You’re in love — deeply, passionately, crazy in love. You want to move in together. You are sure you want to share the rest of your lives. You want to marry.
Stop! Before you reserve the moving truck or buy the ring, take time to discuss the issues that can make or break your relationship. Love really isn’t enough. Once the pheromones calm down, once you get over the intoxicating time of new love, how you handle these topics will decide whether you will have lasting love. It’s essential that you are on the same page, or at least in the same chapter, when it comes to your feelings or convictions about each one.
Fidelity. Do you have a common understanding of what being faithful means? What would each of you consider to be “cheating”? Is it okay with you if your partner has friends of the other gender? Where is the line between being a friend to others and doing things that will jeopardize your relationship?
Sex. Few couples keep up the frequency and intensity of new-love sex. What is a comfortable rhythm for each of you? When, how and how often do you like to have sex? If you like it in the evening and your partner only wants it in the morning, it can be trouble. How adventuresome or athletic are you each willing to be? How generous are you in satisfying each other?
Money. This is even harder for many couples to talk about than fidelity and sex. What are your attitudes about who should provide for the family? Who should pay the bills? Do you have similar ideas about what should be mine, yours, and ours? Have you been honest about any debts that you are bringing into the relationship? Are you on the same page about how money is spent and how much should be saved? Who is going to take responsibility for such things as insurance, taxes, and retirement accounts?
Work. What is the role of work in each of your lives? Are you in agreement about how hard each of you should work and the choices you should each make about bringing in the money? If one or both of you is in a high-powered career, what are you each willing to sacrifice to make it possible? If one of you out-earns the other, does it matter in terms of decision-making? Will the agreement change if you have children?
Leisure time. What are your ideas about how much of your leisure time you spend together and how much you spend with your individual friends? Is it okay with each of you for the other to go out for a guys’ or girls’ night out? Do you have strong feelings about what can happen then? What do you like to do together that will ensure that you will continue to have some fun as a couple?
Read more: Marie Hartwell-Walker, PsychCentral