When you and your significant other think you are ready to take the next step and get married, there are a lot of things that you need to discuss. Typically, however, when thinking about marriage, people only think about the immediate: The wedding and the honeymoon. There are several things that all couples should discuss before getting married, however, to ensure that they are prepared for the life-long commitment.
15 Things Every Couple Should Discuss Before Getting Married
Compatibility is a complex topic. There are so many aspects that go into two people being compatible enough for a relationship – spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional. Then there are things like common hobbies and how you prefer to spend your time. However, there are certain aspects of life that most people don’t think to talk about before they tie the knot. If couples don’t discuss them before getting married, however, it can result in many problems later on.
1. Financial Situation
Debt and finances can be a bit of a taboo subject for many. For people about to make a life-long commitment and have a joint bank account, however? Essential. You don’t want to get into a marriage only to find out that your partner has a major problem with credit card debt.
2. Bank Accounts and Bill-Sharing
There’s so much that goes into this one. Will you have a joint bank account, keep separate, or a mix of both? Will you divide bills equally? Who will pay for what? There’s a lot to unpack here, so make sure you have these discussions so you are on the same page.
If you really want children and your partner doesn’t, this will become a problem. Also, don’t be naive in thinking that your partner will change their mind – most of the time, they won’t. If you really want to have kids, you need to be with someone who is at least open to the idea.
4. Where Do You Want To Live?
You need to know where you want to put down your roots, not just in the immediate but in the future. You might be okay living in the city while you’re young, but you also might have a dream of living in a big, beautiful country house later on. Your partner, however, might imagine city life for your entire life.
Expectations on religion and beliefs are important to discuss. You don’t necessarily have to share the same views, but you need to respect each other. If children are in the plans, you also need to discuss how you will raise them in this manner.
Before marriage (and before having children), it is important to have discussions about who will do what around the house. This will avoid one person feeling like they are doing the lion’s share of the work.
7. Family Obligations
Family life and expectations differ from family to family. You may come from a family that only does things on major holidays, whereas your spouse’s family may expect you to be at dinner every Sunday. Understanding these expectations and compromising with them is an important conversation to have.
8. Life Goals
You may both be career-driven, or maybe only one of you is. Whatever it may be, you need to understand each other’s goals and priorities. Someone who works a lot and is very career-driven likely won’t change just because they’re married.
How do you like to spend your vacation time? Are you an adventurer? Or more of an all-inclusive-resort relaxation specialist? How often do you want to travel and take vacations? If you have kids, will you always take them with you, or no? Have these discussions ahead of time to avoid arguments later.
10. How You Will Manage Conflicts
You’re planning on spending your life with this person – you’re going to have fights sometimes. The important part is how you plan on handling these disagreements. Learn and understand each other’s way of managing conflict and way of communicating. For example, if one partner needs space after a fight to cool down before discussing it and finding a solution, give them that space. You will have a more productive conversation that way.
11. Deal Breakers and Bucket Lists
This one speaks a lot about a person’s values and how they want to spend their life. Make sure these are largely compatible. You don’t have to be 100% in alignment, but you need to know and understand these things to not upset each other later or have regrets.
Let’s talk about sex – for real. How often do you expect it? Are you going to be okay sleeping with just one person for the rest of your life? If not, there are plenty of ways for two people in a loving, committed relationship to explore their sexuality in other ways. You must be on the same page about this.
13. What Is Cheating For You?
For one person, cheating might be purely physical. It might just be sex, or maybe include kissing. For someone else, cheating might be even just going out for coffee with someone of the opposite sex. As awkward as it might be, you need to talk about it, so you both understand where the lines are.
14. Alcohol and Drugs
If you like enjoying a drink at the end of the day or a glass of wine with dinner, you may want your partner to partake with you. Or perhaps you love a good alcohol-fuelled party. You need to be certain you are both comfortable with each other’s drinking and substance habits and the person they are when influenced by those substances.
15. Retirement and Savings Plans
When do you want to retire, and how do you want to spend those years? Most importantly, how do you plan on saving for that time? This is a project that you need to work on together.
The Bottom Line
This is just a small list of things you should talk about with your future spouse, there are plenty more, as well. You don’t need to sit down all at once and go over everything, but you should have conversations about one or two of these topics every so often before you put a ring on it. You will avoid plenty of future head and heartaches if you do.
- “15 Things Every Couple MUST Discuss Before Getting Married.” HuffPost. Wendy Atterberry. December 6, 2017.
- “5 Conversations You Need to Have Before Getting Married.” The Knot. September 24, 2020.
- “What to know before getting married: Advice from a couples therapist.” Today. A. Pawlowski. February 7, 2018