5 conversations all couples should have before the wedding
Posted June 6
The build up to a wedding can be crazy. There’s so much to talk about the flowers, the cake, the venue, and the bills. So it’s hard to carve out time to talk about anything else, but you really should. Before you walk down the aisle, try to have these simple, but often challenging, conversations.
The one about finances
Money may not actually be the root cause of most divorces, but it certainly causes arguments in even the healthiest of marriages. In a recent SunTrust survey, almost half the respondents said they have a different spending style to their partner. And even if you and your partner agree on the big picture issues, it’s rare for two people to agree 100% about how to earn, save, spend and manage money. In most cases, while you’re just dating, it doesn’t matter.
As soon as you’re married, though, it does matter. Money shouldn’t be what you build your life around, but it’s hard to build a life without it, and that means that how your spouse spends and manages money can feel incredibly personal. He sees no harm in spending his own money on something he wants. You feel he’s being selfish by not saving it for a house. One of you thinks that keeping your own salary in your own bank account is a logical way to stick to your budget. The other thinks there’s a huge trust issue in your relationship if you’re not willing to disclose and share your earnings.
There’s no right or wrong way to handle money as a couple, but it is important to agree on some general guidelines. And remember conversations about money aren’t always about money. Often they’re about commitment, trust, values and priorities.
The one about roles
You think you know what your role is in your relationship, right? Maybe you’re the fun one, or the listener or the peacemaker. These are roles we take on when we’re dating, but after the wedding, roles change. People expect different things from a husband or wife than they did from a boyfriend or girlfriend, and the reasons are complicated.
Statistics show that both men and women look for very different traits in their partners than they did in previous generations, but somewhere deep inside you may still be surprisingly traditional. You might find you expect your man to act a little differently from the day you put a ring on him, and it’s even more confusing when you realize that part of you expects him to play some of the roles your father played twenty or thirty years ago. This makes no sense, of course. You probably have a more nuanced and egalitarian relationship than your parents did when they were dating, and your marriage will naturally follow suit.
Talking about how you see the role of a husband or wife before you get married can help clarify things for yourself and your partner. Roles evolve as you build a life together, and they certainly don’t have to be defined by gender or any other outside influence. It makes sense if you both play to your strengths and take on what you’re good at. It’s worth discussing what that might be and how it might evolve over time, before the big day.
The one about kids
If you’re getting married you probably know if your spouse wants kids or not, and maybe even how many, but do you know how much he wants them, and what lengths he’d go to for his family?
I never hid from my husband that I wanted kids and it was a deal-breaker for me to be in a relationship with someone who didn’t, but it wasn’t until we were trying to conceive our first child that he realized what that meant. When it didn’t happen straight away I casually mentioned that we could always adopt. He looked truly shocked. He’d never considered such a thing. To me ‘I want kids’ meant that if it didn’t happen naturally I’d have looked into fertility treatments and if that didn’t work, adoption was totally in the cards. My husband thought ‘I want kids’ meant something like, ‘If I can, of course. If not, no biggie.’
The one about sex
You might assume you’re on the same page when it comes to sex. And maybe you are, for now, but a lifetime of conjugal sex is different from wedding night or newly wed sex.
Sex changes when one of you is tired, sick or breast feeding. It changes as you get older and it changes as you become more and more consumed with raising your family and building a life together. Being able to at least talk openly about sex before marriage is a very positive sign. It means that whatever happens (or stops happening) during the course of your marriage, you can always try and talk it through.
The one about marriage
This seems obvious, but some couples really are so busy talking about the wedding they forget to talk about the marriage. A wedding takes one day. A marriage can take fifty years or more. Yes, you need to arrange the day itself, but if you’re spending all day, every day discussing what you want your wedding day to look like, stop. Take some time to get excited together about what you want the next fifty years to look like instead.
Karen Banes is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, lifestyle and entrepreneurship. Contact her at her website http://www.karenbanes.com/.or via Twitter where she tweets as @KarenBanes.