5 Important Topics We’re Discussing as We Prepare for Marriage

This week, I realized that D and I are more than halfway through our engagement! With a little over seven months to go, my days as a fiancée are speeding by. Talk about a whirlwind!

As exciting as this time has been, wedding planning has quite honestly been more stressful than I could have ever prepared for. The details of the guest list, the aesthetics, and the cost…My gosh! All of this just to celebrate Day One of a lifelong commitment? Something about that feels flawed to me!

So, every few days, as I’m near peak “why’d we even agree to plan one of these?” stress level, I’ve been careful to remind myself that wedding planning isn’t a substitute for marriage preparation. Yes, we’re planning an amazing celebration, but the real prep work (preparing for the rest of our lives together) extends well beyond the wedding itself. Because a bomb DJ and an open bar won’t help me to be a good life partner.

With that in mind, here are a few non-wedding planning topics we’re discussions and questions we’re asking to prepare for life after the big “I Do.”

1 U.S. dollar banknote on white surface

1) Finances

Planning a ridiculously overpriced party has basically forced us to dwell over our financial successes, fears, habits, and appetites. We worked together to develop (and rework) a “realistic” budget, draft a savings plan, determine what we’re willing to splurge on, and align on a plan to pay for it all. We decided that cash flowing the costs would be our number one priority and we both secured second jobs in support of our vision.

And beyond the finances of our “big day,” we’re also trying to sort out our everyday, post-wedding day finances. Managing our finances as a unit will be brand new for us, so we have a ton to discuss. There aren’t correct answers to any of these questions, but there are definitely answers that are right for us (especially when we stop comparing ourselves to other people/couples). We want to align on our approach before we jump into things, understanding that we’ll make adjustments as we go.

The key questions we’re asking
Will we combine bank accounts?
What will our savings rate be?
How will we budget for entertainment and fun?
When are we planning to be debt free?
What are our retirement goals?
When do we see ourselves buying a house?
Are we open to one of us exiting the workforce for a while?

person holding baby's feet

2) Family planning and dynamics

In less than a year, we will officially be a family of two, but we’ll also be expanding our overall family unit. With our marriage comes the introduction of in-laws, new aunties, and an abundance cousins—all of whom will need to be managed by boundaries. I’m sure Dazell and I will have some for of “how to make marriage work” learning curve and learning how to protect our union will be a top priority.

We also want to be thoughtful about our approach to growing our family, while understanding there will always be factors out of our control. We’ve diving headfirst into conversations unlike any we’ve had before!

The key questions we’re asking
Are we open to moving either of our parents in with us in the future?
What are our expectations for our relationships with extended family?
Will we prevent pregnancy after the wedding?
How many children are we willing to support?
How long will we try if we have fertility issues?
Are we open to other options of growing our family?
Will we physically reprimand our children?

flat photography of MacBook and boxes

3) Our big hopes and dreams

This has probably been my favorite pre-marriage topic, thus far—the part where we share our biggest, wildest, scariest dreams and figure out how to support each other to make them a reality. Not like the “I hope to attend a Super Bowl game someday,” but more like “I’ve always wanted to run my own business” or “I would love to live internationally for some time.”

It’s very likely that we won’t be able to pursue all of our dreams simultaneously, so we’ve started discussing the sacrifices we’d need to make in support of the other. Beyond trying to “sync” our individual goals or adjusting our dreams to fit the other’s long term desires, we’ve committed to exploring the opportunities that are open to us and pursuing the ones of interest wholeheartedly.

The key questions we’re asking
Are we open to relocating?
Are either of us comfortable supporting our family on one income alone?
What unconventional ways would we be interested in making a living?
If money weren’t a factor, how would we spend our time?

shallow focus photography of padlocks in steel cable

4) Boundaries and respect

Of course, this isn’t really a new topic for us, but this discussion has definitely been revived as we think about our future. Through our own dating experiences and what we’ve learned from a few trusted married couples, there are boundaries that work with our relationship and others that are just NOT for us.

For instance, not eating one-on-one meals with people of the opposite sex? Not a realistic boundary.
Checking each other’s text messages? An unnecessary cross of boundaries.

Aside from the interactions with people outside of the relationship, we’re also outlining ways our interactions with each other can help us grow. We’re already pretty clear about unplugged, “no phone” time, dedicated rest time, and one on one date nights.

The key questions we’re asking
What boundaries do we need to set with friends/family/coworkers to protect the sanctity of our marriage?
What are the “us” topics that are off limit from everyday conversations, social media, and the blog?
What interactions with the opposite sex would be considered disrespectful to the other partner?
How will we address/candle inappropriate comments and actions from others?
What does protected time for each of us look like?

tilt-shift photography of shoes

5) Community, support, and counsel

As we’ve evolved in our relationship (and as individuals) these past few years, what we consider to be a  “good time,” as well as the type of support we need from friends, has evolved in many ways. While we’ve maintained our older friendships, we’ve also been intentional about finding a community and network of people whose mindsets, priorities, and interests are similar to our own.

These relationships have truly been a highlight of our dating and engagement period! Finding friends who are up for Game Night instead of the club, or a low-key double date as opposed to a super boozy brunch has been great. We can socialize and fellowship without feeling like the out of place, boring friends.

And beyond our informal relationships, we’ve been seeking formal supporting and counseling through licenses therapists and our faith community. Seeking advice on topics big and small from objective, trained counsel has helped us navigate so many experiences up to this point. And we know that continued support throughout our marriage will only make us a tighter-knit, healthier couple.

The key questions we’re asking
Who can we go to when it comes to advice on our marriage?
What makes someone “good counsel”?
Where would be the best source for our premarital counseling? Church? Other professionals?
How will we manage premarital counseling while living in difference cities/states/timezones?

To my married readers: What pre-marital discussions were helpful for you and your spouse? What discussions did you wish you’d had before jumping the broom?

Let me know in the comment section!

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