He Says, She Says: What We Need to Talk About Now

Page highlights: extensive list of questions to explore in 12 key relationship areas

While it’s good to have comprehensive pre marital preparation, it’s important too to focus most of your effort on the areas of most concern.

That will vary from couple to couple. While some things are basics and everyone needs to do some work on – like communication and conflict resolution skills, couples will differ on specific issues that they need to work through before marriage.

And this is the best way to apply those communication skills you are learning.

This exercise is designed to help you pin point those key issues for you.

Its fun to learn of your relationship strengths, but it’s most helpful to identify the areas where you could use some improvement and center in on those.

The Exercise:

Below are 12 key areas of relationships.

Each of you look through the list and decide on 3 that you believe are the strongest areas in your relationship right now, and decide on 3 that you believe have the most room for improvement right now.

Mark a “S” beside the 3 strongest areas and a “I” beside the 3 that you believe needs improvement.

Whoever goes first, be sure your responses are covered so your partner can’t see what you have marked (or print two copies of this page).

When you both are finished, take a look and see if you marked most of the same areas.

Discuss any differences, and what you were thinking when you marked what you did.

She says (left side) and He says (right side)

___     communication skills        ___

___     resolving conflicts         ___

___     expectations of marriage       ___

___     money matters         ___

___     shared recreation activities   ___

___     children & parenting views     ___

___     extended family issues         ___

___     husband / wife roles        ___

___     family backgrounds        ___

___     religious views & practices    ___

___     personality concerns        ___

___     sexual relationship issues     ___

There is a list of questions a little further down this page for each of the above relationship areas to help you get started in a discussion of the areas each of you decided were areas for improvement.

While you may have discussed many of these areas in your courting, this exercise provides an organized approach to help you focus on the most important things you need to talk about right now.

NOTICE! This is a fun & helpful exercise.

Should you hit some bumpy spots, remember to practice good communication principles like these:

  • Let your partner be honest with you. You don’t have to like or agree with what you hear, but negative reactions cause your partner to shut down. These reactions could include defensiveness, anger, put-downs, and threats.
  • Listen. Give your partner the time they need to express their viewpoint & seek to truly understand.  Ask questions, & put in your own words what you hear said.
  • Speak to each other in a normal tone of voice.
  • Remember the goal is to strengthen your relationship. This will enable you to work together toward solutions.
  • You might also want to re-read the conflict management skills.

Below is the list of questions that you can use along with the

What We Need to Talk About Now Exercise

Look especially at areas each of you mark as areas for improvement, and each of you mark questions you believe you need to talk about now.

Communication Skills

The amount of time we have to talk

Differences in our communication styles

What I/you do when we have trouble communicating

The topic hardest for me to discuss with you is:

My/your ability openly & fully express ourselves

My/your tendency to use put-downs

My/your lack of being a good listener

My/your honesty

My/your tendency to become quiet

My/your tendency to interrupt

My/your tendency to dominate the conversation

My/your lack of interest in what I say

What we talk about most of the time

Our acceptance (or lack) of what one of us says

Becoming negative in our communication

Keeping secrets

Need to find someone to help us communicate better

Resolving Conflicts

Our general ability to resolve conflicts

My/your tendency to give in too quickly

My/your need to be right & get my/your way

My/your tendency to say one thing, then do another

My/your getting upset over trivial things

My/your lack of taking issues seriously enough

My/your not saying enough

My/your talking too much & not listening

My/your avoiding dealing with conflict

My/your ability to share feelings/thoughts

My/your ability to accept other’s feelings/thoughts

Our unresolved issue of:

An issue we have not discussed is:

My/your getting angry too much

My/your saying hurtful things

Need to find someone to help us resolve conflicts

Who has to have the last word

Will we ever discuss our conflicts with friends/family

Ever air differences in public / in front of our children

Our ability to compromise

Expectations in Marriage

My/Your expectations of our marriage

Do you expect me to meet all your needs

What happens if unexpected problems come our way

What do we believe about commitment in marriage

Are you going to try to change me

How we view romantic love in a marriage

Money Matters

Our expenses & can we pay the bills

Who will “keep the books.”

When & for what will we borrow money

Are we going to keep a budget

Will we have credit cards & for what use

Current debts one or both of us have

Will both of us work now, or later

Move if one of us received an offer of better pay

Will we have separate banking accounts

Each others spending habits

When do we need to consult with each other before spending money

How much of our income will we save

What we will save for

Would we ever lend money to a friend/family member

Would we ever borrow money from a friend/family

Will we shop for discounts

How much will we spend on fun stuff

How important should money be in our thinking & lives

Shared Recreational Activities

What we will do for fun

How much time you spend away from me

Our balance of work and play

Number & kind of activities we both can enjoy

This is something I’d like us to do together:

This is something I’d like to do with others:

I’m concerned about the money you spend on this activity:

Children & Parenting Views

Birth control

When we will have children

How many children we will have & spacing

How we will nurture our children

How we will discipline our children

Who will discipline our children

Private, public, or home schools for our children

The role of the father

The role of the mother

If we discover we can’t have children, what then

Value we’ll place on spending time with our children

Value we’ll place on showing affection to our children

Value we’ll place on family mealtimes

Will one parent always be home with the children

How parenting will affect our marriage

Extended Family  Issues

How supportive our friends/family are of our marriage

How your family feels about me

How my family feels about you

The time you spend with your family/friends

Family members that nose into our business

A family member/friend of yours that concerns me is:

A family member/friend of yours that I really like is:

How close/far away we’ll live from our parents

Will we accept/ask for financial help from our parents

How we will decide where to go for Christmas

How you speak to/treat my family

What happens if one of our parents needs special care

Husband / Wife Roles

Will we both work outside the home

Our division of labor at home

How we will make major decisions

My/your role as father

My/your role as mother

Who will keep up with the money

Who will do the yard work

Who will keep the house clean

Who will help children with homework

Who will discipline the children

Family Background Similarities/Differences 

How much time our families spent together/apart

How our families express their love to each other

How decisions were made

How children were disciplined

Who disciplined the children

How conflicts were handled

Who did what (roles)

The stability of our parent’s marriages

How holidays & birthdays were celebrated

What we did for vacations

What we did on weeknights

The time our parents spent together alone

The way children were taught about money

How crises were handled

The place of religious faith in my/your family

The person I like most in my/your family is:

The person I like least in my/your family is:

Family secrets

What we can learn from our families, good or bad

Religious Values / Practices  

Our views on the importance of spiritual life

The role of our spiritual practices in our relationship

How our faith will help us deal with problems

How active we will be in a church

What I/you believe about:

A non-negotiable belief/practice for me is:

What we will teach our children about:

How our parents will feel about our choices in faith practices

Our devotional time together as a couple

Our devotional time together as a family

What the Bible teaches about marriage, husbands & wives

How much we will give to our church

What we will do about any religious differences

Our difficulty in discussing religious matters

Our need to discuss our viewpoints with a minister

Personality Concerns

My/your stubbornness

My/your temper

My/your honesty

My/your jealousy

My/your moodiness

My/your bad habits

My/your domineering behavior

My/your negativity

My/your ______________________

Sexual Relationship Issues  

Your expectations of me sexually

What I need from you sexually

Sexual acts I am not comfortable with

Amount of affection in our relationship

Our method of birth control

Previous sexual experiences and/or abuse

My comfort level in talking to you about sex

How often we will make love

Concerns or fears I have about sex

What sex means to our relationship

Male / female viewpoints in regards to sex

How I feel about my body/sexual attractiveness

Using sex as a punishment or reward

Should the man always initiate sex

Can we be affectionate without sex

Still Something Else to Talk About?

“These are some other things I’d like for us to discuss

that were not listed anywhere above” ­­­­­­

His:

 

 

Hers:

 

Resources: There are more formal tools including personality tests for couples that you can use if you want a more scientific approach and a trained facilitator to work through the results with you.

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27 comments to He Says, She Says: What We Need to Talk About Now

  • thomas king and rebecca shreeve

    these are all useful things and ones to consider when getting married. thomas and i feel like we are more or less on the same page about most things. there is however always room for improvement in our relationship. we are not shy to discuss things with eachother. we think this is what makes us stronger because when we do have conflicts we usually can work through them.

  • Christopher and Bethany

    This exercise was good for the both of us. We did take turns going through the list and marking the strengths and improves and then discussed each of them. After we did that, we scrolled down the page a little more to find the questions. The funny part about it, is that we were already asking each other those things and talking them over. We both feel good about the fact that we are able to see things that need to be improved and that we can also agree on ways to improve them. This was a good exercise.

  • Connie Noward and Barry Thiessen

    I feel that we know our flaws as a team. We have been together 10 years and pretty much can agree on what we need to work on and we know our strong points as well as our weaknesses.

  • Lexi and Aaron

    We really liked this exercise, and both agreed that almost all of our areas of improvement stem from communication. This however, did lead us into a very good conversation on how we can improve as a couple.

  • Joe and Tara

    This section was one of the most challenging for us. We had LONG discussions about some of these questions, but really learned a lot about each other.

  • Jessica and Andrew

    Whew – this page led to at least 1 hour in conversation all by itself! We have been living together for over 2 years and we still had things we needed to discuss. Most were obvious but some led to deeper discussions than we anticipated. Luckily we are on the same page with 90% of these issues.

  • Ashley Harris and Mike Frisbie

    This was probably the most beneficial exercise in terms of really having an in depth discussion about our marriage. It was very positive and helpful and led to a lot of great discussion we have been doing this for an hour and a half and could really come back tomorrow and do a lot more. These are even points of discussion that we might want to come back to after our wedding to make sure that we are still communicating about serious issues. We really really enjoyed this one!

  • Katie and John

    These are all useful skills. We talked about all of the things listed on this page and it seemed to take about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Great learning lesson though.

  • Dustin and Katie

    This exercise gave us quite a bit to talk about. We feel like we’re in agreement on most things. The biggest thing that we need to work on is just keeping our communication as good as it is now. We know that communication is something that starts to slip after a while.

  • Lindsey and Rhett

    We definitely spent the most time on this exercise. This really lays out the core aspects of a marriage and brings to the forefront what is most important to each of us. We quickly agreed on the three areas needing improvement and the three areas of strength. It was helpful to go through the checklist for the areas needing improvement and discuss ways we can continue to work on these. Lindsey tends to work long hours and our relationship is better when she has more time off and stress is decreased. While this isn’t always possible, we are finding creative ways to improve our areas of weakness on a daily basis.

  • Kelly and Larry

    This exercise was very beneficial. We both agreed upon areas of improvement for our relationship and we discussed what to do to improve these areas of our relationship. We definitely value all of the good areas of our relationship and continue to try to improve our relationship.

  • Raychel and Peter

    Between the two of us, we agreed that some of our strongest areas are in our communication skills, our shared recreational activities, and our expectations of marriage. Where we both thought we could use improvement most is within our money matters. I think it is going to be harder than we think getting ourselves established after our marriage especially if we are unable to find jobs quickly. We are also facing huge financial obstacles in the near future with everything from cell phone bills, car/health insurance, rent, food, etc. and I am worried we may not be 100% prepared for this.

  • Megan & Vince

    We’ve done a couple of tasks like this before, and it always sparks a really good, deep conversation. Each time we have that conversation though over the years, the focus changes, which I think is neat. We’re still evolving as individuals and as a couple, and I like knowing that even in a few more years, our conversation will probably change focus again.

  • Brooke & Lucas

    So far, we talked the most during this exercise. It was really beneficial to discuss these topics. We both agreed on the three strongest areas of our relationship and discussed (at length) the areas that need improvement. We were able to be very honest with each other and hope that this exercise will help to strengthen our relationship.

  • D & S

    This was a very enjoyable exercise. We agreed on our strengths, but it forced us to look at some of the other things that might need improvement. Even covered what we call each other’s parents as that hadn’t come up. Also covered several other family issues such as holidays and caring for parents.

  • Amanda & Nate

    We have completed many of the wedding prep modules up to this point, but this one was by far the most helpful and the most enjoyable to work through. I think our compatibility was affirmed because we were almost exactly on the same page with the strengths AND weaknesses of our relationship. Even agreeing on the weaknesses is a good thing, because that means at least you agree that a “problem” exists – and that’s a great starting point to eventually resolving any issues. We literally spent 3 or more hours on this course, not only talking about the items we selected, but essentially ALL of them. It would be foolish for a couple thinking about marriage to not have addressed all of these items. Having been together for many years, we have discussed many of them, but we were surprised at how many we HAVEN’T covered! And even the ones that we’ve discussed in the past, it’s always great to bring it back up and see how thoughts and opinions have changed over the years. A great exercise!

  • Lauren & Bryan

    We completed many modules at this point but this module seemed to be a great conversation starter. Just through strengths and improvements we learned alot about each others views.

  • Emily and Robert

    This exercise was very beneficial in having a good in depth conversation about very important topics. We found that some of our strengths and weaknesses as listed were the same and some were actually one persons strength and one persons weakness. Although these were only things that can be always worked on like communication and money matters. Although we do have a plan in place, we do intend to re-write our budget in the new year and begin again.

  • Jennifer and Eden

    We enjoyed and benefited from this exercise the most. It was an exercise that we began by agreeing to be absolutely honest about our feelings and opinions. Not to hold anything back for fear of upsetting the other. We felt that we were totally on the same page about most everything but discussed each in further detail. Some simply didn’t apply to our relationship so we skipped them. But the ones that did we spent time discussing with an open mind and heart. We found ourselves often laughing at one another and as a couple. A fun exercise that requires each to open up a little more about various topics.

  • Kara and David

    We discussed many items on the list and spent quite awhile on several topics. This was a very good exercise because while we know each other better than anyone, there were still a few topics we had not discussed in as much detail. This helped us both see things that were important to the other and make sure we respected or gave the correct amount of attention in this area. We think this exercise will be very helpful in some difficult areas and could be used at any time to benefit us and help us grow as a couple.

  • Hunter Earnest & Amy Mahoney

    Great exercise or primer to discuss and explore areas in depth. Our answers were the same on strengths and we had a few variances on the “needs improvement” topics.

    We uncovered a few differences in our thought processes and approaches to things like finances and family. Thankfully we agree more than disagree and I believe that with caring conversation we can continue to work on these areas in a positive and productive manner.

  • Rachel and Aaron

    If my fiancé and I argue about something we just can’t let go of at the moment, we usually take time out. Not necessarily leave the room or go anywhere but put the subject to the side. We have always been able to sit next to one another and continue to hang out even if we didn’t come to an agreement. This results in us being able to think about the topic and think about where the other one is coming from on their side. By the next day, we have the issue resolved and also have a different understanding of what the other needs. Also, taking a time out helps to stop saying things in anger and instead approach the argument in a non-argumentative way, which results in a more logical discussion. I feel this is working well for us.

  • Aleah & Brandon

    This was a great discussion that we both learned from. In comparison we had 1 strength and 2 areas of concern that were the same. There were some new discoveries with improvements. We learned that we agree on a lot of areas, and a few we need to improve on.

  • Thomas & Tiffany

    This exercise was great for us. It brought up a few things from the recent past that needed to be talked about and we both feel good about how we ended the discussion. This exercise really confirmed for us that we agree on most everything going into this future marriage and where we stand on these important topics.

  • Aaron & Chelsey

    We spent quite a while on these exercises. We had some interesting discussions, but we also fell into some patterns of behavior during these discussions that we were able to address, like his defensiveness and my tendency to shut down and avoid conflict. If we keep working on the items on this list, we will grow and learn to communicate more effectively.

  • Nancy and Vinh

    We enjoyed this exercise. It gave us more time to talk about our thoughts on each topic. We were pretty much on the same page about everything. We learned a lot. We agreed that we need to learn how to handle are conflicts better..

  • Maelee and Jake

    This was by far our longest section so far, and we really appreciated having an outline of questions/topics, even though we’ve talked about a lot of this before. Since we started as best friends, we knew a ton about each other getting into the relationship. Additionally, being long distance the past couple of years has taught us how to communicate effectively. A couple of these don’t have answers right now, since we aren’t planning on having kids for several years, but we still discussed them.

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