The time leading up your big day is riddled with excitement and the stress of tackling pressing tasks. So, it's no wonder you have limited time to spare for much else.
But what about those uncomfortable (but important) issues you've avoided talking about with your partner? The thing is, if you're planning on making a lifetime commitment to someone, these are precisely the topics you need to confront head-on.
Use my checklist to guide your way through four awkward – but essential – conversations you need to have with your future husband or wife:
It goes without saying that discussions regarding both your personal financial situations should be essential, even long after you say “I do.” It doesn't matter whether you decide to keep your finances separate or pool them together as a couple, but you both need to have an explicit understanding about your financial responsibilities, both as individuals and as a couple.
Do you want to split living costs evenly, or should the primary earner contribute more? What about past debt? Is it the responsibility of the individual, or will you be paying it off as a couple?
Discussions about finances should extend way beyond the numbers in your bank accounts. It's easy to assume that when it comes to saving and spending money, you both share the same – or at least similar – values and habits. But, assuming this can lead to misaligned financial objectives and, consequently, disagreements about how you should use your finances and confront any financial woes.
It's best to work as a team in order to discuss financial matters honestly. In this way, you'll both feel comfortable about the current and future state of your finances.
2. Prenuptial Agreement
If there was a list of topics guaranteed to get people uncomfortable, prenuptial agreements would be sitting near the top. Perhaps due to its representation in pop culture as an “unromantic” and callous document, there seems to be a general misunderstanding about what exactly a prenup is, as well as its role in contemporary relationships.
Simply put, a prenup is a legally binding document that outlines how property that has been acquired before or during a marriage will be divided, should the marriage dissolve. Making contingency plans for the worst-case scenario is never going to be easy. But, having a practical framework in case things don't work out is necessary in today's climate, especially due to escalating divorce rates.
Think of it like car insurance. Having it doesn't amplify the chances of things going wrong, and it doesn't affect your interactions. Rather, it's a protective mechanism that can save all those involved time and money if it ever needs to be used.
If you both appreciate the practical considerations that come with marriage, the "prenup talk" doesn't need to be as awkward as you imagine.
3. Your Future
It may seem obvious to suggest you make time to talk about your future together, but have you both really laid everything out on the table? You can't hold back when it comes to your expectations about the future.
Do you want children? If so, do you have a general idea of when and how many? Where do you want to live both now and in 10 years? What are your career goals? How are you planning to deal with any current or future medical issues? Have you planned for old age? How do your in-laws factor into your lives?
The point of having talks about the future is to give yourselves a temporary, changeable framework for significant matters that will continue to affect you as a couple. Neither of you need to be bound to anything you say in these preliminary talking stages.
As circumstances change and you grow as both individuals and a married couple, your perspectives and choices may change as well. In the case you're not ready to decide on the finer details of these matters before marriage, starting to talk about them early on at least sets a strong precedent that you both value keeping one another in the loop about your feelings.
What happens between the sheets should stay there, right? Despite our sex-centric culture, it's not uncommon to find people getting tongue-tied at the prospect of talking about sex with their partners.
Many people feel a bit hesitant to bring up the topic of sex with their partners, including their preferences, fantasies, expectations and areas they'd like improved. People are also uncomfortable talking about “unsexy” practicalities, like how many times a week (or month) they like to get down and dirty, and how to find the time to do so. This avoidant behavior tends to stem from the fear of hurting the other person's feelings, or seeming too demanding or picky.
Unfortunately, this is coupled with the common misconception that talking about your sex life is too mechanical, and that doing so will subvert its spontaneous nature. But if, in fact, your goal is to nurture a healthy and exciting sex life, you need to shake these worries off and get to talking.
Even if you're generally happy with your bedroom antics, it doesn't hurt to check in on the other person from time to time. Establishing an environment in which you both feel comfortable sharing your most intimate thoughts, ideas and concerns is vital, especially in the early stages of your marriage. Communication, compromise and continual reflection are all key when it comes to this process.
A marriage should be a union based on love, trust, a willingness to compromise and a shared vision of your future together. If you want to kick your marriage off on the right foot, you need to ensure that honest and open communication with your partner becomes a non-negotiable, entrenched part of your relationship, even before you step down the aisle.