If there’s one thing you should know about SouthWind Events, it’s that we care about marriage – healthy, successful, long-term marriage. Yes, the wedding is a beautiful experience where we celebrate the joining of two lives, but it’s just one day. The marriage, however, is expected to be “until death separates” you. As such, we believe that more effort should be put into planning the marriage than planning the wedding.
It’s no secret that marriage can be challenging. There will be good days & not so good days. One of the keys to success, though, is open and honest communication. This communication, though, can’t wait to start after the wedding. As a couple, it’s imperative that you talk about certain things before the wedding to make sure that you’re starting your life together on the same page, on a united front. Some choose to go to premarital counseling to address these things; others don’t. Regardless of where it happens, there are a few topics every couple should discuss before getting married. So let’s discuss a few of them (in no particular order).
I know this is the probably the hardest of all those we will discuss, but it’s likely the most important. You & your partner should discuss income, spending habits, existing debt, and credit scores (including why your score is what it is). You should also discuss financial goals & strategies, such as budgeting, savings, and joint or separate bank accounts. This is not a time to be ashamed or to only share partial truths. This is also not a time to be judgmental, condescending, or non-supportive. Whatever financial state you’re in, you & your partner should support each other and be prepared to work to build a future together using two basic steps: (1) identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses to help maximize your financial success, and (2) establish a plan for how your bills will be paid and how you will support your plans and goals for the future. You’ve each managed your money, your way until now, but these two simple steps will set you several steps ahead of the game, even before you’ve officially been united as one.
PLANS & DESIRES
We often have goals and plans for our lives that we carry in our hearts but don’t always articulate. Not sharing these can lead to unmet expectations and resentment. But…if you never share these desires with your partner, it’s unfair to hold them accountable for not meeting them. So take some time and talk about these types of questions: Do you want children? If so, how many? Do you have any desire to live in another city, state, or country? Do want to own a home or condo or do you simply want to rent? What are your professional goals? Do you want to travel – domestically or internationally? What do you enjoy sexually? What are your fantasies (or what do you want to try)? How frequently do you want/need to have sex? Depending on your personality, some of these might make you a little uncomfortable, but if you can’t be uncomfortable & vulnerable with your future spouse, with whom else can you be?
Gender and spousal roles are another one of those things we carry in our heart that can lead to unmet expectations…..and unnecessary conflict. Talk about who should take out the trash, who will cook most often, who will care for the kids. How do you plan to offer support to your future spouse as it relates to caring for your home & family? What do you expect your spouse to do? What seems obvious to you, or like a “given”, may be dramatically different than what your partner expects. So think about it, do some self reflection and share it with your partner.
How to raise children can cause almost as much conflict in a marriage as money. Everything from when & how to discipline, to food choices, to schools/education, appropriate age to start dating, and even religion… all these things (and more) are areas where parents need to be on one accord. Talk about how you were each raised and what you want to replicate or dismiss. If either of you comes into the marriage with children from a previous relationship, it is especially important for you to discuss what “permissions” your new spouse will have. Can they discipline your child? Can they reward your child? Should your child go to your spouse with issues that they would have previously come to you with? What should your child call your new spouse? How’s your relationship with the child’s other biological parent & how will that relationship extend to and impact your new spouse? What’s their relationship with each other? The decisions made in this conversation will need to be communicated to your child(ren). This way, the entire family unit has a clear understanding of the new family dynamics.
This is a very broad topic, but it is essential to discuss those things that you hold as intrinsic beliefs, morals and values. When choosing to start a life together, it’s important to understand (and ideally agree on) those values that you & your partner hold dear. What’s your view on faith/religion? How do you view and treat people of different races, social classes, and sexual preferences? Do you generally operate with integrity? Do you treat people with compassion & respect? Do you dismiss people that are “beneath” you? What about politics? How do you react when you get angry? Stressed? Sad/depressed? The scope is broad, but necessary…and certainly not limited to this short list. There’s a quote that reads “values reflect what is important to the way you live and work.” As you begin your new journey together, make sure that your values align in such a way that you can both live & work together to build a peaceful & meaningful life.
I know there’s a lot to chew on here, and there may be some things that you will have to reflect on and evaluate individually first; other things may be easy. Either way, your marital success is directly tied to your ability to communicate – clearly, honestly, & candidly. Remember, too, that you’re two people with two different perspectives and life experiences. So as much as you much communicate, you will also need to COMPROMISE. You both can’t get your way all the time, and you both can’t be right. However, working together, you can find a middle ground that you will work for you as a couple to make your marriage a success. So, be open. Be honest. Be flexible. Be willing to compromise.
Until next time…..