Do you anticipate having children? If so, how many? Where do you see yourself living in ten years? Exploring future goals and aspirations together is a proactive way to resolve differences now and avoid heated disagreements later. Where to begin? Here are a few topics couples should discuss before the wedding.
Parenting and Children
A Large Extended Family, an Empty Nest or Somewhere In the Middle- Many couples neglect to discuss how or even if a family fits into married life until after the wedding. Whether you are looking forward to maintaining an empty nest, raising a large family or you fall somewhere in between, your partner needs to know. Talking honestly about parenting and children before the wedding is an easy way to avoid a potentially stressful situation. However, simply agreeing to have children may not be enough – parenting techniques and strategies can be a contentious. Be sure to share ideas and deeply held beliefs about your parenting expectations before tying the knot.
Money and Career
Managing Finances- Starting a life with someone you care deeply about is a joyous event. But, without planning, even the best relationships can turn rocky when money enters the picture. Few newly married couples are financially independent, and that means one or both of you are likely to bring personal debt and ongoing financial responsibilities to the marriage. While carrying debt is rarely a deal breaker, not having a frank conversation about repayment strategies and fiscal expectations can be. Be sure to discuss how each of you plans to tackle debt and whether or not your new life together will include shared fiscal responsibilities or separate accounts.
Career Aspirations- Are you on the fast track to a powerful career? Is your spouse? It’s important to think about career aspirations within a new set of circumstances. If future events require someone to put career goals on hold, who will be forthcoming? Whether it’s having children, a job transfer or family illness, unanticipated life events often require one spouse to modify plans. A serious conversation about who would be willing to put a career on hold can avoid future resentment and anger.
Spirituality and Laying Down Roots
The Role of Religion- Couples frequently disagree about religion and the role spirituality should play in a future life together. Particularly when children are involved, parents need to be clear and in agreement about whether or not religion will play a prominent role in day-to-day life.
Countryside or City Dweller- The strategy behind saving for your dream home only works if there is agreement as to where the dream home is located. If you have your heart set on the quiet countryside, while your spouse envisions a city bungalow, there are sure to be problems. While some compromise is a certainty, couples that take time to share their vision with one another before committing find it easier to work together toward a common goal.
While no one can plan for every life-altering event, recognizing the need to communicate openly and honestly with a spouse-to-be is smart. Even the best-laid plans are sure to come up against a few surprises – and that’s a good thing. Entering into marriage with a game plan and a solid strategy is a smart way to ensure the lines of communication remain open and healthy.