3 Questions Every Couple Should Answer, According to a Therapist

Get on the same page about monogamy, privacy, and finances now to avoid hurt feelings later.

become reconciled couple figures of people with a knitted thread, a heart as a symbol of love
Andrii Zastrozhnov

One of the most common areas of relationship distress comes in the aftermath of a betrayal. Often this breach is much more nuanced than “They slept with someone else.” Instead, it can look like “They’re flirting with a coworker,” “They spent the money we were saving for a house,” or “They told their family about our last fight.”

Truth is, in many cases most emotional land mines could be avoided with a few candid conversations early in the relationship. To help, here are some questions to discuss with your partner:

“How do we define monogamy?”

Basically, monogamy refers to being in a relationship with—and having sex with—only one person. It’s an agreement with a partner that sets boundaries around what is sacred to your relationship. We often assume that we all have the same ideas about what it entails, but these assumptions may leave your relationship vulnerable to accidental betrayals. For example, let’s say one partner assumes that monogamy means one should never flirt with others, but the other thinks flirting is fair game. Or one partner enjoys watching pornography, but the other considers it a breach of their agreement.

I recommend discussing what monogamy means to you. What constitutes physical or emotional infidelity? This may not be an easy conversation, especially if there are differences in your understanding that need to be ironed out. But these talks always go better if they happen before, rather than after, an assumed line is crossed.

“Who gets to know the details of our relationship?”

In an intimate relationship, there is often an assumed privacy between partners, especially around vulnerable issues. It’s also completely normal to talk to friends and family about someone you love—or turn to others for support when your relationship gets hard. So where do you draw the line?

Ask each other and answer: Whom do you turn to when struggling with our relationship? Who are your trusted confidants? Are we comfortable sharing details of our sex life? Whom can we vent to after a fight? What’s just between us? By being intentional and coming to an understanding, you’ll avoid future hurt.

“What are our sexual and financial expectations?”

Two of the most avoided conversation topics in new relationships are sex and money—and they’re also among the leading focal points of conflict and betrayals of trust. So talk about them early and often.

Get curious about how important sex feels to each of you. How often would you each like to be sexual? What are the best times? How does stress impact your libido? And on the topic of finances: How transparent would you like to be? What are your financial stressors? What do each of you feel comfortable spending on? It’s the very rare couple who are perfectly aligned on every issue. But getting out ahead of potential problems will set you up for success.

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