DR. CELESTE CATANIA-OPRIS, PH.D., LMFT
It finally happened – your partner proposed! Your mind starts racing with ideas and the exciting adventures to come. You can’t stop staring at that beautiful ring on your finger and you are looking forward to planning your wedding. As the planning process begins, various topics will naturally come up between you and your partner, while other topics may not reveal themselves until after your wedding. Lack of discussion or agreement regarding certain topics, such as finances, children, and plans for the future, can negatively impact a relationship. In order to lessen or avoid potential conflicts, below are several important topics to discuss as a couple before marriage.
Whether you are just starting off or well into your career, finances play an enormous role within a marriage. Unfortunately, bills need to be paid monthly. When money is tight, couples may turn on one another, as financial stressors can become too much to bare. Together, create a plan. Discuss where you both want to live, the number of hours per week you are both willing to work, and if one of you prefers to be a stay-at-home parent. If you desire a certain lifestyle, you will have to determine if it is possible considering your household income. People envision their lives a certain way, so making sure you and your partner see eye-to-eye is essential.
What will your family look like one day? Will it just be the two of you or are kids included in the picture? Oddly enough, countless couples never discuss whether or not they plan on having children, some not even knowing if their partners want children at all. Perhaps you have had this conversation, but did you both come to an agreement that you will have children right away or wait a few years? Additionally, if you both practice different religions, will you raise your children believing in one or both faiths?
As overwhelming as these questions may be, they are necessary. Sometimes both individuals assume they know their partner’s stance on these topics, resulting in confusion and disagreements later on. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to your values, viewpoints, and beliefs. If not, try to reach some form of middle ground; essentially a compromise that will work for the two of you.
We all have certain ideas and plans for our future. Sometimes our goals will be achieved, other times, we will question why we wanted those things in the first place. Over time, even our goals pertaining to our personal relationships can change. The longer you and your partner will be together, the more you will evolve, grow, and see the world differently. We cannot be exactly the same person forever, as life does not work that way. Things you would never do or ideas you never believed in, suddenly may intrigue you.
Sometimes people feel confused, or even betrayed, when their partners start wanting different things in life. Try to not be intimidated by this as your partner simply will be creating new personal goals. It may appear as if they have “changed.” Change can be scary at times because is it something new and unfamiliar. Perhaps having an open mind that these experiences may one day happen will lessen future misunderstandings, anxiety, and even appear rather exciting; leading to a long and fulfilled relationship.
Discussing your expectations as a couple may prevent potential misunderstandings, unnecessary arguments, and so much more. You will not agree on everything and that is okay! Remember to learn from your disagreements, to be open to new possibilities, and most importantly, to always have fun together. You are the author of your own story. We may not know the ending of the book, but the beginning brought us to this point, and so far we’re on our favorite chapter.
Celeste Catania-Opris, Ph.D., LMFT, offers therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families. www.TherapyForModernHousewives.com.