Post # 1
This topic was on the radio this morning and it always baffles me that someone would be willing to spend their life with someone else who they haven’t even discussed having kids with. It’s like people get married and then these “surprises” pop up and they need to deal with them. FI and I have talked about everything (at least, I think) to make sure that we are on the same page. If someone is going to be my life partner, there are things I need to know. The ones off the top of my head:
- Finances – joint accounts? spending styles? savings goals?
- Children – how many? how far apart in age? parenting styles?
- Religion – both your own and your future children’s
- Vacations – some couples like to go separately and that would never work for me
- In-laws – will parents be allowed to move into your family home when they age? how often will you see them?
- Residence – country or city living? what country?
- Jobs – will you move for someone else’s job? are you okay if the hours change? what if the job is dangerous?
- Social – how often will you go out? together or separate?
What are some of your topics? Any stories (either your own or a friend’s) about couples who miss this communication piece? I know what they say about the best laid plans, and that the only constant is change. So, I realize people can change their minds. But I at least want a baseline and an understanding of how my parents feels about all those topics (and I’m sure there are others).
Post # 3
@MrsPanda99: Yup, those are all the big ones that come to mind for me. It is quite shocking that some people don’t discuss any of this stuff before marriage. I think that at least in my case, my previous relationships taught me what I do/don’t want in a marriage. When I was 22 it didn’t seem that important to discuss some of these things so I am glad that I wasn’t making any super serious commitment back then!
Post # 4
I think children and finances were the biggest one for us. After 5 years together, and owning a home together we already had discussed or had to deal with some of the issues you mentioned.
The only thing we are unsure of is our parents and what we’ll do when they age. We honestly have no idea and will have to deal with it when the time comes.
My SIL is getting married soon and they can’t agree on children. He wants one, she doesnt want any. I think its a mistake to get married without coming to agreement on this.
Post # 5
@MrsPanda99: I don’t think Mr. 99 and I ever sat down and talked about anything in a “We Gotta Hash This Out Before We Get Hitched” kind of way….and I think a BIG reason we didn’t was because we were so very transparent with each other from the start.
I knew how he operated with money, he knew how I did, we were very clear about what we were looking for in a relationship from the get go and our obligations as far as family and friends went, it all fell into focus as we went along and by the time we got married I had a very good idea of who I was marrying and what our life was going to be like.
Post # 6
Going along with finances and residence – living arrangements. Whether to buy or rent? And if you buy, whether to get a townhouse, condo, detached house? How far out do you want to live out or commute? Does the house have to be move-in ready or can it be a fixer? My FI and I have friends who aren’t engaged but are building a new house together. The guy is paying for the whole thing, but hasn’t voiced any preferences for house size, style, finishes, etc. We talked with him over the weekend and he said that he liked the house but didn’t love it, and he only wanted to live in it a few years. His SO on the other hand talked about how they would live there for years and start a big family. A lot of us know that this isn’t going to end well.
Post # 7
@MrsPanda99: Along the lines of jobs, I think it’s important to discuss whether both parties will be employed throughout the marriage. If you have kids, will one person stay home? Which one? Is it OK if one person quits their job to go back to school? What about being a stay-at-home husband or wife?
DH and I discussed this and decided it will be best if I stay home with the kids until they’re at least 6 or 7. This fits right in with our timeline as my mom owns her own business, and she’ll be wanting to hand it over to me around the time that I would be able to go back to work. However, some people wouldn’t be OK with having a partner staying at home. That’s hugely important.
Post # 8
@MrsPanda99: In my most recent issue of Knot magazine, there was a section like this….and it said something to the effect of “before the wedding, it’s a good idea to make sure you are on the same page about important things, like how many kids you both want (or if you don’t) and what religion to follow.”
…..Huh? “Before the wedding“?? How about “before-you-date-seriously-especially-in-a-capacity-with-marriage-potential“??
So, by that logic, it would be totally reasonable for BF and I not to discuss whether or not we want kids until we are engaged…and we’ve been dating 2+ years.
I don’t get it.
Post # 9
@Bostongrl25: That’s the hardest one for us, too. It seems so far away, but depending on their health, it might not be. I don’t necessarily want his parents living with us, but I don’t know what else we could do with them. We certainly can’t abandon them.
Post # 10
@MrsPanda99: I agree with your list and I will add little things like “social interaction with the opposite sex”. We discussed just about everything on your list in our pre-marital counseling classes and when the topic of “will you get annoyed if your SO goes out to lunch or dinner with coworkers of the opposite sex? or befriends a friend of the opposite sex going through a divorce?” (as examples), FI and i noticed we had different opinions on this.
it was good that we had the opportunity to discuss it instead of walking blindly into a similar situation and going through emotional strife. we also discussed decision-making…who has the last say and the expectations of our partner. we are Christians and believe that God is the head of our lives, then the husband is the head of the household. and even though we are pretty traditional, FI is logical in understanding that i might have more experience with something than him so he will allow me to lead in those cases.
and in other cases, even if his final decision is the wrong one (something we may find out later), i will follow him anyway. it’s his job to get us out of that mess if we end up in one. i’m glad we created a plan…even if it wouldn’t work for someone else. it’s what works for us.
Post # 11
I think that end-of-life decisions are important to talk about, even though a lot of people really don’t want to think about it. How you both feel about life-sustaining care, what kind of arrangements you want made after death, who potential children would go to, etc.
I tend to be proctical to the point of morbidity, so it was very important to me. MrMojito and I were partners for a long time before we got engaged and we weren’t sure if we were ever going to get married. So a long time ago we wrote our wills and put durable power of attorny (both medical and finantial) in place. Signed, witnessed, notorized, the whole deal. It’s really, really comforting to know that if anything happened to him, I would not face any barriers in getting to be by his side in the hospital, make decisions for his care if he needs it, and handle finantial matters.
Post # 12
@canarydiamond: That’s exactly how I feel. I don’t see my previous relationships as a waste anymore (I used to) because they taught me so much about what I do and don’t want in a relationship. I have always been really clear with FI about what my expectations are (and they are for both of us, not just him). He knew what he was getting going in, lol.
@Bostongrl25: I would not even get engaged if we weren’t on the same page with the children issue. That is a definitely deal breaker. You can’t compromise and have half a kid 😛
@Nona99: I think that’s the best way. The relationship naturally develops and you learn about the other as you go. So that way you already “know what you’re getting” by the time the word engagement even comes up. It would be strange if you got the ring and then talked about all of life’s important issues. We need to be on the same page before I wear a ring on my finger or else I’d feel I was setting myself up for potential disappointment.
@QueenOfSerendip: That’s a great one. I would love to be home with the kids, but FI is very against this notion. I agree that we need two incomes to maintain our quality of life, so I deferred to his wishes in that case. We both love the idea of me being home, but I don’t want to cause any financial strain.
@badabing88: That’s exactly it – you would think these issues would come up when you’re dating. Who the hell wants to marry a stranger? I am not one for surprises, so I want to know what I’m getting into well before we talk about “forever.” One of my brothers only wants one kid, and his WIFE wants about ten. That is a bit of a problem for them and I can’t help but wonder…did this not come up before now? 😛
@bleusteel: That’s a huge one too. If one person wants to live in the country, but it makes the work commute 4 hours, are you willing to do that? I know that you have to roll with the punches, but there are some big issues that you can certainly discuss before they come up. A lot of them came up naturally in conversation for us, but there were certain ones I did have to bring up (or he did).
Post # 13
@TaurianDoll: That’s a great point. Everyone will have a different plan that works for them, even if it would be a recipe for disaster for another couple. I agree with the opposite sex friendship point – that was something we needed to clarify too. That (unfortunately) came up naturally, so we were able to deal with it accordingly at that time. And going forward, that decision became the status quo.
@MojitoMeg: Eep, that is a definite one to talk about, but an unpleasant one. We do have wills (but not living wills), so we have that part down. We haven’t talked end of life decisions and it is really hard to think about. FI is not very comfortable with death discussions…apparently neither am I! :-
Post # 14
I think a big one that a lot of people don’t think about is knowing each others’ views on divorce. I understand that nobody wants to think their relationship will end in divorce, but for me it was really important to discuss. For me, personally, divorce is a last resort. We talked about when and under what circumstances we would consider divorce, what other measures (i.e., counseling) we would take first, and how we would handle it if children were involved.
Post # 15
@Nona99: Same with us, we are pretty laid back and don’t have “meetings” about things like this but of course we’ve talked about them! I don’t know how you could be with someone for years and not talk about these things…
Post # 16
@MrsPanda99: Pretty much got it covered. It’s amazing how many couples get married without talking about any of this, especially kids. Some of these things are not compromise-able, you can’t have half a kid for instance.