According to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Marty Tashman, there are five phases to every romantic relationship: The Honeymoon (Love- ain’t it great!), Accommodation (O.K, so love isn’t perfect), The Challenge (Trouble in paradise), The Crossroads (What do I do at this stage of my life?) and Rebirth (New marriage). It is during the Crossroads phase that Dr. Tashman says, “life decisions will have to be made.” This is also the time when most couples discuss their future, just not in great detail.
These five topics of conversation could determine if you make it to the Rebirth phase – engagement and ultimately marriage.
It’s easy to discuss the number of children you and your partner desire, as well as when, however, it’s just as important to discuss how you both plan to raise them. Will your children attend public or private school? How will you plan to discipline your children? Of course, you can’t discuss every possible situation, as many are unknown with children, but being on the same page with your partner, before children enter the picture, will help streamline your experience parenthood and keep you two on the same team.
The topic of religion is briefly discussed in the beginning of a relationship and usually only covers the exact religion that you practice. Go a step further and discuss their stance on prayer, ideas about attending church and exact beliefs.
“Interfaith marriages often come with a heavy price,” said Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of
‘Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage Is Transforming America, in a New York Times article. “They are more likely than same-faith unions to be unhappy and, in some circumstances, to end in divorce. They also tend to diminish the strength of religious communities, as the devout are pulled away from bonds of tradition and orthodoxy by their nonmember spouses.”
There’s the adage, “When you marry someone, you marry their entire family.” You might love your partner’s family but a detailed discussion about in-laws should take place long before you two get married. It’s really good to discuss how involved you would want your respective families to be in your lives – Will you entertain spontaneous visits from family members? Are you fine with a family member living with you? If so, how would that affect your marriage? Discussing your possible future in-laws with your partner will decrease the amount of conflicts that could arise.
You should be able to tell if your spouse is frugal or likes to spend money but go into detail about why they spend money on certain items as well as their saving method (if there is one). Founder of KBK Wealth Connection Kathleen Burns Kingsbury tells CNBC that that money silence occurs when couples fail to talk openly about money. Kingsbury says, “This code of silence is passed down from generation to generation and leads to miscommunication, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. It is the reason many marriages end in divorce.”
Also, you should know each other’s credit score and the amount of debt so that there are no surprises when you two get married.
There’s a big possibility that both you and your partner had friends before getting into a relationship with each other – some of whom might be of the opposite sex. To minimize the amount of misunderstandings and to increase the comfort level, discuss expectations of those continued relationships with the opposite sex. Will you still hang out with this friend without your partner? Are you and your partner okay with making new friends of the opposite sex?
Alyssa Rachelle has been married for two years. She lives in the Atlanta area with her husband, 5-month-old daughter and 9-year-old Cocker Spaniel.