There are some crucial topics to discuss together before the wedding—and what’s okay to disagree on. Whether in premarital counseling right now, or maybe it’s the last thing on your mind. Either way, you already know there are a few touchy issues engaged couples are “supposed” to talk about before making it official. Here, they map out the tough discussions to have with your soon-to-be spouse before heading down the aisle.
If it hasn’t already come up, now’s the time to discuss whether you want children. But here’s the surprising thing: You shouldn’t stop there. Experts agreed it’s important to discuss where you each stand on the issues that will come up once you start trying to have kids. And once you have kids, “How should they be disciplined when they disobey?”. Issues like these can become serious disputes later on, so it’s critical to discuss them now. It’s okay to disagree on “How many kids you think you want right now”. Once a couple has their first kid, they’ll have a better idea of how many children they would have.
One of the biggest things married couples fight about, and one of the most common sources of stress and tension, is finances. Talk now to avoid arguments later. Decide whether you’ll pool all your money or keep separate accounts, and determine which accounts you’ll draw from for everyday expenses and for big investments. If one of you is a spender and the other is a saver, choose amounts to set aside for the future and for personal spending that you’ll both be satisfied with.
No one has the right answer to what your money strategy should be, you just have to live within your budget, figure out what works for you, be reasonable and communicate. On the same note, talk about your career plans. Where do you want to be in five years? How do you see your career—and your salary—evolving over your lifetime? Getting both your expectations in line with reality will minimize money-related arguments and miscommunication later in your marriage.
Every counseling expert brought up faith and moral values—they might not seem like a big deal now, but religion and morals play a bigger role in marriage than some couples expect. For a lot of people, fights happen when the other person turns out to be more religious than they thought. You might go into marriage not caring, but the problems start as the children arrive and you’re deciding how to raise them. Talk about your faith, and how you see it affecting your shared life, right now.
Arguments are inevitable, —it’s how couples handle them that determines whether they’ll get through them. Make sure you understand each other’s way of managing conflict. Think back to a recent fight: What happened? “Did one person refuse to talk, while the other couldn’t sleep without resolving the issue?”. Whatever your argument style is, hash out what counts as acceptable fight behavior and what’s off-limits. You’re going to disagree about how to run the house, chores, who cleans the bathroom. But those are the kinds of things that people can, if they work on their communication style, work through.
If there’s anything else you know will drive you nuts in a marriage, it’s better to chat about it sooner rather than later. Let your partner know that you won’t be able to tolerate it if he’s always flirtatious with other women or if she blows all the money on expensive shoes. On the other hand, you should also be up front about the big life goals you’re dying to accomplish. Aiming to live in another country or own your own business someday? Make sure your partner knows about that dream and is open to it. You’re about to marry your partner in life, and their support will be a foundation in everything you do—and vice versa.
If your partner isn’t into one of your hobbies at all, you can continue to do it on your own. The key is making sure you’re both okay with how much time you spend apart, which is a normal and healthy part of any relationship.