Weddings are a huge undertaking. They can take months of planning, discussions, and negotiations between you, your future spouse, and your families. But when the big day comes, hopefully, the hard work will pay off and you’ll remember and cherish that day for the rest of your life.
But don’t get lost in the weeds. What’s most important is not the wedding, but the marriage. The marriage is meant to last a lifetime, not just one day. And to ensure a resilient union, it is important to discuss some important topics before the wedding, so you and your spouse thoroughly understand each other’s expectations.
PMK associate and family law attorney Seth Harris provided some advice on what to talk about before you enter matrimony.
- The wedding – A wedding can be a major negotiation between two sometimes very different families. In a sense, it’s your first test as a couple for how you handle conflict and compromise. If you can’t agree on the wedding plans – such as how many people to invite and how much to spend – you may want to reevaluate.
- Location – Do you plan on staying in Hawaii for the rest of your life? If all your immediate family, aunties, uncles, and best friends live in Hawaii, you may have already decided you’ll never leave. But what if you or your spouse gets a great job offer on the mainland? Make sure you and your spouse discuss under what circumstances either of you will relocate.
- Finances – Who manages the money? This discussion should encompass everything from day-to-day bills to which of you will prepare and file the taxes. What are your financial priorities? For example, do you both want to buy a house? Do you anticipate paying for any additional education for you and/or your spouse? How much are you willing to spend on vacations? What level of financial risk is each of you comfortable with?
- Extended family – How much time will you spend with your extended family? Which relatives will be significant parts of your lives and those of your children if you plan to have them? Are you socially obligated to travel to see some family members? Does one of you envision having dinner every Sunday with one side of the family while the other wants a quiet meal at home with just you and your spouse?
- Children – You and your future spouse may not yet have determined how many children you want to have, but you should at least agree on if you do or don’t plan to have them.
- Religion – How significant a part of your lives do you want religion to be? If you are your spouse was raised in different faiths, have you agreed on a religion for your children?
Most importantly, keep an open dialogue with your future spouse. You won’t be able to anticipate every possible situation, which is why it is so crucial that you keep the lines of communication open, both before and after marriage!
Family law attorney and PMK associate Seth Harris provides knowledgeable, compassionate counsel for all of your family law needs. Contact him at Family@HawaiiLegal.com.