6 Topics to Discuss Before Saying I Do
By Heidi Vegh, Crosswalk.com
Marriage was God's idea. In our modern world, we believe it is an institution created and formed by humans, a legal agreement between two people giving them tax breaks and financial benefits.
However, God created marriage for holy purposes. He created marriage to model Christ and the love that He has for the church. He created marriage so we could live in a loving relationship with someone who can encourage us in our walk and purposes for the Lord. It is an act of selflessness, not to be entered into for selfish reasons.
Marriage was not created to make us happy. Although there are many joyful aspects of marriage, if we get married only to fulfill ourselves, it can become an idol, leaving us more empty than before we got married.
When considering marriage, it is not something to be taken lightly. We want to follow the Lord and His leading as we seek out the person we will spend our life with. The beginning of a relationship can be so full of butterflies and excitement; however, we don't want to overlook important aspects of the relationship that could cause turmoil in the future.
Having important discussions and getting to the root of important topics before walking down the aisle can help you avoid relationship downfalls and perhaps even make you aware of things that would force you to reconsider the marriage.
Here are six topics to discuss before getting married:
1. Spiritual Beliefs
The Lord tells us not to be unequally yoked.
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14
He does not want us to come into covenant with a person that does not have Jesus in their lives. This may not seem like a big deal when the butterflies are fluttering, but when significant issues arise and there is a big conflict of interest, it could cause major problems. Being married to someone who trusts in the Lord, will pray with you, and lives according to God's ways will create a beautiful dynamic that flows. This does not mean hard things won't come up, but if you rely on the Lord, navigating life's challenges will be much easier.
Again, God created marriage to be a beautiful picture of Christ and the church. God's vision of marriage is seen in Ephesians 5:33 "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
This can be unpacked on so many levels, but when we integrate this into our marriage, it will flow the way God intended.
Having hard discussions about your beliefs and getting it all out there before stepping into marriage is vitally important.
2. Family Dynamics Growing Up
Our family of origin plays a considerable role in how we handle situations in daily life. We all grow up with certain experiences and family dynamics that shape us into who we become as adults. We each have our ways of handling challenges and conflict and showing love to others.
When challenges arise in marriage, which they most definitely will, how we handle them will shape our marriage and our future families.
Before you get married, take the time to talk about your family growing up. Talk about how each of your parents handled life issues. Talk about how that has shaped you and what you took away from that. There may be stark differences in how you grew up, but that is ok. The intention of marriage is not to find someone just like you; it is meant for so much more than that. God can take two extremes and make one beautiful union.
The purpose of talking about your family is to better understand why you are the way you are and why your future spouse responds in specific ways.
It is good to have a basis going into marriage. Of course, over time and in many different scenarios, you will learn more and more about each other. Talking it out as much as possible before the big day is just a good idea.
This is a big one. It is vital to understand how your future spouse was taught about money and how they handle it now.
Talk about your tendencies to either spend or save. Again, if you are different, it is ok. Just understanding your person's financial habits can help you avoid conflict in the future.
Often a spouse can become frustrated at how their husband or wife handles money, not knowing they are just doing what they were taught or that they may not know any different.
Bringing this all to light before marriage can bring understanding.
This is also an excellent opportunity to map out a plan for how you will handle finances in your new family.
Write out goals for the future and where you would like to see your money go.
-How will you budget?
-How much will you save?
-Will you tithe?
-Ask your person about all their debt and how much they have in savings.
These issues may not get resolved in one conversation, but they will put you on the path to a healthy financial life in your marriage. Pray about your finances together and ask God to give you wisdom in all your financial dealings. This is the best thing you can do with your spouse for the future of your financial life.
4. Children and Parenting
Talking about the future of your family is so important. This can often be just a given, but having deep discussions about your childhood and what you envision for your future family can bring you closer before you walk down the aisle.
Discuss with your person if they desire to have children. Discuss your childhoods and how you were parented. Discuss how many children you see yourself having and whether you want boys or girls. How many children we have and what gender we desire is not something we have control over, but understanding your person's visions for the future can help pave the way as you enter your married years.
Remember to discuss how you plan to handle conflict with your children.
How were you disciplined as a child, and how do you envision disciplining your children?
If there is disagreement, then it is better to start the conversations now instead of when you're thrust headfirst into dealing with a disobedient toddler.
Of course, you can't figure it all out before your children are even born; you will figure most of the parenting out as you go along. However, discussing these topics and creating an agreement beforehand can only benefit your marriage and future parenting life.
5. Relationship History
This can be an awkward one. However, if you want to avoid jealousy issues and build trust in the marriage, it is important to disclose any sort of history that you have with other people. Some people have the benefit of not having any relationship history before getting married, which serves them well. However, many of us have had previous serious relationships or perhaps been married before and have things that need to be disclosed. This includes sexual history and cohabitation situations. No one wants to hear about their future spouse's history, especially their sexual history. This can be uncomfortable and awkward, but it is essential. It will benefit the marriage relationship to get it all out on the table so that there is no confusion or issues of secrecy in the future. Laying it all out there and then letting it go can build trust and leave no room for insecurities or questions about your person's past.
Pray during this time to break any soul ties your person has with others. This creates a clean slate of forgiveness and refreshes your soul so you can enter the marriage covenant free of guilt or shame.
6. Love Languages
Knowing and understanding your person's love language can benefit the entire life of your marriage. If you are unfamiliar with the five love languages, you can learn all about them in Gary Chapman's book 5 Love Languages.
You can take a short assessment to learn how you are loved and long to be loved.
Understanding this about your future spouse before you get married can revolutionize how your marriage will flow.
The love languages are:
-Acts of Service
-Words of Affirmation
There are ways that we naturally love other people and ways that we naturally want to be loved. If we go into marriage only loving our person how we want to be loved, they may not feel your love at all. For instance, if your person feels loved by you giving them physical affection like hugs and kisses, but you show them love through gifts or acts of service, they may get frustrated at your lack of love. '
It is so important to know how our spouse receives love and for them to understand how we want to receive love. This may pull us out of our comfort zones, but it is well worth the effort. Your long-lasting marriage will thank you!
Remember that marriage is God's gift to us. If we walk into marriage with God at the center, focusing on how we can encourage our spouse in their walk with God, then even amongst conflict and disagreement, good will ultimately come out of it. Having hard discussions up front can only improve your future marriage and get big issues out of the way. Of course, as the years go on, these discussions will need to take place over and over again, but at least you will both have a good idea of what you are getting yourself into. You will understand who you will be spending your life with, and with God in the center, it will be beautiful.
Heidi Vegh is a writer, speaker, and ministry leader living in Gig Harbor, WA. She is a remarried mother of four, navigating the blended family life after the loss of her first husband to cancer in 2013. She longs to use her writing as a way to encourage others who have experienced loss and guide them on the road to healing. She contributes to her blog found at thebreathingmama.com, sharing stories and devotionals of faith stemming from her loss and healing, mothering, and her blended and complex family. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in Creative Writing and English and is working on her first book. Heidi is the Women’s Ministry Director at Gig Harbor Foursquare and has a deep heart for sharing Jesus with women and encouraging them in their faith walk. When she is not writing she loves to travel, read, craft, and experiment in the kitchen. Visit her Facebook and Instagram (@mrsheidivegh) to learn more.