When you know, you know, right? Well, maybe. While gut instincts are all well and good (and often scarily accurate), here are 25 other things to make sure you cover before either of you gets down on one knee. Because who wants to take chances with the rest of her life?
1. The difference between like, lust, and love. Only one is worthy of an engagement.
2. Each other’s career goals. What do you each want to accomplish in life — and how will it affect your relationship with each other? Knowing what you each want to achieve and supporting those dreams is a critical foundation for any couple.
3. How you each feel about faith. Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Mormon, Scientologist, Wiccan, agnostic, atheist — it’s not the belief system that matters but what it means to your life as a couple (and your future life as a family).
4. Each other’s spending habits. And debt situations. And savings plans. Get it all out on the table early. “Money secrets have no place in a marriage,” Kelley Long, a CPA and financial planner, writes in the Wall Street Journal. And even if you have different spending and saving styles, it doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. “It is simply an acknowledgement of a fundamental difference in money attitudes,” Long says.
5. Whether you want children — and when. It is important to be on the same page regarding your general timeline for starting a family, if you want to start a family at all. But you don’t need to agree on how many kids just yet. “Once a couple has their first kid, they will have a better idea of how many children they really want,” Jaclyn Bronstein, a mental health counselor in New York, told The Knot.
6. … And if you do both want kids, how you plan on parenting them. At least, in theory.
7. Each other’s parents/siblings/immediate family. These might be your in-laws. Know what you are getting into.
8. Your significant other’s relationships with said family. Love, hate, love-hate — it’s important to understand the dynamics at play.
9. The past. Like it or not, it helped shape who you both are at this very moment. You don’t need to provide every exhaustive detail, but you should have a general roadmap for how you each got to the present.
10. Any previous spouses and/or children. This should come up in No. 9, but I’m not taking any chances. Nobody likes a surprise ex.
11. How you each respond to stress. One of my main theories (among others) for why the majority of Bachelor/Bachelorette engagements fail is because they do not face real-world, anxiety-inducing, pressure cooker situations. Stress can be the ultimate saboteur in a relationship, and studies show that even happy marriages can end up in divorce thanks to “stressful life events, low commitment and negative communication.” But if you know how you each handle life’s obstacles, big and small, you can tackle them successfully together. “If you perceive your partner is there for you and supportive of you, it buffers and reduces the impact of chronic stress,” psychologist Gian Gonzaga told