If you recently became engaged, you’re likely still enwrapped in the initial excitement and surprise of the event. It’s a wonderful time in anyone’s life, with the promise of a happy future spent with the one you love and a major life milestone just around the corner.
Besides comparing color swatches and flipping through pages and pages of wedding magazines, you and your partner have some more important issues to look at in order to prepare for not just a wedding, but for a life together.
Take a look at these questions to see if you and your future husband or wife have covered the important topics that could help you to start your married life off on the right foot.
How Will Your Career Affect Your Marriage?
Your career is a major part of your life. It’s what provides you with an income to support yourself and your life goals and what takes up a significant percentage of your time. If you and your partner aren’t on the same page in terms of your professional goals, you might face issues down the road when it comes to furthering your education or accepting that new job offer.
Get a feel for each other’s career goals and expectations by asking questions like:
- Do you plan to go back to school in the future?
- Are you happy with your current career, or are you considering making a change?
- Are you willing to relocate and to where?
- What is your expected income and can it support our other life goals?
- Are you an entrepreneur or do you want to become one?
- What do you each need to do to meet your career goals, both now and in the future?
None of your answers should be set in stone as circumstances can change at any time. As such, consider discussing potential issues that could throw you off, such as:
- What will happen if one of you loses a job or is laid off.
- How you will navigate a drastic career change.
- When any career goals or expectations became a problem for your relationship.
What Are Your Hopes for Your Homestead?
If you aren’t living together already, chances are that you plan to after you’re married. With living together comes more than just the decision of where you will live, but how long you will live there. Ask each other questions that can help you to get a feel for each other’s housing plans, such as:
- What kind of house do we want to buy and how much are we willing to spend?
- Do you want to buy a house, or rent? What is the timeline?
- Is one of your goals to have a vacation property?
- Do you want a starter home or a forever home?
- Where are you willing to live?
And don’t forget to cover any curveballs that may get thrown your way down the road, like:
- What you will do if you can’t afford to live in the neighborhood you want to.
- How you will navigate any issues that affect your home goals, like bad credit, debts, or unstable employment.
- When, if ever, your living arrangements would become a deal breaker.
Your family home, whether it’s just the two of you, of if you have kids and pets, is an important part of your life. Don’t underestimate how much it can affect your relationship, if not now, then in the future when you are ready to settle down in a permanent residence.
Kids, Pets, and More
Family is one of the big areas to cover, and though the questions you should ask might seem obvious, there’s more to discuss than just whether or not you should have children. Ask each other questions like the following to understand what your expectations are for your separate families and the one that you are building together:
- Do you want pets? How many and what kind?
- Do you want children? How many and when?
- Will our income support our family goals?
- Do either of us want to change our names?
- How much do we plan to involve our families in our life?
Then make a point to cover even more serious topics, such as:
- What you will do if cannot have children.
- How you will make compromises in relation to in-laws.
- How your other goals (career, financial, etc.) will affect your family goals.
- What your timeline is.
Figuring Out Finances
Financial issues are one of the top causes of arguments, which is why it’s so important to encourage clear and honest communication early on. Be open with each other by answering the following questions:
- Will we have a joint account?
- What are our plans for our assets and debts before we get married? And after?
- How will we save for unexpected expenses?
- How do we plan to save for a house, car, or other large purchase?
- Do we want to make a prenup to outline our financial divisions before the wedding?
You should also be sure to consider unexpected occurrences that can affect your finances, like:
- What will happen if one of you obtains significant assets or debts.
- If either of you are comfortable with financially supporting the other.
- How you will handle financial emergencies like medical issues.
Essential Estate Questions
Marriage is the most straightforward way that you can say you want to share the rest of your life with someone, and growing old together is often a romanticised aspect of that dream. But there are more important things to think about when planning to age together than whether you’ll have matching rockers and watch the sun go down together from your front porch.
Get a practical conversation started by asking:
- Do you have established estate plans?
- How should we update our estate plans?
- What decisions should I be aware of in terms of your health care preferences, beneficiaries, or executors?
Although these questions may seem a bit uncomfortable or unpleasant to discuss, when you choose to marry someone, you are taking on the responsibility of making decisions for them when they are unable to. As part of this discussion, you should also explore the following:
- What you plan to do if one of your parents requires live-in care at any point.
- What you will do if either of you require long-term care in the future.
- If there is anything specific either of you feel strongly about, such as your funeral or remains.
Getting to the Good Stuff
It’s common for engaged couples to focus more on the impending wedding than the marriage as a whole. It’s a major life event that will take a lot of planning, and that you’ll hopefully only experience once. But don’t let that one day overshadow the more important parts of your future relationship.
Keep an open conversation going throughout your engagement and into your marriage so that you can create the foundation for a strong and positive relationship for many years to come.
What do you think engaged couples should talk about before marriage?