You are planning your wedding, you love each other, and enjoy each other’s company! So, what could possibly go wrong? Without the intention of being a party breaker, I’ll say that you need only take a quick look at current divorce rates to realize that an awful lot can happen. What are the things every couple should discuss before tying the knot – to make sure they are truly compatible?
Of course, there are the biggies like having children (or not), financial organization, and general plans for your careers and future, but it is probably safe to assume that you have already tackled those. I questioned a bunch of friends and relatives who have been married for a long time now, asking what they wish they had discussed before saying their wedding vows. The answers were somewhat surprising.
My “study subjects”, who responded individually and did not see each other’s answers, almost all told tales of tensions and arguments with or about their in-laws. The problems ranged from in-laws who expected the married couple to spend their holidays exclusively with them, to general boundary issues and the spouse’s relatives “sticking their nose in their business”, to hurt and confusion about whether to call their mother and father in law “mom” and “dad”. So before you get married, talk about your family of origin and your expectations for the future in this area. And of course, meet your future in-laws before getting hitched.
You may already have discussed how to get pregnant, and when, but what if one or both of you turn out to be infertile? What are your feelings about IVF, sperm and egg donors, and adoption? Infertility can be a hard problem to deal with, and it can be a marriage breaker.
Housework and dealing with illness
I’ve grouped these two together because they will be most relevant to couples who have not lived together before marriage. Housework covers not only who will do what around the house, but also the level of messiness you feel comfortable with and what you will do on days you both come home exhausted, with no food in the house. Who will cook, and what do you like to eat? How will you handle cooking if you have greatly different tastes in food?
The women I surveyed also mentioned illness – simple things like colds and the flu – in large numbers. If your future spouse has vasty different needs and habits around caring for the sick, and being cared for, it can lead to hurt feelings. Do you prefer to be sick in isolated and don’t like being fussed over? Or do you prefer being pampered and having your favorite newspapers and magazines brought to you? Knowing what your future husband or wife appreciates in this area will mean a lot to them when they get the flu!
Intimate needs and past partners
You may already have talked about your libido, and wants and needs in the bedroom, but another area that you may want to discuss before getting married is your partner’s exes. One friend, who has been married for well over a decade, told me that her intimate life was virtually ruined by one comment her husband made during their honeymoon about an ex who was an aerobics instructor.
They had a great sex life before the comment, but my friend has never been quite comfortable about showing her husband her body since then, because she thinks she could never compare. Take note, and make sure your future spouse knows if you really would rather not hear comments like these, and agree to leave the past where it belongs if that makes you both feel more comfortable.
Your hill to die on
Is there anything that is non-negotiable to you? Whether it is politics, religion, playing soccer on Saturday afternoon, or anything else, make sure your fiance knows about it, and that you know what your beloved’s “hill to die on” is. Since you will both have to live with these things, it is important that you can both be at peace with each other’s passions in life.