Planning a Marriage: Premarital Talks

I find when you read about newlywed life, you tend to get two camps of reflection:

The first year of marriage is the hardest, or being married feels the exact same.

When you’re engaged a lot of the planning energy goes into the wedding. As we prepare for our wedding, we would like to spend time preparing for our marriage too. I’d like us to fall into the camp where things feel the same but strengthened after the wedding. I have a few posts planned throughout our engagement that will address how we’ve been planning and preparing ourselves for the marriage part too.


The Narwhals at a wedding // Personal photo

The first topic I’d like to discuss is on our premarital talks. Shortly after our engagement GM PB came to visit from Thunder Bay with his wife and adorable daughter. It was such a great visit, and we had lots of chats about planning the wedding and marriage.

One thing they told us they really appreciated during their wedding planning was the premarital counselling they had to do with their church. It was an opportunity to discuss some important topics, but was also really affirming for them as well.

I told Mr. Narwhal that I actually had wished we could do something like that, because it would great to have those important conversations. Instead of going to counselling, I went to Google and ended up finding just what I was looking for from Dr. Jim Walkup’s website (a marriage counsellor in Manhattan).

He provided a list of things to talk about that were in the realm of what we wanted to discuss. The list was broken into 12 topics and 75 questions to talk about together. We ended up covering the questions over the course of two evenings, and I have to say, they were amazing conversations. I decided to share this on the blog for any other soon-to-be newlyweds out there wanting to do something similar. The breakdown of the topics included:

  • Meaning of Marriage and Commitment 
  • Your Lifelong Goals
  • Your Mutual Expectations
  • Your Living Arrangements
  • Children
  • Money
  • Parents
  • Gender Roles
  • Intimacy
  • Conflicts 
  • Spiritual Life
  • Extramarital Relationships 

Many of the topics were affirming conversations. It was good to cover and evaluate what we knew already. In an open forum we solidified things we already knew, and managed to still learn things about one another.

I know that for some, these kinds of discussions might be redundant or eye-roll worthy, but from our perspective they were definitely worth it.

The best thing that came from our chats was a new dinnertime ritual. While discussing children and the values that are important to us to pass down, I told Mr. Narwhal that I would love for us to start a tradition with our children where we would share gratitude for the day while we eat dinner. We aren’t religious, but I really appreciate the intention of giving thanks before a meal. Beyond saying we are grateful for our meal, I want us to share the big and small things we were grateful for that day, and on a larger scale.


Fun fact: I have a gratitude tattoo on my inner left forearm. // Personal photo

Instead of waiting for children, we decided we wanted to start the practice right away. I can say this has been one of the most amazing things we have done for our relationship. Rather than just doing a drive-by synopsis of our day at the dinner table, we talk about what made us feel grateful. It’s really great to share such positivity over a meal. Not only do we learn about each other’s days through our sharing, it also gives us an opportunity to be appreciative of one another for the little things, those things that often go unsaid.

Did you and your fiance go to premarital counselling? What kind of traditions have you started together?


Mrs. Narwhal

Gifts for Engaged People
Classifieds: March 23, 2015
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  1. mscoral Bee
    Mrs. Coral 380 posts, Helper bee @ 12:53 pm

    i love this – it’s so upbeat. I have a tendency to just bitch about my (work) day, so I think this is a great idea to focus on what you are happy about!

  2. msbordercollie Bee
    Mrs. Border Collie 102 posts, Blushing bee @ 1:05 pm

    Love the traditions you guys are building. I wish we could have done premarital counseling, but it just didn’t work being long distance. Oh well. When I was a kid my parents always had us name three interesting things that happened to us that day. It was a fun exercise to create dinner time conversation and share our days with each other. I’m always up for some positivity, so I can appreciate the grateful approach.

  3. msnarwhalbee Bee
    Mrs. Narwhal 87 posts, Worker bee @ 2:25 pm

    @mscoral – I know what you mean, it can be really hard to focus on the crap throughout the day, but we really try to reframe and find the positivity in everything that happened 🙂

    @msbordercollie – That sounds so special! We always talked about our day growing up (we ALWAYS had dinner at the table), but it’s really important to us to raise kids with grateful hearts, and we both think this will be a simple, yet powerful think to help instil that value. We’ve learned a lot by adapting the practice of being vocal about it 🙂 I always journaled my gratitude, but saying it out loud and sharing it is so much more special! haha I’m such a sap.

  4. mscrab Bee
    Mrs. Crab 60 posts, Worker bee @ 12:49 pm

    I love this post @msnarwhalbee! The list sounds like a great resource and the gratitude tradition sounds absolutely lovely.

  5. msnarwhalbee Bee
    Mrs. Narwhal 87 posts, Worker bee @ 12:37 pm

    Thanks @mscrab!! We love it, if we’re sitting at our table at dinner, we’re always sharing our gratitude together! It’s always funny if we’ve been a few nights or busy and the next time we eat together we each have such a laundry list of things to share 🙂

  6. mssquid Bee
    Mrs. Squid 49 posts, Newbee @ 6:11 am

    This is such a great habit to build as a family…I think I might borrow it! Although our Pre-Cana class was church mandated, I’m happy we had the experience for the same reasons you mentioned.

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    Veronica, Guest @ 12:59 pm

    Fiancee and I did do premarital. We have been together for 10 yrs but I always knew it was something I wanted to do. Even if some of the discussions were ones we had already had, it definitely helped strengthen our decision to get married. I don’t know that we found out any new things about each other, but we did get ideas and suggestions as to how to navigate “fights” without tearing each other down and how to listen better and express each other better. A better version of us.

  8. bracelet Bee
    Mrs. Bracelet 279 posts, Helper bee @ 4:23 pm

    What a great tradition! My school in Japan did something similar, where we were supposed to (privately) come up with three things – big or small – that we were thankful for at the end of the day. It’s such a nice way to bring positive energy to our lives.

  9. pyramid Bee
    Mrs. Pyramid 104 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:05 am

    That is such a cool tradition to start! Really makes you think about your day and if all the problems that are weighing on you really matter. I love that you did your own premarital talks. They’re definitely topics that should be discussed with any couple looking to get married!

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