Hopefully, you’re having lots of conversations about the wedding plans! But right now, I want to get you thinking about something bigger than the wedding. The Marriage. In all of my wedding books and articles and during my TV interviews, I emphasize that it’s all about the marriage, not just the wedding. You’re building a life together, so set down the best foundation for it by taking some time to share your deepest values and beliefs about the following:
1. How you’ll spend holidays. It’s only fair to spend even time with both families, so figure out how you’ll divide your time, or if it works best for you to host the holidays at your place this year, your siblings’ place the next year, etc. It’s of the utmost importance to the health of your marriage that you have a solid plan and realistic expectations about sharing important time with both of your families equally. Talk about what you both expect of the other and how you’d like it all to go.
2. How you’ll handle money. Do you want to keep your separate accounts, and then get a joint account to share? How important is it to you that you have an emergency fund, and how much do you want in it? What are your wishes about investing any cash wedding gifts? You both have to be on the same page on this topic, because it’s a big one…a leading cause of arguments. But you can neutralize it by chatting on this topic now, and putting that Compromise tool to work.
3. Where you want to live. Stay in the apartment, or buy a house after the wedding? Who needs to be closest to their job? Do you love the city, or do you want the suburbs? Even if you’re years away from relocating, now is the time to really understand what your future spouse envisions for the future.
4. How you’ll have each other’s backs. In times of conflict with others, how would you like your partner to support you? Some of us just need to be heard and not hear suggestions on how to solve the issue. Some of us want to joke about the problem, while that’s the last thing others want in a time of conflict. So talk it out now…”how can I best support you when you need me?”
5. Who handles the housework? “I’ll take the dishes and the laundry.” “I’ll take care of the lawn and the dusting.” “We’ll alternate with the food shopping.” Since you both have jobs, your second job of maintaining a home together is one that’s equally important to both of you, so custom-create your responsibilities list, so that no one is fuming that all of the housework falls on them. It’s a silly fight, one that can be so easily prevented. Just make sure to agree on a flexibility program…if one of you is jammed with work or studying for exams, the other will pick up the slack and handle the laundry, etc.
Talking it out now can prevent problems later. So schedule a few chat sessions over a relaxing dinner and really have your whole focus on each discussion. And don’t plan a marathon future-planning-session where you talk about all of this at once. Break it into easier chunks of time, and call it an investment in your future happiness.