You may think you know everything about your significant other. But despite your wealth of knowledge, there's still a chance you haven't asked the right questions to uncover certain key issues quite yet, says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of 5 Simple Steps To Take Your Marriage From Good To Great. "When you're getting engaged to someone, there are certain things you need to know about them, partially to assess your compatibility and partially because communication, openness and trust are the foundations of a healthy relationship," says Orbuch.
Here, according to our experts, are five of those things you must know.
1. How your significant other feels about children.
This isn't talk you should leave until after you tie the knot. "Before getting in too deep, you should know how you each feel about children," says Orbuch. Discover whether your partner wants them. Then, she says, "find out how many your partner wants and when. Ask, what are your partner's views on parenting and gender roles? Can either of you imagine taking a break from a high-powered career in order to focus more on caregiving? How do you each see your roles as mom and dad?"
2. Whether you share the same values.
From family to religion, are you and your significant other in agreement? Or, asks Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, can you find a way to make room for your differing sets of values? "It's important to know you have similar values so you don't feel blindsided or surprised when your partner tells you what they're willing or unwilling to do in terms of shared goals," Greer explains.
3. Your partner's financial status.
Being compatible doesn't just come down to chemistry. Financial compatibility, Orbuch says, is also important. So before you tie the knot, it's best to know if you'll be taking on your partner's debts or whether you'll be able to reach your own financial goals with his or her help. Orbuch also suggests asking your partner if he or she is willing to share bank accounts, and how much he or she makes. "You'll need to know how the financial burden might be divided between the two of you, especially considering that money is the No. 1 thing most couples fight about," she says.
4. Whether you are sexually compatible.
Ask yourselves: Are your sex schedules and sex drives in sync? Do you approach sex with similar views, looking to share and receive the same things from the experience? "Explore the desire and attraction you have for one another so you can go into your relationship with a foundation for sexual intimacy that can help sustain you when things are difficult," advises Greer. Because if you know and understand one another's sexual needs, "you'll always have a baseline to get back to one another," she says.
5. You partner's level of commitment to work.
You can't marry your partner if he or she is already married to his or her job, Orbuch points out. "Look for signs that your partner is maintaining a moderately healthy work and life balance," Orbuch suggests, "and consider carefully whether you can handle a partnership that leaves you lonely most of the time."