You’ve met someone, it’s going great and you both envision a happy and prosperous future with each other. To pave the road to get there, there are some serious discussions that should take place early on so future arguments or disagreements can crop up and impact relationships in the future.
Building a Family
One of the largest foundations in a couple’s future is the concept of family. Family can be defined in many ways, but no matter how you choose to define it, you and your significant other should discuss the finer details of each other’s wants, needs, and aspirations for building a family together—or not!
It’s important to talk about whether you and your partner want children, since that can have one of the biggest impacts on your lives together. If you do want children, consider big picture, discussing how many children you both see in your future, and when you can realistically see building a family becoming a reality. You may have other priorities or goals to focus on first, or you may feel like you’re ready now. It’s common to have milestones and goals such as education, career stability, housing, or maybe getting your finances in order to better prepare for kids. If one of you already has children, make sure you’re ready for the added responsibility as one family.
Lest you forget about furry friends, similar discussions should be had about pets early on as well, as they nearly require the same commitment and responsibility as adding another human family member.
Another major discussion that needs to take place for a serious couple is where you plan to live. Do you see yourselves settling down somewhere that makes you both happy, or do you prefer to move more frequently to experience new places? By discussing where and how you envision home, you’ll ensure less friction as your relationship grows.
Your location also should consider your career and family goals. Would you be willing to relocate for your significant other if a job opportunity came up for them? Also, be sure to discuss the comfort level of moving to a place that might be far from family members and close friends. These are needs that vary with the individual, but could be future arguments if not discussed ahead of time.
Sticking to your Beliefs
Some conversations that you have with your partner aren’t always easy. Being on the same page with politics, religion, and other personal choices are important to many couples, but can cause great division in couples if you aren’t on the same page. Regardless, these are important pieces of what make people who they are as individuals, and the good thing to remember is that there are plenty of relationships that do work despite even when these individual differences exist, if you can talk them out.
Some personal choices, whether they concern health, such as smoking or drinking alcohol, or religious beliefs can be a dealbreaker if not discussed early on. Only you know your values and beliefs, so do yourself a favor and take the time to have some uncomfortable talks in the beginning to prevent future problems from showing their faces. For some couples, these discussions could even lead to an agreement that is as simple as “let’s not talk politics”.
Finances – Past, Present, AND Future
Finances can be stressful enough as an individual, and it can be a touchy subject for some couples. When it comes to the money talk, it’s best to be open about where both of you are coming from, and how you want to make financial decisions together down the line.
Your financial past can directly impact your future. Credit card debt or student loans can put strain on your finances and your relationship. Your credit history can impact your future as a couple, with lower credit scores affecting things like interest rates, loan approval, and more. If you have trouble with finances, hiding it from your partner and yourself won’t help your situation. You may find that your partner is happy to help with finances, and setting mutual money goals can be motivating.
Talk about how you each prefer to handle money and your feelings towards money in general. Are you a spender or a saver, of perhaps you prefer a balance of both. Share how your lifestyle is affected by money. Someone who has their sights dead-set on their career retirement may have different attitudes towards money than those who “work to live”. Once you have those discussions, you can also decide if you want to apply for loans or credit cards together, apply for joint bank accounts, or keep your finances separate entirely. Just be aware of how current financial decisions can impact your individual financial futures as well, since merging finances can have positive and negative impacts on both partners credit scores and more.
Goals are usually a very personal drive in life, and when you get into a serious relationship, you need to openly discuss these with your partner so one is not stepping on the toes of another. An important part of any relationship is compromise, and there are bound to be moments of potential conflict that demands compromise, but a willingness to talk out your goals and desires is crucial, even if some of those goals seem far into the future.
Everyone is different in how they see their roles in a relationship, and you’ll never know unless you have conversations with each other on where you see yourselves personally first. Some couples feel that both partners should be independently shooting for the moon, while another couple might be perfectly happy with one partner being the breadwinner, while the other is providing emotional support and helping at home. You’re in this together, and there is no right or wrong way to go about achieving your goals, but you should be open about this from the start to establish a foundation upon which to build a life together.
Talk the Talk
The thing to remember is there is no right or wrong way to make a serious relationship work, and this is without even discussing topics like marriage, but communication is the key ingredient in making any relationship work no matter the shape, size, or other variable that makes your relationship uniquely your own.