Key topics to discuss before marriage
Did you know that almost 50% of marriages in the U.S. end up in divorce? While there are numerous reasons why this might be the case, one of the most common ones is that spouses simply do not know enough about each other before committing to a marriage. In fact, many people ignore all the necessary topics to discuss before marriage, to their future detriment. Not even the best online counseling can help if the partners are not compatible in the first place. That is why we are here to provide you with the most important topics to talk about before you “tie the knot”. Before we start, however, it is important to understand that talking about these topics does not mean that you distrust each other. It is all about clarification and avoiding future conflicts due to a lack of information.
12 fundamental topics to discuss before marriage
Getting married is kind of a big deal. That is why it is extremely important to ensure that you and your future spouse are “on the same page”. To ensure that you are, you might want to get to know more about each other before going through with the marriage ceremony. And to do that, you will want to discuss the following topics:
- Hobbies and personal interests
- Personal history
- Conflict resolution
- Sex life
- Division of labor
While these topics might be very important, it does not necessarily mean that they are all you should talk about. All of us are unique individuals with our own goals, desires, and quirks. If you want to avoid needing to attend some of the best online marriage and family therapy programs, it is best to talk about any topic that may be of importance to you. If you think that some of your personality traits might impact your marriage in the future, it is best to bring them to light sooner rather than later.
That being said, let’s take a look at why these particular twelve topics are so important.
As far as reasons for divorce go, financial issues are right there at the top. What you want to do is talk about just about everything that concerns finances, including spending habits, current debt, financial accounts, etc. Furthermore, you will want to talk about how or if you want to join your finances. Then there are tax obligations to consider, as well. Not only will this allow you to start your marriage on the “right foot”, but it will also help you with financial issues down the proverbial line. For example, considering whether going to therapy is tax deductible is much easier when you are on the same page where taxes are concerned. Overall, talking about finances will make your future life much easier.
There are also a few other things you might want to consider discussing, such as financial contributions to necessary purchases (home, car, etc.), retirement accounts, long-term financial goals, lending money to family members, monthly budget, etc. It is not as important to set things in stone at this point, only to talk about them. It may so happen that you are already on the same page and can easily transition to the next topic.
While the property that each person brings to the marriage is considered to be their own, legally speaking, it is important to discuss any future property acquisitions. Gifts and inheritance usually belong to the person that receives them, but they might be considered shared property as well. You want to see whether you and your future spouse think the same about how property matters should be resolved in the future. If you are on the same page, great! If not, it is usually best to resolve the matter before it can create a problem in the future. You might even want to consider a prenuptial if property contribution is highly disproportionate between partners.
Children and Parenting
It is strange how many people assume that others share their views about children and parenting. Oftentimes we assume that our partner is of the same mind, only to find that this might not be the case. In fact, not talking about children is one of the most problematic relationship patterns. Speaking of which, identifying problematic relationship patterns and breaking the cycle is possible to do on your own, even without therapy. You just need to talk.
Presuming that both partners want to have children, it is quite possible that their parenting styles do not align. Parenting style is usually based on one’s own upbringing in one way or another. Furthermore, there are other things to discuss, such as who will be the “stay-at-home parent”, how discipline will be enforced, whether daycare is an option, etc. The more you talk about these things, the better.
Religion is one of the extremely important topics to discuss before marriage
The topic of religion might be a sensitive one, but it is also extremely important and needs to be explored before marriage. Both you and your partner need to know what kind of influence religion will have in your lives, how it may influence raising your children, and whether it will create any conflicts in the future. Due to how religion is interspersed with pretty much all aspects of life, it might be best to consider religion while discussing all the other topics. For example, you might want to discuss religion while discussing your in-laws, conflict resolution, dealbreakers, and finances.
Hobbies and personal interests
Throughout the “dating phase”, you will get to know what your partner’s hobbies are, and they will know what yours are. However, what both of you might not know is just how much your hobbies mean to you and how much of your time they take. It is extremely common for partners to get into fierce arguments because they force each other to choose between their hobbies and spending time with each other. Therefore, you want to make sure that both of you are comfortable with each other’s hobbies and how they may influence your marriage. As for personal interests, treat them similarly to hobbies.
It may so happen that your hobbies and interests intersect with other relevant topics to discuss before marriage. For example, you might find it normal to be talking to a therapist vs talking to friends. This will, of course, be a financial burden for the marriage, and you need to make sure that your partner is alright with that.
A marriage between two people is a union. Ideally, both you and your partner will know pretty much everything about each other, and there will be no secrets. While this might be impossible in practice, it is very important that you share any meaningful bits of your personal histories. If you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, for example, you want to share it before you tie the knot, not after. Or maybe you are working through anorexia and other eating disorders and never said a word as of yet. As far as topics to discuss before marriage go, skeletons in the closet are as important as any others.
When you marry someone, you marry their family as well. Well, this might not be completely true, but it is not far from the truth, either. The fact of the matter is that there might be necessary social interactions with the in-laws from time to time. It is very important to discuss how you both plan to handle those interactions. Will your in-laws require you and your spouse to visit them for holidays and family occasions? Will you require your spouse to attend your own family traditions?
These, and many more similar questions, all require answers. You need to understand that both your and your partner’s families can (and usually will) interfere with your marriage. In fact, one of the very common reasons why people leave therapy is due to family interference. Therefore, make sure that you understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into before it might be too late.
One of the most important topics to discuss before marriage – Conflict resolution
As everyone who has been married will tell you, marriage arguments are inevitable. No matter how much you and your future spouse might love each other, you will argue from time to time. Therefore, conflict resolution is an extremely important topic to discuss before marriage. Throughout the dating period, either partner may try to be on their best behavior, and conflict resolution is usually easier. However, married life may remove some of these inhibitions, and conflicts can escalate much easier.
Therefore, what you want to do is talk about your and your future spouse’s way of resolving conflicts. Do you withdraw when stressed out? Do you become physical? Maybe you are prone to angry outbursts. The fact is that poor conflict resolution within marriage is one of the most common couples therapy causes. It is always best to discuss how you might resolve issues before they actually occur, and the response blindsides you.
Sex is a very important component of marriage and is one of the primary factors that may contribute to a divorce. When either partner is sexually frustrated, it may lead to infidelity. While it is possible to rebuild a marriage after infidelity, it is not likely. It is much better to ensure that both partners are sexually satisfied and that they do not need to look for alternatives. Talking about your sex life can be a very awkward experience, however, and it can be difficult. Nevertheless, it is always best if you do so.
Every person has things they simply cannot tolerate. What you want to do is identify what those things are for you and have your partner do the same for them. Then talk about both of your dealbreakers (at length) and make sure that everyone is on the same page. If there are any conflicts, see if you can resolve them. If you simply cannot come to an agreement, then you might want to reconsider the entire idea of marriage.
Fear is one of the most primal human emotions. All of us fear something. Talking about your fears with your partner will serve to strengthen your relationship and avoid any potential conflicts that may stem from fear. Furthermore, by understanding the person’s deepest fears, you get to understand that person as a whole.
The division of labor in the house
One of the most important topics to discuss before marriage, the division of labor, is also one of the least discussed ones. This is due to preconceptions that both partners might have. Traditionally, women were tasked with doing pretty much everything around the house while men were supposed to work. These days, not only is this not the case for many married couples, the division of labor might be completely reversed to the benefit of both partners. More commonly, however, the couple will divide the labor according to their lifestyles. While this is something you can discuss after the marriage, it is usually much better if you talk about it before tying the knot.
As far as topics to discuss before marriage go, there are no unimportant ones. The more you talk about with your future spouse, the better. It is in both your interests that your marriage starts (and continues) in the best possible way. And the only way you can do that is if you are completely honest with each other from the get-go.
For any other issues in marriage, there is counseling to guide to a resolution of the conflict. If you wish to read more about how to work on a relationship with your partner or find reliable online couples or family therapy, Consumer Opinion Guide is there to provide you with numerous resources.