In today’s world, it is not uncommon to hear of a couple divorcing in as little as a year (sometimes even less) after they were married. Often people will rush into marriage, blinded by that magical love glow, and not consider how life will be once the initial shine dims. Soon the once doting couple will find themselves having issues, issues that could have been avoided had they better communicated their expectations about married life before tying the knot.
People will spend so much time planning a wedding, but think very little about planning their actual marriage, which is supposed to last them the rest of their lives as opposed to one day. Take the time to make sure that you and your partner are on the same page with these five issues to avoid any post honeymoon surprises.
Will you pool your money or maintain separate accounts? Which account will you draw from for everyday expenses and for big investments? Discussing money issues ahead of time, like your spending habits and where you each feel your money should go, can prevent clashes later. How will the bills be split up? Will a prenuptial agreement be necessary? Does anyone have any outstanding debt and what is the plan for paying it off? “Money secrets have no place in a marriage,” Kelley Long, a CPA and financial planner, writes in the Wall Street Journal.
Do you both want kids? Are you open to adoption or fertility treatments if you’re unable to conceive naturally? Will someone be a stay at home parent, is that even a possibility? What are your views on raising the child(ren) you have? “How should they be disciplined when they disobey?” asks Vivian Jacobs, a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York, in an article on the Knot. It isn’t that important to know right away how many children you want “as long as you agree on a timetable — how many years you want to wait before having children” says Jacobs.
3. Location and Home
Where do you want your family, whether that’s just the two of you or a whole brood, to put their roots down? Do you want to find a place and settle or be on the move? If you were settled and loved where you lived, what conditions would make you consider moving (the desire to be closer to family, better schools for the kids, a job offer)?
What kind of home do you want to live in? A cozy condo? A cabin in the woods? A ranch on a lot of land? Though you may never actually live in your “dream home,” knowing that your partner shares similar long-term goals not only solidifies your roles in each others lives, but confirms that you are working towards the same thing.
4. Division of Labor
You are two separate people who grew up in two separate households, so your views on who is supposed to do what as far as household chores goes is most likely going to be, well, different. Sit down and discuss your expectations as to who will be doing what chores, and how often will said chores be done. For example: If you hate washing dishes but love to cook, suggest to your partner that you’ll do the cooking if your partner will take on the dishes. If they too hate doing the dishes, negotiate and take turns. Maybe one week they do the cooking and you do the dishes and the next you trade roles. Divide all the chores in a way that seems fair to both of you, taking your partners career into mind as you do. If one of you works a 60 hour week and the other only works a 20 hour week, it is only fair that the person who is at work less picks up more of the household chores.
Unfortunately, no one can get along 100% of the time; arguments are inevitable. How will you, as a couple, handle this when the need arises? Are you able to resolve issues together and reach a compromise? It is okay to argue about the little things once in a while, as long as you are working on your communication, it is something you can work through. H. Norman Wright, author of Communication: Key to Your Marriage: The Secret to True Happiness says, “We have the power to build a healthy marriage by offering our spouse encouragement rather than criticism. This form of positive communication involves some basic habits: being intentionally gentle, listening intently and validating our spouse. Through encouragement, we can bring about change, growth and the fulfillment of potential. We awaken the feeling, someone believes in me!”
There may be other issues that are important to you that you may feel like you should discuss, and by all means you should do so. No issue is too big or too small to bring up with your partner before you commit your lives to one another.