Getting engaged is a very romantic event and a huge life milestone. It’s a moment that’s full of happiness, excitement and love. But it’s also a very important step to take in your relationship; in fact, it’s probably THE most important step. Before you take the leap, you should make sure you’re on the same page about the most essential things in life. So before you ask that all important, down on one knee question, you should discuss these ones first…
How do you feel about having children?
The big one. It’s vital to know where you both stand on this. Do you want to have children and if so, how many? How important is parenthood to your both? What kind of upbringing do you want for your children? And if it doesn’t happen for whatever reason, how would that make both of you feel? It’s a tough conversation to have for some people, but a necessary one.
Where do you want to live?
As your life settles down and you both grow older, you’ll probably want to establish a permanent base. Would you like this to be close to your families, or elsewhere? If you already have a country, city in mind, which part would you like to live in? Would you both be open to moving away if one of you got a great job opportunity? You should both agree on this before you begin to plan your marriage, and the rest of your life!
Do you get along with each other’s families?
For most people, family members are who we really rely on when times get tough. If something really bad (or really good) was to happen to one of you, would you be willing to work together with your spouse’s family? Can you tolerate spending Christmas or other special occasions with them? Have you made efforts to get to know them?
How do you expect your careers to progress?
When you get married, you most likely be sharing your finances from that point on. And you’ll also expect or aspire to a certain standard of living. For that, you’ll need jobs! Before you get engaged, take stock of where you’re both at in your careers and where you’d like to be in 5, 10 or 15 years. What if one of you wants to take a career break, or completely change course? All needs to be discussed and planned for.
If nothing else, you should at least talk about money to figure out what kind of engagement ring (and wedding) you can afford! But jokes aside, this is one of the most important topics to talk about before getting engaged, and it’s important that you’re both 100% honest about it. Compare your incomes with your spending, take stock of each other’s saving habits, and map out a long-term financial plan. Don’t forget about retirement, either.
How will you divide housework, bills, etc.?
Once you have your long term finances sorted, you should figure out your day to day operations as a couple and as a household. Who will take care of bills? Who will do the housework? What about food and groceries? Will you have a joint bank account for household affairs? Ensure both of you are happy with the division of responsibilities, and that they’re divided as equally as possible. And stick to the agreement unless circumstances change!
Do you have the right approach to health?
If you’re planning on having children, it’s especially important to talk about your health histories. Are there any hereditary conditions that may be passed on to another generation? What about your own long term health prospects? See if there are any changes you could make now to help prolong your health in later life. Health is more important than wealth!
How comfortable are you with spending time apart?
Every marriage will have its good times and hard times. For many couples, the hard times often coincide with spending too much time apart. Are you prepared to cope with this? How reliant are you on one another for emotional support? It’s important to be able to enjoy free time away from one another without feeling guilty or neglectful.
Are you happy with how you communicate, show affection, etc. together?
Basically, are there any aspects of your relationship that you’re not completely happy with at present? It’s vital that you address this now, before you get engaged and married. Could you communicate better? Is there an argument that you keep returning to and never resolving? Obviously no relationship will ever be perfect, but it’s beneficial to air all your grievances before you take that big step.
Do you have any annoying habits that you haven’t talked about yet?
Similarly, you should vent any frustrations you have about bad habits. Something like leaving the toilet seat up may seem insignificant now, but you’ll probably feel differently after putting up with it on a regular basis for 5+ years!
What is your stance on religion?
Although it’s becoming less important among younger generations, this is still a worthy consideration and something that should be talked out. When you get married, do you want a religious ceremony? Do you want your children to be brought up with religion in their lives? Does one of you adhere to a particular religion, and the other doesn’t? If so, will this be a problem?
Once you’ve discussed all of the above openly and honestly and are certain you’re happy with the outcome, there’s nothing stopping you from popping the biggest question of all. Good luck!