Mate, Relate and Communicate

How to talk about sexuality and other hot-button topics

Getting Hitched?

6 Topics to Address Before “I Do”

While it’s said that sex and money are two of the biggest reasons for divorce, there are a host of other issues that can drive couples apart. No matter what the problem – or problems – interpersonal struggles are often what make it impossible to work together in coming to a resolution. Couples head for “splitsville” not because of the sex or money, per se, but because of issues like incompatible expectations, unrealistic expectations, the inability to change, lack of equality, lack of communication, poor communication, lack of trust, feeling constrained, and the lack of foresight in tackling possible issues before exchanging vows.

It’s important for every couple to talk about a number of topics that could prove themselves to be problematic sooner or later. In having these conversations, couples should try to have an awareness of interpersonal dynamics that may make it difficult to manage matters as a team. Partners should also not skip over topics, assuming that they’re on the same page on things like balancing a budget or starting a family, as many couples have failed to address such before getting married, only to learn they have major differences of opinion.

Exchanging “I do’s” on your wedding day doesn’t make anything any easier. Problems don’t magically disappear because you’ve taken on that level of commitment to one another. So here are 25 questions in getting critical conversations started…

Finances

o Will both of you be wage earners?

o Will you pool your income, or at least part of it?

o Will you share equally in the cost of living expenses, even if one partner makes significantly more money than the other?

o Will you share the burden of paying off debt the other is bringing into the union, e.g., student loans, credit cards, mortgage payments?

Children

o Do both of you want children, and, if so, how many?

o When do you want to have a child (or more children)?

o Would you consider adoption or fertility treatments as a means to becoming parents?

o How will you manage a situation involving children from a previous relationship, including helping to co-parent/raise the child/ren?

o Who will take the lead in childrearing/taking care of your children?

o Will one of you have to quit working in order to assume primary responsibility for your children? If so, who?

Sex

o Are you truly sexually compatible, or are there concerns you have about being in a long-term, mutually satisfying sexual relationship?

o Are there any potential sexual disorders that need to be addressed now, e.g., difficulties with orgasm or delayed ejaculation, especially if they’re related to current issues?

o Are both of you on the same page with the level of relationship commitment, e.g., monogamy?

o How will sexual intimacy be managed when one of you is too exhausted for sex?

o Are there any relationship issues that need to be addressed that can no longer be ignored (basically, what are potential ticking time bombs)?

Living Arrangements

o Where will you live (both geographically and residentially)?

o Will anybody else be living with you, e.g., children, elderly parent?

o What are you willing to afford in rent or a mortgage?

o What kind of commute can you endure in realizing the home life you desire?

Household Duties

o Who does what and how often?

o If one partner does more housework than the other, what is the trade-off for the time and energy put into such efforts?

Religious/Cultural Differences

o How will you handle the holidays, including where will you celebrate them?

o How will you handle parents’ and parents-in-laws’ expectations about maintaining traditions, childrearing, value systems?

o Are you on the same page when it comes to the spiritual belief system with which you want to raise your children?

If better, seek out a couples’ counselor, marriage and family therapist, or religious leader in discussing the aforementioned topics. Research published in Family Relations found that couples who go to pre-marital counseling tend to communicate better, solve problems, and report better relationships than those who don’t seek such counseling.

Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright is a certified sexuality educator, sexologist, professor, columnist and author of nine books, including The Better Sex Guide to Extraordinary Lovemaking. more...

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