If you recently became engaged, you’re likely still enwrapped in the event’s initial excitement and surprise. 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 prepare not just for a wedding, but for a life together.
Take a look at these questions to see if you and your future partner 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 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 if you decide to further your education or accept a 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 meet your career goals, both now and in the future?
Your answers don’t need to be set in stone as circumstances can change at any time. However, consider discussing potential circumstances that could affect your life plans, such as:
- What you will do if one of you loses your job
- How you will navigate drastic career changes
- What career goals or expectations may become a problem for your relationship
What Are Your Hopes for Your Homestead?
If you aren’t already living together, you probably plan to after you’re married. Living together comes more than just deciding where you will live, but how long you will live there. Ask each other questions that can help you understand each other’s housing plans, such as:
- What kind of house do you want to buy and how much are you willing to spend?
- Do you want to buy a house or rent?
- 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 curve balls that may get thrown your way down the road, like:
- A backup plan if you can’t afford to live in the neighborhood you choose
- How you will navigate any issues that affect your home goals, like bad credit, debts, or unstable employment
- If there are any deal breakers regarding living arrangements
Whether it’s just the two of you, or if you have kids and pets, your family home is an important part of your life. Don’t underestimate how much it can affect your relationship.
Related documents: Create your Last Will and Testament
Kids, Pets, and More
Family is one of the big topics to cover. Though the questions you should ask might seem obvious, there’s more to discuss than just whether you want children. Ask each other questions like the following to understand your expectations for your separate families and the one 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?
- Does 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 you cannot have children
- The kind of relationship you will have with your in-laws
- How your partner’s goals (career, financial, etc.) will affect your family’s goals
Figuring Out Finances
Financial issues are among the top causes of arguments, so it’s 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?
It would be best if you also considered unexpected occurrences that can affect your finances, like:
- What will happen if one of you obtains significant assets or debts
- If either of you is comfortable with financially supporting the other
- How you will handle financial emergencies like medical issues
Related documents: Create your Prenuptial Agreement
Essential Estate Questions
Marriage is the most straightforward way to say you want to share the rest of your life with someone, and growing old together is often a romanticized 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 any established estate plans?
- How should we update our estate plans?
- What decisions should I be aware of regarding 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 can’t. 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
- What you will do if either of you requires long-term care
- If there is anything specific either of you feels strongly about, such as your funeral or remains
Related documents: Create an End-of-Life Plan
Getting to the Good Stuff
Many engaged couples tend to focus on the impending wedding rather than the marriage as a whole. It’s a major life event that will take a lot of planning and that you may only experience once. But don’t let that one day overshadow the most important parts of your future relationship.
Keep an open conversation throughout your engagement and into your marriage to create a strong, positive relationship for many years to come.