You've got the ring, the venue and the wedding dress. But are you and your partner actually prepared for life beyond your wedding day?
Sometimes marriages flounder and sometimes they stand the test of time. But there are some common themes that can be noticed.
Here are some important conversations we recommend you have with your partner before getting married, to put in place the strongest foundations for building your life together.
This might seem like an obvious one. But you might be surprised by how many people don’t discuss with their partners, their respective views about having children. The devil is also in the detail. Whilst you might have agreed in principle that you both want to have children, we would encourage you to have an in-depth discussion about the following:
When you get married, your financial position becomes legally intertwined with your spouse’s. So any choices your spouse makes about how they spend, earn, or save money is relevant not only to your joint future but also your own financial position if you divorce. Financial irresponsibility (including, sometimes, one spouse bringing debt to the marriage without telling the other) or different attitudes to spending versus saving are usually common complaints from couples getting divorced.
Here are some important questions to discuss:
Sometimes after getting married or once you have children, one of you might decide to give up work. For many, this is a common-sense decision based on the needs of the family, but it is helpful to discuss these arrangements beforehand.
While it might seem a long way away now, it is also important to discuss expectations around retirement. Some people continue working well into their 70s, either through choice or necessity, whilst others are in the fortunate position of being able to retire young. Both can be triggers for marital disharmony. It’s important to share your future dreams for retirement, however vague they are, and what your life together might look like when you are both retired.
As mobility has increased, it is less common for couples to settle in the town in which their families have always lived. Couples now might come from opposite ends of the country or opposite ends of the world. And for many couples, where they live may be determined by where their careers take them (and this can change during marriage), family ties or tax planning, their children’s school catchment area, etc.
Coming from different geographical locations/backgrounds can hugely enrich a relationship but can also create challenges. Such couples should have early conversations about where they see the focus of their married life being, where they would want to raise their children and what they would do if job opportunities arose in a different town or country.
The most recent stats (published in 2015), suggest that one-third of marriages involve couples where at least one has been married before. This brings with it additional considerations – what is your spouse’s relationship, financial and otherwise, with their ex-spouse? Paying maintenance to an ex-spouse can be a particular source of tension; be open about the position and discuss when it is likely to change.
What will your relationship with any children from your spouse’s previous marriage? How often will your spouse see the children? How will you blend your families if you go on to have children together?
A lot of conflicts arise in couples due to a breakdown in communication. It’s perfectly normal to have disagreements during a marriage, and it’s how you work through those disagreements that matter.
Having an honest discussion with your partner when you’re getting married about how you both deal with conflict is a good idea. Successful marriages are those where there is open communication and each person feels able to express themselves freely, in their own way.
The ones which may founder are where one or both spouses bottle up their feelings and let things fester until it is too late. It is sensible to explore, before you marry, what your respective communication styles are and how they’ll interact.
Every marriage is unique and that’s what makes every union so special. It’s about working out what’s best for you as a couple. Whether it’s asking questions on how married people manage their finances or what their living arrangements are, every case is different.
Whilst there’s no right or wrong answer to these questions – you may not even know what your own views are yet – the process of discussing these questions together is important. Spending the rest of your life with the person you love is a wonderful prospect. Having these conversations is all part of that exciting journey and will hopefully stand you in good stead for a long and happy marriage.
Want someone to help with learning how to plan a wedding? Discover how to bring your wedding dreams to life by booking an appointment to discuss your plans with a consultant at The Wedding Gallery today.