4 Things to Discuss Before Settling Down with Your Partner
posted on September 3, 2019 | by Niala Kalola
Full disclosure, I am recently separated. But when I look back at what went wrong, I think having some of the conversations that most happy couples swear by today would’ve made a world of difference.
Being in love and seeing a future together is just the start to a long and sustaining relationship. It can be difficult to look into the future and think about all the situations which you as a couple may have to weather, but hopefully this will get you thinking about what’s going to be important in the months and years to come.
After polling my circle, they almost all agreed that the key to longevity is having these potentially awkward conversations. But truthfully, if you frame them correctly it can be pain free and set you on a path for success.
Yeap, just ripping the band-aid off now.
This is probably one of the most important and difficult conversations to have, but whether you’re getting ready to say “I Do” or just deciding to move in together, this is a BIG ONE. Knowing if your partner has $40,000 in credit card debt and a $900/monthly car payment is something you should be aware of upfront.
More than that, having an idea of what each other expects in terms of budgeting, savings, retirement will help with other conversations such as lifestyle. If you’re a couple that likes to travel–what can you realistically afford in terms of other aspects of your life? Will there be compromise and sacrifice to offset costs in other less exciting but equally as important areas?
If one partner enjoys hitting the town every weekend while the other enjoys curling up with a book, how will that impact shared accounts–will there even be shared accounts?
As you can see, it’s a large topic and not everything has to be covered up front. Part of being in a relationship is dealing with things as they come up, but having a baseline in place for having this type of conversation will make things much smoother in the future.
This may seem like an obvious one because it’s almost the first thing everyone thinks of when thinking long-term: Kids.
And yes, that is an incredibly important discussion to have. But truth be told, your opinion on having a family may change as your relationship matures, and (personal belief here) be open to an ongoing conversation about not just having kids, but the number of kids, and they way you might obtain them–adoption or surrogacy as examples! Additionally, there are discussions that should be had if anyone feels strongly about things such as home schooling, advanced education, etc.
The other aspect to family is that most of us have aging parents to consider. With lifespan increasing many of us will need to assess a mixed family living situation or offsetting the cost for parents who may not be able to fully afford retirement.
For some couples this may not be an issue, but more and more people are concerned with things like mother-in-law suites, senior living community fees, and even future medical bills.
Lastly, if it isn’t already, in most relationships, family and family time becomes a top priority. Agreeing early on about how much time each partner wants to spend with their families, how much they’re willing to commit to in terms of family events, and even how to divvy up holidays (pretty sure there are at least 5 rom-coms about this very topic) may be worth discussing!
I know this one’s icky to discuss, especially in today’s sociopolitical climate, but that makes it more important than ever.
As individuals, sure it doesn’t really matter who or what you believe in, but as you move through life together this impacts a few different areas:
-Are you planning to incorporate religion into your wedding?
-What about your kids? Will they be raised with one set of beliefs, both or none?
-Does one party’s religion play a big enough role in their lives that they would include other traditional aspects into your day to day life? And more importantly, are you okay with this?
You may not even be religious, but if your parents are you will still want to consider how to make this work if you plan on having them in your lives.
Roles and Responsibilities
In my opinion, after finances this may be the most critical conversation to have. We’re not our parents or grandparents generation. While some couples still enjoy a traditional relationship, I think it’s safe to say that roles based on gender have become so fluid now with women being breadwinners and men taking on the role of stay at home parents–and that’s not a bad thing! But responsibilities are burdening with women expecting to crush it at work and also be great moms…
The obvious questions around child-rearing, stay at home parenting and PTA meeting attendance probably come to mind, but there’s a whole world of other considerations:
-When it comes to your career, can you agree on big changes that may impact the amount of time your partner can put into their role and responsibilities? Does one person’s career get moved to the forefront?
-How will you divvy up chores? WILL you divvy up chores, or will that fall to one person?
-Who’s in charge of the budget? Is it a shared responsibility?
-Similarly, who’s in charge of household decisions?
-Who’s the planner and delegate-r? Who’s more happy to just complete tasks?
This category truly is never ending. But at the end of the day, having one or a few of these conversations can build a strong baseline for you to continue to tackle difficult issues as they crop up.
What other discussions have you and your partner had that you think all couples should be communicating about? Any landmines that should be avoided at all costs? Would love to hear about it in the comments below!