Deciding to get married is an exciting time of life. Amid all the busyness and joy that comes with beginning your life together, you need to make sure you've discussed some important things with your future spouse.
The New York Times article on marriage stated, "Whether because of shyness, lack of interest or a desire to preserve romantic mystery, many couples do not ask each other the difficult questions that can help build the foundation for a stable marriage...."If you don't deal with an issue before marriage, you deal with it while you're married," said Robert Scuka, the executive director of the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement."
Taking time to ask big questions and to resolve them before you tie the knot will make the early years (and later years) in your marriage smoother.
This may seem counterintuitive, dredging up the past and all that, but it could be a key to making things work. Maybe you don't have to discuss nitty-gritty details, but looking at what worked and what didn't within past relationships can help you avoid pitfalls in your new "forever" relationship.
What were the deal breakers? What things did you learn? Are you willing to admit your part in what happened? How can you change and work through problems better now?
How will you take care of finances when you're married? You need to sit down together and look at your incomes. How much will rent or a mortgage cost a month? What about insurance and utilities? Car related costs? Are you planning to combine your finances after you get married? What about current debts? If you set up a plan for how you're going to handle money before it becomes an issue, it'll be one less problem to deal with in your marriage. Set a budget together and commit to it!
How we are raised comes into play in our own marriages. How did our families interact? Was there lots of yelling, or calm discussions? Was there any abuse growing up? How do you react in uncomfortable confrontations?
Though our families influence our strengths and weaknesses, it's not necessarily indicative of how individuals will respond. Most behaviors can be corrected with work or sometimes counseling—depending on the severity. These are good things to know so you can watch for warning signs that there may be a problem at some point.
Avoid abusive relationships (emotional, verbal, physical, sexual, etc.). These are not safe for you or any future children. If abuse is present, do not consent to marriage until it is fully resolved (if it can be).
While some couples may choose someone to marry who belongs to their own faith, others may marry someone with different beliefs. This needs to be carefully considered—especially as you bring children into your family.
How much of a role will religion play in your family, if at all? If you have different beliefs, what will you teach your children? Can you find commonalities with your beliefs? Are there key values you both share? If it's going to be a deal-breaker, better find out before you say "I do."
How many kids have you always dreamed of? How will you raise them? Do you want to adopt? What ways do you see yourself disciplining? Will you be setting a schedule?
Children add another layer of complexity to your relationship. There are more people to love and care for who also take up a lot of time and money. And make messes. Lots of messes. Some of this you can't fully plan for before you have kids, but you can see if your hope-to-parent-like styles match. You can carefully figure out the rest later, especially if you set a solid plan to work together.
What do you want in life? Are you done with school? What are your career goals? Family goals? You need to want the same or similar things out of life and be willing to support each other in individual growth. If you are more of a free-spirit and your spouse needs structure and security that may be more difficult to pull off. If you can work to find common ground and ways you can work together to achieve marital and life successes, you'll be much happier in your relationship.
Love is full of blissful moments, but there will also be really difficult times. If you can discuss important topics before you jump into marriage, you'll be well on your way to a healthy and strong relationship. Not only do you decide how your parenting styles, ideals, goals and behaviors fit together, but you start a pattern of healthy communication with each other.
What other important topics have you discussed before (or after) tying the knot?