What to discuss before getting engaged

Noemi J. Mullins

Many of us are engaged, which means that we focus most of our attention (if not the entire amount of it) on wedding planning. You can easily get caught up in the fairytale element of Wedding Planning and forget that you’re also merging your lives with your partner.

As a psychotherapist in San Francisco, I support individuals and couples to manifest the life they desire. My clients often ask me what the secret is to a successful relationship. I usually answer that communication and your relationship with you are key. Consider these conversations, whether you are single or in a relationship.


Many people find it difficult to talk about finances with their significant other. This can lead to feelings of embarrassment and shame. It is important to move slowly and be gentle when discussing finances with your partner. In my work with couples, I’ve heard many stories of frequent arguments, broken expectations, and deep disappointments in each other and the relationship. These issues are often a result of financial problems. The most important thing we can do for each other is to avoid blaming one another.

It’s OK to have different “money personalities” than your partner. If you are worried about something in particular, it is better to discuss it sooner rather than later. You’re curious about your partner’s credit score. Are you interested in joint accounts? Prenup? Do discuss–in-depth. Holding on to your emotions will only result in resentment.

It is important to understand your priorities and feelings about money before you share them with your partner. Couples should set aside time each month for a money discussion. It may seem overkill, but money issues more often cause divorces than by sex, children, or division of labor.

Start by asking yourself these important questions:

  • How much debt have you got?
  • Do you have a retirement plan?
  • What is the maximum amount that one of us may spend without consulting the other?
  • What age would you like to retire? What are your retirement goals?
  • What happens when we want to have children but are unable to conceive them? What are our financial expectations for fertility treatments and adoption?
  • Would you help a family financially if it was needed? What amount would you be willing to give?
  • Were we given equal rights to decide how our money is spent as a couple? (i.e., buying a home, investing, childcare, etc.) No matter who makes more money?


All of us have heard the same questions. You may have listened to the question: “Do you want to have children one day?” How many children do you want? What about the rest of it? While choosing the right baby name and decorating your nursery are both fun, there is so much more to consider.

It is easy to forget that another adult has an equal voice in the parenting process. Raising a baby with someone else is one of the most exciting and challenging experiences a couple can have. Couples can run into problems when they fail to discuss the basics of co-parenting.

Consider these important points:

  • What will you do to afford the new member of your family?
  • What will you do if you are both unable to conceive a child?
  • Are you interested in adoption? IVF? Surrogacy?
  • What is expected of the person who will provide primary care for your child?
  • Will they be raised in a single religion?
  • What is your ideal discipline style?
  • Private or public school?
  • Never forget that your partner was the only one you had before your baby. How will you and your partner maintain a loving relationship?

How to Fight

It is normal to have disagreements in a relationship. You will argue over what movie to watch or for dinner. There may even be bigger arguments about paying bills and having a child. The way in which you resolve disagreements can affect your relationship’s long-term health. Even disagreements and fights don’t have to be negative or emotionally draining. The happiest couples don’t fear or avoid conflicts. They use them as a way to get closer and better understand each other.

You’re in the same team, as cliched as that sounds. It’s more important to work together to resolve a disagreement than to try to win. You’ve decided to spend the rest of your life with this person, so your relationship will probably be more important than who was right or who was wrong. Work together to improve your communication before you get married. Consider seeking therapy to help you resolve disagreements.

Use these phrases to help you resolve an argument.

  • Instead of saying, “You’re never around to help with chores,” say, “I feel a bit stressed today; could you please help me clean up the house?”
  • You can acknowledge your partner’s emotions by saying, “I’m sorry that you’re hurting,” or “My intent was never to upset,” even if you don’t agree.
  • Encourage frequent communication by asking, “How do you feel today about our relationship?” and “What can I do more to make this relationship better?”
  • Asking questions such as “Can you explain to me why you felt that way?” and “Can you tell what your perspective is?” will make your partner feel heard, valued, and valued.
  • You can also offer to relax together if you think the fight has become too heated.


Confucius once said: “Select a job you love, and you will never have to work a single day of your life.” But what if the job that you choose requires you to travel, work late, and take up most of your time? What if the job of your partner requires you to travel, stay late at work, and generally eat up a lot of time? OR, what if you don’t fit into this category and are stuck in a job that you hate or detest? You and your partner should discuss your views on your respective jobs and careers and what you see as the future. You can only anticipate so much, but you should have an idea of what your partner and you expect.

Consider the following:

  • Would you move to a different city/state if your job required it? Would you move for the position of your partner?
  • What is your feeling if you’re the only breadwinner of the relationship?
  • How will you help each other if you both get laid off or if you decide to change careers? Or return to graduate school?
  • What do you think about your career commitments? What will it look like if you have children?
  • What will be the division of the work in your home if you both work? Only one of you works? Who’s expected to do what, exactly? This is a tough question for ladies.

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