Forewarning: These conversations are not for the faint of heart…and marriage isn’t either, now that we’re talking about it…
But these heart-to-hearts are WORTH the angst and discomfort you’ll no doubt experience. Why?
Because you’ll create a bond with your partner like you’ve never had before.
Honest, real conversation creates deep levels of love and understanding- and you will NEVER truly understand your partner if you don’t get some insight into what he or she is thinking and feeling. If you haven’t been real-talking with your partner yet and don’t know where to start- you’re in the right place!
This article is part of a larger project called The Partnership Agreements. The Partnership Agreements were born when my fiancé and I got engaged- and realized neither of us really know what the marriage step actually means to us. In an attempt to enter this marriage in a really intentional and meaningful way, we’ve embarked on a conversational journey with the following ten prompts. At the end of each conversation, we boil it down to an agreement- which is organized like a values statement. More on that later- be sure to sign up for my email list for more information about the process.
In this piece you’ll discover ten topics to get your wheels turning.
Maybe you’re already having some good conversations and want to take things to the next level- that’s also available here. And if you’ve already tied the knot- these topics are a great way to reconnect with the person you’ve married.
Check out these topics for the 10 conversations to have before you get married:
1) Money, honey.
It’s the reason 50% of marriages end in divorce- seriously, there should be a class about how to talk about money. Your relationship with cash has startling connections to your parents’ piggy banks- take some time to reflect on how your parents treated their money and what you gleaned from them growing up. Just like everything else in your life, you have some beliefs about money- how you earn it, how much you deserve, why others have more or less of it than you do, when and how you’ll get more, and reasons it’s hard or easy to come by. Ask your partner about his or her relationship with money.
2) Let’s get physical, physical!
Sex, baby. It’s a dicey topic- we’re supposed to have it, and it better be great, and enough times per week, but let’s not ask for what we want or admit we have no idea what we’re doing or what our partners are thinking! Does he even like that? I’ll just try to decipher his facial expressions and the volume level to make an (un)educated guess…
How important is sex in YOUR partnership? Does being in a partnership mean you only have sex with each other? What can improve about your sex life and how do you talk about it? The answer: one question at a time. Tequila encouraged but completely optional.
3. What does partnership mean?
Partnership…Marriage…Best Friends Forever- call it what you will…but what does it mean to you, exactly? Relationships are ambiguous in nature and many of us don’t talk about them that much after the ‘is this exclusive’ and ‘I want you to move in with me’ conversations. It’s important to be on the same page when you’re entering an agreement to be with another human. Your ideas on marriage or partnership might be vastly different than your significant others’. In order to anticipate and deal with future conflicts, ask the question: what does partnership mean to you?
4. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
No matter how much you think you know your partner, conversations can always be clearer. One of the most important things to know about your partner is how they prefer to communicate. If you’re anything like me (or, ahem, my amazing partner) when you have something to say, you’ll blurt it out and expect an honest, thoughtful answer semi-immediately and on your terms. MY partner Connor has learned, however- if I’m bombarded with an onslaught of questions and logistics pre-breakfast, I’m an unhappy camper… and also unable to answer with a clear head. Ask your partner when and how they prefer to have important conversations. (This gem has allowed me oatmeal and coffee pre-convo. #priorities).
5. Shared Goals.
This doesn’t mean you have to have the same hobbies and life-vision, but it DOES help to have at least a few shared goals with the person you’re aligning lives with. If your relationship had a few joint focuses, what would they be? Sometimes this shared goal is children (enter kid conversations here), it can be financial (I’d like us both to retire by the time we’re 55!), or even a shared passion: (I want to travel to one new country per year). Make your shared goals specific for the greatest success (Check out the Embeau Member area by clicking here for a free audio guide to help you crush your goals). Shared focus can knit your interests and energy together into a beautiful team swag-I can already see the team t-shirts for your Ragnar race….
6. Spirituality and Religion-
These beliefs shape how you see the world. You may or may not be religious in an organized, church on Sundays kind of way, but having some conversations around your beliefs and at least how you perceive your connection with the world are very beneficial for understanding your partner. Talk about what you think God is, what happens when you die, and what questions you have about the whole ‘life as a human’ thing.
7. Needs (we all have them).
Take a page from my journal: I’ve been that person in the relationship that pretends she doesn’t have any needs, sacrifices her own time and energy to make everyone else happy, and does it all herself. If this is you, take a step back sister (or brother)- there’s no need to be the superhero and you’re doing yourself and your partner a HUGE disservice! It’s a bonding experience to provide someone with something they need, and to deny that flow BOTH WAYS in a partnership creates an uneven balance destined for failure.
This isn’t to say you’re supposed to have your partner fulfill your EVERY need (or you for your partner), but there are some needs you probably prefer to have your partner provide the solution to, (And guess what, your partner wants to feel needed!) Enter this negotiation conversation with three rules: 1. Ask for what you want honestly and fearlessly, 2. never assume you already know what your partner will say and 3. be open to compromise.
Strong partnerships consist of two individuals who are rooted in their own awesomeness and ready to create an extension of themselves in a relationship. This means, you’ve gotta know yourself to be great with your partner. This requires a constant commitment to NUMBER 1 (that’s you, baby)!
In order to retain your independence, pay attention, express yourself authentically, and let yourself change and grow. This is why independence is just as important (if not more so) than your relationship with your partner. If at any time you catch yourself using the ‘royal we’ “We love yoga and tacos, and we really like our trips to the lake and the color yellow…” it’s time for an intervention. Who are you? What do you want/like/think/wanna be? You’ve gotta love yourself, first and foremost. Everything else is secondary. Talk to your partner about what you need to feel supported in your independence. (If you want support here, there’s a kickass course for that…)
9. Why are we even here?
Hopefully you’re in this partnership by choice and continue to choose it every day. Relationships can become really habitual, and after awhile one can forget why he/she/they got into it in the first place. Reevaluate your relationship regularly, pay attention to why you’re in it, what keeps you engaged, and why you fell in love in the first place! Take notice of the moments that strengthen this bond. For a fiercely vulnerable conversation, talk to your partner about why the partnership is a good choice for you. This builds on the independence piece really beautifully. When you acknowledge you’re in the relationship because you’re choosing it, (not because it’s comfortable, safe, or your partner’s a stage-four clinger), you assert your independence in a really empowering way. I personally never grow tired of statements like: ‘My relationship with you is helping me grow into the man I want to be’ ***Swoon!
10. Past Present & Future.
Awareness and reflection help us grow. Your past relationships are a really powerful tool for learning and making sure you don’t keep re-creating the same old relationship mistakes!
If you’re in a partnership where you pretend you’ve never had other relationships (or at least never mention them) you’re missing out on a lot of fascinating learning material. Move your judgements and jealousy aside and step into this uncomfortable conversation with an open mind: How have relationships gone for you and previous partners? What attracted you to them and what ended them? Is your current partnership working for you? In what ways is it awesome and where does it need work? When you think about your future, what do you see for the relationship?
Want to see some of the results of these conversations in action? My fiancé and I are going through them one at a time as we prepare to get married in July of 2020. Sign up for my e-mail list for the play by play and all sorts of other freebies!
Until next time….