Congratulations! Your sweetheart chose the most romantic day of the year to pop the question, and you said yes.
If you got engaged on February 14, you’re not alone: A 2017 survey found that 43% of millennials say Valentine’s Day is their top choice for a proposal day. After all, it is a holiday dedicated to showing and declaring your feelings for someone – why not make the ultimate gesture of love?
You may still be floating on cloud nine, but marriage is a big commitment, and you and your new fiancé need to discuss some practical aspects of your future together. Too often, couples get swept up in the wedding, focusing on the venue, guest list and centerpieces rather than what their joint finances and lifestyle will look like. Once the celebration is over and reality kicks in, these couples may find themselves fighting, and wondering whether they should have gotten married at all.
To set your marriage up for success, you and your spouse-to-be should have an open, honest conversation about the following subjects:
1. Your Current Financial Situations
Finances are one of the most common marital stresses, and you don’t want to start your new marriage on the brink of bankruptcy. Do you each know how much debt, savings, investments, and retirement funds the other has? Do you know each other’s approximate credit scores? Will you combine your assets into a joint bank account, maintain separate personal accounts, or both? Get everything out on the table now so you can financially plan for the life you want.
2. Buy Or Rent?
For many couples, home ownership is still part of the American dream. If you don’t currently own property together, but want to someday, talk about where you want to buy a home, taking property taxes, neighborhood appeal, school districts, and other factors into consideration. You should also determine how much you’re willing to spend on a property, and what specifications you’d look for in a house. Don’t want to buy real estate? That’s fine – but make sure that’s what your fiancé wants, too.
3. Your Future Career And Family Plans
When you’re single, major career decisions like relocating, changing fields, or quitting to launch your own business only affect you. As a married couple, such transitions will also impact your spouse, especially if you decide to have children. Since many couples juggle their careers and raising a family, these two conversations can go hand in hand. Talk about where you see yourselves in five, 10, or 20 years, and where children fit into that timeline – if you even want them at all.
4. Past ‘Baggage’ Or Secrets That Could Affect Your Future
Talking about exes is rarely pleasant, but baggage from past relationships – a previous marriage, child support payments, joint assets with a former partner, etc. – can carry over into your current one. If you have ongoing or unresolved issues with an ex, revisit them (or, if you haven’t told your fiancé, come clean about them now) and discuss how they might impact your marriage down the road. Other “secrets” to avoid keeping from your betrothed include undisclosed financial debts or assets, sneaky online browsing habits, and work-related issues like losing a promotion or getting fired.
Even if you and your partner talked about these things before you got engaged, it doesn’t hurt to go over the non-romantic, nitty-gritty details for life after the big day, and confirm that you’re still on the same page. It may even be wise to create a prenuptial agreement, which puts your future plans in writing and legally protects both of you in the (hopefully unlikely) event you end up divorcing.
Once you come to a solid consensus on each of the above topics, go forth and plan your dream wedding together.