Getting married is a magical time in your life. Before jumping in head first, check off this list of things to know before you get engaged.
There are things to know before you get engaged and questions you should most certainly have answers to. The reasons that many people end their engagements or divorce in the first five years of marriage are due to not knowing these things beforehand.
To a lot of people, a proposal is an entryway into getting more serious before marriage. But in reality, you should already be ready to get married when accepting a proposal or making one. Proposing and accepting a proposal is a promise to get married, not a trial period.
Why you need to know these things before you get engaged
Sure, some couples elope after knowing each other for a weekend and stay together for 50+ years. That is wonderful but is also the exception, not the rule.
Most relationships require work, compromise, and a lot of open and honest discussions in order to be lasting. Although not every single successful couple nailed down these things before getting engaged, doing so will give you a much better chance of having a long and happy relationship. [Read: How to choose the right path for you in your relationship]
Things to know before you get engaged
This list is all about openness. Talking about these things with your partner will not make you uptight or too planned out. This does not take away the spontaneity of your relationship.
These are things you should know before you get engaged and prepare you for the future. We never know what will happen, but discussing the common issues couples have and your dreams and goals will guide you there more smoothly.
#1 Your religious views. Religion is complicated and can be quite touchy for some people. Although there are lots of couples with conflicting beliefs that make it work, that is because they discuss it. With any differing beliefs they have, their morals match up.
But whether you share a religion, are atheist or are spiritual, knowing where your partner is in this is important. Will you be married in a church? Will you raise kids to follow a certain religion? [Read: 20 questions to ask your lover and learn everything you need to know]
#2 Your political views. Similarly to religion, politics may not come between you when you’re out at night, but in the long run, this can become a major issue. No more than ever before, our politics define us and the choices we make.
Knowing you and your partner are on the same page is important for future decisions.
#3 If you want kids. If you have not discussed this, now is certainly the time. Having children or not is a huge decision and one of those vital things to know before you get engaged, and shouldn’t be overlooked no matter how awkward it sounds to talk about. And getting engaged to someone without sharing your feelings on the topic is irresponsible. And if you do want kids, you need to talk about how you plan on raising them.
Of course, this changes as you learn more and more, but you should be able to agree on the basics.
Not only should you be on the same page with wanting kids or not, but also if you are open to adoption or fostering. Also, if you cannot agree, decide what that means. This can lead to a lot of resentment, and it is unlikely either person will change their mind. [Read: Questions to ask to know your partner better]
#4 Your family situations. Some people are extremely close to their families. They see them daily or even live with them. Others only see their parents on holidays. Be aware of these relationships and know how to handle them.
Will your future in-laws be moving in one day? Will your brother-in-law be staying in the guest room when his partner kicks him out? These are conversations that need to be had before committing in such a major way.
#5 If your friends and families get along. Handling one set of in-laws can be a lot, but both at once can be even more to juggle. Do you get along with your in-laws? Do your in-laws get along with your parents?
Figuring out how to spend the holidays, how to throw parties, or even where people will sit at the wedding is just a small part of managing a joining family.
#6 If you can travel together. You should not only know whether or not your partner likes to travel, but also how they travel. Have you flown together? Have you gone upstate for the weekend?
If you love being home and they love galavanting off on an adventure, how will you find that balance? [Read: 9 reasons why traveling is the best test of compatibility]
#7 How you will handle money? This is one of the things to know before you get engaged because it’s also one of the most common causes of divorce. Couples have a hard time handling their money. But talking about your current status and goals before combining it all is vital.
Are you a spender or a saver? Do you have debt? How much money should you talk about spending before doing it? Who will pay the bills? Who will do the taxes? Should money be saved for retirement, vacations, home renovations, children’s schooling? [Read: The top 20 reasons for divorce most couples overlook]
#8 What are your career goals? If you are not sure how important your partner’s career is to them, things can get tangled and messy later on. Will your partner choose a work meeting over your sister’s birthday party?
Do you have differing paths? Do you work so you can enjoy your life or do you enjoy your job? Knowing if you are both going to have very challenging jobs down the line can help you answer other questions too.
#9 Are you open to moving? Are you settling down in the city or suburbs? Are you living with your parents until you can afford your own place? If an opportunity came up to move to another state, would you be willing to go? [Read: How to recognize and evaluate your relationship doubts]
#10 How you will handle arguments? You may already have an answer to this, but you may have not actually talked about it. Do you never go to bed angry? Do you make sure to take a break before talking about a sensitive subject?
How do you handle your arguments? Make sure you are both on the same page.
#11 Your pasts. A lot of people want to keep the past in the past, but our past experiences affect us forever. They leave us with scars, lessons, and more. You don’t have to share an autobiography with your partner, but you shouldn’t keep anything from them either.
Talk about your major relationships and milestones. Share any run-ins with the law. Talk about anything you would be upset to find out later.
#12 Your expectations. Marriage is a big deal, but getting married will not fix any problems. Just because your boyfriend is your husband doesn’t mean he will start picking up his dirty socks and putting the toilet seat down.
Talk about what you expect from each other throughout the engagement and the marriage. Everything from date night once a week to expecting them to go to your work events or grandmother’s half birthday must be talked about. [Read: 13 questions to ask yourself before getting married]
#13 How you give and receive love. This is something some couples do not find out until too late in their relationship. When you first start dating and your partner brings you flowers, it can be sweet. Maybe you don’t like flowers but you want to be polite.
Well, letting that go on forever is not healthy. If you receive love through words of affirmation, your partner should know that so they can show their love how you will understand it. And if they receive love through time spent together, make time for them because a sweet text won’t do the trick.
#14 Your wedding plans. Before you get engaged, you do not need a date set and to know which flowers you want or if you’ll serve meat or fish. But knowing the general plan is a good idea. If you want a summer wedding on a cliff with 300 guests and your partner wants to elope in Vegas, you could have some issues.
Agree on some basics and maybe even a budget before committing to the planning, you may not get your deposits back. [Read: Wedding jitters or signs to back out?]
#15 What you want. When you talk to divorced couples, many say they wanted different things. And although we change and grow as people, this is something to figure out beforehand.
There is no perfect formula for a long-lasting marriage. You cannot foresee if you will want different things in the future, but you can try every step of the way to remain on the same page.
Do you want to retire in the mountains? Or do you want to have 10 grandchildren? Do you want to be a stay-at-home parent or do you want to run your own business?
These are just some of the most common things to know before you get engaged. Give these a thought, or discuss them with your partner for a smooth transition from dating to something more.