Relationships are hard. Even the best ones are difficult at times, but there are some conversations to have before marriage that will help you start this new chapter off on the right foot. As a newly engaged couple, you might feel you and your partner know each other inside and out. Sure, there are the no-brainer topics like religion, children and where you want to live. There are some other topics, though, that can make or break a marriage. A quick glance at these conversation starters will have you walking down the path to complete coupledom in no time. So, here are some conversations to have before marriage.
It might seem surprising to ask about how your significant other’s relatives work, but there are a couple issues at play here. People learn about money management as a child, usually from their parents. While some people will try to do the exact opposite of what they were taught, others will copy those money management skills to a tee. Either way, it's important for you to know. If your partner’s mom had terrible spending habits, which he opposes, he may become agitated when you shop. On the other hand, if your partner’s dad always had multiple maxed out credit cards, your new husband may have the same habit. One more reason this is important – when a family member dies, their debt can be passed on. While you do not need to know the exact state of his family’s financials, a general idea is not bad to have. How you'll handle money is one of the most important conversations to have before marriage.
Another money topic. It may seem unnecessary, but it is. Any debt your spouse is under can, as most likely will, be transferred to you. If a spouse passes away, those debts will definitely be transferred to you. Make sure you know what you are getting into. If your partner is head over heels in debt, make sure they are worth it.
While one partner may stay friends with their ex, another may shun every person they used to date. Before marriage, you must know where you stand in this category and where your partner stands. Especially if there is one particular ex in question. Exes have a tendency of coming out of the woodwork at the most inopportune time. Make sure you and your partner have an action plan on how to handle one of these surprises.
With so many different kinds of marriages, this is one you will need to decide for yourself. Some couples have open marriages where they follow their own rules of what is acceptable and others believe any type of flirtation is cheating. It is extremely important to know where you and your partner stand. Cheating in any form can be a relationship killer, so knowing what the boundaries are will help you remain respectful. Likewise, your partner must know your comfort zone as well.
Another one we are bringing the family into. Just like finances, this is important for helping you gauge how a partner may potentially react. As children we learn from mimicking what we see. If someone grew up in a house full of anger and yelling, that is what they are used to. When put in high-stress situations like a fight, they will most likely find comfort there. Likewise, if a person grew up in a talk-it-out home, they could be more inclined to discuss immediately. You need to know how you and your partner will work together in a fight. This can only be determined through experience, but having some expectations will help you both feel prepared when the time comes.
Nobody wants to mention divorce on a first date. Or a second. Or the week prior to getting married. But it will be shocking if the topic only comes up once a couple friend decides to call it quits and you start wondering if you could be next. Having an idea of what could qualify for divorce in the eyes of your partner will once again set relationship expectations and boundaries. It will also help you to learn if there are any expectations in the event of a divorce. Knowing how finances and possessions will be separated can help you if that stressful time happens down the line.
This is one of the most overlooked topics prior to marriage and it can lead to the most grudges. If one partner feels like they are the only one who takes care of the house, there will be arguments. Discuss beforehand how you want to split up chores. If you have a clear-cut idea of your partner’s expectations and are both willing to compromise, nobody will feel overworked or underappreciated in the home.
If you expect something in this arena, make sure your partner knows. Finances are so important, but this goes beyond that. Not sharing a bank account will led to other necessary discussions, especially if somebody is the breadwinner. If you remain separate, you must know who will pay for what. You must also know who will handle any unexpected expenditures. If you share a bank account, you need to decide the logistics: are you going to get a brand new bank account? Will you join your partner's or vice versa? Do you want credit cards? A savings?
While still the most common development of a traditional marriage, it is becoming less common. Some men opt to take the women’s last name, some women opt to keep their own and some opt to create an entire new one. Do as you please, but make sure you know what you and your partner both want. If you choose to keep your last name, know that you may decide to change it in the future. This can happen if you have children who share your partner's last name but not your own.
Emergencies are never fun, but they can happen. Once married, you will be the person responsible for your spouse. You need to know what they want in an emergency situation. Does your partner have a DNR or do they want to try everything to survive? Whose health insurance will you go on? If one of you passes away, you need to know your partner’s last wishes. Do they want to be cremated or buried? Do they want certain arrangements? While it can be extremely difficult to bring up this topic, you need to be prepared for everything.
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