Singaporebrides | The Groom Room

September 2014

The Unsexy Pre-Marriage Talk

It’s the talk before the walk down the aisle. And it’s one you’d do well to have. Fu Jinming clues you in on what you should be discussing with your beloved: finances, religion, kids, in-laws – even the pets.

She said yes. Congratulations. Pat on the back. Job well done.

And so your future begins, full of hope and promise as you imagine the rest of your life with the girl of your dreams. But as the champagne flows, it’s easy to overlook the most important talk you and your spouse-to-be will possibly ever have: the pre-marriage talk.

Yes, the one that’s awkward, unsexy, yet utterly essential if you want a marriage that’s lasting and rewarding. It’s an honest, mature dialogue between two adults who are going to spend the rest of their lives living together. More importantly, it’s a chance for both parties to lay their cards out on the table before the big day. All the cards.

Everything is discussable. Nothing is taboo. From how you see money in your life together, to whether you’d like kids, pets, or even her parents in your forever-after. How you agree or disagree with each other’s plans, values and expectations will mean the difference between a marriage and a mistake.

Having said that, don’t expect both your expectations for the marriage to harmonise from the off. It is natural to have differences in certain areas. The key here is know where each party is coming from, then for both to work hard in the parts you’re not aligned with. So you may create a game plan that you both agree will be best for your married life.

Here, we detail six main areas you’d need to be on the same page for a happy, meaningful, and thoroughly rewarding union – before the engagement, and long after it.

1. Finances

Money isn’t everything. But plan poorly for it, and it can become a major sore point in your marriage. Financial problems are one of the most common causes of divorce. So be truthful about any debt that you might have, and your repayment plans to it. Will it affect your application for housing loans? How would you split the household expenses between the two of you? Should you have joint bank account or separate ones, or both? What are your financial goals?

Talk about your career expectations too. How do you see yourself – and her – progressing in your chosen professions? Do you expect your earnings to be sufficient to support your lives as two? Can you afford, if need be, to survive on a single income?

Understanding each other’s financial situation will help you plan more adequately for your budget. You’ll immediately have an idea of the kind of lifestyle choices – such as concerts, night-outs and vacations – the two of you can afford and enjoy together.

2. Kids

Children may be a natural byproduct of a marriage. Or they may not. Do not be surprised if your partner has no plans to have kids – or worse, she may not even like them.

If you share the same thoughts, then you’re on the same frequency. If not, you’d better start talking about whether you’d like to have them or not. If so, how many are you expecting to have? And when?

Don’t stop there. Talk about how you’d like to bring them up. Do you believe in tough love? Or are you a hugging parent? How do you see each potential parent’s role? How would you discipline your kids? How were you and your spouse raised?

Talking about children – or the prospect of having them – will put your future in perspective. You have to be in agreement early, and not when the first baby arrives.

The Unsexy Pre-Marriage Talk

3. Religion

This may seem like a non-issue, particularly if you’re a religion-free atheist. Or if you follow a faith, but are ok with your partner following a different one.

Statistically speaking though, your marriage has a much higher chance of making it if you both share the same religion. It’s easy to see why: when you believe in the same faith, you believe in the same value systems. There’s likely to be fewer disagreements about each other’s guiding principles and religious commitments.

That is not to say that a marriage for couples with different religions won’t work – it just needs more work. If you’re one of them, find out if your fiancée is fine with you taking a different religious path from hers. Conversely, let her know if you are ok with her doing the same. And if you two decide to have kids, whose religion will they follow? Or will they be free to choose their faith?

Then determine if there are potential adjustments to your lives needed to accommodate each other’s religious practices. Are you expected to attend each other’s festivities, for example? It’s a sensitive topic, but talking about this now will avoid a bigger fight that may potentially harm your marriage further down the road.

4. Parents and In-laws

It’s an uncomfortable topic. After all, you marry the person, you marry his or her family too, right?

Maybe so, but it’s better to talk about how you intend to manage both sets of parents now, so you may prevent possible misunderstandings and unhappiness later in your marriage.

How often do you think your wife and you should visit your respective parents? Should you set aside a regular day for weekly dinners with your folks, and another for hers? Are they welcome to stay in your home if the need arises? If her parents run into problems as they age, will you be expected to help provide for them, either financially or otherwise?

5. Pets

Laugh all you want, but agreeing on the type of pets – or indeed, if you should have them at all – can mean the difference between peace in your relationship, and constant bickering.

Ask yourself: are you a cat or dog person? What about your partner? Is she ok with her cat living with your dog? If she’s not hot about animals, will she be ok with having a domesticated one in the house?

It’s a discussion you need to have quite simply because, it’s her home too. And starting a conversation about pets – or the absence of – will show that you respect her lifestyle preferences, and her feelings towards having an animal in the house.

6. Insecurities

Or more pointedly, do you have any ghosts that need burying, so to speak? It could be unresolved jealousy towards her ex (or exes). And her, with yours. Or about her attitudes and behavior towards you, like how you feel she belittles you in front of her friends, for instance.

It could also be insecurity about your status in the union. Does it bother you that she has a more successful career than yours? Do you mind the fact that she earns more than you? Or vice versa?

It isn’t easy, and it may uncover some sensitive areas in your relationship, but having this discussion early will help identify the areas that may unsettle your feelings for each other later on in the marriage – and hopefully, nip them in the bud.