This post is inspired by the marital struggles that my parents, aunt, and now my best friend have experienced with their spouses over the years. I never married, but one day I would like to be, and I want to choose wisely whenever I decide to enter the dating scene again. I’m also a single mother so this only adds to the challenges I will face should I decide to date. I don’t like recreational dating because it creates too many problems and you could become too attached to someone who is just not ready for a true commitment. If you’re single and wish to marry one day, there are some things you must discuss with a potential partner before getting engaged. Here is a list of just a few of them.
1. Talk About Your Past
If this is someone you are serious about, it’s time to get real and vulnerable about your past. Your partner should also be willing to discuss his past experiences with you. This conversation is important because a person’s past determines how he or she thinks and behaves today. Discuss how your childhood shaped your views on what a healthy and unhealthy relationship looks like. Did you struggle with a pornography addiction and if so, are you seeking help in overcoming it?
2. What Are Your Expectations?
You and your partner need to discuss your expectations of each other before getting engaged. Maybe your partner expects you to stay home with the kids instead of being a working mom. You might expect your partner to assist you with household chores but he feels that it should be your responsibility to do them. You want to find out if there are any unrealistic expectations that the two of you hold to, and how those expectations might affect your future marriage.
3. Your Finances and Your Money Mindset
A lot of divorces occur because of financial problems, and if you want to avoid this reality with your partner, talk about your finances and what your money mindsets are. Do you believe in saving and investing more than spending? How much overall debt do the two of you have and how will you work to eliminate it in the future? Talk about who will be responsible for managing finances in the marriage. What good and bad financial habits do you now have that could affect financial stability long-term? What are your views on budgeting?
4. Your Religious Views
Because I’m a Bible-believing Christian, it is vital that the person I marry be equally yoked with me spiritually. If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, then you need to make sure that your future spouse is a genuine Christian. This is not just someone who says that he is, but whose actions and values demonstrate this reality in his life. Does he desire God’s will and to walk in obedience to His word on a regular basis? Does he exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit in his life? Talk to his relatives and friends who know him well and inquire about what they believe about his walk with Christ. When the two of you are on the same page spiritually, it makes for a stronger marriage.
5. How Will We Handle Conflict?
Every marriage will experience conflict at times, and you want to choose a partner who can handle disagreements in a spiritually and emotionally mature way. Take a look at the previous conflicts the two of you had and examine how they were resolved. Was there any immaturity and excessive anger displayed while resolving the conflict? If so, are the two of you willing to get counseling to work on deeper issues that are causing conflict in the relationship? How do you handle conflict and how does your partner do it? Are you someone who blames instead of reflecting on your contributions to the problem? Does your partner give you the silent treatment after an argument?
6. What About In-Laws?
Whether you like it or not, you’ll have interactions with your husband’s family throughout the marriage. If you’re not on the best terms with your partner’s family, discuss it with him. Maybe his family members are just being spiteful and not respecting your boundaries. Or it could be that they see issues in the relationship that concern them. Offer to sit with your partner and the relatives you don’t get along with so that everyone can get to the root of the issues and come to a solution that will work for everyone. Don’t get overly defensive but also be assertive and set boundaries with your partner’s family when needed.
If you want children right after marriage but your partner doesn’t, then this could cause conflict. Maybe you have an authoritative parenting style but your partner might be a more permissive or overly lenient parent. These are things that you must talk about before getting engaged. How many children do you want and how will they be raised? What are your views on discipline and their education? Will you send them to public or private school or homeschool them? Will you build wealth for them by opening investment accounts for them? How will you save for their college education?
Sexual intimacy is a crucial part of marriage and you need to talk about it before the engagement. If you experienced sexual abuse in the past, discuss it in detail and talk about how it has affected your views on sexuality overall. Your partner should also mention any sexual struggles or trauma he experienced. Maybe both you can get individual and couples’ counseling to get healing from those experiences. How often do you think you should have sex during the week? Which sex positions make you the most uncomfortable and why?
9. Career or Business Goals
Having ambitious career and business goals are great for building financial stability in a marriage, but it gives you a sense of fulfillment as an individual. Talk about your current job and what you like or dislike about it. Discuss your future career advancement goals and if those will require additional education. If your partner desires to become an entrepreneur, will you be able to deal with moments when the revenue doesn’t come in right away? Would you encourage his goals even if it doesn’t make sense at times? Would you be willing to relocate for your partner’s new job? Would he be willing to do the same if you had to relocate?
10. Health and Appearance
How important are good health habits and appearance to both of you? Do you have expectations about your partner maintaining a healthy lifestyle? What does he expect of you regarding your health and appearance? How often do the both of you exercise during the week? How important are doctors visits to the two of you? Are there any poor health habits that annoy your partner? Does your partner have bad health habits that you don’t like? Are there certain medical conditions that run in the both of your families?
In conclusion, these are topics that must be discussed before getting engaged because it sets the stage for what your future marriage will look like for years to come.