A Letter to a Potential Son or Daughter-in-Law or Questions To Ask During Courtship

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‘Tis the season for spring fever and young love! I am at the age when I have older children dating, courting, and getting married. Same with a lot of my girlfriends. So I am sharing, with my girlfriend’s permission, an email she sent to me. I hope it helps any of you out there help your children to “marry well.” Even after children leave the nest, they still need mentoring to help them navigate the choices of adulthood.

The following are my girlfriend’s words:

Here is a letter we formulated to send to our future son in law, who has been dating our daughter at college, in advance of meeting with him in order to gather more information.  I really feel like as parents we need to work on helping our young people to thoroughly investigate a potential marriage partner in order to see clearly what they are getting themselves into.  The goal is to be completely transparent so each party knows what kinds of challenges they are taking on.
The past generations of parents have been too uninvolved.  We want to be more involved to help our children get a good start in life.  The divorce rate indicates many problems and one of them seems to be inadequate knowledge about the marriage partner BEFORE getting married.  So take this letter for what it is worth.  Talk with your kids about it and help them start getting a mental map of what things they can and should talk about during courtship.  Like Geoffrey Botkin says “Courtship is not a time to go miniature golfing”.  Need to spend time on things that really matter.
Just so you don’t think we are coming at our future son in law with figurative bazookas, we have been doing all kinds of things with him and our daughter this past month.  Weeding the yard, painting the house, making and eating and cleaning up dinner together, helping a family friend move and clean their entire house, my husband went golfing with the kids and other side of the family.  So far, I’m impressed.  He is a good worker, thorough cleaning of paint brushes, doesn’t complain about working, able to take a task and make it happen, can lift heavy items, and kill spiders without wincing.  He even knows how to cook  from scratch!!!  Im in for a treat.  So I’m learning how to develop a relationship with a potential in law.  My husband is the peacemaker and I’m the bull in the china shop.  I think we make a good match.  Heavenly Father certainly has his hand in this endeavor.
I love what Dieter Uchtdorf said and I’m paraphrasing since I cannot find the source.  He said something like “even if your parents don’t like your choice of partner, if both of you will keep the covenant and remain faithful to your promises you make, you will grow together and qualify for the highest kingdom”.
Here is the letter: Hope you enjoy and use what you can when your children are seriously considering another person for marriage.

“I had a fun time at the driving range with you, your Dad, and my daughter on Saturday. Thank you for taking the time to get to know us better the past few weeks.

“We have discussed with our daughter some things that are important to talk about in a courtship. Rather than all of us meeting, I felt it would be appropriate for me to take you to dinner so we can talk.

 “We feel that it’s our duty and responsibility during courting/engagement to do all we can to make sure that important topics are discussed so that there aren’t any issues that could be a problem in the marriage that haven’t been resolved or at least known fully before the marriage.

“Recently, after hearing of two sad marriage stories from two close friends, it has made us more aware of the importance of asking specific questions before marriage so that any important or serious issues can be discussed and fully understood before the marriage.

“One of our friends’ daughter’s marriage began 5 years ago and after 3 little girls have been born they are divorced because he had a porn problem before and during their marriage that he never disclosed. The other story is of our family friend who married a young man after a very short courtship.  They are now separated and divorced after 8 months because he never disclosed some traumatic events in his life that still affect him today.  Transparency before marriage is crucial to what happens after marriage.

“We realize that you two are adults in age and have spent most of your time discussing intimate details of each other’s lives.  As parents of your girlfriend who has been away at college, we haven’t had the time nor occasion to get to know you well.  We hope that you will consider the intent of our questions.  It is really to help this process become completely transparent so that you and our daughter can honestly evaluate each other as you make the marriage covenant for time and all eternity.

“Knowing that this is a sensitive subject we want to give you this list of questions to help you prepare for a discussion on these matters when we meet soon.  Here is the list of questions that we would like to discuss:


1) Have you had a serious pornography habit?

2) If so, how often, how many years, and how recently did you have this habit? And any in the last 12 months?

3) Did you ever seek help for the problem? Please tell us what kind of help you sought.

4) If it is a current problem, have you confided in anyone and sought help?

5) What are your goals as far as staying clean?

6) Do you have tools that you have found to be effective in keeping you clean?  Would you like to get more tools and support?

“Media Standards:

1) Do you ever watch rated PG13 or R movies, or watch a lot of movies or TV series/shows?  Tell us about your movie standards and amount of movie and tv watching.

“Emotional Health:

How do you handle stressful situations?  What is your tendency when you get stressed?  If someone else is overstepping their bounds (infringing on your person, property or rights) how do you handle that situation?  Are you able to stand up for yourself?

“Relationships: Do you take responsibility for your problems? Many people choose to blame others when anything goes wrong. Also, many people in marriage have the unfortunate problem of being overly critical.  The best way is to never criticize, condemn or complain. That doesn’t mean you never disagree just that you have constructive conversations to discuss disagreements that can be talked through in a kind way and worked out to a resolution.

“The Family a Proclamation:

Father is responsible to provide for the family. The ideal is for the mother to be at home with the children not working full time. 

Do you and will you treat our daughter with the proper respect and kindness at all times. Not being physically, verbally or emotionally abusive?  Yelling, physical abuse, and emotional abuse should never be a part of your relationship.  But Love, kindness, patience, and charity.

“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

1) Have you ever experienced PTSD symptoms from your experiences in the Army or other stressful situations?

2) If yes, what treatments have you sought?  If you havent had any treatment, do you think you would benefit from receiving treatment?

“Faith and Commitment:

We would like to know how you feel about the Savior and his gospel.  What are your current habits and practices that would give us an indication of your level of commitment and faith?

“Temple attendance

Scripture Study



Sabbath Day Observance: How do you spend your sabbath? What things do you feel are appropriate or inappropriate for the Sabbath day? (Super Bowl, movies, etc)

“Money management:

1) How do you currently manage your money?

2) Are you a spender or saver?

3) What debts if any do you have?  What do you feel is ok to go into debt for?

4) Buying a home and rental properties

“Discipline of Children and Education:

1) How were you disciplined as a child?  What do you feel is an appropriate way to discipline children? Do you believe in corporal punishment? If so, what kind?

2) Have you discussed children and how many children you can see yourself having?

2) What are your beliefs about current modern day education?  Are you open to homeschooling your children?  Would you support our daughter in homeschooling if you decided this would be best for your children?

” General:

Is there anything in your life that you believe we should know about that would influence Natalie’s decision to marry you? This includes anything that the spirit would tell you to reveal to give her a better idea of who you are and what you’ve experienced in your life including past mistakes, significant events, periods of repentance, life changing incidences, spiritual experiences that have shaped who you are, etc.

What is your greatest weakness?  Do you know what our daughter’s greatest weakness is?  Have you openly discussed this together so that you both have an understanding of who each other is, weaknesses and strengths. “

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1 Response to A Letter to a Potential Son or Daughter-in-Law or Questions To Ask During Courtship

  1. Martina says:

    Thank you


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