Are you at the point in your relationship where you’re thinking about marriage? Tying the knot is a huge milestone! That’s why setting the right tone before getting married is essential. Getting off the wrong foot and bringing false ideas into a marriage will end in disaster.
It’s said that communication is the key to a healthy and positive relationship, and we certainly agree. That’s why talking about potentially tricky subjects before you marry can be a great way to ensure long-term relationship happiness. Here are four essential discussions every couple should have before getting married.
1. Discuss Kids and Parenting Styles Before Getting Married
Many couples wanting to get married want to start a family. If that’s you and your partner, you should talk in detail about that subject so you’re on the same page. From the get-go, you should both have the same opinions about whether or not you want any children, of course. But after you’ve determined that similarity, there is still more to discuss. Here are some subjects to talk about:
Some differences in this opinion can be compromised, resolved, or played by ear. For example, if you want two kids and three, you can work with something. But if you want one child and they want a whole football team of them, that’s a bigger problem. Significant differences in future goals related to children are often not a good foundation for a happy marriage.
· How To Raise Children
Different people will have different parenting styles and different childhood backgrounds. Many people believe that their way of parenting is the “right way,” so before those arguments come up, talk about it. How will you raise your children? If you’re of different religions, what will your child learn? What disciplinary methods are you going to use? What are some rules you’d agree on? How someone was raised can determine how they raise their children, so it’s also worth addressing childhood experiences. Do you want to emulate your parents’ style or completely avoid it altogether?
· How To Ensure Quality Time
Having children is rewarding, but it’s also hectic. Many parents become so lost in the parenting duties that they drift apart. This rift contributes to a lot of the divorces experienced by empty-nesters later in life, according to research. So talk about how you’ll ensure you can still spend time together and keep the spark alive. This plan can include determining date nights, hiring babysitters, and setting up boundaries for couple-time.
· How To Split Duties
Raising a child is not easy in the slightest. Nowadays, it is accepted that all parents should play a significant part in parenting duties. Decide how these responsibilities will be split. Factors like who will work and if anyone will be a stay-at-home parent are essential topics in this vein.
· When To Have Children
At what point in your life will you be comfortable or ready to have kids? Do you want them right away after marriage? Should you be entrenched in your career and financial situation? Do you have life goals, like buying a house, that must be fulfilled first? Get on the same page about timing!
2. Consider Life Goals Before Getting Married
Marriage is a long-term commitment. This promise means you’ll want to be heading in the same general direction in life. This doesn’t mean having identical hopes and career paths or anything like that. It means that you should be able to make your long-term goals happen without damaging the marriage or each other’s goals.
Both parties should have a similar idea of where they’re going or be genuinely happy compromising if necessary. Here are some topics to discuss in this vein:
Where do you prefer to live? Do you wish to live in the city or a more rural area? Is there somewhere you want to retire? Do you need to be near your family or friends? Are you willing (and happy) to move if your spouse wants to do so for work?
· Life Dreams
Some dreams in life are pretty straightforward. Others might take more effort and could be as important as work or even family to someone. Make sure you’re on the same page about each other’s dreams and goals in this manner. You should be able to support each other wholeheartedly and without resentment for a joyous marriage.
While not necessarily a “goal,” the fact is that most religions do involve a degree of aspiration. Many religions promise some form of afterlife or heaven to strive towards. Are you of the same faith? How often do you want to go to a place of worship? If you’re not of the same religion, do you want your spouse to convert, and if so, are they happy too? How about the other way around? Based on what you believe is next, will your beliefs seem to separate you after you both pass away?
It sounds boring to talk about financial subjects, but it’s imperative. Studies show that financial problems are among the chief contributing causes of divorce. While you might not avoid all money-related arguments in your marriage, discussing this topic beforehand can ease their severity. Here are some subjects to include in your discussion:
Before you get married, you should know what your combined financial situation will be. How much do you both make, including passive income? Do you have any future goals for income? Will this marriage make either of you decide to make decisions that will change your income? An example of the latter is becoming a stay-at-home spouse instead of working or changing jobs as you move to live somewhere new.
· Financial Obligations
Most people have previous financial obligations, including bills, debt, and potentially familial payments. Before you get married, consider these obligations. Partners should be honest about the expenses that are going to affect a combined financial situation.
· Investments And Savings
Money that sits in the background is still money that must be discussed. You’ll need to talk about any investments you have and how much you currently have in savings. There should also be some talk about how much savings will be put aside each month when you’re married. Many couples also want joint bank accounts in addition to their own, so talk about that.
· Financial Responsibilities
Once you tie the knot, there will be a lot of financial responsibilities on the table. You’ll need to decide how you’re divvying up those responsibilities. Who’s managing the overall finances? Whose money is going into rent and utilities? How many things are you splitting down the middle? Every couple has different needs for these responsibilities, so assigning them as needed is a good idea.
· Shared Finances and Independence
Some couples decide to merge their finances in joint accounts. Others prefer not to. And of course, many choose something in the middle, like having separate accounts and one for joint funds. Whatever the case, you must discuss and decide how much your money will merge. You will also probably need to talk about maintaining monetary independence, especially if one partner will earn considerably more than the other.
4. Before Getting Married, Set Your Relationship Expectations
Ideally, you would have discussed your more severe and essential relationship expectations when you started dating seriously. But if that’s not something you’ve done, you’d better do it before you get married! You have to be able to cater to each other’s preferences for a relationship, within reason, to enjoy marriage satisfaction.
People have different needs, wants, and desires out of their relationships. With these wants and needs, expectations form naturally. If these expectations aren’t properly or clearly communicated, you’ll be angry and resentful when they go unmet. Meanwhile, the person not meeting those expectations won’t even know they exist! Here are some expectations to outline and hash out before tying the knot:
· What Constitutes Cheating
Different people can have very different ideas of when a contract of faithfulness is broken. For some, you’d have to sleep with someone else before they call it cheating. For others, texting certain people all day would start to feel disloyal. There’s no one “right” answer for what cheating means. That’s why you and your partner must thoroughly discuss your expectations and what faithfulness means to you. This also applies to concepts like open marriages, polyamory, and bringing other people into the bedroom. What are you comfortable with, and what aren’t you?
Intimacy in the bedroom can be a significant part of a relationship. If that’s the case for you, then it’s time to ensure you’re on the same page. This goes from everything for frequency of bedroom intimacy, kinks and fetishes, limits and interests, and more. If you’re not allosexual or have little interest in bedroom fun, it’s still something you should talk about. After all, even those on the asexual and aromantic spectrums can still want to get down now and then! So make sure you’ve talked about the ins and outs of what you want, expect, and aren’t comfortable with.
· Work/Life Balance
Your work/life balance determines your physical and mental health, so it’s already essential. In a marriage, that importance only increases! Research proves how central this balance is to relationship satisfaction and positive thinking, especially its other effects. Outline your expectations for how you should be balancing these aspects of your life. When does work come first, and when does your partner come first? What isn’t okay to do when it comes to canceling work plans? How will you ensure that work doesn’t take over?
All healthy relationships require healthy and positive boundaries. Talk about some of yours and listen to your partners. These boundaries can include needs for personal space, what you consider private and sacred, and how you prefer to manage conflict. It also includes more complex topics, like how much you’ll let your families get involved with your marriage. You don’t need to have all the exact boundaries, but you do need to commit to respecting each other. If your limits don’t align well enough, that could spell trouble down the road.
Communication and openness are crucial foundational parts of a relationship. These discussions to have before marriage allow you to ensure that those building blocks are already there. Approach these topics with positive thinking, openness, and an eagerness to listen!