Getting engaged to the man or woman whom you love is a beautiful thing– and an extremely fun time in your life! Make sure that you spend time on the following areas to strengthen your relationship and how you interact as a team before the big day. Going into your marriage on the same page is an invaluable asset and essential for your long term happiness.
Map out your goals
Take a few hours to map out where you each want to be in one, five, ten, and twenty years. Now is the time to find out that your spouse-elect has no interest in having children (especially if this is a core value you associate with marriage). If you both want children, but one of you plans on entering a 3 year graduate program and your income will be cut in half during this time, then you can plan to push back starting your family. This will also help you open up a dialogue on how you can work together to meet both of your goals. Maybe you will work full-time and support the family while your spouse pursues their masters degree. These are conversations that will help you align and get behind each others goals in a productive and positive way.
Talk about your finances
The “f” word can place unnecessary strain on your relationship if not addressed head-on (and early-on). You should both have a clear picture of the others financial footing– including any student loans, personal loans, car payments, savings and investment accounts, retirement plans, etc. This will help you pinpoint your financial weaknesses and strengths as couple and form a game plan for your life together. If one of you is a spender, then embracing the saving habits of your partner might be a hard pill to swallow. And the saver will need to let go of judgement and form an actionable budget that the spender can reasonably follow. Take baby steps and check in monthly to see where you are with your joint financial goals.
Discuss your priorities
This is similar to goal mapping, except that it can be more abstract. Along these lines, taking a personality or love language test can help you quickly identify the ways that you communicate and how your different approaches to love and life create conflict or nurture love within your relationship. Before you say your vows, you need to know that you and your partner are looking for the same qualities in a marriage. Beyond your marriage, you want to make sure that your life priorities complement each other—or at the very least that you support one another and both are willing to make compromises along the way to make sure that you can both follow your dreams.
Make time for therapy or marriage counseling
Finally, if you are able to squeeze it into your schedule and budget, professional therapy and counseling is a wonderful gift that you can give each other. A neutral third party can help you walk through the above bullets and dig deeper into the underlying causes of any relationship stressors.