Topics to Talk About Before Marriage
What to discuss to avoid divorce
Marriage is intended to be forever, but there are many things engaged couples don't discuss that can lead to divorce down the road.
Here are nine topics that should be brought up and agreed upon before walking down the aisle.
Money matters and sex
Stef Safran, founder of Chicago-based dating service Stef and the City, shared her top topics:
Money - What are your plans about savings for retirement, vacations, emergency issues. Do you want to have a joint account and separate accounts? Do you want to each put aside money for their fun extras that the other person sees as unnecessary? Make sure that its not one person who managed the money, and it can help to seek out talking to a financial planner to help with some of the more major decisions.
Sex - Maybe right now you want to rip off each other's clothes all of the time- but discussing how you plan to deal with things when one person isn't in the mood or have some sort of agreement of how to deal with making sure that you communicate about your needs and desires especially with the ups and downs of life.
Families - Do you expect that your mother should move in with you if she needs you while your significant other sees a home as the best opinion. Check in to see how you plan to deal with family members, friends and how long of a stay in your home is too long as well as your expectations on the holidays and how you plan on each compromising so that your new family doesn't take a back seat to your family of origin.
Friends - We all bring friends into the mix and accepting that you will need couple time, alone time and separate friend time is important. It's all important to be clear about how much time and how often you are both comfortable with it.
Household Chores/Raising Kids - This one is especially important as more and more two income households are coming into play. If you are both working 40 hours a week, make sure that you divide up the responsibilities and/or seek out help if you need it. A cleaning professional every two weeks can help significantly over picking on whose turn it is to vacuum or do laundry. A nanny to help out can make the difference between a good night's sleep or two people feeling over extended. Make sure you recognize that however you grew up, times have changed. Decisions with the household especially now need to be discussed and not just assumed that "this is a woman's job" or "this is a man's job".
Katie McCann, head of family law at Manchester, UK-based Kuits Solicitors, shared her thoughts:
Prenuptial agreement - The possibility that your marriage may one day come to an end is likely to be the last thing on your mind following your engagement. However, the issue of a pre-nuptial agreement may in fact be a worthwhile discussion to have once your mind turns to the practicalities of your big day and the future ahead of you. Pre-nups are are marital agreements which set out how assets should be divided in the event of a permanent breakdown of the relationship - the intention being to avoid costly and often emotionally demanding litigation in the event of divorce. Pre-nups are not just a way for the wealthier party to keep as much as possible safe from their prospective spouse - pre-nups can be drafted so as to ensure that the less wealthy spouse will be comfortably provided for in the event that the marriage does not last. This may be particularly important for those who anticipate reducing their working hours once they have had children.
Free time considerations
Karen Sherman, psychologist and author of Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make It Last and The Complete Marriage Counselor, shared two more topics:
How to raise issues of concern - Both annoying habits and sexual. Once the glow of the honeymoon phase has left, these negative things do start to come up. If you don't have a way to bring them up, it can become very stressful.
How will you spend free time - Now that you're married, will you still have time with the friends you had when you were single that you share not as a couple? How often? How often do you hope to vacation? Will your ever take separate vacations? Expectations have a lot to do with happiness.
You can't talk enough about money, according to Aimee Bennett, principal with Fagan Business Communications in Castle Rock, Colorado:
Financial status - Discuss the specifics of how much you earn; how much debt you have, what type and at what interest rates; your assets; your credit scores; level of debt; number of credit cards; amount of savings; whether you have child support or spousal support payments from previous relationships; and what your likely outlook is in terms of returning to school, obtaining other employment, etc. Entering a marriage when one spouse or the other (or both) has significant debt can be especially problematic. Starting off a marriage in debt can make it hard to move forward, can create resentment, and can impact credit scores. When creating a joint bank account, if one holder of the account has significant debt, both account holders should be aware that the debt could put both people's
assets at risk.
Also determine how often to discuss finances. Financial discussions help spouses learn more about each other, and help stay on track toward those goals, Bennett said. "Some couples like to have monthly budget reviews and discussions; others do this as well as annual sessions to reframe. When it comes to finances, honesty truly is the best policy. More than anything, be honest with your partner in discussions and urge the same so that you can address any money problems head on."