Getting engaged is a big deal. After all, you're deciding to spend the rest of your life with someone! But there's more to it than just a sweet proposal story and a sparkly new ring on your left hand, and there are some things you and your significant other should talk about before you decide on forever.
We talked to Dr. Jane Greer, New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship about three big conversations you should have before you get engaged. They may not be the most romantic conversations, but addressing these hot-button topics in advance will help set you up for success.
"Remember," says Dr. Greer, "in any of these conversations, if your opinions differ, ask your partner why he or she feels that way, and how strongly they hold their opinion. Is it carved in stone? Or could they see themselves changing their opinion over the years? If your partner's opinion is set, then you have to make a decision on whether this is a deal-breaker for you, or whether you're willing to change your opinion for them."
What Are Your Goals in Terms of Having—or Not Having—Children?
Says Dr. Greer, "It's important to discuss this early on so you know that you're sharing the same vision and values in starting a family and raising children together." A good way to bring this up is to start by talking about how important having children down the line is (or isn't!) for you. Once you've explained where you stand, ask what your partner envisions for himself or herself and if their desires line up with yours.
Where Would You Like to Live?
Do you want to live in a big city? Have a backyard in the suburbs? Maybe you'd always planned on raising a family close to your parents? Dr. Greer points out that it's important for couples to "have a sense of whether you would be willing to relocate (and potentially leave family and friends) once you're married." Being on the same page as far as where you might want to grow old together will help you make those decisions in the future, whether it's for a job, family, or financial reasons.
What Is the Money Situation?
Dr. Greer encourages couples to ask the following questions of themselves and their partners: What kind of financial goals do you have for yourself? What does your financial landscape look like? Is there debt that needs to be cleaned up before the marriage? Are you saving for a home or vacation down the road? How will you pay for your wedding? Money can be hard to discuss, but now is the time to be frank. "Discuss how you will prioritize financial obligations in your future life together. See which areas are important for each of you, find out where they line up, and talk about ways to compromise on the things that don't," says Dr. Greer.