Guest Blog by Cori Russell
Being a bride-to-be is certainly fabulous, a sparkling rock on your left hand, a valid excuse to go overboard on shopping (you need those Manolos for your honeymoon, after all), parties thrown in your honor, blowout arguments with your fiance… Uh, I beg your pardon??
Of course I jest, but there’s a hint of truth here. Remember, the engagement period is more than the time needed to plan a big party. It’s also the trial run for your marriage and future life together. And guess what – any unresolved issues during your engagement are clues to future marriage woes. The bottom line – discuss potential challenges and disagreements now, not after you’ve cut the wedding cake.
So while up until now you may have been the couple that never fights; here’s your chance. Read this list of the top pre-wedding fights ‘er” discussions to have before you say “I do”.
1. The “Don’t Leave the Toilet Seat Up” Tussle
Now’s the time to address any petty grievances you both may have ignored until now. You’ve heard it a thousand times, and it holds true here, communication is key. We know – blah, blah, blah – but it’s cliche for a reason. You need to clear the air now, because these little gripes – left unsaid, can build up underlying tension over the years, only to bubble over and explode into a completely unrelated future argument. Remember to keep this discussion productive and lighthearted. Nagging or initiating a screaming duel over his pants left on the floor (again) is not going to solve anything.
2. The “You Want Me To Do What?” Melee
Unless a personal maid and assistant is on your bridal registry (a novel idea!) – someone’s gonna have to scour the shared bathroom in your new dwelling. You’ll soon find that the key to marital bliss is agreement on whose task is whose. While an itemized chore list is a tad ambitious, lay out expectations in advance and avoid future blowups. You should know each other well enough by this point to divvy tasks accordingly: common sense dictates that your fiance who bounced 3 checks last month should relinquish bill duty, and if your white sheets are now gray – best hand over laundry duty. And while you’re divvying out chores – discuss broader marriage roles. How do you see yourself as a wife? a mother? a professional? How does he see himself?
3. The “When Should We Procreate?” Debate
Don’t even consider walking down that aisle without a game plan for children. Avoid this discussion, and you risk bringing innocent bystanders into a world of dysfunction – namely, yours. Before your wedding day, reach a consensus on: when those little feet will start to pitter patter, how many feet will be doing the pattering, and whether they’ll even patter at all.
4. The “Festivus for the Rest of Us?” Controversy
If your Tree is his Festivus Pole it’s time to talk religion. Combining two faiths can be tricky. Discuss together your values, and identify what religious traditions are most meaningful for each of you to incorporate into your wedding ceremony and marriage. How will you combine holidays? Raise your children? And even if you share the same religious background, what role will religion play in your life together?
5. The “Not Tonight Dear, I Have a Headache” Tug of War
Sure, things may be spicy now, but your sex life is bound to evolve and change a number of times throughout your marriage. What are your sexual expectations? Are you able to speak openly about sex? Have a frank discussion now, when your relationship is new and confidence is high. Otherwise, you risk establishing a pattern of avoidance and inability to discuss sexual wants and needs – a huge marital red flag.
6. The “Does This Make Me Look Fat?” Confrontation
Til death do you part… that allows an awful long time for your body to age. And even if you both succeed in fighting off middle age weight gain, inevitable wrinkles, gray hairs, or hairs in the wrong places will eventually makeover your once - youthful selves. How are you going to deal? What are your expectations for your own and your spouse’s physical upkeep?
7. The “You charged WHAT to the Amex?” Brawl
Without a doubt, financial woes are one of the main stressors in a marriage and a primary cause of divorce. For new couples, the topic of money can be uncomfortable, and certainly unromantic. But how romantic will it be when you’re forced to pawn that rock on your left finger to pay off your groom’s insurmountable gambling debts? Bottom line, get over yourself, and practice full financial disclosure. What will be your combined income as a newly married couple? Do you have any current debt and how will you manage it together? Is there anything (real estate, travel, college fund) for which you’re willing to take on debt? How will you manage savings? Investments? How and when do you plan to retire?
8. The “Not So All in the Family” Feud
Ah, in laws, the quintessential love/hate relationship. Remember, when you marry the man, you also marry the family. So while it’s not essential to tell your hubby-to-be exactly how you feel about his needling mother, it is important to come to terms with family involvement and what level of closeness is acceptable. If your idea of the perfect Thanksgiving involves skiing in Switzerland and his involves a big sit down with his extended family in Toledo, it’s best to express these expectations out now, and start crafting a compromise.