It’s wedding season! While arranging your nuptials is a time of excitement and anticipation, it should also be a time for contemplation and discussion between you and your bride or groom. After all, you aren’t just planning out your vows and flowers, you’re also planning your life together.
Between conversations about your guest list and budget, remember to make room for serious topics. You’ve probably discussed things like finances, career goals, and living arrangements, but you should also consider religion, infertility, long-term health, and potential separation.
Learn how to start a healthy and informative discussion with your partner now so that neither of you is unpleasantly surprised in the future.
Religious expectations before and after marriage
If you and your spouse share religion and morals, this conversation may be an easy one. But some couples (and their families) have different religious or spiritual beliefs, and the ceremony of marriage can bring these differences to light.
While you may have come to terms with having separate faiths during your relationship, your families may have different expectations. The key is to be respectful and open to compromise. Learn as much as you can about each other’s religions and don’t insist that one is better than the other.
If a religious wedding celebration is important to your family, consider how you can incorporate their traditions without sacrificing things you and your partner want. In the end, your wedding is a celebration of your love and your family should respect your choices.
Consider how religion may impact your life after marriage as well. Will either of you expect the other to attend services or events that you don’t go to now? And what about if you have children—whose beliefs will you raise them into, and how do you both feel about that?
Creating an open dialogue encourages thoughtful discussion and helps avoid confrontation. Share your feelings with your partner so that you can both identify where issues may arise in the future and how to best handle them.
Infertility, adoption, and abortion once you’re married
Some couples want children and others don’t. In all likelihood, you and your partner discussed this before getting engaged. But there’s a lot more to that conversation than just saying “yay” or “nay” to becoming parents in the future.
Consider the following questions when talking about your potential role as parents:
- If either of you is infertile after deciding to have children, would you be open to adoption or surrogacy?
- If you couldn’t have a child of your own, would you be OK with having none?
- What are your feelings about having a child with physical or mental disabilities?
- Are you both be willing to make the lifestyle adjustments and sacrifices necessary to raise children?
- Whether you want children or not, would either of you be OK with abortion? Under what circumstances?
You may not have all of the answers to these questions now, but having this conversation creates a foundation of trust and acceptance for your marriage.
Health care for you and your in-laws once you’re married
Once you’re married, your lives intertwine even more than before. Often, you aren’t just merging two lives but two different families, and that can become complicated at times.
For example, consider what you’ll do if your parents need care later in life. If a parent already suffers from a disease or health condition, it’s even more important to help plan their health care in advance. Will they live with you, and are you both OK with that?
Life takes many unexpected twists and turns. Caring for a parent can be a jarring experience emotionally, financially, and physically. You and your partner should discuss what role you’ll play in your parents’ health care down the road. Involving your parents in this discussion and getting them to create a Personal Care Profile (a guiding document for future caregivers) is a step in the right direction.
You should also consider how you’d like to manage your own health care in the future. Use a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney to specify what medical treatments you consent to and appoint someone (perhaps your spouse) to act on your behalf should you be able unable.
The potential for separation or divorce
It’s important to talk about what marriage means to you and why you’re getting married. You and your partner should realize how marriage affects you legally and financially. If your relationship deteriorates, you’ll still have certain obligations to each other.
That being said, you should discuss how to handle disagreements throughout your relationship. For instance, if one partner accumulates a significant amount of assets or property before marriage, would a Prenuptial Agreement help prevent disputes later? How do you feel about marriage counselling during communication breakdowns?
Divorce isn’t uncommon. Talk to your partner about what situations might cause you to consider ending your relationship. If your marriage doesn’t work out, think about what steps you might take: a trial separation or a divorce? How would you navigate either situation?
Although these questions may seem unpleasant to ask, relationships are about understanding, trust, and honesty. Communication issues are one of the biggest points of conflict in marriages, so you should be willing to explore a variety of conversation topics, even if they feel a bit uncomfortable.
Read more: 3 Things People Don’t Know About Separation
Talking about tough topics
Being married doesn’t mean that you and your spouse need to agree on every issue that you come across. As long as you both treat each other with respect and show a willingness to share and listen, you can create a strong and stable foundation for your relationship.