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Thinking About Getting Engaged?

A man and woman get engaged and hold each other in a forest scene.

Dear CMR:

What are some specific questions that my girlfriend and I should talk about to see if we should get married?


Ready to Get Hitched?

Dear Hitched,

I love the way you are being intentional about your relationship. I wish all seriously dating couples were as proactive—it could prevent so much heartache down the road. Below are some essential topics and questions to help you assess the key areas of connection and compatibility that all healthy couples need to work through. Start by discussing these questions:

Your Spiritual Relationship and Compatibility 

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how important to you is your relationship with God? 

  • How strong or important is your faith? 

  • How important are things like prayer, church attendance, tithing, and reading the Bible? 

  • Describe a time that you felt disappointed with God.

  • Do you know when you feel closest to God? When do you most feel God’s presence?

  • Do you have similar vocational or ministry callings and passions?

Of all the relationship connections you have, spiritual compatibility may be the most critical for couples. Research shows that the greater the compatibility between couples in their spiritual beliefs, the more satisfied they are as a couple. 

Your Friendship Strength

  • Does our friendship feel genuine? 

  • Are we completely comfortable when we are with each other? 

  • Do we seem “connected” or “in-sync”?

  • Do we laugh easily and often? 

  • Do we trust each other? Can we be vulnerable? Open? Authentic?

  • Do we each show an interest in the other’s inner world: likes, dislikes, dreams, fears, unique quirks, etc.?

We all like to be liked, and we enjoy people who laugh at our jokes and make us feel valued and accepted. Happy couples have been found to have a ratio of 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction. This is a great guide for determining friendship compatibility, and a goal to aim for (#Goals!).

Your Personality Similarities and Differences 

  • How well do you know your personality similarities and differences?

  • Take the Big Five Personality Inventory (one of the most scientifically valid personality inventories)

  • Discuss your results. Any surprises? Any worries?

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses, and areas of growth?

  • Are you attracted to someone with a personality that is similar to yours or different?

Personality compatibility is often what people first think about when they say, “We are so alike —we both react the same way to situations.” The question of what or who has shaped each of us— the personal and family dynamics that make us unique—is both intriguing to explore and complex to understand. Fortunately, we don't need a specialized degree to “know thyself,” just a willingness to explore and learn.

Your Healthy and Unhealthy Ways of Managing Conflict 

  • Discuss a recent conflict you’ve had. How did it make you feel? Click here for a list of emotions to help you identify your feelings.

  • Do you start disagreements softly, without a harsh start-up, or do you get negative very quickly?

  • How do you manage and process your emotions during a conflict? Internally or externally? 

  • Do you express expectations and opinions without becoming critical or showing contempt? 

  • Is it easy or difficult to express your desires or views? 

Relationship experts agree that how you manage conflict is critical to relationship health. All couples have disagreements to one degree or another about significant things like money, social media, family, being on time, or cleanliness, etc. In fact, the healthiest, happiest couples in the top scientific studies ALL showed that they encountered conflict—every one of them. So, it’s not about the presence of conflict or disagreements: It’s about how you manage your differences.  

Relationships are a process, something you invest in, and something you must continually work on. They do not hinge on the stars or luck or having the same hobby or a list of common traits. They take effort and hard work. Healthy connections and compatibilities are something you negotiate in a relationship as it develops, and as you grow closer together. That is why I love your question. If you’re willing to learn and grow yourself, relationship skills can always be improved, and they'll help any two people—with any two personalities— get along better. So be curious, ask questions, and constantly update your knowledge of one another. That will help you both make a wise decision as to whether or not you’re ready to take the next step, to get engaged now, or later, or ever.