The dating and engagement periods of your relationship are a beautiful time for both of you. Romance is blossoming, you’re building dreams together, and anything seems possible.
Often, when we’re dating or engaged, we overlook some important areas of our lives that we need to consider before we walk down the aisle. In the haze of falling in love and promising happily-ever-afters, these 9 things (that you seriously need to consider!) often fall by the wayside.
Before you take the leap into the lifelong covenant of marriage, it’s important to consider the goals and dreams that both of you are nurturing. Will you be able to support one another’s passions and pursuits? How will your marriage affect your goals, and vice versa?
Focus on the big picture: what is it that both of you want from life? Can you pursue your dreams together? Is there something either of you would need to give up if you married, and if so, would you be able to let it go?
Your family of origin has tremendous influence over your past, present, and future. Depending on the circumstances, the families you come from could have a tremendous impact on your relationship.
There’s a popular saying that when you get married, “you marry the family” as well. Unfortunately (or fortunately–we pray for the latter), that’s true. Take a close look at the home life your intended came from; if it was toxic or unhealthy, it’s possible that those damaging patterns could make their way into your marriage and the family you plan to build together.
A difficult past or an abusive family of origin isn’t the death sentence for your relationship, but it is something to carefully consider. If this is the scenario you find yourself facing, seeking counseling together may help the two of you to prevent bad patterns from sneaking into your home in the future.
Spirituality is one of the biggest hot-button issues in relationships. It is deeply personal and can be an incredibly touchy subject. This is all the more reason to talk it over early on.
Having different belief systems doesn’t necessarily mean that your marriage can’t work, but you’ll have some very challenging waters to navigate–as a couple and between your families, as well. Add children to the mix, and things could become much more complicated.
What core spiritual or religious beliefs do the two of you share? Finding your common ground and working outward from there is a great first step.
It’s easy to say the past can’t define us–and it shouldn’t. But it can seriously impact the present and future more than you might like to admit. Clearing the air together about any past baggage you’re bringing into your relationship is a great service you can perform for one another.
Love and grace can overcome the most painful of past experiences, but working through this together now will help the two of you decide whether the past is going to prevent your relationship from moving forward.
Are you willing and able to let go of your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s baggage? Is it an issue that could create strain on your relationship later? Will you be able to handle the pressure together if that happens?
The way the two of you approach finances will absolutely impact your entire life. Communicating about money isn’t usually pleasant, but it will give you insight into one another’s habits and mindset when it comes to spending, saving, and stewardship.
Money is cited in many studies as the number one cause of conflict in marriage. As with the other topics we’ve covered, it could be helpful for you to seek professional counsel in this area. Get on the same page about finances early, and you’ll have an easier road ahead.
What’s most important to each of you? You’ll find that the everyday priorities you hold will tell you both a lot about each other. Verbalizing priorities isn’t enough; you must watch one another’s actions in order to discern for yourselves what things take precedence in your life.
Determine whether your priorities align, or whether they might cause conflict in a marriage situation. It’s not easy to anticipate challenges you might face in the future when you’re dating and in love, but conflicting priorities in a marriage will quickly send you down a path you won’t want to follow.
Is the glass half empty, or is it half full? How do each of you approach the world–with optimism, pessimism, or realism? Your mindset is the lens through which you view the world, and if your mindsets clash with one another, it may be very difficult to face life’s ups and downs together.
If you view the world through a positive, optimistic lens, and your partner views the world through a negative, pessimistic lense (or vice versa), it’s going to be hard to link arms and fight the battles that you’ll inevitably face in life. Listen to and observe one another; you can even ask each other questions in order to get a good idea of one another’s mindset.
How well do you get along? What’s your rapport with one another? Being compatible with one another’s personalities and mannerisms is a very important factor to consider when you’re thinking about getting married.
It’s true that opposites attract; opposites attract, and can still be compatible. But sometimes our differences can throw us a curveball, and it’s helpful to know what they are and how to navigate them. You might be very attracted to each other right now, but if you don’t get along, the attraction may fade with time.
Do both of you want to have children someday? What are each of your visions for the family you’re building together? If one of you desperately wants children, but the other doesn’t want to have kids (or if your desires for children are incredibly mismatched), you could be in for major heartache.
Don’t gamble on the assumption that you can change one another’s minds down the road to fit with your own desires. It’s better to know before you get married if there’s something between you that could level your relationship once the covenant has been established.
There’s not only one course of action to take if you find that you’re incompatible or have very differing views. Realizing that you conflict with one another in any of these areas doesn’t necessarily call for an immediate end to your relationship or your engagement, but it does call for a deep dive into the issues. We prefer that you tackle them before you marry, rather than putting them off until after the wedding.
The SYMBIS Assessment can help you to start these conversations and navigate them successfully. Our trained facilitators can help you identify areas in your life where you’re compatible, and areas where you’re not. Then, you can work together to strengthen your relationship as you get to know one another better.
Have you considered these 9 things? How have the two of you decided to handle them together? Did facing these issues together strengthen your relationship, or did you choose to go your separate ways before you said “I do”? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.