Engagement is such an exciting time for couples, but it’s not a thing to be taken lightly. If you and your partner are considering moving forward with this massive step, what are some things to think about before you take that leap? What are some conversations you should have together to set your relationship and future marriage up for success? Be sure to have a conversation together about the questions below and really consider the compatibility of your answers before moving forward. You will be much more likely to have a happy engagement and—more importantly—a happily ever after!
1. What Does Marriage Look Like to Each of Us?
What has each of you experienced with the marriages of people around you (most specifically your parents, but potentially other important people, too) and how has that impacted the way you view marriage as a whole? Does marriage simply symbolize a strong commitment or does being married mean there will be major changes in your lives – such as divvying up responsibilities differently, taking on certain roles in the family, changing the amount of privacy you’re each entitled to, etc? Knowing how both you and your partner view marriage from the beginning will help give you a better understanding of what marriage means to each of you, and how that meaning will affect your future marital partnership.
2. Do We Want Kids?
This question is a major one and is an essential question for each person to answer before you choose to move forward with an engagement. While marriage is always going to involve sacrifice and flexibility, if you and your partner differ on this incredibly important topic, it’s extremely likely to cause massive conflict, resentment, and potentially even separation down the road, so you absolutely want to have broached this topic of conversation before you move forward with an engagement. Although it is certainly possible for people to change their minds on this subject, it’s incredibly unwise to go into a marriage assuming that your partner’s opinions will change on this matter. If it’s extremely important to you to either have kids or never have kids, you should make sure you and your partner are compatible on this before you move forward.
3. Where Will We Live?
For some people, marriage is more than just a ceremony and commitment. For some, a wedding brings you into an entirely new stage of life with entirely new priorities, and one of those might be to live in a certain place. This might simply mean moving in together or it might mean moving across the country to be closer to family. Either way, it’s important to know ahead of time how the commitment of marriage may affect where you and your partner want to reside. Being on the same page about this ahead of your engagement means that you’ll prevent potential disagreements later on.
4. How Do We Want to Handle Money?
The topic of money is an extremely important one to be on the same page about before you move forward with an engagement. This is not about how much or how little either partner makes, but about your attitudes around the subject and your opinions on how to manage and handle money in a marriage relationship. Some things that will likely come up as you discuss this topic are whether you think married couples should have shared or separate bank accounts, how you and your partner each individually budget, how or if you would be budgeting as a couple and, of course, how much debt you each might be bringing into the marriage. Although this may sound like a mundane or callous topic to bring up before engagement, it has been shown that money fights and money problems are one of the leading causes of divorce, so if you can get ahead of this topic and really know that you’re on the same page before you even put a ring on it, you are setting yourself and your relationship up for success.
5. How Are We at Conflict Resolution?
This is perhaps an obvious one, but when considering engagement, it’s important to think about how you and your partner function as a couple, including when you disagree or argue. Are you able to remain calm and respectful? Does the situation become volatile very quickly? Do either of you lash out at each other in anger in a scary or unsafe way? Of course, every couple argues, but if you find yourself in a relationship where the arguments escalate to an excessive amount, or if you and your partner seem to be unable to calmly and rationally discuss disagreements, that’s a massive red flag to consider and work through before you proceed with an engagement. In this case, it’s a great idea to seek counseling together to work through some of those concerns. And, of course, if any behavior from either party is unsafe or abusive, please seek help and safety as soon as possible.
Considering the questions above before you move forward with an engagement will put you in a much better place to have a happy, successful marriage relationship. Grab a cup of coffee, sit down with your sweetheart, and really communicate about these important topics so you can feel comfortable and confident with your upcoming engagement!