Congratulations! You and your partner have made a huge step in your relationship, one that is exciting and uniting and brings about new changes in your current relationship. Now, these changes aren’t bad! Maybe you and your partner have already talked about your hopes and dreams for what your relationship will look like in marriage and beyond, and maybe you haven’t. Nevertheless, there are some topics that are important to discuss when talking about the possibility of marriage and once you’re officially on your way.
Communication is key when learning more about yourself, your partner, and how you handle different types of conversations. One partner could always be direct when expressing their desires, while the other is more passive in their thoughts and bringing them to the table. That’s okay! It’s important to know how you and your partner prefer to communicate and how this can be beneficial for your relationship. It can be useful to talk about past arguments and what was helpful or unhelpful. Maybe you talk about past conflicts and what you wish could be changed regarding the communication. Regardless, talking about your preferred method of communication can help support the relationship down the road.
Finances can be a scary topic for some, but it can be a great conversation to have in preparation for marriage. Talking about finances in pre-marital therapy can include jobs, saving, budgeting, financial fears and concerns, as well as your financial desires in life. If you are a saver and your partner is a spender, talking about your financial goals and how to set up boundaries surrounding money can help alleviate some stress about the future.
What is your favorite household task? Is it the same or different than your partner? Division of labor may look different for each couple, but it is an important topic to discuss nonetheless. You can talk about doing the dishes together or separately, vacuuming, decorating, lawn care, walking the animals, etc. No matter what you discuss, it can help the transition when moving in together (if that is what you plan to do). This topic can also include conversations about children, in-laws, and your goals for your family. You get to guide the conversation with your therapist about discussions that are important to you!
With family life, you may want to talk about children and parenting styles. It can be helpful to talk about these things together prior to expanding your family. You and your partner were probably raised differently, in a different environment, with different parenting styles. Being able to sit and talk about these differences while deciding on what works best for your relationship can be one option in therapy. Additionally, maybe you don’t get along super well with your in-laws. Managing that relationship can also be discussed.
Most of us can agree that sex is an integral part of any marriage. Sex is a way that partners can gain sexual satisfaction, physical and emotional intimacy, and exploration. Expectations of sex can oftentimes remain uncommunicated, leaving room for frustration and resentment to creep into the relationship. That’s why it’s so crucial to talk about! How often does sex occur in your relationship? Do you want it to happen more? How will this change in marriage? These are all great questions to explore during pre-marital therapy to build a mutual understanding. You can talk about your hopes for your sexual relationship and maybe some things you would like to try together. Sexual health can also be a part of the conversation – how can we make sure that we are treating our bodies with respect and giving it what it needs? Sex can most certainly be a tense topic, but don’t let that stop you!
Each partner can have many roles in a relationship. Perhaps both partners want to work or one specifically wants to stay home. Regardless of what this may look like for you and your partner, it is key to talk about these roles and what you want them to look like. They can align with your spiritual or religious beliefs, or you can make entirely new roles to fit your relationship. Each partnership is different, and the roles can look however you want them to if they serve your relationship in a beneficial way.
While it is impossible to predict every conversation, argument, and expectation that will be had in a marriage, it is fundamental to at least start having these conversations. By beginning to talk about the topics listed (and more), it opens the door for more conversations to happen in the future. Pre-marital therapy can also teach you how to start a discussion about a certain financial concern or communication struggle. The purpose of pre-marital therapy is not to solve every problem or frustration you may have but to help you set up realistic and helpful expectations for the role marriage plays in your relationship. It certainly doesn’t hurt that pre-marital therapy is associated with lower divorce rates!