Below is a portion of a couples’ questionnaire that I send people who are coming in for relationship counseling. Sometimes it’s to address moving in together, getting engaged/married, becoming parents, ￼or even breaking up in an honorable fashion: the next step questions.
I love working with couples. There is a magic that happens when individuals decide to share their lives. It’s also hard work.
Usually, when I start working with a couple, I ask questions that are streamlined for their specific situation. This questionnaire is extremely baseline; ￼I work with couples who are in different combinations and permutations ￼of relationship; there is no formula.
Here are some of my questionnaire items to possibly discuss with your partner.
Children related questions
- At this point in the relationship, you may already know the overall “will we or won’t we” as regards to raising a family. But digging a bit deeper into the topic can be a beneficial exercise, since it can reveal areas you might want to work through.
- How many children do we want to have, and what’s our ideal timeline? Will we adopt?
- Do we want to hire a babysitter or nanny? Will our children go to day care? Or will one of us stay home?
- If yes to a parent staying home, how long before we return to work?
- Will our children attend public or private schools? How important is this to each of us, and why?
- How do we hope to parent our children? What are the values that we find most important as parents in raising children?
- What will we do if our parenting styles or values conflict?
- What role will our extended family play in our parenting?
- How will we speak to our family members who may favor a different parenting style from what we hope to implement?
- What will we do if one of our children/child has special needs or is diagnosed with learning or behavioral concerns?
Religion and faith related questions
- Whether you’re devout, undecided, or somewhere in-between, religion and spirituality are typically a tough topic for couples to discuss on their own. You may also have your own faith based counseling that you would like to engage.
- Secular couples counseling provides the opportunity to voice your desires and concerns by asking questions like:
- How important is religion / faith to each of us?
- How much influence do we want religion to play in our lives and our children’s lives?
- Which religion will be taught and celebrated in the home or could different religions be celebrated?
- Will we celebrate religious holidays? If so, to what extent? What will those holidays look like?
- What are our core spiritual values as individuals and as a couple, and how do we see ourselves upholding them?
- How can we handle any conflicts between our individual values?
- What happens with our extended family situations if our religious values are not commensurate with theirs?
Money related questions
- For many, living together/marriage marks the point at which income and finances may become a shared responsibility. But it’s not always as easy as opening a joint bank account and calling it a day; you may also need to discuss the nitty gritties of the “f” word… finances:
- How much do each of us expect to contribute to the household?
- How much of our income will we spend on our own personal hobbies or interests?
- How much of how income do each of us envision saving
- Should we have a monthly budget? How will we set it and stick to it?
- Do we want to combine our finances completely or keep some accounts separate?
- How much debt do we have, and how much money do we have saved?
- What will we do if we have an emergency expense or an unexpected loss of income?
- How much do we plan to spend on shared interests, like vacations? If we plan to spend some of our money on a vacation, what type of vacation do each of us enjoy?
- What is the importance of earning money to each of us?
- How much is expected from each of us in terms of earning money for the family?
- What happens when we have significant discrepancies in income?
- What are the emotional reactions we have around money, earning, spending, saving?
Work and career questions
- One person’s long hours is another person’s normal. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about career expectations.
- How much will each of us work?
- Do we expect or want to make any significant career changes in the future?
- How will we balance careers and childcare if we have children?
- How can we support each other in our career goals?
- How much sacrifice is each of us willing to endure for the other person’s career goals and the pursuit of success? What if one of us becomes unemployed or under employed?
- What happens if one of us wants to pursue future goals that require time and any commitments such as advanced degrees?
- How many hours per week does each person expect the other will be away from home (or working at home) in order to pursue career goals?
- How will we negotiate future ambitions and endeavors, such as one of us wanting to start a business or go into self-employment
- Questions related to where you want to settle, in the short and long-term. Whether you both want to move, or put down roots where you are, it’s great to touch base now.
- Where do we want to settle down? Will we want to live in the city or in the suburbs?
- What is our shared vision of the future? Are there any significant differences?
Sex related questions
- It’s a tricky topic, but crucial to be honest about. After all, who better to discuss sex with than your partner? NOT talking about sex can become a habit that makes it harder to communicate in the bedroom.
- How important is sex to each of us?
- How much sex do each of us envision having every week?
- How will we handle any problems in the bedroom down the line?
- How is our current sex life going? Do either of us have any unmet sexual desires?
- Are we monogamous in the longterm? What will we do if either of us is interested in changing our relationship model in the future?
- What other forms of intimacy and romance are important to us?
- Do we make time to be together as a couple or do our other responsibilities take over?
- Are we able to talk about sex, from preferences to complaints?
Social lives questions
- Every relationship needs a healthy balance between friends, family, career, self-time, and each other – what does yours look like?
- How much socializing is important to each of us? How much time do we want to spend with each of our friends and family?
- How important is maintaining friendships outside the marriage to each of us and to what extent should our attention and shared resources be devoted to these (e.g. weekend bachelor and bachelorette parties, girls’ night out, weddings, showers, visiting out of town friends, etc.)?
- How close are each of us to our immediate and extended family members? How much time do each of us expect to spend with our families (alone and with one another)?
- How comfortable do you feel about your partner having friends of the opposite gender?
- What are the rules around social media and having online friendships with opposite gender connections?
- How do we feel about time spent away from family that is spent with friends, individually and as a couple?
- Do we have friends that we share, individual friends, or both? What happens if we don’t like our partners’ friends?
Vacations and holiday related questions
- How do each of us envision spending our weekends? Where do we want to spend them?
- How will time off, and holidays, be spent?
- How much of our vacation time will be devoted to visiting family versus traveling together as a couple or family?
- Do we have a bucket list of places that we both want to explore?
- How much time and expenditure do we want to spend on holidays?
Conflict resolution and decision making questions
- How do we resolve conflicts?
- What communication style works well for us, and where do we struggle?
- How can we effectively express difficult emotions like anger and sadness?
- How will we make major life decisions together?
- Where can we turn for support if we disagree about a big decision in the future?
Household responsibility questions
- How do we divide up household duties?
- Do we have any particular challenges around sharing a household?
- Which tasks will (or does) each partner handle?
Personal history questions
- What are our plans for combining our different backgrounds, whether racial, ethnic, cultural, socio-economic, or otherwise?
- Do we expect any conflicts related to our different backgrounds?
- How might we plan to resolve those potential conflicts?
- How do we handle medical and mental health issues?
- How do we feel about the health of each other and how to best be supportive If your partner is under the weather?
- What happens if one or the other becomes physically or mentally disabled?