If having serious talks with your significant other makes you squirm, you're not alone — but that doesn't make these chats any less necessary.
"When a couple is in the honeymoon phase of their relationship, most people tend to believe that their love can conquer all," says Alisa Ruby Bash, licensed marriage and family therapist. "However, a successful marriage is one in which both individuals are allowed to express their authentic selves in a safe space. That includes the less sexy sides of life, such as fears, past mistakes, regrets, their deepest dreams, and traumas." In other words? Talking about the tough stuff helps your relationship.
But what should you discuss and when? Thanks to Bash, we've broken down every necessary talk into an easy-to-follow timeline.
Within the first three months
Have the "do you want kids" talk. "This is by far a question that can be a deal breaker for most couples," Bash says. "If someone is dead-set against having kids and the other wants a family of four, there is no point in getting serious."
Now's also the time to talk about religion. "Just because you may not see your partner in church every Sunday does not mean that you should make any assumptions," says Bash. "At some point, you will need to discuss your feelings about religious beliefs and your partners. Do you plan to raise your children with any religion? Are you looking for someone to celebrate certain holidays with you in the future? Although religious differences certainly don't have to be a deal breaker, for some people it could be."
Within the first year
You know what kind of life you want to lead, but does your S.O.? "Do you want to travel four weeks every year around the globe? Do you want to save every penny for your retirement? Do you dream of a house in the suburbs, or do you need to be in the center of the action for the rest of your life?" asks Bash. "Some people envision a very active social life with lots of entertainment and travel, while others expect to kick back in front of the TV every night after they tie the knot. Eventually, huge clashes in how you want to live your life could become a major issue if not addressed early on."
When you're talking about moving in together
Pull our your financial records and talk money. Does he have bad credit or debt — or do you need to confess a maxed-out credit card? "Remember that you are marrying not just your partner, but their debt as well," warns Bash. "If someone is really in deep, eventually you will be working to pay off their debt, not save for your future."
Yes, "it can be really hard to talk about this topic, and feel quite invasive," Bash admits. "Unfortunately, many people don't discuss their financial issues until it is too late and their wedding day is booked, or they are so deeply in love that they try to sweep it under the rug."
Any time you're comfortable
It's time to talk about sex, baby. "Ideally, both people will always have the same sexual appetite, and the initial fireworks will continue throughout the course of their marriage," says Bash. "However, in cases where sexuality is not a topic a couple feels comfortable discussing, there are bound to be problems in the future. The sexual portion of a marriage is a huge part of what will get a couple through the ups and downs of life. Feeling safe, wanted, and attracted to our partners is essential to maintain the chemistry in a marriage. Learning how to talk about what you like, and to listen to your partner will certainly help you learn how to create a bond that can help weather you through the storms of life and avoid becoming a statistic. "