Becoming engaged is an exciting life event that preludes a big change in your life. Not only will you be preparing to become another’s partner in the legal eyes of the world, but you’ll also be getting ready to merge your own life with someone else’s.
Often, when you are engaged, wedding planning takes up a lot of conversation time. Buying a dress, seating arrangements, and flowers can become some of the most important things on your mind. However, there are bigger things to talk to your future husband or wife about before you take a trip down the aisle.
By talking about finances, real estate, and business, you can help to make your start in life together just as you imagined it—stress-free and enjoyable.
Take a look at the list below to see if you and your partner have covered all of your bases before you tie the knot.
One of the biggest causes for conflict in marriages is money. Whether it’s because of overspending, bad budgeting, or just different goals, your finances can make or break your relationship.
Debt and Credit
Be honest about your debt and your credit rating. Both you and your partner should be transparent in what you owe, what your credit history looks like, and whether or not you want to share those aspects of your life once married, or keep them separate.
If your partner has significant debt, and you do not, is that something that you want to help them repay over time, or is it something that you want them to maintain sole responsibility for? Unless you create a Prenuptial Agreement, your debt becomes shared after marriage.
What about your credit rating? If you both have good credit, then you won’t need to worry about qualifying for that new house, or a car loan. But if one or both of you have less than stellar ratings, you should be honest about it so that there aren’t any surprises when you start looking for your dream home.
We all have our own ideas of what money is to us. Some save for a rainy day, others are happy living paycheck-to-paycheck. But, if you want to retire at a certain age, or pay for your future child’s education, the way that you spend or save as a single person will need to be re-evaluated. When you are working towards a mutual financial goal, you need to be aware of what that goal is and what it will take to accomplish it.
Talk about your financial goals and how you are going to reach them. It wouldn’t do to find out after you are married that your partner wants to continue renting for the next five years while you are looking to buy your first home within the next twelve months.
Discuss where your financial life is now, and where you want it to be. Create a plan together that can maintain your current wants and needs while still allowing you to reach your goals.
Do you expect to share bills straight down the middle, or do you want it to be an uneven split because one of you makes more money? How about your savings? Will you both set aside the same amount, or will it be a percentage of your earnings? And what happens if you have a child, will one of you stay home while the other works?
Surprisingly, many couples avoid these discussions until a decision needs to be made. Don’t assume that your partner feels the same way as you do because you agree on so many other things. It’s common for people to feel strongly about these things, and while you may never agree completely, by talking about it beforehand, you will never be surprised by your partner’s feelings.
Being proactive can allow you to consider compromises and to plan ahead together, instead of separately.
This one is simple, but it can cause some friction. Do you want to maintain separate accounts, merge all of your money, or a bit of both? There are pros and cons to each choice, and you need to decide what will work best in your relationship.
If you both have similar spending habits, and you are both aware of your financial goals, a joint account may not be a bad thing. But if one of you tends to overspend while the other saves every penny, a shared account may cause issues. If you can’t choose which you prefer, consider having your own separate accounts as well as a joint account that you both put money into. This could be used for bills, savings, or whatever else you’d like.
A good marriage is each for the other and two against the world. —Robert Brault
Most people want to own a home at some point in their lives, especially if they are planning to start a family. Newlyweds and expecting parents make up a large portion of the real estate market, and it’s because once you have a family, you want a nest.
If you each have your own place at the moment, who is going to move? Or will you both leave your homes and buy or rent a new one together? If you plan to buy, do you have enough for a down payment? There are a number of questions you should ask yourselves in terms of where you will live.
Even if you live together already, will you continue to live there after you are married? What about if you have a child? If you want to get a pet together, does your current home allow pets, or even make the best home for one?
If one of you owns a home, and the other does not, will the owner retain sole ownership of the property, or would they prefer to become co-owners? Generally, if you do not have a prenup, any property brought into the marriage becomes joint after your wedding.
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. —Henry Ford
From freelancing and startups, to established companies and corporations, most people are involved in a business somehow. How that business plays into their married life can change, depending on if they freelance, own their own company, or work as an employee.
If you own a business, is this something that you want your future husband or wife to be involved in as well? Or, do you want to keep your shares separate? Making sure that you either retain full (or partial) ownership of it is something that you need to take care of before you get married. As with most other assets, if no prior agreement is made, your property becomes shared once you sign your marriage certificate.
Communicate clearly, and identify your preferences. Talk to your fiancé(e) about your plans, so that they don’t feel like you’ve kept anything from them.
Whether you are a freelancer, or an employee, you need to think about where your business life is headed compared to where you would like it to go. Does one of you have a career choice that could lead to a significant move in the next few years? Are you both willing to move to support the other’s career?
Perhaps one of you really wants to start a business, but needs support to do so. Or perhaps you are both planning to go into business together. Figure out how you will share assets and support each other throughout the process.
Of course, you can’t predict the future, but if one of you hopes to move across the country in the next few years to achieve their career goals, that’s something you should be up front about. Chances are, you won’t stay in your current careers forever, so you can never be completely certain about where you will be in the future. If one of you is willing to move far away and the other is not, it’s definitely something to talk about before it happens.
Your education is also something that ties into your career, since your schooling is likely within the same area that you want to be a professional in. If one of you plans to go back to school in the future, that could have an impact on your finances, goals, and lifestyle. If it’s something that you are certain of, make sure that your partner understands and that you alter your goals to incorporate your new ones.
The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together. —Robert C. Dodds
Starting Your Married Life
By talking about these things before you start your marital journey together, you can avoid a lot of conflict, confusion, and hard feelings. Be open and honest with your partner, and it will make for a stronger, healthier, and happier relationship all around.
What do you think is the most important thing to talk about before marriage? Is there anything you wish you had discussed prior to tying the knot?