New relationships are exciting; the flush of new love makes those little quirks in your new beau seem cute and charming. But as the relationship turns serious and thoughts turn to the long-term, you should have conversations about important subjects to avoid pain and heartbreak in the future.
Here are some conversations to have:
Money. This is the obvious one and also the one most people avoid. I hear from my clients, “I don’t want to talk about money too soon, I might scare her away.” Waiting to talk about money is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. In addition to general money issues, here are some specific money issues to discuss:
▪ Spending Habits. You should find out if you have similar spending/saving habits. Frugal savers and lavish spenders can make it work, but savers are more suited to be with other savers. I’ve seen way too many savers relieved when they divorce their big spending spouse. One style isn’t better than the other. It’s just key to be at peace with the other’s spending habits.
Lifestyle. Beyond money, you need to be clear as to what type of home will you be happy living in (an apartment or a house, in the city or the suburbs, etc.). How many vacations do you want to take per year, and so on.
Children. Besides the obvious, whether or not you will have children, find out what type of parent your potential spouse wants to be. Will the children be raised in a certain religion? Will you share responsibility for the kids? Or will you be the disciplinarian? Will he change diapers and get up with the baby at night when he has to work? Or does he expect you to do all the dirty work? More importantly, will he give up playing hockey twice a week to stay home with the family, or does he expect to keep on hanging out with the boys? I’ve seen many women who thought their husband would change his habits once children came into the picture and were disappointed that no change occurred.
Roles. What type of relationship do you fancy? A traditional, 50s style relationship where husband is the earner and wife manages the household; or contemporary two-earner household, where both partners share the household chores.
Extended family. How much time will you spend with each other’s family? Will all holidays be spent with one partner’s family or will the holidays be split? I had one client whose ex constantly consulted her parents and sisters about everything, even about the couple’s most personal matters. You need to be comfortable with how involved you will be with your future spouse’s family.
Moving forward with the transition from new relationship to long-term, serious relationship, don’t expect the other person to change. Instead, have discussions; make agreements (not assumption) about how you envision your future. When having these discussions, be as specific as possible. No topic is off limits. It may sound outrageous to some of you reading this, but it will prevent disaster down the road.
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