CONGRATULATIONS!! You and your future spouse have expressed your desire to spend your lives together, forever and ever.
What’s not to love about that?!
Getting engaged is a signal that things are going to get realllllly serious, and that you and your future spouse need to iron out some key components before your upcoming marriage. Sure, you may have talked about dealbreakers and dealmakers previously in your relationship, but when marriage is imminent it’s a whole new ballgame. We are here to talk about some things you should discuss as soon as you get engaged.
When people explain the “big talk” that occurs before couples get married, some of the bigger issues — which we will get to below — are discussed exclusively. By all means, heavy hitters like your partner’s stance on children, for example, absolutely must be discussed. But you can’t skip out on talking about the next big expenditure: Your wedding, of course!
Disagreements on wedding budgets can cause stress — and in many cases, outright fights — on how much should be spent and on what. Since preparing for your wedding and marriage should be a positive experience as a whole, eliminate future quarrels by outlining a clear budget. By setting a definitive budget you can then prioritize the vendors and experiences that are most important to you for your big day.
Pro tip: allow very little wiggle room in your wedding budget. If you continue to increase it, even by “just a little” here and there, it always adds up…to a lot.
General Budgeting as a Couple
Being married comes with tons of financial implications, so it’s best to be prepared for them. Whether you tackle budgeting together or pass the reigns off to the better budgeter in your relationship, you need to ensure that you have a financial plan.
Some things to discuss include weekly and monthly budgets, investment and saving strategies, “allowances” for fun stuff, and specific allocations for not only static bills (like a mortgage or car note), but also for variable bills (like utilities and groceries). It doesn’t matter if you keep track via spreadsheet, phone app, or pen and paper… just get it done.
Read our related blog on money and relationships here: How Your Views on Money Parallel Your Approach to Life
Kids or no Kids?
This is a biggie, and for good reason. Although you and your partner may have discussed one another’s thoughts on children earlier in the relationship, emotions and attitudes change. Before walking down the aisle and making your partnership official, take the time to have a transparent conversation about children — preferably as soon as you get engaged.
Remember: it’s not as simple as whether or not you want to have kids. There are so many other moving parts that must be discussed. How many kids would you each want to have? How will you compromise on a final number? How do you plan on budgeting for the child(ren)? Are you willing to give up certain luxuries in order to build the family size you’re hoping for? What about infertility; if you can’t conceive kids naturally, would you be okay with IVF treatments, surrogacy, or adoption?
Boundaries are everywhere in a relationship, and even more so in a marriage. Do there exist family boundaries that need to be adhered to, maybe with a toxic family member? Are there friendship boundaries that need to be adhered to, perhaps with a friend who’s a bad influence? Are there step-children in the mix, where step-parenting boundaries need to be developed? What about flirting; what constitutes flirting and what doesn’t? Have this conversation ASAP, and make sure you compromise fairly and within each other’s boundaries.
What’s negotiable… and what’s not
We all have certain aspirations in life. While they may vary on a person-to-person basis, some of these aspirations include a certain size house, luxury vehicles, incredible traveling experiences, and other indicators of a certain lifestyle standard. How much of this is negotiable?
Be clear on your expectations for your married life, and this includes the lifestyle you expect to be living. Even though you both want children, is the partner who, for example, wants to take a month long trip across French Polynesia okay with forfeiting that experience if the cost requires choosing one or the other? This is just one of many examples within a relationship where it’s absolutely critical to identify the negotiable aspects of your relationship with one another. It’ll help avoid a lot of potential resentment, so the sooner you have this conversation, the better.
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