A while back I did an interview where I mentioned that you needed to have a plan before going into a marriage. The show host asked me to elaborate, and I went into a few things, but wanted to talk about it more here. Some people I’ve talked to that are experiencing real relationships problems seem to have those issues due to lack of a clear plan up front. You know the old saying, “If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail.”
When you enter into a relationship with someone, you are both coming from two different backgrounds, two different histories and two totally different points of view. Before your heart takes you away, you need to sit down and have a discussion to make sure the plan you have is the same one or similar to what they are thinking. Before you get married, here are four conversations that you must have:
Do you plan on having any? How many do you want? If one person already has kids are they willing to have more? Seems simple enough but I’ve seen people fail to address this. Despite not having this conversation, they get into a marriage and are ready to leave because their spouse doesn’t want additional children. Also don’t assume that your potential spouse will change their mind later. When it comes to a topic like children you need to assume that what they say will be their final decision and deal with the situation from that point of view.
We’ve talked about it before. You need to know what’s up with each other’s money and spending habits. Is their credit score jacked up because they’ve been out of work due to the recession or because Louis Vuitton keeps calling them? Sometimes people are afraid to bring up this conversation or may think that the topic is taboo but it should definitely not be off limits. Especially if you’re seriously considering marriage and spending your lives together. After the initial conversation you can also go further to discuss who will pay the bills, will you operate a joint account and what are the expectations towards spending (i.e. do I need your permission before I buy this flat screen TV)?
Can you come into agreement on the topic of religion? Do you want someone that worships like you? What if you’re both Christians but your spouse thinks that he can worship at home just like you worship at church? Do you require that they hold the same beliefs? If you hold two different belief systems how will you raise your kids? Again don’t think that you’ll automatically be able to change someone on this or that they’ll come around later once you get married.
Do your goals match up or even make sense? As an exercise you both should write down one year, three year and five year goals for your family. When finished compare and discuss. This will tell you a lot about where you each think your family should go.
BMWK what other topics should you plan on? How about where to live? Will someone stay at home to raise the kids? There are plenty of others, lets add more.