My fiancée and I are getting married in a few months. I do think premarital counseling is extremely important, even if you do it yourself, a non-Catholic pre-cana if you will. I am the type of person that likes to plan things (everything). I would rather go through life with a plan, even if it changes, than go through life just letting things happen. Life is short, I might as well make the most of it.
Regularly my fiancée and I talk about life and goals over dinner or a beer at the local brewery. I think this is extremely important as there will be no surprises come wedding day. Below are some of the more important topics we have decided to discuss prior to the big day, and I think openly discussing these topics have had a positive impact on our relationship.
I am sure it is quite obvious that this is #1 on my list. Personal finance is very important to me and should be for most couples. I have some non-traditional views around money and therefore I think it’s important to share said views with my fiancée to ensure she can understand my views even if she isn’t 100% on board, and vice-versa. Topics couples should cover include: what is valuable to each spouse to spend money on, and therefore prioritize? What does not bring value to each spouse, and therefore are willing to cut back on? When does the couple want to aim to achieve financial independence? What do they want retirement to look like? How much of their children’s education are they going to fund (if planning to have kids)? Etc., etc.
Who obtains more value or happiness from their career? Who is willing to move for the other spouse’s career? Does anyone have any entrepreneurial goals? Does one spouse want to eventually leave their career to be the stay-at-home spouse to take care of the family and household?
Do both spouses want kids? If so, how many, and when? Does one spouse expect a parent, or parents, to move in with them down the road? Is the other spouse okay with that plan? Are holidays going to be rotated between families? Will financial support be extended to family members in need?
What hobbies are important to each spouse? How much of a time commitment are they? How much will they cost? Are there hobbies that the couple will do together, and then others that they’ll do separate?
Every couple argues at some point. Instead of letting things bottle up and waiting for them to reach a boil-over point, have discussions on a regular basis. I for one have learned that compromise is important, and key to a happy relationship.
I’m sure there are other topics that are important to your specific relationship like spirituality, common values, pets, etc. Lay out early what you value, and have your spouse do the same. Get on the same page and don’t get discouraged when you don’t see exactly eye to eye on everything, as coming to a common ground is part of the fun.
5 thoughts on “Premarital Boot Camp”
Good list and very true Ferv. Mrs. Oldster and I just had our 25th anniversary. On balance the years have been very good ones. But the road has not always been a smooth one. There will always be surprises and the ability to deal with them in real time is an under appreciated marital skill. We had a rule that if one of us was angry or upset, we would not go to bed until the issue was resolved. In 25 years I think there were only 2 times we violated that rule (big stuff happens, and sometimes it takes more than a few hours to resolve). Also to keep things from becoming too heated, we had a code word that either of us could use to stop discussion for an hour. If the code word was uttered (or yelled), all argument stopped. We’ve stuck with this and sometimes the cooling off period helped us see the real issues.
I wish you both the best of luck. It sounds like you are making all the right moves to start out strong.
Congrats! And that’s a good tip. Thanks.
That’s a great list. I found our pre-cana to be very helpful and it was nice to hear how other people handle the tough situations that marriage presents. My wife and I are always pretty open, so it was eye opening to hear fro couples that started out with a great marriage and ran into problems for a variety of reasons. It made us have even better conversations together. Its great that you two are always talking and working through these things together.
I think being open is 9/10 of it. Harder than it looks!
Very, very smart! Focusing on your MARRIAGE instead of the WEDDING is very wise.
I have worked in the event and wedding planning space for 15+ years; the pressure that this industry puts on young couples to spend big and go into debt makes me feel sick.
I became so frustrated with the industry’s mantras to couples about wedding day regrets and fear-based sales tactics to shake more out of everyone’s wallets that I decided to change course and do something different.
In 2018, I wrote a book called The Wedding Hacker: A Budget-Minded Planning Playbook. The book aims to empower couples to shake the pressure of over-spending on a wedding and provides actionable advice on how to save on each step in the planning process.
I have been sharing the pdf version of the book for free on my website and couples have been loving it. I’m happy to share it with your audience, as I hope it will help couples make smart decisions for their marriage and finances.