So..You think you're ready to get engaged!? If you are, I'm so pumped for you. And nervous for you. And happy for you. And terrified for you. All at the same time!!!!! Overall, this is so exciting because engagement is such wonderful season filled with newness and anticipation. You're preparing to spend the rest of your life with the person that you love!
I'm the sappiest girl when it comes to true love, but during my engagement, I realized that the passionate/effortless love that I craved was not as easy as I thought it was going to be. Happy endings do exist, but romance movies always forget to show how much work you have to put in so you could end up with one. Merging two lives into one can be super difficult and messy. While I've never been one to give reality checks, there are some really important things that you and your guy should talk about before sealing the deal.
I know that you can’t wait to take your relationship to the next level and tell all of your family and friends about it, but before you get too caught up in the thrill of it all, it is important to make sure that you and your future fiancé are on the same page when it comes to the significant areas of your relationship.
I want to share with you what these conversation topics are and give you a few simple tips on how to go about discussing them, so that the two of you can further your relationship with confidence. Trust me, it's going to be uncomfortable... but it'll save you so many difficult disagreements in the long run if you just air it all out now.
Let’s Talk About Money
Do you know what the leading cause of divorce is? Yup. You guessed it. It is money. Money problems are major points of contention in marriages. This is due to the fact that finances are a stressful topic. Without money, we are not able to afford what we want or how we want to live. Therefore, people are often in fear of losing money and so they fight for their own principles when it comes to spending or saving it.
However, the reality is that not everyone has the same perspective or guidelines around money. Some people are spenders while others are savers. When there is one spender and one saver in a relationship, their ideas on what they will do with their money are often opposing to one another. This can then cause disagreements and conflicts that eventually tear a marriage a part.
This is why it is so important to start the conversation about money early on.
Some major areas you should consider bringing up are...
Debt: How much debt do they have? Where did it come from? Have they began to pay it off? Do they have a plan to?
Tithing: Do they tithe and where to? What are their views on giving to the Church? When did they begin to tithe?
Budgeting: What kind of things will be in your budget? What are the things you both will need, and the things you want that you'll have to sacrifice?
Don’t marry someone on potential. These questions will help you evaluate the kind of person who will make your life-long journey with Jesus both fruitful and enjoyable. Being a good steward is a huge part of that!
I thank God that Ron and I are both aggressive savers and money has never been an issue for us. For a while though, I never understood the significance on tithing and tried to hold him back from giving so much. It got me frustrated because I never saw where our money was actually going after we had worked so hard to earn it. It actually took a couple of months for my perspective to change, but after reading the word and hearing a sermon, we are absolutely on the same page now.
Trust me though, you don't want to be blindsided in your marriage regarding money, ever. Talk about all of this now!
Let’s Talk About Family
I am guessing that when you went on your first date, you didn't start the conversation by asking “So how many kids do you want?” A question like that would seem a little presumptuous on your first date. Although, if you're anything like me, you'd ask this question on a second date. Gosh, I seriously had no shame back in the day.
Whenever you decide to have this conversation, it definitely needs to be done before you have a ring on your finder. You both should have a good idea of each other’s views on family and children. Some good questions to ask are…
Is family important to you?
Do you want kids? If so, how many?
Do you want to have kids right away or wait on having kids?
What do you think about parenting?
Are there any generational curses that you have to work on breaking?
Will you be the one that disciplines them or will I?
Do you want to live close to your or my parents when/if we have kids?
What kind of education do you want your kids to have?
Where are we going to spend the holidays? At your family's home or mine?
Are there any traditions that you grew up with that you would like to continue?
These are just some samples of questions that you should ask when it comes to family and children. You do not want to be married or just about to walk down the aisle and find out that your significant other wants 8 kids and you aren’t even sure if you want any. That has the potential to create a lot of unnecessary tension and hurt that could be avoided if it were simply talked about earlier on in the relationship.
In my own life, I really wish I had this conversation with Ronnie early on. He wants to wait about 5-8 years to have a baby, and I wanted to wait just a few. He's very career focused and driven, and I absolutely understand that... It wouldn't have been a deal breaker at all, but it would have been nice to know and plan in advance. We both didn't think to talk about that subject. Having time to process your differences before you are married would help a ton.
Let's Talk About Faith
The longer I’ve been married, the more I understand why it’s important to be with someone who loves Jesus like I do. I could never imagine facing some of life's scariest moments or some of its most beautiful moments if I didn't have a partner that pointed me to the cross each step of the way.
I dated one boy in particular before dating Ron, and we went to pre engagement counseling. We did this "pre marital" workbook together and I really believed we would eventually get married. Yet, it always felt like our end goal wasn't the same. It always felt like we were headed in different directions. It never felt like we were on the same page. He was after temporary pleasures of this world, and I really did want Jesus with all of my heart. We would fight all of the time. It all felt so forced. So we broke up before it could get any further. As far as I know, he is no longer walking with God at all.
Being equally yoked is not meant to inhibit our dating lives. It is a command designed for your own protection! Being unequally yoked is more dangerous than you think, and waiting for someone that you share this deep spiritual heritage with is incredibly rewarding!
Intimacy is absolutely impossible without spiritual unity. There is no way that you will ever be able to freely be yourself if you are a believer married to an unbeliever. It will be a burden you will have to carry every single day. Have standards. Marry a leader on fire for the Kingdom.
How did your boyfriend get saved? What was his experience like?
What does he hope to accomplish for Christ?
What is his spiritual gift?
Where does he go to church?
What season is he in with God right now? What is he learning?
What's one awesome God moment that he could share with you?
Let’s Talk About Expectations
It is necessary to talk about what each of you expects out of this new marriage. Often times, people get engaged and then married thinking that they are on the same terms about what their life together will look like, only to discover that they have very different opinions and expectations.
One person may think that their marriage will be full of travels, adventures, and going out. The other may be thinking that their marriage will consist of quiet nights at home and being low key. You may be able to imagine how a difference in expectations like this could cause some possible contention in a marriage.
If you have this conversation and find out that you both have very different opinions in this area, then consider how the two of you may be able to resolve your conflicts of interests. For example... Ronnie is a huge extrovert. He gets his fill by hanging with a crowd of people and always accomplishing something. I am an introvert. I get my fills by deep one on one conversations or being alone. Early on, we had to discuss what this would look like in our marriage and where compromises would have to be made. Where do strict lines have to be made for you? Where can you give a little?
You may also have to have the expectation discussion in regards to what you are hoping to receive in marriage. Couples often hold on to expectations that were fulfilled at the beginning of their relationship, but these expectations can become unreasonable as the marriage moves through the years. Trust me- You neeeeeed to know that different seasons can cause you to act differently- and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Keep this in mind: Your spouse cannot fulfill your every need. Your spouse cannot be your primary source of happiness. Your spouse cannot fill all of your companionship needs. Your spouse will not always make you the center of attention.
Have a discussion on how to keep the spark alive, but also how you are going to show your affection in unique ways as your bond grows deeper and stronger.
Let’s Talk About Addictions
Whether it’s pornography, alcohol, gambling, or drugs, addictions are really widespread. The only way you should be willing to marry someone who is an addict, is if he is open and honest about his problem and he is aggressively trying to change it and live for God.
Stop thinking that any of his addictions will go away once you say your wedding vows. The hurt and the lies will just increase in marriage.
This conversation may be raw and may make you both really vulnerable, but be honest with each other. When I was a sophomore, I remember having to tell Ronnie that sometimes I wrestled with lust and that I had accountability in place. Now, four years later, it's not even a slight issue. I do remember talking with him and laying everything out there so that there would be no surprises. He did the same thing with me. He had some wild party days back in college, and there were a lot of things that he had to stop doing and begin to live without.
If you have a conversation with your boyfriend about this and he is honest about his addictions, I recommend that you guys both go to counseling. It's essential that these problems are completely dealt with before there is any further talk on marriage.
Engagement is a big next step and there are a lot of conversations that are important to have as you begin to navigate this new season! Don't neglect them. Don't get so caught up in the romance that you forget what real life is going to look like. Press in deeper. Let the Holy Spirit lead these discussions, and by the end, you'll feel even closer than before.