When we get engaged, we spend so much time planning the perfect wedding, but do we spend enough time planning for after the big day — for the marriage? It’s important to plan for a healthy and long-term marriage before you get married. With four out of 10 marriages in Canada ending in divorce, do everything you can to safeguard from becoming another divorce statistic.
Talking about finances is usually taboo, but no topic should be taboo between you and your soon-to-be spouse. Discuss whether you will share a joint account or have separate accounts, what your credit scores are and any debt you currently carry. According to the Vanier Institute of the Family, career-related conflict, including financial issues, is one of the main reasons Canadians divorce, so having this discussion beforehand will help set you up for a healthier marriage.
Kids and family
Whether you hope to have children a few years down the road or as soon as possible — and whether you want children at all, for that matter — your family size and when to expand should be discussed before you walk down the aisle. How many kids you would like to have, how soon you’d like to start, what happens if fertility issues arise and what you’re willing and not willing to try (such as fertility treatments or adoption) should all be touched upon. You don’t need to have all the answers right away, but make sure you talk about these areas before you get married. Other topics you should discuss include religion, discipline style and whether one of you will stay home to raise the kids or if you’ll both work.
Sex is a key part of a healthy marriage, and talking about expectations beforehand can save a lot of guesswork and trouble. Discussing your sexual histories is important for safety reasons, but you’ll also want to know things like how many times a week is ideal for each of you, what your ideas of a monogamous relationship are and what boundaries you want when it comes to friendships outside your marriage. Infidelity, while no longer the leading cause of divorce, is still one of the top reasons couples split up. Safeguard your marriage from infidelity by making sex an open discussion from the beginning.
You can’t just assume you both want the same things out of life. Having different values and interests are two of the leading reasons Canadian couples file for divorce, according to the Vanier Institute of the Family. You need to talk about what you expect your life to be like after the big wedding day. Everything — from who does which household chores to what you’re expectations are of a spouse — is important to discuss. If you make sure your lifestyles are compatible, neither of you will feel like dreams and wishes are not going to be fulfilled.
Psychologist Dr. Nancy Irwin says that if your soon-to-be spouse refuses to have these discussions and answer your questions honestly, it might be time to reconsider taking the next step. “If you cannot talk about kids, household chores, money and sex — the top sources of conflict in relationship counselling — you are probably not ready to share a life together.”