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The assumptions — and the baggage — that we bring into our marriages can make a big difference in our long term relationship. When we come into marriage without knowing what the other’s assumptions are about all the main topics (money, sex, children?) it can really put a damper on that honeymoon glow that we all love. These are topics that need to be discussed openly, and preferably long before a commitment to marriage is made.

The Gottmans have a card deck for just such a problem: 52 Questions Before Marriage or Moving In Card Deck. They are similar to the cards the Gottmans sell for making decisions about having babies. They cover spades (work), clubs (social life), diamonds (finances), and hearts (love, sex, romance). These of course, are the topics that couples don’t always take the time to talk explicitly about. With so many of us in isolation with our partner right now, this also makes for a wonderful bonding activity to pass the time together in a meaningful way!

For example: A couple with one partner who comes from a family that loves celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays extravagantly, while the other person comes from a family that wasn’t so into it — that’s gonna be an early clash when they face disappointments and misunderstandings as holidays approach. But if they can discuss it, understand each other’s perspective, come to a compromise and reset their expectations, they easily avoid a major argument. The more you can unpack those expectations and build clarity, the healthier your relationship will be. 

If you are thinking of taking the next step in your relationship, sit down and have some meaningful conversations about what really matters to the both of you. The only way to break through the assumptions we have surrounding romance and marriage is to speak them out loud together.