Before marriage let’s discuss all

It’s, without a doubt, an exhilarating feeling when your partner pops the question. Your first reaction is telling your loved ones the good news. Later, you begin to think when it’s a good time for the wedding, the preparations and if everything will come together as expected. But have you and your partner discussed life as husband and wife? When it comes to future goals, are you both on the same page? Besides talking about the wedding, it’s wise to discuss life as a married couple before moving forward.

Thanks to my first marriage, I learned certain topics were a “must” to discuss if I ever planned on remarrying. Years later when I did marry again, I already had a talk with my partner. A thorough discussion before marriage has brought us easier times.

For the most part, couples discuss life together before getting engaged or when they know their relationship is serious. But there are some people who I have met throughout my life who married based on a fantasy. Sadly, their marriages took a turn for the worse.

Here are few major topics to discuss with your partner before taking the big step.

The Past

You should clear the air about your past. Many people have nothing to worry about, but some do. Ask yourself if there are any unresolved or unsettled issues that has potential of resurfacing in your marriage. The only thing you are trying to avoid is trouble later in your happy marriage.

Family

What role will your family play in your life once you are married? How will visits, holidays, and special occasions impact your relationship with one another? Will you start your own traditions, or continue those of your family of origin? What role will our family have when it comes to our life and decision making? Combining two people from two separate families into one is something that many people take lightly. But it’s a topic that can cause much strain and stress if not tackled in part before you say I do.

Goals

Do you respect each other’s goals? Are you both willing to support each other’s goals? Are the goals easy to deal with as a married couple? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you and your future spouse are willing to work as a team. If not, you should reevaluate the relationship.

Location

Once married, you begin to save money towards a down payment for a house.

When you have enough money saved, you and your spouse begin to househunt. You prefer one site while your spouse prefers another. You want to stay near family while your spouse wants a distant area. If the place of living was never discussed, tension will evolve in your marriage. Work towards a compromise that can make both of you content.

Parenthood

You know you want to become a parent, but are you certain about your partner? Your partner may have mentioned wanting children in the past but changed his mind not too long ago. If you do not bring up the topic just for reassurance, you will later receive the surprise of your life – your spouse wants no kids. Parenthood is not for everyone. Discuss this issue before walking down the aisle. Parenthood is an immense responsibility.

Finances

Oftentimes, money is the cause for problems in a marriage. For example, you make more money than your spouse so there are expectations of you paying more towards bills. You want to keep up your personal bank account but your spouse wants your money and his money joined. Your spouse wants control of the budget, but you feel confident in handling the budget. The talk of finance is important. You must have a financial plan in place with your partner so there are no unpleasant surprises later in the future.

Profession/Employment 

There are couples who work very hard for the wellbeing of their family

In the process, they compromise their health, time spent together, doing hobbies they had love or would like to do and, more importantly, working on their relationship. A relationship is not a self-fueled engine that will forever tread on the right track. When work becomes top priority or when both spouses are immersed in work, one or both needs to pause for a moment and take a holistic look at the entire scenario and discuss what needs to be done so they do not end up jeopardizing the relationship. We work to have a better life, but that life will not be better if we lose our loved ones in the process.

Have this difficult conversation with your spouse: are we working to live, or living to work? What can we do together to improve this situation.

Friends/Social circle 

Few couples are lucky enough to share the same group of friends or have similar opinions about their social circles. Spouses should not compel each other to stay away from their friends or social circles. Friends are an integral part of everyone’s life. However, one needs to draw that fine line where friendship becomes a priority over marriage or the relationship. It is extremely difficult to discuss issues like professional commitment, friends, and similar contexts where one becomes more important than the relationship, but discussing such difficult issues will strengthen your relationship.

Marriage is a serious commitment. Having a talk with your future spouse is a wise move. A talk can help avoid possible hardships.

Every couple must try to attain as much openness and honesty with each other as possible. All healthy relationships require trust, and being able to talk to one another about anything is the foundation of trust. A married couple should be comfortable discussing an array of issues or contexts, and they should not mind expressing their opinion, regardless of the topic of discussion or conversation. It is the difficult talks that are avoided that become the root of many problems.

There are many sensitive issues that couples do not want to talk about. It could be the fault of one spouse or both. Past life experiences can prevent one spouse from talking about certain kinds of issues. It could be the lack of opportunity, time, or space. Even the relationship can be blamed if difficult issues are not discussed. However, the purpose is to not pin blame or to find out what or who is accountable. There has to be a concerted effort to ensure that difficult issues are discussed. Otherwise, the relationship may slowly succumb to growing differences and misunderstandings.

Outlook in Life

Clarify that you are mostly in accordance of each other’s outlook in life. Admit it, people can’t truly be neutral, and we all have biases based on how we are brought up and the environment we lived in. Major differences are possible red flags in marriage. Not saying it’s impossible but lesser risks means lesser arguments as you know what to expect and how to handle situations. This involves principles, culture and choice of lifestyle. You don’t want to have a racist partner who says he respects you but mocks your people. If you want kids and are open to having many, be cautious of a pro-choice partner. I mean, know before you dive at least so you can adjust your expectations.

Religion

I agree there is always a middle ground but when you have kids this can be complex. Freedom of religion is true, but since you will be living under one roof this is a challenge. You can’t be sensitive since you have to give space and you can’t be insensitive since this will involve your kids.

Stability

Not much of a question if you are in for a life of hunting and gathering or a person with great survival skills. You don’t need a lot of money to be happy but at least you should have ENOUGH. If you are a thrifty / a person with reasonable expenses you would certainly hate it if your husband/wife spends a hundred dollars for a fancy meal that only covers merely a tenth of your hunger meter.

Struggles

One thing I know about marriage, is that it magnifies everything. Your strengths…and your weaknesses. Before you enter the pressure-cooker of marriage, you need to get real with your bad-habits and hang-ups here and now. Do you have a tendency to express anger through rage? Do you struggle with any addictive behaviors? Are there any areas in your life that you need to expose and address before you move forward toward marriage? Take the time to talk frankly and honestly about your struggles, and make the time to work toward hope and healing.

The season before marriage is a rich and joyous time in a couple’s life. Don’t allow the pressure of creating the “perfect wedding” to keep you from focusing on what really matters. Plan your wedding, but most importantly, plan your marriage- because a healthy marriage is something worth truly celebrating.

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