Right now you’re probably more in love than you’ve ever been before. You’ve met the person you’re certain you want to be with for the rest of your life. And you think there’s not a single thing in the world that could possibly change that. Which is why you’ve decided to get married.


But before the engagement party, wedding and honeymoon, there are some things you need to seriously think about. Practicalities are probably the last thing you want to concern yourself with right now, but if you don’t want to go through the process of divorce in South Africa, then you need to be logical as well as in love.


Have you discussed your financial situation?

If you’re in debt, especially large amounts of debt, your partner needs to know. And you’d want them to tell you the same, obviously. It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning on keeping separate accounts and managing your own money yourselves, you need to talk about these things. You need to know each other’s financial situation from the very start of your marriage, otherwise, things could get messy.


Even though you might feel that it’s all about emotions right now, you’re about to legally (and likely publicly) bond your lives together as one. That means that if one of you is in financial trouble, so is the other. While you may have agreed to separate your finances on paper and in the eyes of the law before you get married, you’re still going to be living and operating as a unit. If one person can’t afford to pay their share of the bond or the rent, the other is going to have to make up for it. That could potentially turn marital bliss into marital turmoil.


Yes, money isn’t the most romantic thing to discuss, but you need to have a conversation about it. While you’re dating, it’s perfectly okay to not know what the other earns each month. But once you’ve decided to tie the knot, you have to know these things so you can plan ahead. And if you choose not to have a prenuptial agreement regarding finances, then money is something you need to talk about very seriously.


Do you share religious beliefs?

Whatever you believe in or whether or not you believe in anything, is most likely something you already know about each other. But if you differ in religion, you need to discuss it before you get married. This is not because of theological arguments that may arise, but because of certain faiths requiring certain things. For example, if your partner is serious about their religion and their religion requires you to convert in order for your marriage to be recognised, is that something you’re willing to do? And, to a lesser degree, if you’re planning a wedding, who will you get to officiate? If your religious beliefs differ greatly and you’re both devout, this could become a serious issue if you don’t discuss it early on.


Do both of you want to have children?

This is something you should be certain about before deciding on marriage. If one partner wants children and the other doesn’t, that could cause serious conflict and discontent. Whether or not you want children is not something you should compromise on just because you’re completely and utterly in love. If one of you has dreamed about having little ones for years and the other doesn’t see a baby in their future, that’s not going to end well. You both need to know how the other feels. And if you’re both okay with simply seeing where life leads you, you need to be open and honest if you ever feel strongly for or against having a child.


What are each of your career goals?

It’s not just about what you studied, what you do right now or that promotion you’re hoping for. This is about your dream job and where that may take you. If you or your partner hopes to work overseas, you need to discuss that. And if either of you are on the career path to a job that sends you on regular business trips, that’s something you should talk about. Now that your lives are about to become merged into one, your career should matter to your partner and theirs should matter to you.


And if you plan on having children, having a conversation about your career plans becomes even more necessary. Will one of you stay home with the child or children for the first year? If so, who will it be? If you both plan on going back to work soon after the child is born, are you both happy with hiring a full-time nanny or will a relative look after the child while you’re at work? And if one parent is going to be a stay-at-home parent until the child is a certain age, which one of you will it be?


These are all important questions to ask and conversations to have before you walk down the aisle or sign any papers. You may want to be spontaneous and leave the details for later, but rather get married knowing you’ve discussed everything and are on the same page.


About The Author

I was born in the Eastern Cape, close to the waves. After getting my degree in Media, Communication and Culture, I knew it was time to make my way to a big city. Not wanting to leave the ocean, Cape Town was the natural choice for me. At first I thought the fast paced world of marketing. But I never forgot that what I'd always wanted to do was write. Now I'm a freelance writer, where my office is my bedroom and my platform is the World Wide Web. I live with my partner and our two beloved Great Danes. When not reading or writing you can probably find me on the beach or exploring nature trails.

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