whose responsibility?

Household duties? Who does what? Inside the house? Outside the house?

Automobile? How many? Cleaning? Repairing? How expensive?

Leisure time: Should evenings and weekends be spent together? Who decides what to do? How to decide?

Should vacations be spent together? With children? Separate?

Preferred kind of TV, movies, reading, music. If different, how will you handle it?

How do you (each) have fun?

How much time do you expect to spend having fun together? Apart?

How do you feel about having long conversations? Frequently? In person? On the telephone? Daily? How long do you call "long?"

How much time would you expect the other would spend on the telephone? Hours? Every day?

Living arrangements: Where will the couple live? How about in 10 years? House, apartment, buy, rent, city, country?

What kind of privacy do you want? Shared bedroom? Work, study? Things kept and not touched? Which doors to be closed, or locked?

Do you want to live with others? Who will take care of your parents when they are old?

What will you and your partner do if you want to live in different places because of jobs, or for any other reason?

Money: Will both partners be wage earners? Full or part time? Evening shift for either one? Who cares for the children during working hours? Would you be willing to work different hours (one on a night shift and one with a day shift?)

If there were a lot of money involved, would either of you be willing to work 60 or more hours a week? If one of you worked a day shift and the other worked a night shift, and when you were both home one was asleep, how long could you tolerate that?

How much money do you think your partner will be making in 10 years? Yourself?

What kind of house do you believe you will be living in, in 10 years? How will it be paid for?

Will either partner attend school? Full time? How will the other adjust to the time spent away, or unable to be bothered while studying? How will the other adjust to the lack of income by the student?

What is the plan for after graduation? Have a baby immediately? Wait until the graduate has a well-paying job to have a baby? Don't buy an expensive house until the graduate has a well-paying job? Don't have a baby until you are in a nice house and the furniture is paid for?

When you have your choice of buying an expensive item, or a slightly less desirable cheap item, which costs a lot less, which are you likely to buy?

If an item you don't absolutely need is too expensive to buy for cash, are you likely to buy it on credit?

What is your view of credit cards? Should they be maxed out? Should you make double payments to pay them off, even if it means doing without something you want?

How will you prepare for old age? Rely on social security? Assume your company will have a good pension? Maintain savings, even if you have to do without some things in order to save?

Will you pool your income? Separate bank accounts? Each keep your own salary? Loan to one another and expect be paid back?

Divide expenses in some way, and keep the remainder separately? Who keeps the books, balances the checkbook?

Sexual rights: Commitment to monogamy? Who initiates sex? Is either partner free not to respond?

Children: How many? How soon? How far apart? Adopt? Artificial insemination?

Who will take primary responsibility for child care? Discipline? Will one partner have to quit a job?

Are both partners free to make relationships with other people? Same sex? Opposite sex?

Extent of these relationships? Time consumed? Include each other?

Hobbies: Amount of time spent on them? Amount of money spent on them?

Habits: How much time or money do you spend gambling? Drinking? Do you use recreational drugs? Will you care if your children see these things?

Relatives: Amount of time spent with them? Kinds of information shared with them, including details of marriage?

Religion: What religion will you each have? Should it be the same? Should you both attend together?

What ethical principles will your religion allow each of you to practice? Alcohol? Tobacco?

Lottery tickets? Military service? Birth control? Diet? Medical treatment? Blood transfusions? Childbirth decisions? Dancing? Do you expect the other to abide by these same principles?

Is there a former spouse? What communication should either of you have with him / her? What communication should the children have with him / her?

What financial burdens are involved? Is either of you deeply in debt? Does either have an ex-spouse who is deeply in debt?

How much should your parents / brothers / sisters know about your personal business? Marital quarrels? How much would you depend on one of them for advice? How much time do you expect to spend with one or both parents?

How much financial assistance would you provide for your parents? How much would your parents provide for you? If so, what would they expect in return? Control of your affairs? Residence in your house when they are older?

Does either of you come from an ethnic background where things are done differently from the other? (Italian -- family perceived by Anglos as "meddling" in personal business. Jewish, Amish, Hispanic-- possibly very frequent close contact with family, not moving very far from family, allowing unemployed relatives to move in. Native American -- values of sharing and helping considered "extreme" or unreasonable by whites.)

Based on Values in Sexuality, A New Approach to Sex Education. Eleanor S. Morrison & Mila Underhill Price. 1974.                         


What I find sexy about you is...

I really enjoy it when you...

What I find interesting about you is...

What I find entertaining about you is...

What I really respect about you is...

I admire the way you...

My favorite thing about you is...

When we first met I was attracted by your...

I sometimes don't say so, but, I appreciate it when you...

I really like the way you...

I am really partial to your...

I should congratulate you for...


Do it my way this time and yours the next.

Do half of it my way.

Do it in a way that makes us both equal.

Find a third way, that doesn't include either of our suggestions so far.

Ask my mother. (Or, I'll ask my mother.)

Do it in a way that emphasizes our different areas of responsibility.

Do it in a way that emphasizes what we each do best.

If I do this for you, you do something I've been wanting.

Do it as a gift of love.

To achieve harmony.

To achieve equality.

To relieve one of us of a burden.

To achieve peace of mind.

To achieve peace in the house.

I trust you to...toward arriving at an agreement.

You can trust me to...toward arriving at an agreement.

You can trust me to...toward a compromise, if it is reasonable.

You can trust me to help find a goal we can agree on.

I trust you to help find a goal we can agree on.

I trust you to be honest in your motives for the goals you want.

Are we both equal in this marriage?

Do we share decision-making in a way we can agree on?

Are we each satisfied with our gender roles?

Is one of us being unfairly taken advantage of?

Do we agree about how to manage the children?

Do we agree about what information our in-laws should have about our family life?