You are in love, you see all the ways you are compatible and you want the same things in life and you are ready to make a commitment.
What are some of the things that couples often don’t talk about before they get married, but it would be a great idea if they did?
And perhaps even more relevant given that just under half of marriages end in divorce, what are the most common reasons given for divorce that can inform what it would be helpful to discuss before you even get married?
Topics to discuss
Different levels of intimacy – this goes for emotional intimacy as well as sex. We all have different libido levels as well as different sexual preferences. This becomes an even more critical area to talk about if you are in the ‘no sex before marriage’ bracket.
Money – some of us are spenders and some of us are savers. That doesn’t mean the two can’t mix, but if you are starting from very different places, you need to agree how you are going to make financial matters work between you. Also consider what big investments you both want to make and whether they are compatible.
Children – This is such a huge life choice you need to know whether you both want to have children together or not. And if one or both of you are bringing children with you from a previous relationship, bear in mind that people can feel differently about children who aren’t their own.
Chores – How many couples do you know where this is a constant complaint? ‘He never washes up!’ Or ‘She never takes out the rubbish!’ It is such a mundane but necessary part of life that we often forget we need to sort out between us who is responsible for what.
Make a list of every chore, including who is responsible for gardening, car maintenance, paying bills, etc. You will likely find that you have different preferences anyway. And you can maintain flexibility around this, for example if one of you is ill, the other can pick up the slack.
Interfering exes or parents – If there is an ex still prominent in your partner’s life and they want to meddle or make trouble, that could really take its toll on the relationship. Similarly if one has a parent that wants to call every day or expect you both to take their advice all the time, if one of you isn’t okay with that, that is going to grate over time.
How to make these conversations most effective
First of all, slow down. Whirlwind romances are Hollywood gold but that’s not real life. Don’t get so caught up in the magic chemistry between you that you ignore all of these issues. Take time to get to know each other properly and to test out how you might navigate these matters together.
Secondly, both of you need to dedicate time to talking through these issues. If you can’t talk about them, that might also highlight a need to work on your communication skills with each other.
As well as talking about the above issues, also take time to discuss:
- Your core values and beliefs (which can include religion and politics) – do your top values overlap or do they clash horribly?
- How you will resolve conflict – if one of you loves to argue and win and one avoids arguing at all costs, how can you come together to resolve conflicts in ways that protects the relationship?
- Attachment style – if one of you is more needy and likes lots of reassurance and the other leans more towards independence and own space, how can you meet each others needs?
- That thing that you don’t talk about – you know, we all have a thing. Something we are embarrassed about. Maybe it’s a past infidelity, or a failed business, or a health issue. As you get to know each other and trust each other more, you will need to share, so that there aren’t unwanted surprises later on.
There are so many variables in what makes one relationship work and another struggle. We can learn from what has led other couples to break up and have those conversations before we make commitments.
Even if you are already married or in a committed relationship, it’s never too late to have these conversations.
Whilst they might feel uncomfortable in the moment, they will be a great long term investment for you and your beloved.