Words to the Newly Engaged

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Between Christmas, New Years, and Valentine’s Day there are always a lot of new engagements.  And, as I do from time to time, I want to help all these happy couples have a long and happy marriage by adding mine to the long list of (mostly) unwanted advise these folks are going to get.

I’ve covered this topic a lot already, and I urge you to go back and re-read my previous posts on this subject – such as https://beckypalmer.me/rules-of-engagement-and-marriage/  and   https://beckypalmer.me/independently-married/   for the still true advise I shared there.  So what can there possibly be left to talk about?  Turns out quite a bit!

#1 Children.  Most kids just kind of assume they will have kids of their own some day.  I know I did. But not everyone shared that dream then, or even if they did they may not still feel that way.   And even if you both want kids, there are a host of other decisions around that decision that need to be discussed.  How soon are you going  to start trying?   What style of parent do you want to be?  What do child care arrangements look like?    How many kids do you want?  Yes, you might change your mind on some things down the road, but these are things you want to talk about well before conception.

#2 Weddings.  My advise is to not have one and just elope.  Weddings are a tremendous waste of money.  But assuming you aren’t on board with that, there are going to be a lot of decisions that have to be made. Some folks who aren’t obviously religious in any way still want a proper ceremony in a house of worship and/ or a member of the clergy to perform the marrying.  Some folks want a huge party with 400 of their closest friends and some a private affair with 40 attendees.  How involved are your parents and /or other close family member in the planning?  How much are you willing to spend?  Again, I say skip the stress and don’t do this at all, but if you choose otherwise, this will be a wonderful test of your ability to compromise and work together as a team.  If you are not successful, perhaps reconsider the entire thing.

#3 Money.  Yes, this one is a repeat but it’s that important.  Money is the number one issue couples fight over.  What are your plans to save for the future?  How much money can you spend without talking to your partner?   Do you have separate accounts, a joint account, or both (I STRONGLY recommend both)?   How much are you willing to spend on a car?  A vacation?  A sick pet?   Yes, your financial situation will likely change many times over the course of your marriage, and yes, a spender and a saver can live happily ever after, but you have to be able to talk about money issues open and honestly, and you have to have a joint vision of what the ideal state looks like.

#4 Sex.   This may seem like a crazy thing to think about now, when you likely can barely keep your hands off each other.   But, it’s inevitable that in time your desire will not be as red hot as it is right now.  If you are already having sex, are you happy with it?  If you feel your partner is lackluster in the sack now, how are you going to keep the spark alive 20 years from now?   What if one of you suffers a lack of mobility due to illness or accident that renders you unable to perform sexually as you currently do?  How important is regular sex to you?  How do you feel about scheduling sex?  Is a lack of sex Again, with time your feelings on this will change, but if you don’t start off more or less on the same page things will only get worse as time goes on.  And I do know from experience this is one of the most unpleasant topics there is to argue about.

#5 Congratulations!  Marriage can be the best thing that will ever happen to you.  Soak up the memories of this special time.   Take time to make sure you and your beloved are setting yourselves up for a lifetime of happiness together.   Do what honors your relationship because no one else’s is just like it.   And take everyone’s advise with a grain of salt – even mine.

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