The fairytale romance, endless days of wedding planning, and trying on gorgeous gowns may seem appealing, but make sure you have these 5 discussions before saying yes.
Discussing finances is not something that it super fun to talk about. When it comes down to the wire, it’s important that you and your partner both have a firm understanding about what things cost, how much you’re spending, and how much you’re saving.
When you start talking about finances, income, and expenses, it’s important to start the conversation gradually and be understanding of the other person’s thoughts and opinions. Some people emphasize saving and preparing for retirement while others like to spend their money and might live a little above their means.
Having a good understanding of what to expect when your finances are tied together is a huge part of getting married. Rather than arguing about money or spending habits, sit down and gradually start having these conversations. Are you concerned about their debt? Do you have questions about having joint checking accounts? Considering a prenup or disagree with your partner’s request for one? Interested in hearing your partner’s credit score? Talk about it. Really, sit down and have a serious conversation and open up those doors so there are no skeletons in the closet or unanswered questions that could potentially lead to arguments in the future or resentment in the marriage.
How to fight.
Talk about this, really. Take the time to sit down and talk about what is important to you and how things make you feel. Building a relationship and living in one space with the same human for an extended period of time means learning how to fight and handling it gracefully.
You’re bound to have a disagreement at one point or another, but it’s about how you handle it. Communicating with each other effectively and calmly working through issues is crucial; once one party begins feeling attacked or defensive, it can be challenging to stay calm. We know it sounds difficult to stay calm and be less reactive when things happen that are frustrating, but it allows room for conversation rather than yelling or saying hateful things.
Effective communication and arguing steers clear of emotionally traumatizing your significant other — don’t say hateful things you can’t take back, don’t walk out, don’t swear or start name calling, stay away from bringing up past mistakes, and don’t criticize and nitpick your partner. You’re not going to get anywhere by acting like this.
Instead, take time to discuss what is really bothering you and why it upset you. If you feel like you’re going to blow up, take a few minutes to yourself and excuse yourself to go to the restroom or take a few deep breathes. Return to the situation and calmly explain that you had your feelings hurt, something made you very uncomfortable, or really upset you. Then, calmly explain why. It’s important to make your partner understand without attacking them; once you begin attacking their actions or character, you put them on defense which usually ends up in a bigger fight.
All couples bicker. All couples argue. It’s bound to happen. It’s not about if you do it, it’s about how you handle it.
Having an understanding of how to communicate and engage with your partner is crucial. Take time to understand how you can communicate more effectively with your partner. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are coming across one way and it can be easily changed. On the other side, it’s important to voice any concerns you have about how you communicate with each other that you have. Creating an open book policy where you talk through your issues is a great way to stay on the same page.
Work is another hot topic that’s crucial to discuss. Having an idea about your partner’s career hopes and expectations is something that will ease tension in the future.
- What does the division of labor look like at home (who will go to the grocery store, do the laundry, clean up after the kids, take out the trash, cook dinner?) * REALLY talk this one over*
- What are your feelings about income, how does it make you feel when one partner brings home more than the other?
- What are your feelings about sole breadwinners?
- Would you ever relocate for a new job? City or state?
- Do you feel comfortable and satisfied with your current career?
- How much money do you really need to make to feel comfortable? Does your current career afford you the opportunities you need?
- What’s your game plan for if someone gets laid off or has a change in employment? Is there a backup plan? Are there savings?
- How committed are you to your career?
- If you have children, what are the expectations for careers for both partners?
A big one and hopefully an obvious one. Yes, it’s fun decorating a nursery and finding adorable little jumpers for your little one. However, there are some really big talking points that need to be addressed her before marriage. Do you want kids some day? If you do, how many? Okay… so we’ve briefly talked that over.
Now it’s on to the more serious questions…. some things to consider may be:
- What are your greatest fears or hopes with having children?
- When you grew up what were the things that were most special to you? Do you want your kids to experience that?
- What are your expectations when it comes to child care? Will one parent stay at home and the other work? Daycare?
- How are you going to adjust your budget to fit the child?
- What if there are issues conceiving, how will that be handled?
- If you can’t conceive naturally, are you open to other means of having children? IVF? Adoption? Surrogate?
- Are there any values that are really important to you that you think are important to teach a child?
- How would you handle the situation if you disagreed with your partner / their family (you disagree with grandma / grandpa for example) over a parenting decision?
- How are you going to keep your intimacy and connection alive?
- What is the correct what to discipline a child?
- Are you religious and if so, will they be raised under a single religion or multiple religions?
Raising a child and building a family is a complicated endeavor that couples undertake that can be very fulfilling, but can also cause strain. Having an idea on some of these questions makes things easier when it comes time to actually begin your family.
Whether we like it or not, family is permanent. You can’t change where you came from. Did you grow up in a big household where everyone sat down to eat dinner together every night? Did you live with a single mom who worked most nights? It’s important for your partner to be aware of your background and understand the important traditions and quirks about your family. Whether that means the importance of sharing Thanksgiving dinner together at 4pm every year over deep-fried butterball turkey or how much it means to your mom to receive flowers on Mother’s Day. Some families are lax and go with the flow and others have serious traditions in places that are important to uphold.
It’s also important to make sure you are aware / your partner is aware of anything that is very important to your family in terms of values. This may mean what your language is like around a religious family member, if anyone is particularly sensitive to political issues, or there is some big point of conflict that would be better if it was left alone. It will make things a whole lot easier at the wedding when everyone is together.
Are you very religious? Do you swing left or right on political issues? Are there any major issues that you are very passionate about? These are important conversations to have ahead of time. Understanding and respecting your significant other’s values is an important step in your relationship. It’s okay if you don’t share exactly the same thoughts, but it’s important to listen to what is important to your partner and vice versa.
You’d think it would be easy to talk about, but when it comes time to keep things lively in the bedroom you may find yourself in a slump. It’s important to have a good understanding about what your partner enjoys and wants out of the intimate part of your relationship. While it may seem like something you can casually bring up, wait until you’re out at dinner or doing an activity to start this conversation. Broaching the topic while in the heat of the moment may put your partner on the spot in a very vulnerable place. It’s important for both of you to have an understanding of what makes you happy and are able to think of ways to keep things interesting. After all, you’re talking about having sex for the rest of your life. Listen without interrupting. Share your thoughts. Be open minded. Get creative. Enjoy yourself and enjoy your partner.