Maintaining a successful marriage is hinged on communication. Being able to talk openly and honestly with one another builds a foundation of trust, and sets expectations well before conflicting views or ideas lead to fights.
Today, we’re looking at 10 topics you and your spouse need to discuss, especially if you’re newly married. Even if you’ve been together for years, even decades, neglecting to discuss these topics is asking for trouble. Eventually, these things will come up - and if you haven’t addressed them before conflict arises, strongly held opinions could lead to some serious (and hurtful) arguments.
Financial disagreements are among the most common marital conflicts. If you don’t see eye to eye about spending, don’t have a budget, or have vastly differing opinions on what constitutes an “important” expense, it can lead to bitter arguments. This is further complicated by shared accounts, if one spouse is the primary breadwinner, or if only one of you has particularly pricey habits.
Take the time to talk about your money opinions, plans for savings and retirement, and expectations for each other’s spending.
It can be uncomfortable to discuss candidly, but having a conversation about sex - expectations, desires, hangups, and so on - is an important part of building a healthy marriage. It’s far better to deal with a little bit of embarrassment, instead of discovering your differences in the bedroom. This one’s pretty simple - you have to know each other’s intimate preferences if you want a stable, successful marriage.
We all have different ideas about what’s most important in our lives. Being on the same page as your spouse - or at least knowing where each other stand - is critical for a lasting, loving marriage. Think about your own priorities so you can discuss them with your spouse, and ask them to be honest about their own. This will help you plan for the future together, and know when you may disagree about careers, where you live, and so on.
This is another tough topic, but one you must address. Are you a jealous person? Is your spouse? Being honest with one another about this sensitive subject will help you set some ground rules for behavior, friendships, how you each spend your free time, etc. Your spouse may have strong reactions to things you might not see as a big deal, and vice versa, so if you know each other’s triggers, you can take steps to avoid them.
We all know how divisive political opinions can be… Having different views doesn’t mean you can’t be happily married, but if you don’t talk about it in a calm, neutral way, they can cause fights when issues come up naturally. Instead, take the time to get familiar with how each other feel about certain issues, and be mindful of how you might offend your spouse with your own political views.
If you don’t already have kids, it’s critical to talk about whether or not you want to have them. If you do, it’s also important to discuss parenting philosophies, discipline, how much freedom they have, and so on. Like the other topics we’re discussing, knowing where each other stands before conflicts arise can be the difference between a calm disagreement and a full blown fight.
Time is our most precious commodity. Understand how your spouse feels about spending time, what they prioritize, how they feel about how YOU spend time, and so on. You don’t necessarily have to agree on everything, but you can find compromises that help you both feel like time is being spent in ways that are important to each of you. It’s also worth mentioning that spending quality time together is integral for your marriage - and dedicating time to each other is something you should both agree on.
Understanding each other’s past is an important part of understanding each other in the present. If you have trauma, hangups, triggers, or anything of the sort stemming from your past, it’s important that your spouse knows about them - even if it’s painful to talk about. Sharing your history, the good and the bad, with one another will strengthen and deepen your relationship.
This is another sensitive topic, but knowing each other’s religious beliefs will help you have a deeper respect and understanding for the way you each see the world. It will also help you avoid arguments about customs, observances, and so many more things in life that are tied to belief. Some people are very private about these things, but keeping such an important part of yourself from your spouse will only lead to trouble in the long run.
Last, but certainly not least, you have to communicate about communicating! Let each other know if you have preferences, or if something about the way you speak to each other is bothersome, upsetting, or insufficient. Having a conversation about communication styles can inform every interaction you have with each other, especially disagreements.
Each of these topics can be tough to navigate, but building trust and sharing personal truths is perhaps the most important part of a strong marriage. Don’t let these things go unspoken, only to come to the surface in moments of conflict. Protect your relationship, no matter how long you’ve been married - have these conversations with total honesty and build a marriage that will last a lifetime!
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com