If you’re in a romantic relationship and thinking about marriage, it can be a little nerve-racking. Maybe you’re ready to bring it up with your partner but aren’t sure how to do it. Before having “the talk,” it’s important to ask yourself a few questions first:
- What makes you feel ready for marriage?
- How are your feelings about marriage different than they were in the past?
- Have you considered if your religious values and worldviews are compatible?
- Are you emotionally and mentally prepared to commit yourself to another person for the rest of your life?
If you decide that you are ready to have the marriage discussion with your partner, consider these ten tips on when and how to approach the conversation:
Before gearing up for the big conversation, drop some hints to test the waters and see if they are on the same page as you are. Maybe you talk about a couple you know that is recently engaged, watch rom-coms that involve weddings, talk about rings, or point out wedding venues you like. There are so many different ways to drop hints, and it will help determine whether your partner is just as ready to have the marriage talk.
Timing is Everything
Don’t choose a time when you are both rushing out of the door or in a hurry! Instead, choose a time when you both have some downtime and are ready to have an in-depth discussion. In addition to thinking about timing, think about the setting, too. You can make this a romantic conversation if you want to, but it is more important to choose an intimate, neutral place where both you and your partner can discuss marriage openly.
Talk About Personal Goals
Are your personal goals compatible? Your relationship may be great now, but to figure out if it will still be great years down the road, think about some important factors:
- Do you have plans to move?
- Do you want to go back to school?
- Are you looking to start a new career?
- Does your partner have big plans?
- Are you willing to support each other through times of transition?
Understanding each other’s personal goals will help you understand if you have what it takes to be life partners.
Talk About Your Relationship Goals
In addition to talking about your personal goals, it’s important to talk about your relationship goals! Are you and your partner committed to a monogamous relationship? Do you both see yourself with one other person for the rest of your life? Do you hope to start a family together? It’s important to talk candidly about your hopes and dreams for the future so that you are both on the same page if you do choose to get married.
Keep an open mind
Remember, even if you’re ready to have the marriage conversation, your partner might not be. Talking about marriage with someone can lead to a lot of unexpected responses, so it’s important to keep an open mind and respect your partner’s point of view if it doesn’t align with yours. Do they want to wait until accomplishing a personal goal? Are they unsure about committing to monogamy? Being open and honest is the best way to determine whether you’re on the same page about getting married.
Talk About Values
Here are some important questions to keep in mind in terms of values:
- Are you and your partner on the same page about religion? If you are not, are you willing to accept their view? Are your families willing to as well?
- Do you have similar values related to settling down, working, and raising a family (if you choose to do so)?
No matter how well you know your partner, it can be awkward to drill down about your values. Moreover, if you are unable to have difficult conversations like this, it might not be time to tie the knot.
As unromantic as it is, it’s important to talk to your partner about debt and spending patterns. When you are dating someone, you may not know the ins and out of their finances. But if you’re married, their finances become your finances, which means their debt is now your debt. This shouldn’t be a dealbreaker by any means, but it is important that you and your partner are transparent about debt before getting married. Financial stress is one of the leading relationship stressors, so it’s necessary to be on the same page with finances and spending.
Discuss Logistics and Timelines
If you decide that you want to get married, it’s important to consider when you would like to get married, if you would like a wedding (often another entirely different conversation), how you will finance the wedding (if you decide to have one), where you will move to once you are married, and so on. Of course, all of these details do not need to be decided during your first conservation about marriage (and probably should not be), but it is important to keep these things in mind for future conservations.
Be Honest About Expectations
Discussing marriage has the potential to change your relationship with your partner. During that first conversation, it’s important to discuss your expectations for marriage and for your relationship moving forward. Discussions of marriage often prompt people to think about their relationship in a more long-term time frame, which can prompt some important conversations about expectations for the future.
Consider What No Means
If you decide to have the marriage conversation with your partner, remember that a “no” response is always a possibility. If that’s the case, it’s important to consider what that means for your relationship. Is marriage a deal-breaker for you? If your partner agrees they want to spend their life with you but is uninterested in the institution of marriage, is that a deal-breaker? Disagreements about whether or not you will get married can ultimately be your demise if you’re not on the same page. This means that before you broach the conversation with your partner, you need to consider how this conservation could potentially end your relationship.
Bringing up marriage with your partner is a big deal, but it’s also exciting! The decision to spend your life with someone takes a strong level of commitment, and if you’re ready, keep these tips in mind to help guide you through the conversation.