I’ve loved talking about all things marriage this past month in our “DoSayIDo” series, from the best advice my husband and I received to enriching intimacy, as well as surviving tough times. Mostly I’ve loved the conversations we’ve had with many of you and the kind words you’ve so graciously sent our way.
Today in the fourth and final part of the marriage series, I want to focus on those who are dating, engaged or recently married. As a former wedding planner I realize that the wedding planning part is exciting and fun – and sometimes all consuming! While it’s completely natural to get caught up in those details, it’s important not to overlook the important task of building a strong foundation for your marriage.
Pre-marital counseling was incredibly helpful for us, but there are some issues that came up in our marriage that were not covered pre-marital counseling. So today I’m sharing seven conversations that would really useful to have before walking down the aisle. As we’ve said all along, the more you can align with your spouse on ahead of time, the better. You’ll only set yourself, your spouse, and your marriage up for success!
And even if you’ve been married for years, it’s s never too late to talk about some of these topics and get on the same page. Your marriage will be better for it.
Like we said before, every story and every marriage is different. But I hope that this encourages you and sparks intentional conversation with your partner or spouse!
It’s no secret that finances, and anything surrounding money, are the root of a lot of marital discord. For example, one person might be coming into the marriage with student loan debt while the other has none. One person might come from a well-to-do family while the other person’s family struggled financially.
Getting on the same page from the get-go will only set you up for success. It can definitely be uncomfortable to discuss, but being aligned with how you spend and how you save can be so helpful.
So things you may want to ask one another: Who is going to manage the money? Two checking accounts or one? What is saving going to look like? How do you feel about in-laws helping financially? What are expectations when it comes to disposable income like travel and clothing?
As you discuss finances, have grace and understanding — you’re on the same team!
2. Communication Styles
Everyone has different communication styles, and taking the time to understand your partner in this area will help you when navigating choppy seas in the future.
Ask these things: Do you tend to withdraw while your fiancée escalates? Do you need a moment to process, and your fiancee wants to talk about things right then and there?
It might seem silly at first, but considering these things might avoid miscommunication. How helpful it would have been to understand about my husband from the beginning that withdrawing after a big important conversation had nothing to do with me, but that he just needed time to process!
Furthermore, having a plan in place before you live under the same roof — like not going to bed after an argument, or setting up a weekly time to discuss the budget — may also be helpful.
Everyone comes into a marriage with different traditions and family dynamics and melding those into one marriage can sometimes take time. One of my biggest regrets in our newlywed life was being so adamant about always doing things my family’s way instead of being open to new traditions.
Things to ask each other: what kind of relationship do we want with our in-laws? What expectations do in-laws have about things like holidays and weekly dinners? And how do we want to handle those?
It’s also important to build a solid relationship with your in-laws from the begining. Fight back against the cliché that mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law can’t have a good relationship. They can!
If you are engaged, you can start out on the right foot by inviting your future mother-in-law to spend time with you and include her in the wedding planning process (this will go a long way, we promise), or spend intentional time with her to get to know her on a personal level. She will probably be so grateful and you won’t regret doing it!
There is no shortage of advice on how to raise children, but how will your family choose to do so if/when children come along? This is especially important to talk about if you and your fiancée were raised differently.
Things to consider: When do you want to have children? Do you want to be a stay at home mom? Do you have ideas about how they will be educated? How many children do you even want?
These things might seem so far off right now, but they will be topics of conversation before you know it. Go ahead and start the conversation now (and give yourselves permission to change your minds down the road!).
If the list were going in order of importance, this would definitely be #1! Your spouse’s religious faith and worldview will play an enormous part in so many of the things we talked about in this marriage series and topics in this post. If you aren’t on the same page on the big things, it makes getting on the same page on the little things even harder. I shared more about how our faith binds us together in this post.
If you are engaged, most likely you’ve already vetted this topic. But specifics you may want to discuss: What church you will attend? What denomination? How will our religious traditions look if/when children come along?
If you and your fiancée are on different pages from a spiritual standpoint, talk openly about it. Ask questions. Read and research together. Find mentors who can walk with you. Pray and seek counsel from your minister.
The holidays are a time full of joy, especially for a newly married couple! Take the time to sit down and figure out how you’ll spend your first holiday season together and what expectations are for future holidays.
Things to ask: Will you spend Thanksgiving with your family and Christmas with his? Try to do both all in the same day? What family traditions are important for you to continue? What expectations do your in-laws have? Talk about how you will handle. What about when children arrive?
There is no right or wrong answer. But having the conversation ahead sets expectations ahead of time — and helps you avoid hurting family members’ feelings.
This might sound old-fashioned, but discussing and defining the roles you and your future spouse will play in your marriage is one of the best things you can do. A business would never succeed unless there were clearly defined roles for a CEO, CFO, and COO — right? In today’s world this can be a very controversial topic, but it’s not about one spouse being more important or having more power than the other. It’s really about creating a working system that honors both you and your spouse in your own home, for the good of your family.
What other “hot topics” would you recommend couples discuss before getting married?