In a long-term, committed relationship, it's important to know certain pieces of information about your partner.
Although many of us wouldn't dream of entering a serious commitment unless we knew basic facts and lifestyle qualities about our partner, we often overlook the more detailed, significant topics that can truly make or break a relationship.
My husband and I went from first date to married in eight months. Because of this, I spent a significant portion of time before our wedding crafting a page in my journal called "Marriage Topics." Then, my husband and I went to the beach one day, I brought the notebook, and we sat down and talked through everything on that list.
The things I spoke to him about are all listed here, and I got some input from an expert to help discuss the importance of these topics for a serious couple, if you want your relationship to last:
1. How They Manage Money
I'm equal parts spender and saver, and a lot of the money I spend ends up going toward travel. I'm lucky in that I don't have debt from school, but I do have a sick puppy to whom a lot of my finances go. These things were important for me to disclose to my husband before we got married, and I wanted to know the same things about him.
Krissy Dolor, director of client success at eFlirt Expert, says in a long-term relationship where marriage could be on the horizon, you need to discuss finances:
It's important to know how your partner spends his/her money, what debt(s) s/he has, and what his/her savings look like. While not every couple ends up with joint banking accounts, you'll eventually have to contribute to a shared household should you decide to live together, get married, or start a family.
It may not be the most romantic topic in the world, but it is critical to talk about if you want to build a life with someone.
2. Their Thoughts On Kids
I had my tubes tied when I was 29 because I was that sure I never wanted kids. My husband obviously needed to know this, and I had to get his thoughts on children, as well, before we tied the knot.
Dolor says even if you aren't thinking of kids right now, you should talk about it before things get too serious.
"You might be years away from thinking about having kids, but if you know children are in your future, it's important to figure out whether or not your partner is on the same page as you," she explains. "He or she may never want kids; on the flip side, he or she may want to start a family soon after getting married (or even before)."
If you do want to have kids, and you both agree on that, you should also discuss some basics about how you plan to raise them.
Dolor says you should ask the following:
Is religion important to you or your family? How about education? What about your parents' influences on your kids -- will they be super involved in helping raise your family, or are you hoping to limit outside influences so you can cultivate your children's upbringing together as a couple?
Don't let the fear of a serious talk scare you, says Dolor: "It may seem too soon to think about these things, but when the time comes, you'll want to know where the two of you stand on your future family, however that looks."
3. Whether They're Religious And/Or Political
It's not just important to talk about whether your kids will be religious — you should also talk about how the two of you actually feel about religion. And while you're at it, add politics to that list. Although it may not be important to everyone, couples with huge political differences might have a hard time working those differences out.
For example, I am an atheist to my core. I was raised Hindu, but religion hasn't mattered to me that much at all since around high school. My husband also doesn't believe in organized religion, so it worked out perfectly.
I'm also a diehard, tree-hugging liberal (as liberal as it gets, I think!) and my husband is, too, though he's not as outspoken as I am. The important thing, though, is that we discussed these topics. It would never have worked if I didn't find out until after marriage if he was super religious or if he was a conservative.
You should discuss how you view religion, politics, and their places in your life if you want to ensure longevity for your partnership.
4. How They See Their Life
I love to travel, and I can't stand sitting still. I also never, ever want to work in an office, and I prioritize my freedom above everything else. These were things that my husband really needed to know about me before our marriage. It wouldn't have been fair to him otherwise.
If you aren't sure how your partner visualizes their ideal life, it's unlikely your relationship will last. Whether the two of you are on the exact same page now or whether you plan to get on the same page in the future, you should at least discuss what your perfect life would look like, if you could have it.
After all, the idea should be that you're building your perfect life together.
5. What Sex And Intimacy Mean To Them
Do you know if your partner considers texting an ex cheating? Or do they think an emotional affair isn't a real affair? Similarly, how often would they like to have sex as a long-term couple?
Before my husband and I got married, we discussed our views on all of these things. I couldn't have imagined not doing so, because the boundaries of what we consider healthy relationship behavior matter for the rest of our lives.
Although they can be uncomfortable conversations to have, you and your partner should be able to discuss all things sex and intimacy in as much detail as you think you need for your relationship. It'll help your bond grow, and you'll be happy you did it when you avoid disagreements in the future.
6. How They Manage Their Health
I'm a huge fitness fanatic. I always have been, and I don't foresee that changing about me. Not only that, but I'm also a big believer in working on your mental health. I love my therapist, and I think everyone should have a therapist that they love.
I made sure to talk to my husband about all of these things before we got married. Not only did I think it was critical that he know how much I loved taking care of my body and mind, I also thought he should know that I was currently in therapy. My husband feels the exact same way as I do about fitness and mental health, so we talk about these things a lot.
It may be not a "traditional" topic you discuss with your long-term partner (like kids, money, or religion), but in this day and age, it's super important to talk to your partner about how they plan to take care of themselves and how they view physical and mental health, so you can both help instead of hurt each other in those areas.
7. Their Needs For Personal Space
I have a really strong need to be alone a lot, even (or especially) when I'm in a relationship. It may sound weird, but this is one of the things I wrote down before I got married. I wanted to make sure my husband knew that I loved him more than anyone in the world, but I still needed my own chill time.
Luckily, he was totally cool with it, and he opened up about his own space needs.
If you want to make sure your relationship lasts, make sure the two of you have a frank discussion about how you will navigate couple space, your own space, and other spaces, like friends and family.
This is one of the big areas many couples don't discuss, and then, they are dismayed to find that their needs for space are really different. Don't let that be you. Talk about everything!
8. How They Deal With Conflict
Dolor says another really important topic to discuss with your partner is how each of you handles conflict. My husband and I discussed this before we got married as well, because we felt it was super important.
According to Dolor, it's not just how you argue, but it's also how you act after an argument: "You might be someone who can bounce right back after a [disagreement,] but your partner may need some alone time to reflect and regain his or her emotional energy. Or, you might be the one who needs to stew solo for a bit, while your partner can move forward relatively quickly."
It's not that one method or the other is wrong or right, she says, but it's important to know how your partner reacts so that you can know if you're OK dealing with it.
Making a relationship last is about more than love and romance. It's about how well the two of you fit and how openly and honestly you can discuss serious life topics like these.