5 Must-Have Conversations Before Saying “I Do”

Adrienne Laursen, LMFT, Licensed Marriage Therapist and nationally recognized relationship expert, shares Five Important Conversations Every Couple Should Have Before Saying “I Do.”  Adrienne is the owner of THE ENGAGEMENT COACH, and provides exclusive, customized premarital counseling to her clients nationwide. 
 
Wedding season is right around the corner, so before you say “I Do.”, be sure to have these very important conversations with your soon-to-be spouse.
 
1. Know His or Her Numbers Now that you’re engaged, you have the right to know your partner’s numbers... NO, not those numbers, but his/her financial numbers!  
 
Find out how much debt your partner has (including student loans, credit cards, car payments, etc.), what’s in their 401k, how much money they make, do they have a savings account, etc, and be prepared to share your numbers too. 
 
Even though it’s scary and uncomfortable for most of us to talk about money, I promise it’s better to have this conversation before your wedding as opposed to putting it off or never having it at all.  Just remember:  once you’re married (unless there’s a prenup), your partner’s money baggage becomes your money baggage!
 
 
2. What Do You Both Want Out of Life as a Couple? Sit down and have a conversation about what you’re each expecting marriage to be like.  Here’s a few questions to get you started: - What goals do you have for your life together? - What goals do you have for your own life? - Do you want children?  If so, how many and what is your preferred timeline? - Do you see a white-picked fence or a modern condo in the city? - How do you envision spending holidays and celebrating special occasions?
 
Think of it as a vision board for your marriage.  It’s really important to make sure you’re both aware of each other’s goals and dreams to ensure long-term satisfaction with your relationship.
 
3. How Do You Both Feel About Divorce? I know it sounds crazy (and a little scary) to talk about divorce before you’re even married, but I firmly believe it’s one of the most important conversations you can have.  You’d be amazed at the different perspectives partners in a committed relationship can have based on their own experience with parental divorce, past relationships, etc.
 
Marriage isn’t easy and can require a lot of work at times.  The unfortunate part of that truth is that you don’t know it can be difficult until it becomes difficult.  
 
So, talk about divorce.  How do you each feel about the idea of divorce?  What is your experience with divorce and when would divorce be an acceptable option (if ever)?  What would you do if you were experiencing unhappiness in your marriage?  Are you open to counseling and if not, what does that mean?  Does one of you believe that leaving the marriage would be better than being unhappy for a period of time?  
 
The truth is, struggles will come and go, and some struggles will be harder and longer than others.  Make sure you’re both on the same page with your commitment to working through the hard times and doing what it takes to move forward.  
 
4. Discuss Your Families of Origin Talk about the families you grew up in, even if you think you know everything there is to know.  
 
Discuss what you liked and didn’t like about growing up in your family, along with what you liked and didn’t like about your parents’ marriage.  What qualities and values do you want to bring into your own marriage, and maybe more importantly, what qualities do you NOT want in your marriage.  Discuss how each set of in-laws may impact your marriage in the future, and how you both feel about each other’s families.  
 
 
5. Talk Toilet Paper & Dishwashers Yes, you read that correctly.  Household chores are the most common fight that newlyweds find themselves in (along with money), so discuss how you each prefer things around the house and learn to pick your battles.  
 
Even if you already live together, things can and will change once you get married so have those talks anyway!  Sometimes, a cleaning schedule or chore chart can help couples who really struggle with division of labor.  If you find yourselves falling into traditional roles, don’t worry about what it means… if it works for you both, roll with it!
 
 
Adrienne offers both in-person and online premarital and relationship counseling, and is passionate about helping couples create a beautiful, successful marriage.  Please visit her website at www.TheEngagementCoach.com for more information and to contact her directly.