Having “The Big Conversations” early matter in serious relationships. Surprisingly, I’ve read lots of articles saying that couples often don’t have these conversations until they actually get married. What conversations am I talking about? I am talking about the key conversations that help one decide whether this person is a good fit (long-term). Conversations about core values, about marriage, about finances, about kids, etc.
One reason I think Jak and I knew we both saw marrying each other after just being together for a short time of three months was that we had been having the big conversations along the way.
For one, knowing each other’s core values before marriage helps in knowing that you two lineup ten years down the line. For Jak and I, we both knew we valued marriage, wanted kids, and both had similar goals with careers. When it came to discussing finances, we never discussed finances until we moved out together. Personally, I believe living together before marriage has benefits. I know that some people say that living together can actually lead to divorce if you marry, but that is because when couples live together before marriage they “slip into” marriage, rather than making a conscious decision. Instead of evaluating the relationship and person, they think, “Well, we live together so I guess that’s the next step.” Living together can really open your eyes to the other person and their habits you wouldn’t know about unless you lived with them.
Big Conversations to have:
- Relationship and Marriage views/values
When getting into a relationship, knowing whether the relationship is short-term or long-term matters. Some people view relationships as temporary things to keep life interesting, and other people view relationships as a step towards marriage. So talking to your SO about their relationship and marriage views is important. Jak and I both talked about what dating and relationships meant to us before we were officially together. We both said that we weren’t into meaningless hookups and took relationships seriously, that is part of why we ended up working out, we both valued the same thing. Values are important to each person, so if one person values honesty, then it’s a good idea to know if the other has that value as well. If people value very different things, that can create lots of tension long-term.
- Kids, Career, and Finances
This conversation can be broken down into three conversations, but these three things should definitely be mentioned down the line (ideally) before marriage.
Some people want kids more than anything and other people detest the idea of having kids. If you and your SO view your relationship as long-term, and do think about the possibility of marriage, discussing kids at some point is important, because if you two are not on the same page about kids, then that can lead to some very big fights and possibly resentment if already married. When talking about kids, another thing to think about is when do you want kids? Jak wanted kids at twenty-five, and I said maybe thirty. So we at least knew we had a difference in idea’s, but we knew we both wanted kids, which was key.
Career goals are huge. A career can impact your life in so many ways- financially, emotionally, mentally, physically, etc. Personally, I always knew that I didn’t want to be with someone who had a career where they would constantly be traveling or in the line of danger on a day to day basis. To me, it’s important for the career to not interfere with family life. Jak and I talked about our career goals and desires. Originally when I met Jak, I had sworn off relationships and was thinking about going into the FBI. As I realized that Jak and I had a real chance of success, I realized that if I wanted family life and career to be as balanced as possible, going into the FBI was not practical. Jak originally wanted to be an Aviation Maintenance. He then switched his goals to opening up a Coffee Shop one day and also working at a car dealership as an Auto Tech. I eventually settled on becoming a Counselor as my goal. We both discussed how the jobs would impact us on different levels. For instance, Jak would be physically exhausted due to the work he would be doing, meaning he wouldn’t be as up to doing chores on long days or cooking dinner or even being intimate. For me, going into Counseling, I discussed how I might be mentally exhausted at the end of a day, and might not want to talk constantly. So we together discussed the pros and cons of the jobs we are aiming for. Career also entails salary, and some couples feel uncomfortable with one partner earning a lot more than the other. It’s important to talk about salary gaps and how that impacts your relationship if it does. And with careers, if you want kids, discussing job relocation is important or discussing the options of what would happen if you got an amazing job offer in another state. Would you move? Would you pass up the job? These are conversations to at least have even if there isn’t a definitive answer.
Finance is a conversation that apparently couples don’t often talk about until marriage I read somewhere. When discussing finances, it’s good to know each other’s spending habits, the total income between the two of you, and know who is in charge of paying bills. Also, when getting married, it’s important to discuss whether you will remain in separate accounts or create a joint account, or have both separate and joint. Some couples find it’s helpful to keep accounts separate because it’s more organized, and some couples find having joint accounts to be helpful. Spending habits are something that is highly important. For instance, I am very frugal with money and only spend money when things are needed. Jak is more impulsive and likes to spend money on things he wants. This has been one area of the relationship that we have to continually check in on, to make sure we are meeting in the middle and coming up with compromises. For instance, Jak wants to buy some car parts for our BMW, and I said once we reach X amount of money in our joint account, then you can use Y amount on car parts. The compromise here was we hit a savings goal, and once we’ve hit that, he can use a small portion to buy some of the car parts needed to fix up the Bimmer. I get to feel secure because we are actively saving, and Jak gets to spend money on the car parts he wants once we hit our goal.
So having these conversations before marriage can be very helpful to prepare you for knowing what you’re really getting into. For me, I knew exactly who I was marrying before I married them. I knew their habits, values, goals, and desires. The things that don’t line up – and there will be things that don’t line up- you learn to communicate about on a regular basis and ideally come up with compromises.