Before You Get Married

The holidays are over, which means all the holiday proposals are over as well. People like to get engaged over the period from late November to late December. They’ll get engaged in restaurants, at family get-togethers, at sporting events, and even on airplanes. But now that the calendar has rolled over to a new year, all the couples who got engaged while the Christmas tree was still up now get to sit down and start planning a wedding together.

It’s also a great time to have some critical conversations about things like finances, kids, and other stuff involving the future, especially if you haven’t had those conversations yet. If you have talked about it, it never hurts to talk again. You’re planning a wedding, sure, but the most important thing you’re planning is your life together.

Financial matters

Different couples have different strategies about combining finances. Some combine everything into one account, while others have a joint account for household expenses and keep smaller separate accounts for more personal expenditures. If you got engaged with completely separate finances, now is a great time to figure out the best way to combine them. Let’s take a hypothetical couple named Jeff and Jessica. If Jeff merely tolerates his national bank while Jessica loves her local credit union, then it makes sense for the two of them to open a joint account at Jessica’s credit union.

A lot of individuals in couples will feel fine spending modest amounts of money on their own, but if a purchase goes over a certain price point, they’ll want to consult with their partner. If you and your sweetheart don’t have that price point established, it’s a good time to work out. For some couples, a purchase isn’t worth talking about unless it’s over $250. Other people will want to talk out anything over $50. Even if one partner makes significantly more income than the other, it’s important to treat each other as equals when it comes to financial decisions. Fights about money are one of the top reasons for divorce, so you need to communicate clearly about your expectations before signing the marriage license.

Other possible issues

You should both be on the same page about kids by the time you get engaged. You should also both be as committed as possible to that path. Sure, people can change their mind, but if one of you is wishy-washy about kids while the other has dreamed of being a parent for years, then that’s not good. Go to premarital counseling if necessary, but you need to know your own minds well enough to feel confident about the decision to either have kids or not have kids. There’s no compromise here; it’s impossible to have just half a kid.

Once you’ve been together a while, it gets easier to take your partner for granted. Make sure to talk about ways to stay close as your marriage progresses. There will be ups and downs, but you want to always know you’re on the same team. Some couples plan date nights every week or two, and you can do that. If you don’t want to go out every week, you can even do something as simple as stopping by the liquor store in Lawrenceville on the way home and picking up a bottle of your favorite wine to share as you watch Hulu together. It’s important to view each other as partners rather than simply roommates or co-parents. Make that a priority now, before you say your vows.