Getting engaged means you’re making a big commitment to another person, and that requires a lot of forethought. Whether you’ve been dating for a few months or many years, there are some questions that just may not come up in everyday conversation. It’s vital to take a moment to communicate with your partner about the future, what they want out of your potential marriage, and some important milestones that could end up shaping how your union looks for years to come.
1. How do you deal with conflict?
Is your partner the type to shut down when things get heated? Do you need time to yourself before being able to talk through a disagreement? Are you both able to let things go once it’s resolved, or does one of you hold a grudge? Even the most well-matched couples are bound to argue, so knowing your conflict communication style is incredibly important when deciding whether you’re ready to tie the knot. You don’t have to have to communicate in the exact same way, but you do have to be able to reach an understanding without completely blowing up in each other’s faces.
2. What are you willing to give up?
If your dream is to own a home, but your partner would much rather rent apartments in a city, is that something you’re willing to compromise on? What if he wants to live by the ocean, while you prefer a desert climate? Some of these things may seem trivial, but knowing what you’re both willing to give up to keep both of you happy will become more and more important down the line. Test the waters by bringing up a few silly situations first, like, “Would you give up wearing the color blue if it meant I’d get to eat my favorite food every day?” to break the ice before moving on to the tougher stuff.
3. What does trust mean to you?
Maybe you think it’s okay to flirt with strangers every once in a while, while your partner thinks even a Facebook comment is taking it too far. Or maybe they’d feel okay forgiving you after a breach of trust, while you think it’s a total deal-breaker. Even if your views change over time (which they probably will), having an idea of what you both consider appropriate and what would truly create a problem in your relationship is something you’ll want to know before getting engaged.
4. What role does religion play in your life?
This one may not seem like a big deal — perhaps you both are semi-religious without spending a lot of time in actual prayer. However, if you’re planning to have children together, you may find that your views on what role religion plays in your family’s lives are vastly different. Take a moment to discuss whether your potential future kids are going to attend Sunday school, be raised atheist, or something in between.
5. What are your long-term and short-term financial goals?
Nobody really wants to discuss money with their significant other. It can be a tricky subject, particularly if there’s a sizeable wage gap between the two of you, or if you have differing views on saving vs. spending. But financial disagreements are one of the highest causes for divorce, so make sure you find out how your partner feels about large and small purchases, how you will deal with any debt either one of you is holding on to, and what you see in your future as far as your finances go.
6. What does independence mean to you?
When you get married, do you expect your partner’s friends to become yours, too? How much alone time you require and which aspects of your life you expect to stay solitary may very well be different from what your significant other expects. Talk with them about what maintaining (or giving up) your independence will look like once you’re legally a “we.”
7. What are your deal-breakers?
Have you always wanted children, but your partner is firmly anti-kid? Love meat but have a honey who’s vegetarian? More importantly: Are any of these differences of opinion too big of a gap to bridge? If there are certain concrete goals you have in life that your potential wife or hubby is decisively against, it’s better to find out now than many years into your marriage.
8. Where do you see yourselves 10 years from now? What about 20?
Marriage is a lifelong commitment — so it makes sense to think at least a little bit about your future together. Even if you’re not entirely sure where you want life to take you, you should have some sort of idea of how you see your marriage 10 or even 20 years down the line. If your image of the future seems radically different from your partner’s, that may be a sign that there’s more to discuss before you get engaged.
What questions did you ask your partner before making it official? Let us know by messaging us on social media @ShaneCompany, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.