8 Talks Divorced Couples Wish They'd Had before Marriage
Getting married is an exciting part of life. You’re promising to love, honor, and cherish another human being for the rest of your lives. You’re taking on full adult roles, sometimes for the very first time. And typically, you’re entering a huge commitment that few are fully prepared for.
Expecting two people from two separate upbringings with two sets of values to be on the same page from day one makes little sense. And yet, most married couples haven’t taken the time to talk about the essential nuts and bolts of their relationship before they walk down the aisle. Ultimately, this lack of communication can end in huge misunderstandings and, unfortunately, divorce.
When the divorce is over and the dust is settled, what conversations do many divorced couples wish they’d had before they got married? Let’s take a look.
1. How will we manage our money?
One of the most common causes of marital disharmony today is money. And is it any wonder? Money is a loaded subject, and not being on the same page financially, especially with spending habits, can lead to a quick downfall.
Mull over these questions with your intended: What are your financial goals? What is important to you: buying a house, starting a business, traveling, vacations, college for the kids? What are you willing to sacrifice to get there? Are you willing to adhere to a budget? How much savings do you need to feel secure?
It’s amazing how different two people can be with their financial outlook when they tie the knot. And not being on the same financial page can be a huge chasm to overcome for any couple.
2. Do we want kids?
Having kids isn’t a “given” anymore. More couples delay having kids until they feel emotionally and financially ready. Or, they choose not to have kids at all. So, it’s not a foregone conclusion that children will be part of your marital equation. The best time to get this out in the open is before you head to the altar.
Conversations about kids should include your hopes as well as your fears. How many kids do you consider “perfect,” and what kind of timeline are you considering? What do you think your parenting style will be, and how do your core values and beliefs about discipline and education fit with this parenting style? If stark differences divide you on the topic of children, it may not be a match made in heaven after all.
3. How will we divide the labor?
Do you foresee a division of labor in your marriage similar to that of your parents or grandparents – i.e., defined by their gender roles? Or do you fully expect that both of you will share household responsibilities?
Specifically, you may want to ask who will do the brunt of the cooking and cleaning. Who will be responsible for paying bills, shopping for groceries, and caring for pets? Also, are you willing to rotate tasks?
If you get clear on these responsibilities from the outset, it can help prevent disputes down the line.
The issue of who will take the trash out may sound like a minor concern. But it’s often the little things that can wear you down. If you know each other’s stance on these matters, you can work on finding a solution.
4. How will we resolve disputes?
Marital disputes are inevitable, and you should know each other's fighting style up front. Maybe you tend to address conflict head-on. Maybe you prefer to take a break until cooler heads prevail. Maybe you believe in taking the blame out of the problem, that is, focusing on the problem rather than the person.
All relationships ebb and flow. Knowing how each of person addresses disputes is essential so you can fight fairly and work toward resolution.
5. What if we get bored?
Marriage will not always be a passion-fest. Your relationship will settle into a slow simmer eventually. While this is just the maturing of love, not the end of it, if you find yourself getting bored with each other, how will you spice things up without sacrificing your relationship? What kinds of activities and hobbies can you do together to support your connection? Can you promise a monthly or quarterly check-in with each other to address any feelings or concerns about the relationship? If you feel the love waning, do you agree to find ways to make it better together, such as attending a couples workshop or seeking couples therapy?
Agreeing to make your relationship your number-one priority, even during trying times, can help you both focus on finding ways to make it better instead of giving up.
6. How will we handle religious or cultural differences?
If you’re marrying someone from a different religious or cultural background, there are several questions you may want to answer before you get married. Can you both respect and tolerate each other’s differences? How will you bring your children up in light of these differences? Can you find ways to reconstruct your rituals, traditions, and symbols of faith into a blended system? Can you incorporate each other’s religious beliefs and cultural differences into your daily living so you both feel respected and heard? Do you promise not to attack these deep beliefs when angry or use them against each other when you have conflicts?
7. What are our career goals?
Are you both planning on maintaining a career when you’re married? Talk about how this may impact household responsibilities. Talk about sacrifices that may have to be made, possible relocations, and the long hours you might have to make to pursue your career path.
Further, it may be a good idea to promise to discuss these issues if they become problematic during your marriage. If you’re willing to discuss it, you just might find a compromise that works for both of you.
8. Are there any health concerns, emotional concerns, or serious lifestyle choices that could impact our relationship?
If you have health concerns, you need to bring these up before they become your partner’s concerns. For example, do you have rigid lifestyle needs like special diets or fitness routines? Is how you and your partner look so important it could be a dealbreaker if someone gains too much weight? Is there a potential substance abuse or anger problem that nobody has had the courage to discuss?
Open communication is the bedrock of a lasting marriage. Ideally, much of that communication would take place before couples say “I do.” But that’s not always the case.
If your differences are significant, talking about them before marriage – and promising each other that you’ll at least seek therapy or some other type of intervention – is a sign of strength and maturity, not weakness.
Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce today. But when partners have these important discussions before marriage, it opens the door for mutual cooperation and respect. If, despite these good efforts, divorce becomes a reality, the couple who prepared ahead of time will at least know they didn’t make their divorce decision lightly.
At Hello Divorce, we understand that divorce is difficult. We’re here to make it easier on you. Our online divorce plans enable you to divorce more affordably and with greater ease. Our network of professional services can help support you in other important ways. Schedule a free call to learn more about us and our services.