Marriage is a lifetime partnership that will not only change your life, but your relationship with your partner. That is why it is very important for both partners to have a clear understanding of what they want, expect or don’t want from the relationship before the commitment of marriage is actually undertaken. This doesn’t mean that you and your partner will agree on everything—but you need to at least come to a mutual understanding so that you know each other’s expectations.
There are a number of important things to discuss before marriage, but the following 3 are the most essential.
Children and adoption
It is vital that you and your partner thoroughly discuss the subject of children before getting married so that neither of you expect something that the other doesn’t want. Topics include, but aren’t limited to: whether or not you want children; if you do, how many children you would like to have; when you would like to try to have children; whether or not adoption or fostering is an option; and whether either of you would like to try fertility treatments if conception does not occur after a certain period of time.
It’s not uncommon for marriages to be strained when one partner wants to move—for a job or even just a change of pace—and the other has no intentions of leaving their current location. Before you get married, talk about where each of you would like to live. Do you want to live in your current county, city or state? Are you open to the possibility of moving to somewhere completely different? If so, what circumstances would make the move agreeable—such as a job offer or great deal on a house? Do you want to put down “roots” or would you hate to stay in one place for too long?
Again, you may not completely agree—but especially when it comes to things like deciding where to live, it’s important to know expectations ahead of time.
Bank accounts and bills
Will you have a joint bank account and, if so, what expectations or limitations will you have for your partner? For example, will each partner be expected to inform the other before taking money out of the account or is the account considered shared in the complete sense? Or would you rather keep separate accounts, which keeps your money unavailable to the other partner?
You will also need to discuss the topic of bills. Will each partner be responsible for certain bills? Will both of you contribute an equal amount to each bill? What happens if you can’t afford to pay a bill? Money is a delicate subject but because it has the potential to cause some serious rifts down the line, it must be discussed before you join together in marriage.