Just got engaged? Congratulations! But before you try on Hayley Paige dresses or plan a multi-day bachelorette extravaganza in Sedona, there’s something else you need to focus on:
Too many people enter into their engagement period focused on the wedding instead of the marriage. But, the marriage is what requires the most effort! After the guests have gone home, the cake has been devoured, and the confetti has settled...it’ll just be you and your spouse, in it for the long haul.
While the divorce rate has been dropping over the last few years, it’s still prudent to ask the tough questions so you can be prepared for any issues that will arise. Many marriages attribute their ultimate demise to the overdone Hollywood trope of "irreconcilable differences." Don’t want to end up like Brad and Jen or Channing and Jenna? Grab a glass of wine and your future spouse so you can reconcile those differences before you legally commit your lives to one another (eek!).
Here are some crucial conversations you need to have with your future spouse before you tie the knot.
Finances are one of those hot-button topics that can determine whether or not a couple is actually a good fit. A couple of really big issues surrounding finances are having different money values and not disclosing past financial issues.
One person may be a spender, while one person may be a saver...and trust us, these two people usually end up marrying each other! If this is the case, not to worry. We recommend sitting down with your future spouse and having an honest conversation about money. In your conversation, you can cover topics like salary, how much in savings you have in your bank accounts, and how you envision working towards your money goals together.
You should also talk about the D-word, aka debt. If either you or your future spouse is in debt, it’s important to disclose that to each other prior to getting married so you can both know the full picture and make a plan to attack your debt together.
Whether you or your future spouse wants kids is yet another important conversation to have prior to saying "I do." First of all, do you both want kids? Does neither of you want kids? Does one of you love kids while the other one prefers pets?
Beyond this, it’s important to hash out some more details with your partner. If you do want kids, when do you want to start a family? Is one person expected to stay at home over the other person? What parenting styles do you prefer? Do you want one kid, two kids, three kids...or more?
No matter what the answers are, it’s important to hear your partner out and to get the full picture prior to building your lives together as a married couple.
We kid you not...this will make your marriage a lot stronger!
Ah, in-laws. The gift that just keeps. on. giving! Even if you are one of those fortunate individuals to be blessed with incredible in-laws, you should chat with your future spouse to make sure you’re on the same page with things like how often you’re going to see each other and what role you want them to play in your lives.
If you aren’t blessed with incredible in-laws, for whatever reason, a harder conversation needs to be had with your future spouse. Some topics you may want to consider are setting boundaries (both physical and emotional), how you will handle stressful events like family milestones and holidays, as well as what you will and will not tolerate with each other’s family members.
At the end of the day, protecting your marriage should be your highest objective...even if you feel like it should be proving your mother-in-law wrong one last time!
Sex is very important in a relationship, and it’s even more important in a marriage. This can be a vulnerable and tricky subject for some couples, so it’s best to have this discussion when both parties can be open and honest with each other. Take this time to discuss your ideal frequency, style, and preferences. If you have any past traumas, hang-ups, or insecurities about sex...now is the right time to tell your spouse-to-be.
Please note that there is no "right" way or frequency to have sex! What matters is that both partners feel respected, satisfied, and understood in the bedroom. If these three parameters are met, couples will enjoy a fun and healthy sex life in their marriage...and will be much less likely to divorce due to sexual incompatibility.
Let’s get to consummating that marriage, eh?!
Marriage therapist Gary Chapman saved thousands of marital arguments when he wrote his book The Five Love Languages. According to Chapman, the five ways in which most people give or experience love are through quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, or gifts.
After a hard day, it would help to know whether your spouse-to-be would appreciate a thoughtful compliment, a massage, a box of chocolates, a home-cooked meal, or simply spending time with you.
Once you know your partner’s love language, you will be able to show them that you appreciate them. Plus, you’ll hopefully be able to avoid silly arguments stemming from a lack of feeling loved. Who can argue with that?!
Finally, one of the most fun conversations! Prior to getting married, make sure to discuss your short-term and long-term goals with each other. This includes financial goals, personal goals, career goals, fitness goals, and relationship goals.
It’s important to know that your goals line up with each other since you will be merging your lives together as a married couple. For example, if one of you wants to go backpacking in Belize for the next two years while the other one wants to settle down in the suburbs in the next two months, you may have some issues.
Try to get ahead of any potential pitfalls by making sure that your short-term and long-term futures align.
If you’re having a hard time having conversations with your spouse-to-be, there’s no harm in booking a few sessions with a relationship coach or relationship therapist. The time and money invested into a few of these sessions may solidify your relationship and help keep your marriage on a healthy road.
Remember...happy spouse, happy house :)