Getting Engaged? Things You Should Discuss
Updated November 25, 2019
Reviewer Aaron Dutil
Getting engaged is a major decision that will affect your life forever. Every person operates on their unique timeline in life, and there is no set time for how long you should date someone before getting engaged. Most people get engaged after having been in a relationship with a person for what they consider a significant amount of time.
Still, there are things to talk about before getting engaged that may not have come up over the course of the relationship. When you and your partner start thinking about getting engaged, you need to shift your thinking towards the future rather than focusing on the relationship in the present.
Things to Discuss Before Getting Engaged
Every relationship is different, but engagements all have one thing in common- they are a commitment to share your future with another person. Being such an important commitment, engagements should not be taken lightly. Do not rush into an engagement without discussing these topics with your partner:
There is a lot more to life than work, but it does take up a significant portion of your time. You should talk to your partner before getting engaged about what their dream job looks like. It is important to know what kind of hours they would be working because this impacts your home life.
It can also indicate whether they will be on the road a lot, or if it would potentially require you to relocate to a city that is better for their industry. For most people, these things are not deal breakers. But they do provide a glimpse into what the future would hold with your partner.
The city in which you live can greatly impact your daily life. You should talk to your partner about where they see themselves settling in the future and "planting roots" for your life together. Have you always planned on moving back to the town where you grew up to raise your own family? This is something you need to discuss with your partner before getting engaged.
For example, if you have always wanted to move to a small town after getting married, and your partner plans on living in a big city forever, this could lead to arguments and problems down the line. These differing plans are not an issue in a relationship but become important after getting engaged.
Of course, a partnership requires compromise, and if you and your partner have different ideas of what your future residence looks like, you may need to adjust your expectations to find a happy medium. But, if you and your partner are both not willing to budge, this could be problematic.
Where you live and what you do for work strongly influence what your day-to-day life looks like. But, many other elements of life come into play that you need to talk about before getting engaged. Ask your partner what an ideal weekend looks like for them. Will you go on a hike, or spend the day indoors? Will you spend most of the time together as a couple, or will you spend more time with your separate groups of friends? There is no wrong answer to these questions about lifestyle, but it is important that you and your partner have similar ideas of how you will spend your leisure time.
Of course, this extends beyond the weekend. You should discuss how you ideally would split up household duties like cooking and cleaning, or if you ever want to welcome any pets into your life. While some of these things may seem insignificant while you are dating someone, they will become very important after getting engaged and especially when living together. You should make sure that you and your partner want to live similar lifestyles, or one of you may end up unhappy with your day-to-day routine.
This one can feel a little awkward to bring up to your romantic partner, but it is important to do so before getting engaged. You do not need to delve into all of the details of your partner's past relationships, but knowing the basics can help you better understand your partner. The most important thing to discuss is why those relationships ended, and what you each have learned from past relationships. Knowing these pieces of your partner's past can help you both make one another happier in your relationship in the present and future.
Having children is a wonderful milestone in life for many people. But, kids are not for everyone, and that is okay. It is extremely important to talk to your partner about whether or not they want kids before getting engaged. If you do not ever want to have kids, there is nothing wrong with that. But, if your partner has always wanted to be a parent, it could be problematic for the relationship.
Unlike the location where you live, whether or not you want to have kids is something that may not be a good idea to compromise on. If you do not want to have kids and your partner wants to have multiple, compromising and having just one child will not make either of you happy. Children are a major part of life, so it is important to find a partner who has similar desires to yourself in regards to having children.
You may be able to gauge your partner's health status from being in a relationship with them, but sometimes diseases do not show any outward signs, or your partner may have had health problems in the past that you have never talked about.
While some health problems can be remediated with lifestyle choices, others are not curable and could have an impact on your own life and those of your future children. This is not to say that you should only marry someone with a gleaming health record. But, it is important to know someone's health history, as well as if they have a family history of any conditions because any health problems they have will affect your life.
If you are the person with more health problems than your partner, this conversation is extremely important for you, too. You want to know that you are with someone who can support you through challenging times, whether it be health related or otherwise. A supportive partner can make all the difference in your quality of life. Having the conversation about health can indicate whether the person you are thinking about getting engaged in canning stick by your side for the long haul, through good times and bad.
For many people, the family is a huge part of life- it is often said that when you marry someone, you are marrying their entire family. If you are thinking about getting engaged to someone, you likely will have met some of their family members already. But, if you have not had the chance to do so, worry not. You can find out a lot about your partner's family members and their family dynamics just by talking to your partner.
Be sure to ask your partner about their family dynamics growing up, and how their relationship is with their parents and siblings. Ask them how often they see their family currently or would like to see them in the future. This can give you a hint into how much time you can expect to spend with your in-laws, and how that time may be spent.
It is also important to ask about your partner's family because it may explain some of their beliefs, behaviors, or emotional problems. Events that occur in childhood, especially involving parents or family members, leave a lasting impact on people that can influence their personality well into adulthood. If you are getting engaged, these are things you should know about your partner.
Someone's past should never be a deal breaker, especially if it has to do with their parents- no one can choose or control their family. But, whether their relationship and past with their family are positive or negative, it will affect your life after getting engaged, so it is important to know what you are getting into.
Not everyone feels connected to a religion, but for many people, religion plays a large role in their life and identity. This is a topic that is likely to come up if you are in a relationship with someone for a significant period, but you should discuss it in greater depth before getting engaged.
A conversation about religion should go further than simply which religion someone believes in or what they were brought up practicing. If you are getting engaged, you should talk about what role you see religion playing in your shared life with your partner. Ask questions about whether they plan on raising children in a certain religion, or if they see themselves attending worship services in the future.
You should also ask how they feel about people whose religious identity differs from their own because how they speak about people who are different from themselves can be a big hint into how they treat other people in general- a very important aspect of one's personality.
Again, you do not necessarily need to share the same beliefs as your partner, but it is important that you both feel comfortable with the other's spiritual beliefs and the degree to which religion will be part of your shared life in the future. The most important thing is that you both feel comfortable with one another's religious adherence and with the role that religion will play in your life together.
Political beliefs fall into the same realm as religion. While some people do not feel particularly passionate about any political ideologies, others feel that it is a strong part of their identity and belief system. If someone is very politically active, you probably would already know where they stand after a few months of dating. But, this is not always the case, especially if someone possesses strong political beliefs but chooses not to be vocal about them.
Just like religion, your political beliefs do not need to match up with your partner's to have a successful life partnership. But if your beliefs do differ, it is crucial that you both feel comfortable sharing a life with someone who supports different political candidates and causes than yourself. Plenty of people have successful marriages with someone who aligns with a different political party than themselves, but it requires both people to be tolerant and accepting of the other person's belief.
This can be more difficult if you are very active in politics or consider your political preferences an important element of your personality and fundamental belief system. Whichever way you sway, these are things you need to discuss before getting engaged.
This one can be a hard topic to bring up with a partner. But, it is essential that you do so before getting engaged. Managing finances is stressful enough as an individual, but trying to do so with a partner can lead to a lot of tension in a relationship. Dealing with finances as a couple with probably always come with a bit of strain, but it can be made much easier by discussing your finances before getting engaged.
You should talk to your partner about how they feel about saving, what things they are willing to splurge on, and how much they feel comfortable spending on basic things like rent or a car. It is okay if your financial styles do not exactly match up, but you should work together to compromise and set some boundaries that you both feel comfortable with. It may feel awkward or intimidating to bring up the topic of money, but doing so before getting engaged can make your life much less stressful in the long run.
Couples Counseling Before Getting Engaged
Your relationship undoubtedly changes after getting engaged- you now are thinking about your partner as the person you are going to spend your life with, after all. Undergoing couples counseling before getting engaged is helpful for many people to discuss the previously mentioned topics, and then some. If any disagreements arise as you work your way through these topics, pre-engagement counseling can help you work through them and find solutions to your problems.
Even if you feel very strongly about someone, engagement is not something to rush into. Be sure to take the time to go over these topics before getting engaged, so you can say "I do," feeling confident that you know exactly what you are committing to.