My husband and I got married on a sunny beach in Cuba, where the only prerequisites were that we were both willing and that we had a couple of witnesses. On our return home, we decided to have a church blessing and attended some marriage preparation classes which were a requirement put in place by the minister.
This turned out to be a very wise move -- we watched in horror as at least two engaged couples broke up during the group classes!
The essential conversations, that they should have had way before engagement rings were offered, had been neglected. As the minister reviewed these speaking points, they found differences of opinion on key issues were enough to drive them apart.
To ensure your nuptials remain in the 60% of successful marriages, make sure you discuss these important topics before you say "I do".
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Where are we going to live?
City, countryside, condo, cottage, at home or abroad, you're going to need to talk about your plans for where you want to live now -- and in the future. You don't anyways have to agree, especially for decisions that will happen years down the road, but it's wise to discuss these topics before the big day.
Money, money, money!
Joint or separate bank accounts, thoughts on saving and spending, retirement planning and debt (especially any debt you are bringing into the marriage) all need to be discussed and hashed out while you are still rocking a single status. Money problems are one of the top causes of divorce. People often have deep-seated issues of shame and power connected to their views about money, so be open and honest about your expectations regarding money and marriage right off the bat.
I was shocked at just how many couples didn't discuss whether or not they wanted to have children, but making the decision to procreate is only half the battle. You'll also need to discuss how you plan to educate the children, whether you intend to bring them up in a particular faith or religious tradition, your views on discipline, parenting and saving for their future.
You have to discuss your absolute deal breakers, special clauses, and boundaries before tying yourself to someone for life. Including any 'Ryan Gosling' special exclusions to monogamy!
Your hopes and dreams
Before the ink dries on your marriage certificate, you may want to map out your plans for your ideal life. What do you want your life to look like when you're 40, 50, 70? What do you want to achieve? Where do you want to live? What will represent a great life for you?
Marriage in its simplest form is two people promising to love each other and live together for life; it makes sense to check that you are both on the same page before you make the leap.