Marriage can be a truly exciting thing. During the time between your engagement and your wedding day, you’ll be busy with planning, enjoying the feeling of anticipation at your coming nuptials, and more. The engagement period is also your last chance to move past any doubts you may be having about your relationship.
The most important thing you can do prior to getting married is make sure you and your significant other are on the same page. Within the first week of getting engaged, you need to cover all of the possible deal breakers, so you don’t find out about anything bad after you’ve already said “I do.”
She Said Yes – Now What?
So the question has been popped and answered in the affirmative—now what? If you’ve already discussed all of your plans for the future with your S.O., congratulations! You’re ready to start planning the ceremony. If not, it’s time to have a very serious discussion together. You two need to cover all of the possible deal breakers and make sure you’re either on the same page, or one of you is willing to bend for the other’s sake.
Talking About Children
First up is one of the biggest topics, children. Do you both want to get pregnant? If one of you does and one of you doesn’t, that can be a major deal breaker. Don’t convince yourself that you can go without the little rug rats you’ve been hoping for just because your soon-to-be spouse doesn’t want them. Definitely do not convince yourself that he or she will likely change their mind.
Give this topic very serious consideration, because if you want them and he/she doesn’t, it can definitely lead to divorce farther down the line. If you both want children, you probably need to set basic expectations about it now. If one of you wants them right away and the other wants to wait, be sure that you’re willing to meet in the middle before you move forward with your marriage. As for how many you want, it’s probably best to wait until you’ve actually had one child before you start deciding on numbers. In this area, as in all of the other major issues, it’s necessary to establish where you are willing to compromise and where you are not.
Talking About Religion
After the issue of offspring has been covered, it’s time to talk religion. If you both practice the same faith or are not particularly religious people, there won’t be much to discuss here. If you’re both the same faith, two Methodists for instance, but go to different churches, you should discuss whose church you’ll join.
Other than that you’re golden. If you’re not of the same faith, or one of you is more religious than the other, you’ll definitely need to examine this subject more. Does one of you expect the other to convert? If you have children, which faith will you expect them to practice? Clarify these issues now, and no major problems will arise further down the line. Besides, if you’re intending to have a religious ceremony, you’ll need to have this discussion so you can pick a venue, etc.
Talking About Finances
You will also need to discuss your living arrangements and financial situation. Does either of you already own a home, or are you both renting? In either situation, will one of you move into the other’s place, or are you going to find a new place to share? If you are going to find a new place together, you need to decide whether you want to buy a home or rent something. Then you should compare your expectations.
If one of you would prefer to go on renting an apartment and the other expects to be a home owner within two years, the sooner you can reach a compromise, the better. Discussing your finances will go hand in hand with deciding where to live. Now is the time to talk about whether or not you’ll combine bank accounts, if either of you has any debt, and more. Unromantic as it may seem, financial worries can cause marriages to crumble. You don’t want to find out six months after you got married that your new spouse is $20K in debt and expects you to put your salary toward that. Talk about fighting and a possible divorce waiting to happen!
Smaller Issues To Deal With
There are other smaller issues that can wait until after the honeymoon, like how you’ll be splitting household chores and deciding which person’s family to visit on each holiday. What’s most important is that you clear the air on the major parts of your future—children, religion, finances and living arrangements. If you can have an honest discussion on these topics and plan to tackle any problems together, you’ll start your marriage on a much happier note.
Getting these things out of the way prior to the wedding not only leaves you with less to worry over, but it also makes sure you don’t walk into marriage with incorrect expectations. If you’re not comfortable talking any of these topics over now, you may need to question if you’re really ready to be married or not. However, if you can start your engagement with this sort of openness, you’re setting a great precedent for the rest of your lives together.