Conversations about goals, expectations, and responsibilities may seem "heavy", but when you get down to the commitment you and your partner are making to one another, these discussions are the best way to lay a foundation of open communication and build a strong marriage. Take time now, before your wedding day, to explore and express your thoughts and concerns during your marriage planning process.
You're marrying not only for love, but for what each other can bring to the marriage and what you can create together. Every part of your lives are merging- from children to finances to how you share household responsibilities. Read the questions below. Do you know your partner's answer to each? If not, use these questions as a starting point for a "must-have" conversation.
- Will we have children? If so, how many and when? Will one spouse stay home and take care of the child(ren)? If so, does this affect the value/ contribution of the stay at home spouse?
- How will we divide the care and maintenance of the home- daily and long term?
- Where will we set up the home? An apartment, house in the country, east coast, west coast, etc.?
- How important are possessions in my/ your/ our life together?
- What's the hardest thing to talk about and why?
- Where do we want to be in 5 years, 10 years- financially? professionally?
- How will we know we value one another in our partnership?
- How often will we "check-in" with one another on our expectations, wants and needs? How can/will we express these things.
- Do we want a prenuptial agreement? If not, why?
- Will we have a joint account for paying household bills?
- If one of us makes more money than the other, how will we determine who pays for what?
- If one of us has debt prior to our union will the other help pay it off?
- If one of us inherited a large amount of money, would we share it with each other?
- Are we comfortable with each other's handling of money?
- How will we support each other in our respective professions? How much involvement will we have in the other's profession?
- When do we want to retire? How will we prepare financially to retire and how will we spend our time?
- How will we maintain our health? Will we exercise together or separately?
- How will we spend holidays, birthdays, or other family obligations?
If we've got you thinking, great! These are just a few questions that perhaps you've already started discussing. It is important to keep in mind that the answers to these questions, as well as others, may change as your marriage grows- so keep the communication flow going.
Don't stop here! Conversations surrounding your marriage and money can be tough, so tough that it is the leading cause of marital arguments. Now that you and your fiancée have answered these questions, test yourself on some of the toughest - "How to Talk $$$". Starting the dialogue now, will head-off potential disputes in the future.
So you've decided on the wedding ceremony- justice of the peace, rabbi, priest, whomever and whatever cultural aspects you incorporate into the ceremony- but do you know if you will follow the same spiritual path during your marriage? "Do You Share Spiritual Values" lists some important questions that will evoke some must-have conversations.
Conversations that are sparked by these hard to ask questions will strengthen your commitment and give you the essential communication skills needed for a fruitful marriage. Now that you have defined your partnership and future expectations, why not protect your union by putting them in writing? For more information, visit How To Bring-up a Pre-nup.
Need some help to get the conversations started?
We applaud anyone who's participated in these honest and clear conversations. In an effort to further support couples in initiating and navigating these relationship discussions, we've created a guidebook called "The Commitment Conversation".