I recently posted on Instagram how thankful I am that I and my hubby agree (for the most part) on how to parent our one-year-old daughter. It got me thinking that I was glad prior to getting married we had discussed at length how we would like to raise a family. We had this conversation along with many other ones either through our premarital counselling or on our own.
By taking time before getting married to discuss potentially controversial topics like parenting we have avoided a lot of disagreements. For this post I reached out to some other young wives to see what conversations they were glad they had prior to getting married.
As I mentioned above this one has been huge for us. One of the first things we connected on was our innate desire to be parents. We are both very hands on and involved with our daughter. Mike loves being a dad. To me that was very important that he was excited for this stage of life. If this is also important for you make sure your spouse to be is also geared towards parenting before getting married.
Every couple is different but some ideas to talk about are:
- What did you like about how you were raised?
- How do you want to raise your children differently?
- How long you potentially want to wait to have kids?
- How do you expect your spouse to co-parent? (do you expect to share all roles equally)
- How do you feel about daycare or babysitters?
Money is a less fun conversation but just as important to have before getting married. Typically one spouse tends to be a saver and one is a spender. This difference can lead to potential conflict. Therefore it’s very important to establish where you both stand on issues relating to finances.
We have also found it helpful to set up a budget and discuss purchases with each other before buying (usually for larger items, but we do try to keep each other in the loop when we spend money). We also set up a joint bank account shortly after getting married.
Questions to ask each other:
- Do either of you have debt? Do you have a plan to pay it off?
- Are you anti debt? Is he okay with some debt like financing a car?
- Are you okay with renting to save for a house?
- Will you live on one income and save the other?
- What are your financial goals? (buying a house, buying a car, paying off student loans, getting an income property, starting a business)
Sex is another awkward topic to discuss before getting married but definitely an important part of marriage. When we got married we weren’t planning on getting pregnant right away. We talked about contraception and what we felt comfortable using. To Love Honor and Vacuum has a great series on birth control for more detailed information.
Another great resource is the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility it is an excellent resource on all things fertility and women’s health. Which even to a woman can be a mystery. Even if you don’t want to practice the Fertility Awareness Method it’s helpful to understand your cycle.
Another point to discuss is frequency. What do each of you expect and how often? These expectations may not always be fulfilled but it’s helpful to bring up beforehand just so you’re both on the same page.
Along with other parenting decisions how you will educate your children is important to discuss before getting married. Me and my husband were both homeschooled at different points so it is definitely something we are going to consider. I know a lot families take schooling decisions one year at a time. It may also be helpful to talk to other families and what they like about their schooling decisions.
One of my favourite podcasts Risen Motherhood has a great series on Freedom in Education that provides some great perspective.
- What type schooling did you have as a child? (public, private, homeschool, other)
- How do you feel about preschool?
- Do you want to teach your children basic skills like colours, numbers, shapes or reading before they enter school?
- Do you want to homeschool?
- Are you okay with public school?
What are Your Expectations for Each Other ?
Our premarital book had a whole checklist to go over before getting married. In short what do you think the roles of the husband or wife should be. In our marriage we filter through the Bible, where the man is the provider and the wife is the helpmate. For us that means the husband supports the family while the mothers cares for the children. Whatever you decide the most important thing is that it lines up with God’s word.
Division of household work
Who will cook, clean up, take out trash, maintain vehicles, do laundry, get groceries, pay bills?
Do you think these roles should be split equally?
Do you expect each other to maintain a certain level of health? For example going to the gym and eating healthy. Do you think it’s okay to eat out once a week, once a month or every day?
Many young couples are just getting started in their career. Sometimes couples are going in opposite directions. How will you support each other as you pursue your career goals?
How does your career impact when you want to start a family? Are you okay with relocating to pursue a job? Are you okay living far from family?
This topic could be a whole post in itself however I’ll keep it brief. Discussing how you want to spend the holidays, how often you want to visit family and how involved you want your parents to be are all things to start to consider.
As you progress through marriage your relationship with your parents and in laws will ebb and flow. In some seasons you may rely on them more or see one side more often. Personally I have found our relationship to be continually evolving as we learn more about each other and especially as we’ve added a child.
Before Getting Married
I hope these topics help spur some great conversations before getting married. Even if you have differing opinions on a subject it’s better to find out now than after making a life long commitment to each other. I would also encourage you to bring other, wiser people in as you navigate these topics. Getting an outside opinion or council can help bring perspective to your relationship.
Resources I Recommend to Read Before Getting Married:
The Meaning of Marriage is an excellent book for married, engaged or single people. The premise of the book is that if we can overcome our self centered tendencies and serve our spouse through the help of the Holy Spirit we will find happiness. Only when we give up thinking of ourselves first can joy be found
Another book I recommend to a lot of young wives and one I go through yearly is The Power of Praying Wife. Prayer is very transformational and cultivating the habit to pray for our spouse is so important in a world that is so anti marriage.
The last book I’ll recommend is by Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman. This is another book I have read multiple times. She wrote it for her engaged daughter and it talks about understanding femininity from God’s perspective. This book is a great read for any woman whether single or married.