If you’ve been with your partner for some time now, the notion of marriage might have crossed your mind. You might be curious if they have the same feelings or if the relationship is headed in the right direction. In fact, they may have the same thoughts, too, but are afraid to talk about it. Instead of waiting for the M-word to come up, initiate the conversation yourself. How exactly? We’re here to show you.
So, before you step into a jeweler to shop engagement rings, you’d best be on the same page as your partner when it comes to your relationship. Learn how to start the marriage conversation with your partner. Once you agree that marriage is the right step in your journey together, then you can shop and try on all the semi-mount rings and white gold engagement rings your heart desires. Here are some steps to help guide you to have an honest one-on-one talk to explore the idea of getting married:
Step One: Initiate the Conversation
Before getting into the details of marriage with your partner, find out if it’s even something on the table. Today, relationships take all kinds of forms. Some people choose to live together without tying the knot, often because of seeing their parents’ or friends’ marriages not work out. So before jumping head-first into the matter, see where they stand.
Openly express how you feel about marriage and be open to hearing their thoughts too. Be direct and tell your partner that you love them and could see the two of you getting married. It could be that they reciprocate and are just as excited to create a life together. It could also turn out that your partner is not quite ready to give a commitment or answer, and that’s okay too. However, if they are adamantly against the idea, it’s best to know now if they differ from your feelings on the matter at hand: putting a ring on it.
Step Two: Discuss What Being Married Might Look Like
If your partner is open to the idea, discuss what being married to one another might look like. Let them know why you love them and how you picture your marriage if it pans out that way.
Be sure to talk about the challenges too. Having a realistic outlook sets expectations. For example, how difficult are each of you to live with? Are there habits you will need to stop or compromise on to keep the peace in a marriage?
According to Pew Research, 66 percent of married adults lived with their spouse before getting married, so the chances are that you already know the struggles of living under the same roof. In fact, for some, it is considered a step toward marriage. But it’s still good to work out the kinks and differences now if you haven’t already.
Remember: Marriage is for better or worse. But you can work through some of the “worse” before committing your lives to one another.
Step Three: Talk About Your Beliefs and Hopes for the Future
As you start the marriage conversation with your partner, make sure you share the same core beliefs and hopes for the future. Discuss your dreams and underlying topics that might not arise often. For instance, this is a perfect moment to talk about spiritual beliefs and values.
While it seems a taboo topic, it’s essential to get on the same page as your partner, monetarily speaking. For example, do they live frugally or more lavishly? Or do they take risks when it comes to business or prefer a reliable nine-to-five desk job?
Of course, there is also the topic of having kids. Discussing whether each of you wants to have children is as vital as the marriage conversation itself. Not only should you find out if kids are part of the equation, but you need to discuss the time frame for starting a family and who (if anyone) will stay home to raise them when they’re young. If you are like some couples who wish to delay having children or are in a same-sex relationship, it’s also important to talk about alternatives, such as IVF or adoption.
Step Four: Set Expectations and Relationship Boundaries
Make sure you see eye-to-eye on what is expected out of the relationship. For example, does one partner have a demanding job that keeps them on the go when you would prefer they spend more time at home? In fact, what is the career trajectory for both of you? Does one of you want to be a stay-at-home mom or dad? You might even want to discuss views on alcohol or drugs. While you might think that drinking or smoking is fine, it’s good to know where to draw the line.
Relationship boundaries might even extend to other family members. Being on the same page about in-laws or exes is vital to a healthy and trusting relationship. If one co-parents with the other’s ex or has a blended family, it’s important to set boundaries as a couple.
Step Five: Offer Personal Perspective on What Makes Love Last
Each relationship is unique and, furthermore, so is each partner. Past relationships can define you as a human being too. As challenging as they might have been, bad relationships can give you insight into what you believe makes love last. Based on past experiences, each partner brings to the table their own personal perspectives on everlasting love and how to keep it going strong.
So, when starting the marriage conversation, be sure to share your little nuggets of wisdom. Discuss what you find important for keeping a marriage strong and the best way to navigate rough bumps in the journey together.
Step Six: Be Open About Intimacy
Physical intimacy is a meaningful conversation to have when it comes to marriage. Of course, when you are young and energetic, sex comes easy. But what happens when one loses their libido or sex drive or even romance in general?
Like all marriage-related topics, being open with your partner about how much physical intimacy you expect can help create clear expectations. So be honest and clear about your needs, whether it’s simply spooning and cuddling in bed or any other experimental adventures.
Now’s the Time to Vet Your Beloved
Marriage is a long-term commitment that takes a lot of effort. Coming to terms with one another’s expectations and core beliefs on many of life’s milestones and hurdles is just one step in the right direction. Start the marriage conversation with your partner when the time feels right. But even more, once you are married, check in with one another to see where you stand. Being open and honest is the key to many happy marriages.