If you’ve been dating someone for a while, it’s easy to think that you all you need to know before you say “I do.” However, even if you’ve had the “kid talk,” there are still several important topics you should discuss that don’t always come up in normal conversation. Before you start wearing gold wedding rings, be sure that you ask and answer each of these questions together:
How was money handled in your family? Learning about how money was handled when your partner was growing up can provide clues as to how he or she deals with finances today, and it’s a low-pressure way to open a conversation about money. Try talking about whether your families were savers or spenders and then move on to discussing more specific issues such as how much of your income you want to spend on housing, and if and how you want to give to charitable causes.
What are you expectations regarding housework? The division of household work is often a source of contention for couples, and often, it’s because of a failure to communicate expectations. Many times, we form our presuppositions about housework in our families of origin and enter marriages without even realizing what we expect. Talk about who did what in your households when you were growing up, as well as what you’d like to differently. For example, who will be responsible for cooking dinner or cleaning the bathroom? What about paying bills? Sharing your expectations ahead of time can save you from a lot of disagreements later on.
Where do you want to be in 10 years? In other words, other than getting married, what are your goals? While having different goals isn’t necessarily a reason for concern, you do need to talk about how you can cooperate and compromise so that each of you can work toward the things that are important to you. If your goals are truly incompatible (for example, one of you wants to work on Wall Street and the other wants to work among orphans in Africa), it’s time for a serious conversation about how you’re going to make a lifelong relationship work.
How do you give and receive love? Different people communicate love in different ways, and it’s important for each of you to understand how the other gives and receives love so that you recognize the other person’s efforts to demonstrate their affection, as well as so that you can show your love for that person in a way that is meaningful. For example, some people communicate their affection through gifts such as romantic jewelry, while others offer compliments or give of their time. If you’re having trouble figuring out how you and your special someone communicate love, try asking about times when each of you really felt loved, and times when each of you felt like you effectively communicated your love. You’re likely to discover some patterns that offer helpful clues.
Don’t walk down the aisle without tacking these key questions. Yes, it takes a little effort, but it’s worth it.