Are you Dating? Engaged? Thinking about becoming engaged? If you answered yes to any of the aforementioned questions, you must read this article and talk to your partner about 5 important things before you get married.
Most of us have a friend or family member who has lived through a horrible divorce. If you’re close enough to ask them, “What happened?”, I can almost guarantee their response will fit into one or more of five categories. To build a solid foundation for your marriage and avoid the mistakes that often lead to divorce, I suggest that you sit down with your partner immediately and begin talking about these 5 things:
Money- What are your “money values”? What does having money mean to you? What does not having money mean to you? What kind of emotional responses are elicited by spending and by saving? Does your family have money? How much money do you need to make/have to have to feel comfortable? Do you believe in accepting/giving financial assistance to and from extended family? What is your credit score? Do you have consumer debt? If there is a large income disparity between your salary and your partner’s salary how will you share expenses? Do you plan to keep separate finances? Does one of you want to stay home if you have children?
Religion- Do you consider yourself religious/spiritual? What is your denomination? Do you practice your religion actively? How often do you attend services? What holidays do you celebrate? Is it important that your partner attends religious ceremonies/celebrations with you? If you have or will have children, will you take them to a church/mosque/synagogue? Does your partner have the same religious beliefs? Do you plan on going on any spiritual trips or missions?
Kids- Do you have children? Do you want to have children? How many? Would you adopt or foster if you could not have biological children? Do you plan to have biological children and adopt/foster? How were you raised? What is your “parenting style”? What are beliefs, ethics, and lessons would you like to teach your children? If you and your partner cannot agree on how to handle a child rearing situation who would you consult?
Family- What does “family” mean to you? Did you grow up in a “nuclear” or extended family? Was your family a non-traditional family or single parent family? Did extended family live in your childhood home? How important is it that you live geographically close to your family? If you do not live close to your family how often would you visit them? Would your family come to your home for extended visits? Do you like/respect your partner’s family? Is it important that you have a close relationship with your partner’s family? Is it important to your partner that you have a strong relationship with his/her family?
Sex- What does intimacy mean to you? Do you know how to fulfill your own physical and emotional needs? Does your partner know how to fulfill your physical and emotional needs? How frequently is intimacy important to you? Do you feel like an equal in your relationship? Do you feel comfortable speaking with your partner about intimacy and sexual pleasure? Are you comfortable speaking with your partner about your fantasies and desires? Do you feel comfortable saying, “No.”? If you do not feel emotionally or physically engaged, how would you express that to your partner? Have you had an emotional of physical affair in the past? Have you cheated on your current partner? Do you trust your partner? What is an emotional affair?
Disclaimer: This article was not written with the intent to replace good pre-marriage counseling. Please find a therapist in your local area who will help facilitate discussion about these important topics. If you or your partner have a history of child or adult sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, please seek the help of a trusted professional immediately! Without the help and support you need, your relationship will not survive.