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By the time you tie the knot, you may think you've got nothing left to learn about your significant other. Think again. "People are not finished products," says Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. "People are works in progress. And as such, you and your partner will continue to grow and change as you go through your life together. You always want to be aware of who they are in the moment."
So before you say "I do," read over this list of must-knows before you get married to see if you and your soon-to-be spouse need to have another chat.
1. Can you share a space with one another?
If you don't live together now, then consider how you will combine your households after you tie the knot. How will you blend your belongings so that "neither partner will feel resentful, or as if there isn't room for his or her important things?" asks Greer. Even when it comes to actual living quarters, a couple must find furniture that "fits the comfort needs of both partners," she says.
2. Do you share a faith?
Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of 5 Simple Steps To Take Your Marriage From Good To Great, says you must know whether your partner identifies with a particular faith and just how strong his or her religious feelings are before you wed. "If you plan on someday having kids, would either of you be adamant about raising them in a certain way?" she asks. It's important to plan out, she says, how your lives together will look and incorporate one another's faiths.
3. How will you maintain "me" and "we" time?
Says Greer, "You don't want to wind up losing yourself in the relationship, or losing contact with other important people or meaningful activities you enjoy." And because of that, it's key to talk over how you'll divide your time and interests once you tie the knot. "Hold onto your sense of self, while at the same time create a sense of 'we' with your partner," Greer says.
4. How is your partner's health?
While you're busy planning your wedding, it's unlikely you've taken a break to discuss one another's medical histories. But Orbuch says now's the time to ask: Do either of you have any major health concerns, and do they directly affect life span or could they potentially affect your future offspring? Is good nutrition and exercise important to your partner? "These are things you probably don't want to be surprised by sometime down the road," says Orbuch.
5. Will you stand by one another when it comes to family?
No woman wants to marry a man who chooses his mother over her. "Don't let friends or family become divisive between you in terms of spending time with them and allowing their demands to interfere or upset the two of you," says Greer. Now is the time to set those boundaries, and determine how you two will stick together in the face of familial tension.