In the earliest days of a romantic relationship, you can’t get enough of each other. You want to know everything—who, what, where and how—and you want to know it now. Your infatuation infiltrates your mind and your mutual desire to connect on every level envelopes every moment.
As your relationship blossoms and you begin to consider building a life together, conversations should dip into the past for understanding while also looking to the future for important insight. The initial conversations most couples have while in the midst of infatuation are typically more superficial and guarded—you know, not fully letting the cat out of the bag because you fear ruining a relationship that’s just getting started.
Many couples I see in my counseling practice skipped right over meaningful conversations about the past and future. They fast forwarded from the whirlwind stages of infatuation directly to lifelong commitments. To help you prepare for a lifetime together, here are the 5 must-have conversations I believe every couple should prioritize.
You must talk about the families you grew up in, as well as the family you wish to create together. Share with one another what your childhoods were like, and discuss how your childhood experiences shaped who you are and what you think today. How will you define family together? Is a marriage certificate vital in that image? Does family mean kids, pets, both or something else? Is it important to you that one person stays at home or do you see that both of you will balance work and family life? What family traditions do you both hold dear from your family of origin? Are you able to continue those together or are there new traditions you wish to create together?
Money is often one of the main reasons for relationship tension, but having good communication around finances helps reduce it. Know each other’s current financial situation and debt load including student loans and credit history. Determine if you will combine financial resources or keep money matters separate. If you plan to manage accounts separately, you will need to understand how you will share expenses. Discuss saving, travel and retirement goals. If one of you wants to retire at 40 while the other spends money as soon as it is earned, you will need to come to a compromise.
What religion or spiritual traditions did you grow up practicing? How is spirituality still a part of your life and what are your desires for having it be part of your relationship? If you have fundamental differences in beliefs, how do you plan to respect them? Discuss how your spirituality practices impact your daily life and each of your expectations regarding how to support one another.
As a couple, a shared purpose really makes double the impact. You will make a difference in the world when you combine passions, resources and focus for your shared purpose. What perspectives do you have about helping others? How will your union make your community (and even world) a better place? How will you collaborate to achieve this shared purpose?
Just because you make up one part of a union, doesn’t mean your individual dreams should take a backseat. It is imperative that couples communicate their individual dreams and what they need from their partner in support of those dreams for a healthy relationship. Also consider how to balance your individuals dreams with the goals of your shared purpose.
Keep in mind, these aren’t one-and-done conversations. As your relationship matures it’s inevitable that your life will evolve. Discussions about these topics are important to any healthy relationship. Do you have to agree on everything when you have these conversations? Heck, no! That would be boring! To help you manage the differences you will inevitably encounter,check out these tips I pulled together to help you navigate differences between you and your partner.