Are you planning to get married? Do you want your marriage to live up to your expectation? Then you must begin by having frank, upfront conversations with your partner before getting married.
Doing “slow love”—choosing multiple premarital partners, having friends with benefits, or living with a partner for a while—is what young couples often do before they choose to marry. This is a good thing. Helen Fisher, who invented the meme “slow love,” argues that we have an evolutionary imperative for the deep attachment couples can find in marriage. 
When you do find “the one,” it’s the time to be upfront with each other—to have the kind of serious conversations that will set the stage for the equitable, sustainable, and satisfying marriage you want.
Here are 10 conversations that you should have so that your marriage has a better chance of living up to your expectations.
1. Why Do You Want to Get Married?
This may seem like an unnecessary conversation to have, but there can be a disconnect between how people think about marriage and how they act once they are in it. This is particularly true these days because you have so much latitude about the kind of marriage you can have. In fact, the book The New “I Do” discusses the many kinds of marital arrangements you can have, such as a starter marriage, a companionship marriage, a parenting marriage, a safety marriage, etc. 
Take the time with your intended to explore your reasons and motives for marrying. Here are the top reasons why people say they want to get married, according to a recent Pew Research Center report:
- For love (88 percent)
- To make a lifelong commitment (81 percent)
- Companionship (76 percent)
- Children (49 percent)
- To have a relationship recognized in a religious ceremony (30 percent)
- Financial stability (28 percent)
- Legal rights and benefits (23 percent)
As the authors of The New “I Do” admonish, “It isn’t okay to just assume that getting married is another thing on life’s trajectory.”
2. What Do You as an Individual Want 1, 5, and 10 Years from Now?
Take some time to think about what is important to you to flourish in life. Here are some starter ideas for your conversation.
- How important is a career to you?
- How about children?
- Do you have an ideal future in mind?
- What other things are important to you—hobbies, friends, sports, etc.?
What you want in life is important and stands on its own. However, it cannot be a demand for fulfilment. In the context of marriage, it is what you negotiate—another essential pre-marital conversation.
3. How Will You Remain Strong as a Couple and Flourish as Individuals?
Being a couple means that what you do has an impact on your partner. Being true to yourself means you can identify what is important to you in order to flourish. Maintaining the balance between each of you seeking what is important individually while considering the impact on your partner is achieved by negotiating collaboratively around your individual goals and marital obligations.
Here are several things negotiating collaboratively means—talk about them with each other:
- Am I willing to negotiate the important issues that arise in our marriage?
- Do I understand that neither one of us is more “equal” than the other?
- Am I willing and able to explain openly and directly my wishes and wants, i.e., “to put them on the table”?
- Am I willing to not “privilege” my position in negotiations because of my status, e.g., gender or superior earnings?
- Am I willing to take actions based on the decisions we reach through negotiation?
From my perspective, being willing and able to negotiate issues collaboratively has the status of a marital vow.