10 Things Every Couple Needs to Talk About Before Marriage

Maybe you are newly engaged or soon-to-be engaged. Maybe you are already married. Many of the questions we receive come from engaged couples who want to know what they need to do before they tie the knot. A new marriage can be tricky to navigate at times. But we are confident that if you talk about these 10 things before you get married, you will be well-equipped to handle some of the tougher conversations that might come up.

  1. First up on our list is finances. There are several items that fall under this category, such as outstanding debt, future financial goals and savings expectations. Money is the number one point of contention in marriages. Listen, you need to talk with your spouse-to-be about all of these things. Do you have debt? Does he? How much? What will be your plan moving forward to pay that off? Knowing this up front allows you to set realistic expectations for savings and financial goals.
  2. What do your future financial goals entail? Do both of you want to buy a house within the next three years?  Do you want children right away? Knowing what your goals are and setting a clear plan, allows both of you stay on the same page financially.
  3. Set your saving expectations up front. The amount you put in your savings, directly affects the timeline for achieving your financial goals. The two of you should sit down over a glass of wine and decide how much you would like to put aside in savings each month.
  4. Bank Accounts. Will you have a joint account? Will both of you maintain separate accounts and contribute to a third joint account? How much will you contribute? It can be an awkward conversation to have, but better to talk about it sooner rather than later.
  5. Holidays. This can be such a difficult decision – especially if one or both sets of parents live far away. You need to address this as soon as possible? Our easy fix was to alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas. It hasn’t been easy, but we make it work and are starting new traditions along the way.
  6. Lifestyle. You should have a good handle on the type of lifestyle you and your spouse-to-be maintain. But, it’s still important to talk about. Where do you ultimately want to settle? Are you more of a suburbs person – or a city person? Do you want a mega-mansion – or will you be okay with a starter home while you save money for your dream home? Does someone spend way more money on the “extras” than you are comfortable with? Knowing what the expectations of your spouse are – can be half the battle. Make sure that if one person would love to live in the ‘burbs, that the other person is ultimately okay moving out there as well.
  7. Travel. Is this something that is important to you and your spouse? We will say this up front. We would rather spend our money on travel and experiences versus acquiring more “stuff.” That said, we had a discussion about that up front and now have a separate account specifically for travel expenses. We both work a ton, so we certainly do not get to get away as much as we would like, but we set aside money each month so it is there when we want to use it.
  8. Bills. Who will be responsible for paying the bills? Whose name do they go under? What account do they come out of? Some couples put a percentage of their income toward shared bills. This might seem a bit silly, but talking about it first forces both partners to be organized. Changing the name and/or address on your bills probably needs to happen sooner rather than later. You both don’t want to be paying for cable and electricity – so make sure you have this talk so you are organized.
  9. Household chores. The dishes, laundry, dinner and vacuuming are not going to disappear the second you get married – in fact, they multiply. Talk about whether you are going to split these duties, or if someone would rather do all of the dishes and none of the laundry. This needs to be a joint cooperation, and it isn’t one sole person’s duty to get all of these things done.
  10. Kids. Do you both want children? when? We’ve seen couples on completely different timelines in their minds. The husband wanted kids, but the wife wanted a couple more years. Make sure you can both agree on having children (or not) and both of you need to be on board with the decision.

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