Perhaps you have been dating for a few years, and you’re thinking of asking your partner to make a lifelong commitment to you. Maybe you have only been together a few months, but you are confident that this is the person you want to be with forever. Regardless of how long you have known your special someone, the decision to get married is a big one. Before you decide to pop the question, there are a few essential things you need to consider.
1. Do we agree on finances?
One of the biggest reasons that couples argue or get divorced is money-related problems. While money itself isn’t bad, disagreement about finances can become a huge source of conflict in a relationship. If you and your partner have only been together a short while, you may not have discussed finances yet. Now is the time to start talking, though. Before you get married, you need to know that you are both on the same page. Do you care about money? Do you spend your paycheck as soon as you get paid? Do you prefer to save as much as possible? What financial expectations does your partner have for your relationship after you get married? Talk openly, honestly, and calmly about finances as soon as possible.
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2. Do we have similar life goals?
If you and your partner met in college, you probably have similar life goals. Perhaps you’re both entering the same career field. Maybe you even met while at work. No matter what life stage you are currently at, it is vital that you and your partner have similar life goals. For instance, if your partner wants to be a stay-at-home mom and raise the kids while you work, you’ll need to be on board with that. Similarly, maybe you want to postpone buying a house and instead travel the world. What does your partner think? Your specific goals don’t matter. What matters is that your goals are compatible with one another.
3. Do we both want children?
Unfortunately, this is a hot topic that many couples are nervous about discussing. Perhaps you think the decision to have kids is years away. This is fine, but what happens if your partner thinks you will start having kids as soon as you get married? In addition to discussing when and if you’ll have kids, you both need to openly talk about how you’ll handle it should you find that you have fertility problems. Are you open to the idea of adoption? Would you prefer fertility treatments? The only way you’ll be able to know what your partner believes is to talk about it. It’s far better to discuss these issues before marching down the aisle than to find out after you make a lifelong commitment that you are incompatible.
I have seen couples divorce because of these three core issues. When dating, you must pay attention to your partner’s behavior and what they say. You should also not feel shy about asking direct questions if you are getting serious. Getting married is one of the biggest and most important decisions you will make. Do not ignore major disparities in the area of finances, life goals and whether or not you want to be parents.