Choosing to spend your life with someone is a huge step that can lead to a happy, fulfilled life, but only if you take the time to think about this big decision and know how you and your partner can contribute to that shared life. If you are planning on proposing, you should know the answer before you ask. If you’re getting proposed to, you’re allowed to be surprised by the proposal itself, but you should still know it’s coming. Before anyone makes any big commitments, here are six topics to discuss before getting engaged.
If you’re going to share your life together, your finances will play a huge part in your everyday life. You should be aware if either of you has any debt, and come up with a plan for paying it. Will you each be responsible for your own debt, or will you work to pay it off together? What are your financial goals? If one person makes more money than the other, how will you split up expenses? Do you have enough savings for emergencies? How do you want to prepare for retirement? Lifestyle expectations might have to shift to meet financial goals, and it’s best to agree on these changes together and early on.
An engagement ring isn’t just a symbol of your love, but a piece of jewelry for everyday wear. It’s important that the person wearing it truly loves it, so you should have a discussion before the ring is bought. The different types of engagement rings can get confusing quickly if you don’t have a style or budget in mind. Work together to decide if the ring should be bought as a surprise, or if shopping for the ring is an activity you want to do together.
Choosing whether or not to have kids is another huge life decision, and the person you choose to have kids with is an essential element of your future happiness. If you do want kids, what are your preferences for parenting styles? How will you split childcare duties? What are your expectations for saving for college?
4. Career Goals
Some people prioritize their career goals over many other goals, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can, however, have an unexpected impact on the other partner. Talk about work expectations like long hours or work trips. Will you have to move to another location to be closer to industry opportunities? Will your position require frequent relocation? Will it take some time to pursue this job or advance within a company, meaning one partner will need to shoulder most of the financial burdens while the other focuses on a less lucrative career?
Communication can make or break a relationship. Sit down and discuss relationship needs and how you’ll check in with each other. Therapy can be a wonderful resource, and you don’t need to be struggling before you consider couples counseling. The right professional can help you discover tools for communicating long before you need them, helping you set up a strong foundation.
Everyone has dealbreakers in a relationship, and they shouldn’t be a surprise. If you’ve both decided to be child-free, one of you may need to leave the relationship if the other changes their mind. Maybe one partner doesn’t want to move further than a certain distance from their family. Maybe one partner doesn’t feel comfortable with parents moving in. There’s nothing wrong with having dealbreakers, but it is crucial that everyone be aware of them.
Getting married is a big commitment, and far too many people rush in without considering the bigger picture. Sure, problems pop up, and you may be confident that you can weather difficult storms together, but having a few conversations before the ring comes out can help set expectations and maintain healthy boundaries throughout the life of the relationship.