36 Questions from The New York Times
Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love essay drew a lot of attention to the idea that it is possible to fall in love with anyone by simply answering 36 questions. Catron’s essay, which is based on a 20-year-old study by psychologist Arthur Aron explores the relationship between mutual vulnerability and connectedness. It also provides a great foundation for DIY premarital counseling.
You will sit down with your potential partner for around an hour and talk through three questions. Keep eye contact throughout. The questions start simple (“Given the option of any person in the world, who would you choose as your dinner guest?”) but get more intimate (“Of all your relatives, which death would you most find disturbing?”). Why?”).
These questions are not meant to replace premarital counseling. However, they can be a great way for you to strengthen your relationship with your partner and expose any hidden skeletons.
The 5 Languages of Love
Gary Chapman’s Five Languages of Love is another great DIY resource. This text is easy to read and helps couples determine how they love and what they want in return. Chapman’s website offers tons of useful tools and resources. Many of them are free and can be downloaded. Chapman’s work is Christian-oriented.
You can also follow up on his program by having some serious conversations. This will help you make more practical assessments and get to the bottom of the issues, such as how to pay off student loans or whether you are on the same page regarding having children.
A third-married relationship coach, David Steele, has had plenty of marital problems. His book Radical Marriage: Your Relationship as Your Greatest Adventure was co-authored with Dana’s wife. Do not be discouraged by the shaming cover art or annoying pull quotes. Instead, implement some of Steele’s suggestions, such as planning dates in four groups. One is planned by you and caters to your interests. You and your partner plan another, and then another one is planned by your spouse just for you. It sounds complicated, but Steele makes it easy to follow and breaks down the information into bite-sized chunks. The book includes some useful exercises, such as weekly check-ins and co-journaling. You can even rank your sex life to identify areas for improvement.
It’s easy for people to forget that a wedding is a planning process. You can take a break from wedding planning and go on dress shopping once a month to focus on your marriage and lay the foundation for your future together. Counselor Sheryl Paul recommends that couples begin to commemorate their wedding date on an ongoing basis. This is a time for you and your partner to connect as a couple. You can also go on a hike or take a break from all the details of wedding planning.
Most people associate the term “Quaker” with an image of an elderly man wearing a funny hat and eating oatmeal. Quakers, also known as members of the Religious Society of Friends, discarded the sexism and cumbersome trappings of traditional church marriages long before this was trendy. However, it’s the premarital counseling that is most useful for DIY premarital counseling.
Most Quakers reject traditional clergy because they believe everyone is equal and that no one is closer to God than any other. To help couples decide if they are ready to marry, Quakers form their own Clearness Committee.