I almost cringe now when I hear someone say they’re getting married…but not because marriage isn’t honorable and lovely and romantic and all those things. I cringe because I know it’s highly unlikely that the couple has prepared for the marriage as much as they have planned for the wedding. In my experience of sitting with dozens of couples, I’ve come to believe that marriages usually don’t end because “the thrill is gone”. I believe that the biggest destroyer of marriage is failed expectations.
So before you say ‘I Do’, have a sit-down with your sweetie and make sure you’re on the same page in these KEY areas so that there’s less potential for problems in the future:
Conversation #1: Friends
You may want to ask your partner how he/she feels about having friends of the opposite sex (is it OK or is it a no-no), how much time should be spent going out with friends, and what types of outings/activities are acceptable.
Conversation #2: In-Laws
You and your partner should probably discuss how you both (truly) feel about your in-laws, the role they will play (or not play) in your marriage, and whether or not it’s acceptable to offer financial support or even a place to stay if the need arises.
Conversation #3: Religion
Hopefully, by this point in your relationship you have a clear understanding of your partner’s religious practices, how you plan to share your religion with your future children, and how you and your future mate define and plan to handle “unkept vows” (I know-not very romantic).
Conversation #4: Money
It’s probably a good idea to discuss your expectations as it relates to employment, gambling, borrowing, debt, spending, bookkeeping, joint vs individual bank accounts, savings, and retirement goals. Trust me-this is not a conversation you want to save for after the nuptials.
Conversation #5: Sex
You’d be surprised at how many couples fight over sex. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to: frequency of sex, time of day (a.m versus p.m.) foreplay (or lack thereof), birth control, frigidity, impotence, and infidelity. This is a great time to discuss how infidelity will be defined within the context of your marriage. The definition of what it means to be unfaithful can vary from person-to-person and couple-to-couple. It’s crucial that you get on the same page now.
Conversation #6: Communication
I’ve seen couples really struggle when it comes to communication. Here are some things to avoid when communicating with one another: Nagging, Criticizing, Blaming, Complaining, Threatening, Punishing, Bribing. If you and your partner are having trouble communicating in a healthy manner, this may be an ideal time for you to get premarital counseling.
Conversation #7: Children
It amazes me how many couples do not discuss how many children they plan to bring into the world. It’s important that the two of you agree on how many children you want to raise, how you will handle blended family issues (if applicable), how you plan to discipline your children, and whether or not you will adopt in the event that one or both of you become sterile or infertile.
Love and romance aren’t always enough to sustain a marriage. It’s critical that we know what to expect from our partners (and vice versa) when it comes to the 7 key areas mentioned above. Take time to have those tough conversations now. The success of your marriage may depend on it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you plan to prepare for marriage. Don’t hesitate to comment below!
Cheers to a Bullet-Proof Marriage,