Marriage is the biggest commitment you’ll make in your life, and can truly be the most exciting part of life as well. It is the ultimate commitment to the person you love. It’s truly romantic – but it’s also a contract, with vows made to one another.
There are a few essential questions to talk about with your fiancée and consider before actually making those vows.
Read on for our guide to the 12 most important things to consider as a couple – to ensure you have a strong foundation and aren’t heading into marriage with unrealistic expectations.
1. The Name
It may seem like a small thing before you get married, but it’s important to have an idea whether you want to take your husband’s surname or keep yours. If you have children, what surname will you give them?
Changing your surname is mainly about valuing tradition and may seem like the most normal decision. Yet, in this day and age lot of women choose not to take their partner’s name – and there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t mean you love or respect your partner any less.
Some women prefer a double-barrel surname – for them and their children. Even the husband could change their surname to double barrel. In some cases, the husband takes his wife’s name. Sound unusual? It’s whatever works for you two.
2. The Wedding
A happy marriage usually starts with a happy wedding – but weddings are expensive, and they’re really hard work. Minimize the stress by outlining your vision for the big day. Big or small? Local or abroad? Theme or no theme? A wedding with everyone or a more personal elopement?
Your wedding should be the happiest day of your life. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track with the planning process and minimize your stress:
- Decide who’s paying for what early on, and remember that if you let parents pay you might have to accept their advice, ideas and guests.
- Don’t forget to plan a honeymoon – and don’t postpone it too long. Many people didn’t get their dream honeymoons because of lockdowns after COVID hit – so if you have the money ready, just book it!
- Plan a budget for the things that matter most to you and your fiancé, including the photographer, videographer, music, flowers, or decorations.
- Be clear on who gets an invitation. This is a big thing most couples argue about. Do you invite every relative you’ve got, even if you’ve never met them? What about work colleagues and ex boyfriends and girlfriends? Does everyone get a plus one? What about children? There are so many decisions to make that it might make your head spin, so its important to be on the same page.
3. Location, location, location.
Where do you want to settle down and live after you get married? While your parents probably stayed local, it’s normal to move around more. It’s important that you are on the same page about where you actually want to live.
You might want to live somewhere else in a few years, whether that’s somewhere completely new or maybe closer to family. Make sure you have that conversation before tying the knot.
There might be work opportunities that come later in your life that mean moving elsewhere. Will your husband support you? Will you support him, and agree to move? Have the conversation now, so there aren’t any unpleasant surprises later in life.
What are your thoughts on children – how many of them do you want? When and how do you want to raise them? What happens if you’re faced with infertility? Is any one partner against adoption?
It’s important to have this conversation and reach a balance and compromise where there might be differences.
Money is one of the biggest reasons for divorce. While you can’t ensure that you’re both well off throughout your marriage, you can ensure that you have a plan when it comes to shared finances, at least.
There are a lot of things at play when it comes to money. Here’s a list of the main topics that should be discussed. The earlier you’re on the same page about these, the easier your married life will be.
- Does one partner have any outstanding debt? If so, what’s the plan to repay it – should the other partner chip in?
- Is one partner making significantly more money than the other? What does that means for the relationship dynamics?
- Who pays for what for things like rent, mortgage, and groceries?
- Do you keep your finances separate or open a joint bank account?
- Is everything open about money, or would you rather keep some decisions separate?
- What are the rules of engagement when it comes to spending vs saving?
- Is there a goal for investing and any risky decisions, like investing in cryptocurrency?
- What’s your plan regarding pensions and retirement?
Money is a big topic. If you’ve lived together before marriage, you’ve probably built some habits already – but marriage will add an extra layer to it all. Either way, make sure that both partners feel secure in their financial decisions.
6. Your Dream Home
You’re building a life together, so why not talk about your vision of your dream home? That includes size, location, style, the lot.
Working towards buying or even building your dream home together will be a huge endeavour and require a lot of money and time. You’d be surprised at how many couples have completely opposite visions about what their dream home looks like.
Find the right balance and start working towards that future.
7. How You Handle Stress
How you handle stress, individually and collectively, will say a lot about what kind of marriage you are going to have. Do you hate waiting? Does making a decision give you anxiety? Does he always get angry?
Once the honeymoon phase is over, you’ll need to learn how to cohabitate well together – and a big part of that is learning how to handle stress well and how to pick each other up in tough situations.
Marriage will test everything. Make sure you know how to handle stress well and not dwell on the negative.
8. Household chores
As silly as it may feel, have the conversation about household chores.
Who takes the bins out? Who changes the lightbulbs? Who cleans before guests arrive? Who stocks up the fridge? Who calls a plumber if the toilet is leaking? Either way, one partner shouldn’t be doing all the household chores; that’s not what a partnership is like.
A big part of it is figuring out schedules as well. If he likes to play football two evenings a week, that means he won’t be doing much around the house on those days. Make sure you take the time and space you need for yourself too.
9. How Do You Handle Arguments?
The more you know about your partner before marrying him, the better for your future happiness. But how do you handle arguments when they arise?
Who apologizes first and who sulks like a baby every time? Do you have healthy arguments or full-on fights? The worst thing for your marriage is to get into the habit of not tackling conflict head on and letting it get in the middle of your relationship.
This includes passive-aggressiveness, blame language, crying, not speaking to one another, personal attacks and power trips. An adult married couple should know that conflict is unavoidable, but how you handle it will define your marriage.
10. Your Respective Families
How you “handle” each other’s families will be a crucial part of your marriage. Your in-laws can open a huge can of worms in your relationship, so it’s important to set some ground rules that you both respect and follow.
What if you need to borrow money and your husband asks his parents? How will you feel about being indebted to them?
What about their involvement in the upbringing of your children?
How often should you spend time with them?
What if one of them gets sick and needs constant care?
Usually, you will be able to tell what the in-laws will be like by the way they act around the wedding. Use it as practice and have the important discussions as well to plan for anything that may come up down the road.
11. You’re Still Individual Persons
You are two individuals in love, who wish to spend the rest of their lives together – but you’re still those two different individuals after the wedding day. You may complement one another and agree on most things, but you’re not merged into one – and there will also be disagreements.
Don’t beat yourself up if your marriage doesn’t resemble the perfect romances you’ve heard about. Each marriage is different, and it’s always hard work.
12. Sex and Intimacy Are Really Important
While communication, trust, and faithfulness are all foundations of a strong, happy marriage, so are sex and intimacy. Unfortunately, sex tends to suffer in a long-term marriage. There’s always something else that seems more important than spending quality time together.
With the arrival of children, sex might even become extinct in your marriage. Remember that it’s the best way to show your love to your partner – and if it isn’t there, you’ll both be suffering.
As hard as it may be to find the time and the energy, schedule regular date nights and make sure to take a vacation together. You need it!