For good reason, every woman feels over the moon and elated when she is asked “the big question.” It is common to immediately start choosing a date, dreaming of the perfect dress, deciding on a guest list etc. While every aspect that goes into a wedding is special and exciting, it is important to remember that the well-planned details and the celebration last only a day while the commitment made to one another lasts a lifetime. Often, when in a long-term relationship, couples assume that they are on the same page regarding some critical issues without taking time to actually converse about them. Here are some important topics to consider and discuss prior to walking down the aisle in order to minimize conflicts in the future.
Finances and Spending: Typically, before you are married, whether you live together or alone, finances are kept separate so that each of your assets and earnings are your own. When you want to spend money, you are free to do so without having to consult one another in reference to what it is or how much it costs. Once you are married, however, the financial arrangements are likely to change. Some couples maintain separate accounts for assets prior to the wedding and have joint accounts for subsequent earnings, some merge all finances and yet others keep everything individually. It is imperative that you and your fiancé agree on this issue before your wedding as finances are one of the most prevalent sources of difficulty and discord in a marriage.
Building a Family: Usually, as people progress in relationships and in age, it is simply assumed (and perhaps not discussed) that you both want to and will have children. However, some people are not interested in following that path. The number of children each of you want, the lengths you are both willing to go to in order to make that happen and the point at which you are ready to start a family are among the topics that must be addressed. They should be approached with complete honesty and an open mind because differences regarding family can quickly cause resentments that can be nearly impossible to overcome.
Roles and Responsibilities: Another issue that many couples don’t address prior to their wedding is the role that each partner will assume. When in a dating relationship, most people work in order to take care of life’s necessities and are financially independent. However, sometimes expectations of a partner shift after you are married. Who will make dinner? Which one of you will be responsible for taking the dog out or making sure the bills are paid? Think of all the things that each of you take care of on your own and talk about how those will be divided so that neither one of you is solely in charge of everything.
Family: It is important to consider what role each of your respective families will play in your relationship. While where you will spend Thanksgiving or Christmas may seem like a minor (or even unimportant) detail, surprisingly, it can easily become a source of contention and lead to arguments and/or resentment. How much weight and influence will their opinions have? Do you want to live close to them or have a little distance? It can be very important that, especially in the beginning of your marriage, the two of you create a bit of space so that you have the time and are able to focus on adjusting to the new chapter in your lives and seeing how all of the pieces fall into place.
While it takes work to find the one person you are meant to spend the rest of your life with, once you have, the work is not over. Being married doesn’t mean that you no longer have to put in at least the same amount, if not more, effort. However, it is the most rewarding work you will ever do. It is easy to overlook or not address some very important issues when you are dating, but for every conversation you have in order to fully understand where each of you stands and come to an agreement on, the more likely you are to have a happy and successful marriage with fewer conflicts.