Marital spats often call for an arbitrator. NBC's new series The Marriage Ref features Jerry Seinfeld and a celebrity panel that tackles such bizarre fights as the appropriateness of a stripper pole in the bedroom and whether a taxidermy collection of past pets belongs in the house. If you want to avoid entering the fighting ring with your spouse, rather than be judged by Madonna or Alec Baldwin, you'll need the help of a pro. BRIDES magazine has hot-button topics that you should tackle before the wedding, and hints for fighting fair.
1. Kids - You may both want kids, but discussing how many, when to have them, and how you'll handle child-rearing is important. Talk about the goals each of you hopes to achieve before starting a family (like getting a law degree), to avoid resentment down the road.
2. Sex - Talking about sex may be less fun than having it, but now's the best time to confront issues such as your expectations about frequency and how you'll communicate that you're not in the mood.
3. In-laws - Discuss your relationship with each other's parents before they become family. Bring up how often you'll visit. Before the festivities begin, decide things like which family "gets" Thanksgiving and Christmas, how much to spend on gifts, and whether or not the entire family is invited for birthdays.
4. Household chores - Even if you're already living together, it's worth chatting about chores--how you'll fairly divide up the cooking, cleaning, and laundry.
5. Money - In addition to talking about joint checking accounts, a household budget, and saving for a shared goal—like a home—it's critical for couples to discuss spending habits and disclose to each other any debt or credit-card problems. Talk about grown-up issues such as investments, life insurance, and wills, too.
6. Religion - Some couples, especially those marrying in a house of worship, may address the issue of religion in premarital counseling. If you haven't had that opportunity, it's still important to talk about faith. What role will spirituality play in your lives? Will your children be raised in a certain religion?
7. Fight right - Set some ground rules for disagreements (e.g., no name-calling) and decide if you're "never go to bed mad" types (Eva Longoria and Tony Parker) or a couple that deals with things better in the morning, like (no surprise) Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos.
—Hillary Quinn, BRIDES Magazine