When it comes to marriage, it is easy to get caught up with the wedding day itself. All the planning for the biggest day of your life can take over, but it’s really important to remember that once the wedding day is over you are committing to a marriage that will last a lifetime.
When I got married eight years ago I was fortunate enough to take part in a marriage preparation course with my husband to be, at the church where we were to be wed. Unfortunately not everyone has access to these kind of sessions, so today I want to encourage all of you to take an evening out to discuss some of the most important topics that could cause tension in your marriage.
A successful marriage takes work, it takes compromise and it's important you learn to listen to and appreciate each other’s point of view. Marriage isn't an easy journey but if you put in the right foundations before you start, it’s going to be a much smoother ride.
Firstly you need to find a suitable time to sit down and have these discussions. I think it works well over dinner, at a time when you’re both feeling fairly relaxed and not too stressed or tired. Below you will find five topics of conversation to discuss, each with some conversation starter questions to get you going. You can tackle all five in one evening, or take them one week at a time - it's up to you.
Remember to listen and don’t be quick to judge your partner. This exercise is about finding out what your partner thinks and how you will move forward to make your opinions work together
Children are a huge part of a marriage, future children are often even mentioned in the marriage service itself. It's important to know if you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to this topic.
Are children part of your future plan?
How many children do you hope to have?
When do you think you would like to start trying for children?
What did you like / dislike about your own childhood?
You may have heard it said that money is the root of all evil and that's no suprise when you look at the wars and arguments over the years that occur over this very subject. It's important from the outset that you are prepared to be open about your finances with your partner.
When it comes to money would you describe yourself as a saver or spender?
Do you have any outstanding debts?
Once married will you have a joint bank account and share everything or will you keep your money separate?
When you want to purchase something new, do you think you should discuss it with your partner first?
3. Future Aspirations
Although all of our aspirations change over time, it's great to talk about them with our partner. Talking about your hopes and dreams for the future may help you work together to achieve them.
What are your aspirations in life?
What do you think defines a successful life?
Where do you see yourself being in 10 years time?
Although seemingly a small topic, Christmas can be a a topic of much discussion in a marriage. We are brought up to believe that Christmas should be done a certain way, because it always has been in your home. When this becomes challenged we can become very defensive, so it's good to discuss it ahead of time.
Where will you spend your first Christmas as a married couple?
Will you alternate each year between your parents or stay at home and have your own Christmas?
What were your family traditions growing up around Christmas time?
What traditions do you hope to bring to your own family?
5. Good and bad habits
When it comes to spending a lifetime with someone there will inevitably be aspects of your partners personality that you struggle with. It's a good idea to discuss these openly from the outset rather than let them boil over in the heat of the moment.
List three bad habits that you struggle with in the other person. Try and keep these positive and not make them a personal attack. It may be as simple as 'I don't like it when you leave the dirty plates on the side, rather than put them in the dishwasher'.
Now write down three positive traits that you admire about your partner and tell them what they are. Listen to what you partner says about you and appreciate it. It's important to be able to take positive feedback on board and this will help your marriage flourish?
I hope that you find this exercise helpful as you start out married life together. It doesn't matter if you don't agree on everything, but it's important that you find ways to compromise.
It’s SO important that you respect your partner and can be open and honest with them before you say your marriage vows. As I said at the start marriage is a journey, that journey will be more enjoyable when you work together and put your partner first.
Do you have any topics that you would add to the discussion list? Let me know in the comments below.