We’ve all heard the stories of chance meetings, spontaneous engagements, quick marriages, and elopements that sweep us off our feet. But in reality, a growing number of couples are talking about marriage for years before actually popping the big question. According to The Knot’s Jewelry and Engagement Study, 24 percent of couples report discussing marriage for two years or more before getting engaged. Some of the big topics couples are discussing range from religion to whether or not to get a pet. You should know some of the things before getting married.
Communication is key to a happy and long-lasting marriage. And whether or not you’re already engaged or ready to pop the question, there’s still plenty to talk about and steps to take for a strong future together.
Here are the 5 Things to Know Before Getting Married:
Protect Your Information
Safeguarding your personal and financial information is just as important as talking about it with your loved ones. Start by going through your credit reports, noting any errors, cleaning up any poor credit, and discussing your assets from 401ks to a living will. Once you’ve thoroughly tackled all of your financial and personal information with your partner, make sure all of that information is properly protected by an identity theft protection service. A reputable service like LifeLock offers round-the-clock protection to combat fraudulent activity. You can even snag a LifeLock coupon to save money while protecting your future at the same time.
Come up with a Financial Plan
Ironing out your financial concerns, questions, and expectations in advance can do more than alleviate stress; it could save your marriage. Money fights are one of the top causes of divorce, according to a survey conducted by personal finance expert Dave Ramsey’s Ramsey Solutions. Start by examining your collective debt together, your financial goals, and how you each want to spend any extra money. After all, your idea of how to spend a holiday bonus may look very different from your partner.
Talk About Family
By the time the marriage talk rolls around, most couples are probably intimately familiar with each other’s views on kids. Figuring out when you would like to start a family, if at all, and how to handle finances and daycare are all prominent issues to explore during the walk to the altar. However, talking about your parents, siblings, and extended family is also paramount to a happy married life. Do you know where your partner wants to spend the holidays? What happens if one of your parents requires health care or financial help? Deciding how to address the bigger issues around family and what that dynamic looks like can build greater bonds and trust in married life.
Lay Ground Rules for Conflict
Even the happiest, most supportive couples face conflict and fight from time to time. The key is laying the groundwork for healthy conflict resolution and learning to fight fair. Focus on giving each other a voice, but also space when the argument becomes heated. Having a phrase that everyone honors like, “time out” can help maintain control and help work through conflicts faster. Keep tactics like name-calling, leaving the house for hours at a time, or opening up old wounds by dredging up the past off the table. You can even decide to go to a marriage counselor or neutral party to help resolve ongoing conflicts that aren’t getting resolved at home.
Make a Commitment to Connect
It’s common for couples to slowly stop dating until romantic Friday night dinners are a thing of the past. Whether it’s time or money, it’s easy to let dating and romance fall to the wayside. Commit to regularly connect whether with a weekly dinner for two or device-free conversation at home while cuddling by the fireplace. But remember to lay some ground rules. Talking about work or the kids is fine, but set a 10- or 20-minute limit followed by talks about the rest of what life and your future have to offer.
Remember that your relationship is worth protecting and nurturing whether you’re protecting your financial data or making that date night commitment. After all, marriage isn’t the end of your dating relationship, it’s the start of something new.
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