Issues to discuss before marriage?

By James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC

Issues premarital couples should discuss before marriage.  Check it out!

You may not realize it now, but this is a big one.  Do you know the extent of each other’s Assets? Debts?  How do you view the sharing of these assets? Do you have the same attitude toward saving?
Will one of you want to put into a pension while the other wants to buy a new car? How much are you saving for retirement?  Are there school loans? Credit card debt? Who will pay the bills?
Family Ties
What sort of relationship do you have with your extended family? Are they good at staying in touch? Are they local? Affectionate? Over-involved? Have you had any major falling out? How will you handle the holidays?
Do you want children? How many? How do you want to raise your children? What sort of values do you want to pass on? Do you have opposing views about the benefits of state versus private education — and should you be thinking now about buying in a college savings plan for a good state school?
What are your religious views — do you agree on what religion you will bring up the children in? Church/mosque/synagogue? Once a week or once a year? Or no religion at all.
Leisure and fun
Do you like doing the same things in your spare time? Do you share common interests? Is your idea of a holiday lying flat on the beach for two weeks and your partner’s rock-climbing?
What sort of lifestyle are you aiming for? Where do you want to live? Do either of you have a dream of downsizing at some point and living away from the city?
Do you have an expensive shoe or gadget habit? Does one of you think of a particular purchase as an essential that the other regards as a “discretionary spending”?  Do you have any other secret spending habits: handbags, chocolate, football?  Do you gamble, online or otherwise?  First, define what is discretionary.  Then, I recommend setting an amount that limits discretionary spending without consulting the other!  Typically, I say $150 to $200.  More than that should be discussed. I have also seen people spend $15 per day at the coffee shop and be unable to pay the rent.  Makes no sense!  Will spending be an issue?
Are your respective career paths compatible, is either of you going to have to make compromises? Are you prepared to? Will you want to give up work when you have children? What does your partner think about this, and can you manage financially? What about part-time working?
Roles – traditional or modern?
Will you expect to live along traditional lines: woman as homemaker and man as breadwinner? Who will organize the finances? Will household responsibilities be shared equally? Who will assume responsibility for paying bills? Do you see yourselves as partners or equals, who generally share all responsibilities equally?
Are there any old flames for whom you still hold a candle?  Debt that you have not disclosed.
Drug and alcohol
Are drugs and alcohol an issue? Is the person willing to get help? Are they in denial? If your intended is in denial, you should probably think twice about the viability of this relationship long-term?


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Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.    Effective online, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

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