It’s official, you’re engaged to be married, but what’s next? Once you decide to get married, it’s easy to get caught up in the wedding planning process, but there’s more to consider than just attire and decor.
Whether the wedding is months or even years away, it’s important to start preparing for marriage. Here, five things to consider before you say “I do.”
Communication is key in any relationship, but it’s especially imperative for engaged couples. Don’t forget: You’re planning to spend the rest of your life together as a married couple. As such, experts like Sharea Farmer, LCSW, owner of RS Counseling and Wellness suggest seeking premarital counseling from an unbiased professional.
This is the time to discuss religion, family dynamics, plans for children, and any anxieties that may be bothering you. “The irony of relationships is that the things couples should talk about while planning their wedding usually don’t get talked about until they start planning their divorce,” says Dr. Ish Major, relationship and marriage therapist, and star of WEtv’s “Marriage Boot Camp” series. People avoid these subjects because they feel like if they disagree that may mean they weren’t meant to be together.” But it doesn’t mean that at all. “It simply means you approached your marriage like an adult from both the romantic and business partnership point of view.”
One of the biggest stressors in a relationship is money. As a couple, you should agree on finances, so it’s best to get that conversation out of the way before you get married. “Have a clear and honest conversation about how to budget, how the money will be spent, joint checking and savings accounts, and savings goals,” says Farmer. Decide which accounts you’ll draw from for living expenses and other investments. Also, talk about what debt you have that will need to be paid.
Before you’re bound together in holy matrimony, it’s important to communicate your values and beliefs, and that includes religion, family life dynamics, and even politics.
When talking about these things, you don’t have to agree on everything, but it’s important to find some sort of common ground. “Develop and implement a mission that includes your values, beliefs, and what you wish to leave as the legacy of your union,” says Farmer. You should also use this opportunity to figure out what religious and spiritual practices you will share and with your children, says Dr. Major.
Now is the time to talk about whether or not you want children—and how many. Having children is a big commitment, personally and financially. Go a step further and discuss where you stand on issues that come up once you start trying to have kids, such as fertility and adoption. It’s also the time to have a conversation about expectations. “Explore child-rearing beliefs, where you will live when you have kids, further educational pursuits, and career advancement while raising kids,” says Farmer. It’s important to share your dreams before you exchange vows, so it doesn’t come up later and causes friction with one partner trying to change the other’s mind.
You’re about to forge a sacred union on your wedding day, so drawing clear boundaries now will help prevent any stress and tension down the road as a married couple. “Develop clear boundaries for families and friendships and what’s shared about your relationship,” suggests Farmer. Now that you’re engaged, it’s important to preserve and protect the integrity of the relationship. That includes refraining from posting on social media when you’re angry or calling your friends about who is right or wrong in an argument.
Remember, counseling isn’t just for couples who are facing divorce. Talking to a professional about your relationship can be very beneficial when it comes to achieving a happy marriage. For more tips on how to get started on wedding planning, click here.