When a new relationship buds, it is easy to take note of all the wonderful traits you and your sweetheart have in common. Maybe you both like bowling or you enjoy the same types of foods. Perhaps you have great friends and all of your friends get along well with all of his or her friends. It is great to have interests and friends in common. The more you have in common the easier daily life will be once you are married.
Sometimes in the newness of love, we forget, or don’t know, what important topics we should be discussing with our potential spouse. What is really important to know about each other before moving forward to engagement? Here are five of them…
- Religion – It is beyond important that you and your future spouse be on the same page in regards to your religious beliefs and practices because they will deeply affect how your live your life. If you are deeply committed to your religion and your future spouse is not, there will be conflicts and difficulties in raising children. When Eric and I married, we both knew that we were Christians and that we were both committed to the Christian faith. What we didn’t realize was that we had very distinct differences in theology. Had we discussed those differences beforehand, we could’ve saved ourselves a lot of conflict and even hurt.
- Children – Whether or not your future spouse wants children is a huge, deal breaking question. If you want children (and it is good and healthy to want children), and your boyfriend or girlfriend absolutely does not, that is a pretty good indication that the two of you should not continue a relationship unless one or the both of you has a big change of heart. DO NOT change your mind just to keep from losing your boyfriend or girlfriend. Giving up on the idea of having children, or deciding to have them when you truly are not interested in parenthood, will lead to strong resentment once you are married. Additionally, discuss how many kids you would like to have. If one person wants one, and the other wants ten, either compromise needs to be discussed/reached, or you should consider going your separate ways. God can change a person’s heart, but there is no guarantee that He will, so don’t get married assuming that you can change your spouse’s mind in this area.
- Money – Most people who divorce list money issues as one of the main reasons for the demise of their marriages. How you and your spouse handle money will say a lot for how you get along once you are married. If you spend like there’s no tomorrow and your spouse-to-be is a super saver, then you can expect conflict unless true understanding is reached. If you are a giver and your future spouse is stingy, you can expect to have some difficulties. What’s important is that you both go into marriage acting as adults. Adults don’t give into every whim and they plan for the future. Balance is important and there are ways to have fun in the present without putting your future finances in jeopardy. We would recommend living on a budget now so that it is not difficult to live on a budget once you’re married.
- Location – Where do you plan to live? We cannot always know where life will take us, but for as much as you know right now, where do you plan to live in five years, ten years, twenty years, etc? Do you have plans to move back to your hometown? Do you have plans to head for a big city or a small town? Do you have intentions of not moving an inch after you get married? Where you plan to live is a huge item of business to discuss with each other. It isn’t fair to “hook” someone, marry him or her, and then expect him or her to pick up and move without warning. Some people would consider location a deal breaker when it comes to marriage. Don’t hide your plans for where you want to live from your future spouse. Even if he or she does move with you, there is bound to be some anger and bitterness to follow if your spouse feels like he or she has been tricked. Life decisions, especially involving moves, need to be fully disclosed and discussed before couples decide to marry.
- Expectations – Whether we take the time to write them down or not, we all enter marriage with some expectations. Maybe we expect daily intimacy. Maybe we expect that our spouse will be the primary breadwinner. Maybe we expect to eat out several nights a week. Somewhere along the way we decide what a “normal” relationship looks like and we expect our marriage to fit the profile we have in our heads. Take some time and write down what you expect from your future spouse in marriage. Share them with each other and be fully honest. Do you think your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s expectations complement yours? Do you think his or her expectations are fair? Does he or she think your expectations are fair? If you find that your expectations don’t match, it’s important to seek counsel before moving forward into engagement.
We cover these issues in depth with our pre-engagement counseling couples as well as many other topics. As you are enjoying this season of your life, take some time and ask each other the important questions. Be completely honest with each other. No matter how much fun you are having now, you won’t be having fun later if you get married without seeing eye-to-eye on the topics above. ~smile~
Which of the topics above have you already discussed with your future spouse? How did it go?