Conversations to Have Before You Say “I DO”
Article By | Jess Rios
Dating and just flipping through fun wedding pictures? Engaged and trying to get things ready for your big day? There are many conversations that you won’t be able to have until after getting married but there are plenty of topics to explore beforehand, whether you’re single, dating, or engaged.
Do You Know Yourself?
Before ever becoming a cute “we” or “us” you are an “I,” a multifaceted individual. It’s important that before diving into relationship and certainly marriage you’re able to understand and own who you are. That can entail understanding your personal values, needs, personality, stressors and triggers, just to name a few. What do you find most meaningful? What influences your values? Are you religious or spiritual? Do you have a strong cultural sense?
When you have a better sense of who you are, it creates longer term life satisfaction, it allows you to better educate your partner on all things “me,” and it provides you tools and frameworks to better study the person you’ll be spending the rest of your life with.
Your values also directly influence the choices you make, and individuals who do not live in accordance to their values generally feel very dissatisfied and frustrated. Know what’s important to you, what your negotiables and non-negotiables of a healthy relationship are, what makes you tick (positively or negatively).
Are You Ready for a Priority Shift?
Are you ready for your priorities to shift? When you enter marriage, your bugga-boo bear becomes your new numero uno. Many of your friends and family have already expressed how they feel your priorities have shifted in the amount of time you spend with this person or how you make decisions.
Couples who do not shift in prioritizing their spouse or showing them the appropriate level of commitment often feel very dissatisfied.
How does that shift feel? If you’re anything like me, that shift was tough on me, friends, and family, and led to many stressful conversations leading up to marriage. Processing through this conversation will be helpful later on when you’re trying to set healthy boundaries for extended family and children. Prioritize your partner, they are your teammate and prioritizing them will communicate the love and respect that creates the foundation for support healthy relationships need.
Are You in for the Long Haul?
When you think 5, 10, 20, 50 years down the line, do you see your partner in that picture? Commitment is a huge part of a healthy marriage. Marriage requires dedication and desire to be together forever, and wanting to give your best to one another. In marriage you will go through many life seasons together, deaths, births, challenges, victories, losses, etc., thus, it’s important to make sure that dedication stays strong. Dream together! Dream about what the future may look like. Where you’d like to vacation one day? What family tradition would you like to make for your future together? What makes you the unique “we” you are?
Have You Counted the Cost?
Since a healthy marriage does require priority shift and a strong sense of commitment, it’s important to count the cost before saying, “I do.” This is the least fun topic within dating and engagement, “Are you sure you want to do this? Are you ready for what it may cost you?” And no, I’m not just talking about financial cost, I’m referring to the emotional, time, holistic cost? Often times marriage can be romanticized through the view of puppy love, and while you truly can marry your best friend and stay in love, it requires work. Some days you wake up and you don’t like the person you see. Sometimes change occurs and the person you married 6 years ago looks and acts differently.
Marriage will require sacrifice, a life commitment, and a lot of daily effort.
One piece that freaked me out was changing my last name. Was I ready to be known with a new identity? Whatever may give you the fear-poops, talk it out, chat with couples that have been happily married for over 10 years and see what they learned as they navigated new territory and saying
Are You Willing to Communicate?
“I love you.” “I love you more.” No, I love YOU more!” Is adorable, but what about the less adorable “You lied to me and hurt me and now I don’t know that I can trust you again” conversations. How prepared are you to navigate the hard, messy, conflict-drenched conversations marriage may throw your way. People don’t have to be married to experience these kinds of conversations and having the proper communication skills can be helpful in creating emotional safety, understanding, and strategies to know how to work through difficult chats. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Strengthening Families of the Brazos Valley offers wonderful classes, such as their “Synergy: Better Together” class that helps individuals or couples walk through the key successes a healthy relationship. Whether you have a ring on your finger, a cute babe on your side, or are single but just know you one day want to be married, I highly recommend this course. For more information please visit families.tamu.edu/synergy
Jess Rios works at Oakwood Counseling Center in College Station, Texas. She sees couples, kids, adults, parents, and young adults. For more information or to schedule an appointment you can email Jess at firstname.lastname@example.org