Talk with Lia

pexels-photo-3776877

15 Conversations Every Engaged Couple Should Have

The journey from ‘Yes I will marry you!’ to ‘I do!’ is as exciting as it is overwhelming. It’s a phase filled with planning and preparations, not just for the wedding day, but for marriage. The wedding day is the beginning of a new chapter of your life and relationship.

Communication is important for every relationship, and it’s critical when you intend to spend your life with the other person. Set the stage for a healthy relationship by having open conversations with your partner on important topics. Listed below are 15 conversations that you must have as an engaged couple:

1. The Importance of Marriage

 
This may come as a surprise, but yes, it is crucial to discuss the importance marriage holds in your lives. The higher the importance a partner accords to marriage, the less likely they are to say and do things that could destroy the bond. 
 
This conversation will help both of you get a gist of how well the other person understands the institution of marriage. It also opens the door for addressing any fears and concerns either of you may have regarding marriage. 

2. Financial Goals, Plans, and Strategies

Although both partners may be financially independent, you will be, at a certain level, merging your lives. So, the spending habits of one are likely to affect the other. You will have some shared expenses, and may even start joint accounts or make large investments together.
 
pexels-photo-4101143
 
Discuss how you intend to deal with the expenses and your strategies for saving and spending. This may sound a lot like business and partnerships, but, if you don’t want conflicts over money ruining your beautiful relationship with your spouse, it’s better to speak openly about these matters from the beginning. 
 

3. Privacy and Boundaries

The definition and understanding of personal space may vary depending on the individual. Allow your partner the space that they require. But to do that, understanding what personal space entails is key. Communication will help you get a better picture. For the success of marriage, spouses must respect each other’s boundaries and privacy. No spouse must pry into the other’s personal matters without consent. Assumptions can lead to misunderstandings and issues. Discuss the when and how aspect of respecting privacy with your partner. Set and communicate your boundaries clearly to avoid unnecessary conflicts down the road.
 

4. Level of Involvement of Family

Your family will have an impact on your married life. Whether the impact will be good or bad will depend on the boundaries you draw and make clear beforehand. 
 
Discuss and let your partner know about the level of involvement you’re comfortable with, and what you would like to avoid. Try to understand their viewpoint as well. Create some rules regarding dealing with in-laws, and how much both of you can and will share with your families. 
 
Your new relationship should not compromise the bond with your family, and vice versa. Although the family you were born into is important to you, it’s vital to protect the rights and feelings of the family unit you’re creating with your marriage. 
 

5. Cultural and Family Traditions

This one may make you wonder why. Why do you need to understand your partner’s culture and family traditions? And here’s the answer: Because these have most likely played a major role in shaping them into the person they are today. You need a deep appreciation for the heritage of your spouse, and vice versa. Talk about how and what you intend to incorporate into your shared future. Embracing some of the more meaningful traditions wholeheartedly might help make your connection to your spouse stronger. You may even find that there are some aspects of their own culture that your spouse is averse to and would want to avoid. 
 

6. Values in Life

Although by this point you likely have a fairly good understanding of your partner’s values, and they’re probably part of why you chose this person to share your life with, you should still have conversations on this topic. Ask open-ended questions to learn more. Express your beliefs and share your priorities in life. You may find that your partner shares many of your values. Even if there are differences, early discussions will help you avoid conflicts due to disagreements.
 

7. Stance on Children and Parenting

If you’re looking forward to starting a family soon, you need to check if your partner shares your dream. You cannot pressure someone later into having a child or being a parent. If you have differing views, it is possible to find a compromise or middle ground. In case you’re not able to come to common terms, consider the option of coming back to the conversation at a later stage. 
 
pexels-photo-3958379
 
Understanding why your partner wants to start a family is also essential. When you decide to do it, it should be for the right reasons. Also, parenthood has its own challenges; you’ll need to talk about how you will, as a team, handle those. Talk to your partner about how many children you want to have (or not), and your parenting style and philosophies. 
 

8. Balancing Social Life with Marriage

Maintaining a balance between spending time with a spouse and maintaining social connections is challenging for many people. Conversations around this topic can help set some ground rules and avoid uncomfortable situations. You will have separate social networks and connections that you need to nurture.
 
Converse about your preferences with your partner, and understand theirs. Talk about the time the partner is expected to spend with the other’s social circle. See what arrangements you can make, so that neither partner feels neglected. 
 

pexels-photo-5910809

9. Role Expectations

When you share your life with someone, there will be expectations regarding responsibilities and obligations. Convey your expectations through open conversations, and really listen to your partner. Discussing role expectations will help both you and your partner arrive at a fair arrangement, and fulfill your roles better later on. Do take into consideration that circumstances might change, and both partners must be flexible and open to adapting according to the needs of the situation. 
 

10. Alone Time and Leisure Activities

Even when you love someone a lot, you may need time away to recharge. There may be activities that you or your partner love to do alone. Having interests independent of your partner is important for a healthy relationship. After getting married, you don’t have to spend every waking moment with each other. The time you spend with each other should be enjoyable or relaxing, and must not feel like an obligation. Communicating about individual needs can help prevent the other from coming across as overly demanding or neglectful. 
 

11. Career Aspirations and Work-Life Balance

Both spouses will have their own career goals, ambitions, and paths. When you share your lives and home with a significant other, both of you need to understand and support each other’s career trajectories. Some decisions, such as a transfer, may affect your lives and relationship. Then there’s also work-related travel and stressful work situations. Talk about all these and discuss how you can handle them as a team.
 

12. Health Issues and Needs

It may be that either of you has a medical condition that needs special care. It’s also possible that any partner may develop a medical condition later in life. 
 
Transparency is key in these cases. Take time to talk about health issues and needs, and how you can support each other. Such conversations will help you plan your life better, and make better-informed choices. Discussing health issues is not limited to physical health only. Both partners should be able to share their mental health concerns and even past traumas. Sharing your vulnerabilities with your partner and demonstrating empathy when it comes to their issues can help strengthen your bond. 
 

13. Where to Settle

You will, unless both decide otherwise, share a home. Where to settle is an important question to discuss, especially if you and your partner come from different and distant places. You’ll need to discuss where to settle in the near future and in the long term.
 

14. Romance and Sexual Intimacy

Romance is an integral and important part of marriage. Both partners need to know about the predominant love language of the other. You don’t stop making efforts when you get married to each other. Marriage is the true beginning of your romantic tale. To ensure your happily ever after, you need to understand how to express love in ways that resonate more with your partner. Talking to your partner about romance will help you understand how to keep the spark alive in your relationship. You should also be comfortable discussing sexual intimacy with the one to whom you’re pledging your loyalty. 
 

15. The Special Day

Last but not least, you have to converse about the day that will bring you two together in matrimonial union. Planning and preparation for your wedding day will go on for months and can be a significant source of stress. You and your partner may have a certain vision or expectations for this day. Together, you’ll need to make many big and small decisions. For instance, you will need to pick out a venue that appeals to both. Having your wedding in a place that has generally even weather, like San Clemente and other parts of California, will help ease some planning-related decisions.
 
Start with a budget and talk about how both of you will contribute toward the expenses. How you deal with the decision-making and planning for your wedding day will set the tone for your marriage, so try to make it a bonding experience with plenty of beautiful memories. 
 

Final Thoughts

You might have discussed some of these topics with your partner already, and if so, it’s a great start. Many of these conversations won’t wrap up in one sitting. You may have to revisit these conversation topics with your partner time and again. Even though some topics are sensitive, it is not wise to avoid them completely; approach such topics with care. 
 
Both of you should be on the same page but don’t necessarily have to agree on everything. An impasse on one issue does not mean incompatibility. If you need to come to a conclusion, you might benefit from the involvement of a neutral third party, such as a counselor. Rather than going to experts after an issue has blown up, it’s better to consult them while exploring difficult conversation topics. Consider opting for a marriage preparation program, as it may equip you with the knowledge, techniques, and tools you need to handle the challenging discussions and confusing issues around marriage. Having important conversations when you’re engaged will help you to step into the marriage with better understanding and more confidence. 
 

About the Author:  Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in couples in the San Jose, Milpitas, California and online. She has over 20 years of experience helping couples talk through their future marriages via pre-marital counseling. She uses a special inventory where you and your future partner will take a test and it will show you all the areas that need to be worked out.  If you are interested in pre-marital or marital counseling, find out more about her services here.

Lia Huynh San Jose and Milpitas

About

My life’s work is helping individuals and couples get better. I help couples restore their sense of togetherness by rediscovering their strengths as individuals, and their collective strength as a duo. And I help my individual clients to negotiate the sources of depression and anxiety, while moving them gently toward feeling a deeper sense of connection with their world. This is all done through our counseling and therapy together. 

Questions?

Contact me for a personal reply in 24 hours or less.
Can’t wait?