Getting married is a big freakin’ deal, like … huge. You want to go into it as well prepared and open eyed as you possibly can. This is the time for pure upfront honesty between you and your partner. Unfortunately in relationships, what you don’t know, can actually hurt you. Do what you can to avoid that (duh), which means doing your homework upfront! Even though these might not be the sexiest of conversations, they are super important for getting all opinions out in the open. The earlier you and your partner have these important conversations, the better. Entering into a commitment as serious as marriage opens the opportunity for some vital conversations between you and your partner. Let’s jump in!
Important Conversations to Have Before Getting Married:
Kids and Parenting
Obviously the starting place is – are we having kids, how many and when? Most couples have generally talked about this topic but now is the time to get into the nitty gritty. How would you handle fertility issues and are you both open to exploring fertility treatments if they are necessary? Do we want to enjoy two kid free years of marriage before trying to start a family or are we jumping right in? What are your thoughts on childcare options? You get the idea … solidify your ideal plan for what will work for you both. Who knows how it will actually play out in the future, but wanting the same outcome as your partner in this situation is pretty important. Next up, what kind of parents are we going to be? Now the “parenting” component can often be left out of this convo because who actually knows how they are going to be as parents prior to having a kid?! In this case, it’s the big picture stuff that may be important to you that you should share with your partner, such as: when I was growing up we ate dinner together at the table every night and I want to do the same for our kids. Or talking about discipline issues and what is okay with you and what is a hard no. Kids and family are a HUGE part of marriage so it’s best to get on the same page prior to saying “I Do!”
Sex is a huge component of marriage and every couple has what works for them in the bedroom. But the reality is, some people find it easier to talk to their friends about sex than their partner. It can be intimidating or make you feel vulnerable, but that’s completely normal and okay. Talk about the “big picture” sex issues that can positively or negatively effect your marriage like: how often is best for us, how do we feel about one or both of us watching porn, how does our sex life look when we have kids. You can talk about your fantasies or hopes for greater intimacy. Whatever is on your mind in this department … the main thing is to have an open and honest conversation about it. Keep this conversation going so this area of your relationship stays fresh and exciting.
This is a big conversation topic and a reason why a lot of couples end up splitting. This is the time to ask about specific numbers: how much debt do you have, are you actively contributing to a retirement plan, do you have a savings account, how much is in it, what are your savings goals, is your credit good? You may already know general answers to these questions but now is the time to get specific AF. Talk about spending habits and what your future financials goals are as a couple. Maybe you view money differently, and that is totally normal. Discuss how can you set expectations now so this is not an issue later on. Will you combine finances and who will be primarily managing them? Talk about your careers and who is the breadwinner and what happens if that changes. This is also a good time to discuss legal stuff as well like prenups, wills, trusts, and life insurance. Try and look at your joined financial situation in stages, where you plan to be in one year or five. Set goals and check back in our where you are at with them often. None of this is sexy to talk about but knowing exactly what type of financial situation you are marrying into is key.
This may seem like something that isn’t as necessary to talk about as let’s say, sex or money, but it definitely can be. There are the obvious values, such as religion and lifestyle choices but one that we think is vital for a healthy relationship is: committing to growing as couple. If growth is important to you, make your partner aware. Tell them that you want to continue to work on and deepen your relationship after marriage and get specific about what that looks like. Talk about what that means to you as a couple, is it committing to weekly date nights, reading relationship advice books together or checking in at couples counseling. Some couples might commit to a annual trip together, set future goals or even a couples conference. Figure out the best ways for you to grow as a couple and commit to making it a priority. Then have “relationship audits” where you check back in and make sure you are on the right track to achieve your relationship goals! If you aren’t growing, you’re dying!
Do you have a reoccurring argument? You know, the why the hell can’t you put your dirty laundry in the hamper argument? Some issues may be less important like dirty laundry, but some might be as essential as – what I need from you to feel secure in our relationship. Whatever the issue is, recognize it and talk about how you two can move on from arguing about it – to discussing it productively. Figure out if there are patterns in the way you argue and come up with ways to handle conflict more effectively. For example, if one person always walks out in the middle of an argument, does that help or hurt the situation? How do you deal with your differences, is there a lot of yelling or do you tend to shut down? Every couples dynamic is different and fights are inevitable, figure out what works best for you guys and keep that in mind when an argument comes up.
Let’s talk boundaries with each others families. Maybe you are in a relationship where you both really truly love each others families, and if that is you: congrats, you’ve hit the in-law jackpot! If not, set up some expectations so you and your partner are both on the same page. Dealing with your partners family can be … let’s say … “interesting” at times so clearing up any issues sooner rather than later is important. Get clear about your boundaries. How will you handle Holiday time with family and if they live out of state, how often are you expected to travel? How do you plan on taking care of aging parents or grandparents who relentlessly spoil your children? You and your partner do not ever want to feel torn between each other and family, so start this conversation early.