Being engaged is at once exciting, wonderful and completely frightening. Oftentimes, there's this part of yourself that wants to just get the wedding over with and just start your life with this person, but there's this other part... that, well wants to hang onto the life you've known and built. It's a stressful time and one of the most important transition periods in your life, if not THE most important. Before jumping into a marriage though, there are some topics that should be discussed. It's much better to find out what assumptions your partner or you may have now, rather than later.
Do you plan on living on your own together? In your family home? In your spouse's family home? Can you afford to live on your own right after the wedding? These are crucial questions to ask, since it can really affect the dynamic of your relationship. Perhaps you have already decided to live with your parents for a year until you have enough saved up to move out on your own. But what if your spouse doesn't agree to this? Many Arab families and in-laws are very traditional and expect their sons and daughters to stay with them for at least a short amount of time after the wedding. It's crucial that this issue be ironed out and thought out carefully before the wedding, no one wants angry in-laws!
Will there be a joint savings and/or checking account? Will there be two separate savings accounts for each of you? How much to contribute? What about Roth IRA's or contribution to 401(k)'s? How much should you contribute and how often? It's important to know that while you will shortly become a pair, you have still undoubtedly accumulated your own savings. Now is the time to discuss what to do with it. Whether or not there will be matching contributions, the separation of accounts, or the welding of two or more accounts, it is essential to know before you take the plunge. Talk matter-of-factly, and try to discuss it without any unnecessary pressure being applied. Something that should also be considered and discussed is what to do if the marriage dissolves. This is a really tricky subject, but if you talk about it openly and create a comforting environment, it doesn't need to turn heated. Financial difficulty and ruin after a divorce is still common, especially among women. Protect yourself, and be smart about your financial future.
Are you both willing to have children? How many? This is one of those topics that any couple should talk about, since often times; people change their minds over the course of a few years. Something that is related and inextricably linked to this discussion is whether or not the wife will want to stay at home during and/or after the pregnancy. Discuss these topics with patience and keep an open mind. You may not hear exactly what you were expecting or hoping for, but needless to say, these issues are vital to your future and these are questions that need to be answered.