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3 Conversations You Must Have Before ‘I Do’

It happened quickly. Yesterday you were dissecting his texts with your friends and angling for a third date, and today the two of you share an apartment. You both know where you’re headed—yay!—and if he hasn’t proposed yet, you’re sure he will soon.

But before you get carried away, it's time to discuss a few subjects that didn’t seem appropriate to bring up when you were just dating. Why? “You may think you’re on the same page, or that you’ll be able to work these things out down the road, but that assumption has led to a lot of unhappy marriages,” warns Karen Sherman, Ph.D., a relationship psychologist and author of Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make It Last.

So don’t put it off another day: Have these three conversations now to ensure a happily ever after later.

The “Social Life” Conversation

If he’s a social butterfly and you’re more of a homebody—or he’s all about work-life balance while you’re a workaholic—we have some bad news: Don’t expect any of that to change just because you’re hitched, according to Sherman. “I talk to a lot of couples who’d assumed one or the other would settle down socially, or would adjust his or her habits after marriage. But that usually doesn’t happen,” she explains. Don’t worry—there’s a solution: It’s all about compromise.

Just remember: “We need to talk” are the four words guys hate most, Sherman explains. So skip any prefaces and just ask him if he sees his work or social schedule changing once you’re married. If what he tells you doesn’t align with—well—what you want, then maybe he’ll agree to go out only one night a week, or you’ll promise to stop working on weekends. You both have to be willing to make allowances, Sherman says.

The “Where Will We End Up?” Conversation
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So you moved to a new a city for work and then your met Mr. Wonderful. At some point, you’ll be faced with a decision: Stay, leave, or head for the burbs, Sherman says. And before asking him what he sees, you need to know what you want. First, ask yourself, “Where do I want to be living 5 or 10 years from now, and how important is that to me?” Sherman suggests. And if you want to be near your family—or think he might want to be—say so! After all, if you live in New York—and you grew up in Brooklyn while he was raised in the Midwest—you might feel “at home” while he has different ideas about where you’ll be in your 30s and 40s, Sherman says.

The “Kids” Conversation
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There are some topics too important to dance around, Sherman says. This is one of them. And if your conversations about children have gone no further than an agreement that both of you want kids someday soonish, that’s not enough. After all, if you know how many you want, and want to start trying sooner than later, those details could be major thorns in your young marriage if you don’t see eye to eye, Sherman says. While he may not seem eager, it’s okay—and productive—to discuss specifics, Sherman stresses. Don’t forget to discuss how you’ll raise your kids—things like discipline styles, schools, or religion are important. Before you ask, look at his family and upbringing—both provide a good idea of what he may want (or not want!), Sherman recommends.