8 Important Conversations Before Marriage


8 Important Conversations Before Marriage

Most people test out products before making a significant purchase. Many people also make sure to receive years of education before selecting a profession. Yet, some people decide to get married without any hesitation.

After all, if you’re married and feel like you’ve found the love of your life, it is common to feel so excited and energized by the future that you rush into things. All often, though, conflict and challenges arise and people find themselves without the skills to properly handle marital problems. This is where premarital counseling comes in.

Before marital conflict arises, premarital counseling helps you create a strong foundation with your spouse so that your relationship remains healthy, strong, and fulfilling.

Issues such as developing a more balanced relationship, discussing budgeting and financial planning, establishing personal and relationship goals, exploring personal growth and strength area, identifying stressors in the relationships, strengthening communication skills, and using a ten-step model to help with the resolution of conflict are several areas that are tackled.

But premarital counseling also provides each of you the platform to have some of the most important conversations of your life, before you get married.

8 Important Conversations

1.) Finances

We all have a relationship with money. Much of our beliefs and money started with our first family, our parents. Most people carry these views into their relationships. Some, however, go in the other direction. Some of the financial questions are: are you a spender or a saver? If you have disposable income, how do you spend it? What do you want to do with your disposable income? Joint or separate accounts? How will you save money? And if you save money, what purchases will be made? Does one of you make more money than the other? If so, how will you share the expenses? What about big purchases? Can you spend freely before you have to talk about the purchase? Do you have a budget? How are/will the costs of your home being paid? What about going out? Who takes on that expense? Is that a shared expense? Do you get a bonus at work? If so, what will you do with that money? What about the money you have saved prior to marriage? Are you willing to get one of the best personal loans available to help consolidate outstanding loans? Talking about money can be a step towards preventing financial infidelity. Lastly, many people bring significant debt to their relationship (student loans, credit cards). How will you share this information with your partner? What is your plan to manage your debt?

2.) Sex and Intimacy

Sexual desire has a tendency to wax and wane over time. Most people will attest to that. And more often than not, desires vary between partners. Couples will often complain that their desires differ as they are rarely in the mood at the same time. Those are by and large truths in most relationships. For women, desire follows arousal. For men, it’s the opposite. And the health of the relationship (communication problems) often dictates the sexual health of a relationship. To help couples start this conversation, you should start to share your history. For example, did you talk about sex in your household growing up? Was it taboo? Does religion play a part in your sexual life? If so, to what degree does it affect your sex life and how you perceive sex? How often do you like to have sex? Do you have expectations about sex? Do you both feel comfortable and safe talking your needs with each other? Why or why not? How does your partner respond when you talk about your sexual needs? Is he/she offended? Does he/she feel threatened?

3.) Extended family

It’s often said that we don’t just marry the person, but their family. In the best situations, both families get along with one another which makes family gatherings and sharing holidays, birthdays, and other special days, much easier. Many of us have traditions that we hope to continue once married. Wedding these and wanting things to ‘be fair’ can at times create friction. To begin, do your families get along? Are the differences significant? Do you come from different religious backgrounds and if so, how will this affect celebrations?

4.) Core Values

The values we establish to create the foundation from which we make decisions throughout our life. They are the things we believe are important and dictate how we live and work. They determine your priorities and in many ways, measure the way in which your life is turning out the way you want (or not). Values are usually fairly stable over time but don’t necessarily have strict boundaries or limits. Some values may change over time as your life circumstances change (for example, work/life balance once you start a family). You should ask yourself what are my values? Work/life balance, money, ‘things’, career, children, religion, travel, time with extended family, and/or giving back. Once discussed, where do you match up? Are there differences? And if so, how will you resolve them? Is there room for compromise?

5.) Lifestyle

Our lifestyle helps define who we are and what’s important to us, much like our values. Often times our lifestyle changes as we evolve and grow. Things that were once important can become less important. How we spend our time changes. Asking such questions as what is your lifestyle like? What are the similarities vs. the differences? Do you like to go out every night? Are you a homebody? Extrovert, introvert, or ambivert? Sports fan? Do you like to have a house full of people or do the couple thing or both? When you envision your daily life, what does it look like? How do you view your downtime? With social media overtaking our lives, what’s a fair amount of time to spend on it? Does it interfere with your relationship? Can you set healthy boundaries? What are the expectations regarding time together vs time apart?

6.) Communication styles

One of the biggest areas of contention in relationships is communication. People are communicating but not ineffective or healthy ways so they often feel stuck. One of the more common communication styles is the distance/pursuer relationship? For example, the more one moves towards their partner, the more the other partner creates distance. Is this your style? Some people are passive/aggressive, confrontational, overly assertive and loud. Others are defensive and have difficulty waiting their turn and simply listening and hearing. The goal being to learn your communication style and your partners and start to change how you communicate. A good therapist can help you do this more effectively by creating the bandwidth and platform to hear both sides, interject when needed, and guide you to having more conversations. Another important component of communication is your emotional intelligence or EQ. This is vital not just in your personal relationships, but professional ones as well.

7.) Work and home demands

Many couples have difficulty having the conversation about how they will balance their work and home life demands. Trying to make sure that everything is fair and equal often results in fights. Some couples keep score (this never works and undermines the health part of the relationship). How do you talk about what your expectations are? Are the lofty and not achievable? How important is your work to you? Are there work expectations that need to be addressed so that your partner feels like they are included in the decision? How do you think you can balance both work and home demands? When deciding on ‘house chores’ make sure you decide on an equitable split of the chores or an agreement where both of you are happy. I often suggest that couples begin with the things they like to do are good at. This provides them with strengths so when they have to look at the remaining items, there’s a stronger likelihood of a team effort rather than what’s not fair.

8.) Children

This is a must-have conversation that all too often people ‘kind of’ talk about. Do you really want children or feel you should. And if so, how many children do you want? How you will financially support them? How much will your family be involved (if this is an option). Also, will one parent stay at home for a period of time as the one income family is more of a thing of the past than the norm anymore? What is your parenting styles? Are they similar? How will you reconcile the differences in how you were raised and how you wish to parent if this exists? Do you plan to parent how your parents raised you? What are your thoughts about how you will go about nurturing the relationship once children arrive on the scene?

Taking a proactive and honest approach to this most important decision in your life, will allow these conversations to take place and evolve so that you start your marriage off on the right path!

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8 Important Conversations Before Marriage

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