Love is so awesome! Especially when, after years of wondering whether you’ll ever meet the person you can call “The One”, you finally do! But before you start shopping for a wedding dress or you even choosing a wedding date, there are a few conversations that every couple should first have.
That way, you can be confident you’re both going into your marriage with a true understanding of the other’s hopes and desires, which will make for a genuine marriage, not just a wedding.
Being married is about sharing your life with someone else, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you must lose your own identity in the process.
So many people are frustrated in their marriages because they feel they have surrendered their personal goals in order to make their relationships work.
Being in a relationship with someone who truly understands, supports and complements your purpose (as you do for them) is wonderful but sacrificing your personal goals in life and love aren’t the only way to achieve this.
Have a discussion about each of your personal goals and try to find a way for both parties to achieve these goals – together!
Once you know what your personal goals are, it’s also a good idea to discuss what your relationship goals are as well. Where do you want to see your relationship to be in six months, in one year, in three years, in a decade?
After all, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail and, though that is classic business advice, marriages are not exempt from such pearls of wisdom.
A wise person once said “Expect nothing in your marriage. Then you’ll be thankful for everything that you get.”
Yep, that mantra may not seem terribly positive at first, but let’s take a look at it more closely: When you expect things, that puts you in the position of being more of a demander than a requester.
No one, your partner in particular, wants to feel like demands are being made of them or that they are being commanded to do something or act in a certain way.
Sit down with your partner and make your desires and expectations for life, love and your relationship known. Your partner will be more open to considering your wants and needs if they know what they are – and vice versa.
An interviewer, many years ago, asked a woman who had been married for more than 60 years what makes her relationship with her husband different from all the other relationships in her life. She paused and said, “I don’t have sex with my friends.” Touche, ma’am!
Oftentimes what’s going on in the bedroom speaks volumes about the kind of communication and intimacy that is going on outside of it.
Sex is not simply something fun to do with your significant other, it’s a way of bringing you and your mate closer together.
Therefore, don’t be shy about discussing your sexual needs and desires.
If you’ve never read The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary D. Chapman, try to get hold of a copy. It’s a fantastic read for couples planning on spending the rest of their lives together.
The main takeaway is that, too often, we find ourselves showing love in the way that we want to receive it; not in the way that the other person needs it to be shown.
According to Chapman, the five key ways love is expressed is through Physical Affection, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time and Gifts. He also believes that each person has two key expressions of love that they most long for and you should figure out what those two things are for your partner early on in the relationship.
Many marriages end simply because of a lack of or poor communication. It’s always a good idea to be clear about what you can do to make your partner feel most loved.
Kids or no kids?
You might think this is a “no brainer”, but there are a lot of people will get married assuming they know what their partner’s thoughts and feelings on children are.
When it comes to this discussion, it shouldn’t only be whether or not you both want children, but how soon into the marriage you want to have them, what your views on things like discipline, diet and education are and what you want to do if conception is not possible. Will you adopt? Do you want to become a foster parent? Or would you prefer to not have children?
Although interfaith marriages continue to increase, there are many studies which indicate that they can be very challenging; especially once children come into the picture.
Your religious and spiritual views (or lack thereof) are not just about you having an opinion on the various associated subjects. They tend also to play a significant role in how you see the world and address a variety of issues.
Even if you and yours do not share the same faith – or any faith, it’s paramount that you discuss whether or not you share the same values and, if you’re planning on having kids how you wish to rear them as a couple.
Although you can’t buy love, at the same time, you can’t pay bills with it either.
It’s hard to feel warm and fuzzy towards someone when there’s a lot of debt or you’re scraping to make ends meet all of the time either because of their financial behaviour – or yours.
Just as your relationship needs goals set, so too do your finances.
If you don’t already know, it’s a good idea to find out one another’s financial histories, spending habits and financial goals.
Most partners come with family and/or very good friends, all of whom you’re going to have to accept into your life and, while most are wonderful, some don’t seem to understand boundaries and will happily share their views on everything you and your partner do.
Listening to their advice is one thing, but if it starts affecting your relationship, that’s another. Be sure to set your expectations of what is and isn’t acceptable in-law behaviour with your partner early because, if you don’t set healthy boundaries early, you risk unnecessarily tense interactions for the rest of your life!
It’s OK to have disagreements, but all parties should remain mutually respectful, listen as much as possible and to work to find a resolution, if not immediately, then eventually.
Grudges, ultimatums and manipulative tactics are immature approaches to your relationship. Be clear, be open and be willing to work the matter out without trying to hurt one another in the process. That’s what it means to “fight fair”.
Do you have any advice for couples planning to wed? What conversations did you have before walking down the aisle and what conversations do you wish you’d had?
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