Getting Married? Time to Prepare!
After getting engaged, it’s tempting to dive headfirst into planning your fairytale wedding. But, let’s face it: “happily ever after” refers to the marriage, not the wedding day. There are a few topics soon-to-be-married couples must discuss before saying “I do”. Take a break from wedding planning and see where you and your partner stand on these 7 issues before getting married.
1. Your Expectations of Marriage
There are as many opinions about the way a marriage should be structured as there are people to hold them. Be sure you understand what your partner expects and vice versa. A couple of subjects that are smart to discuss include: how the two of you will handle fights, your sex life, what is considered cheating, how major decisions will be made, and individual deal-breakers that could be disastrous for your relationship. These might seem like no-brainers, but you may be surprised that your partner has different opinions than your own on some matters.
This is a topic that may have been discussed somewhere along the way in your dating relationship. Still, it’s a good idea to reiterate your positions. Will the two of you have kids? If so, when? The minute you are married, everyone else will be asking, so it’s important that, as a couple, you are on the same page.
Furthermore, if either of you has any existing children, you should discuss how parenting will work. What are you parenting styles? Who will discipline the children?
Talking about money isn’t always easy. However, considering that nearly 45% percent of divorces are due to financial problems, money is a topic you need to discuss early and often. Before getting married, your money might consist of “hers” and “his”, but after the wedding bells ring, everything becomes “ours”–including debt.
Talk to your partner about their credit history, debt, and any habits he or she has with money. These conversations can direct that way the two of you handle money. Do you want all the household income to be in a joint account or in separate accounts with a joint one strictly for bills and expenses? Who’s going to be responsible for making financial decisions, paying bills, or taxes? Having this conversation now could save your marriage before it even starts.
You probably know your significant other inside and out. Do you really? Sometimes, shocking beliefs can come out years into a marriage that significantly change your perspective. Sit down with your partner to discuss religious or spiritual viewpoints as well as political and moral ones. This will determine the kind of life you live, what holidays you celebrate, and how your future children are raised.
After the wedding, your families may become possessive, especially if babies enter the equation. Have an early conversation before getting married about your families. Will you discuss relationship problems with siblings and parents or keep them private between the two of you? Whose side will you visit on holidays? How much involvement will your parents have in raising the kids? Coming to agreement about these issues and sharing your views with family helps to identify boundaries and clarify expectations.
Marriage combines two lives into one but you are still individuals with separate goals and dreams. Share your short-term and long-term goals with one another to be sure you are in alignment. Does someone want to travel the world? Go to medical school? Go over your individual and mutual aspirations so that you both are moving in the same direction.
7. Household Chores
Every relationship has its ups and downs, but you don’t want to spend hours bickering about whose turn it is to load the dishwasher. Have a frank conversation about who will do what in the household and hold one another accountable.
These topics may not set the mood for a romantic evening, but they will set the scene for a marriage built on understanding and mutual respect. Pull up a chair and get your partner’s stance on these topics today.
One helpful resource that you may want to pick up before walking down the aisle is The Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook by Hardin and Sloan. Inside, you will find page after page of meaningful insight along with tons of premarriage worksheets. We highly recommend this for all couples contemplating strengthening their relational bond through marriage.
Successful marriages don’t just happen. They require a great deal of advance work and preparation. They also require patience, understanding and a will to identify challenge areas before they become a major problem. This is best accomplished through premarriage counseling.