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Feature Article


What can be done before saying “I do”

Nina Chen, Ph.D., Human Development Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

Research shows that unmarried men and women expect that they will have life-long marriages. However, today's dating culture can make it difficult for singles to achieve that goal. In particular, studies show women are more pessimistic and less confident than men about finding the right marriage partner.

If you think you have found the right person for you, there is no need to rush to get married. The National Center for Health Statistics indicates that 59 percent of first marriages between couples who are 18 years old or younger end in divorce within the first 15 years, compared to 35 percent of those couples who marry at age 25 or older. It is very important to get to know each other well before saying “I do.”

Connected wedding ringsThese questions can help you and your partner consider and discuss marriage:

  • Why am I getting married?
  • Why am I choosing to share my life with this person?
  • Is this the right time? What has brought me to this point in my life?
  • Are there concerns or support for my welfare from my parents, friends, coworkers? How do I feel about their apprehension?
  • Is this a good choice for me? Have I compromised my values and beliefs because I think things will be better if I’m married?
  • What is my level of commitment?
  • What changes do I expect to experience after the wedding?
  • Will I be able to discuss problems and options with my partner?
  • Will we communicate openly to reach a compromise or agreement without involving violence or put-downs?
  • How do we manage conflict together?
  • What are our future goals and dreams? How many children do we want? How will the roles and responsibilities be divided?
  • How do we each handle our finances and budgeting? Who will handle our money?
  • What kind of marriage relationship do I want? How happy am I in this relationship?


People can get caught up in their dreams about the wedding and may put more thought and resources into that one day than into the marriage itself. You and your partner should think through and discuss these questions and any issues that you may not have considered during your courtship. It’s important to take the time to prepare for a lifetime of togetherness.



Hill, M. “Before You Say I Do.” Ohio State University Extension, 2001.

Sabourin, S. “Personality and marital adjustment: Utility of the five-factor model of personality.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61(1999):651-660.

Surra, C.A. & Hughes, D.K. “Commitment processes in accounts of the development of premarital relationships.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 59(1997):5-21.


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Last Updated 05/21/2013