Eight Subjects to Discuss Before the Wedding

You and your fiancé are probably so busy discussing the pros and cons of computerized calligraphy that a heart-to-heart about married life may not be on your to-do list. But if you want a long and happy marriage, bring up these eight tricky topics before the wedding day.

1. Baby talk: You may both want kids, but discussing how many, when to have them, and how you’ll handle child-rearing is equally important, says Erik Fisher, a psychologist and author of The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict (Praeger). Talk about the goals (like getting a law degree) each of you hopes to achieve before starting a family, to avoid resentment down the road.

2. Not tonight, dear: 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. “Sometimes married people expect each other to be psychic,” says Fisher, “but you have to be clear with your signals so no one feels embarrassed or rejected.”

3. The parent trap: Discuss your relationship with each other’s parents before they become in-laws, says Rita DeMaria, therapist and author of The 7 Stages of Marriage (Reader’s Digest). Bring up how often you’ll visit and make sure you’re on the same page about touchy matters like inheritances.

4. I don’t do toilets: 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. Show me the money: In addition to discussing joint checking accounts, a household budget and saving for a shared goal (like a home), DeMaria says it’s critical for couples to discuss spending habits and disclose to each other any debt or credit-card problems. “Those kinds of surprises can be devastating once you’re married,” she says.

6. Are you there, God?: 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. Turkey time: 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.

8. Fight right: Set some ground rules for disagreements (e.g., no name-calling) and decide if you’re “never go to bed mad” types or a couple who deals with things better in the morning.

 

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