Summer is almost in the air and it's the season for planning weddings. A bride-to-be's checklist is always a mile long since there's so much that needs to be planned for her big day, from reserving the venue to designing the cake.
As a relationship specialist, one of my biggest concerns has to do with all the emphasis that's placed on the wedding day. My own daughter recently got married and as I often said, "My list had lists." So much preparation goes in to ensure that the day goes off without a hitch. Besides having a private practice, I also teach at a local university. This semester, one course deals with relationships and marriage. The curriculum is based on helping students learn what's needed so that they be able to deal with the reality of what it takes to make a long-term commitment work. It's not exactly sexy, but it offers the nitty-gritty tools that will truly arm them to have successful long-term relationships.
Here are some topics to discuss with your spouse-to-be before the big day:
1. Will you have kids and, if so, how will you raise them? Assuming that you both want to be parents someday, how many do you want to have and how will you raise them as co-parents? Will they be raised under one religion? How do you expect to discipline them? What are your expectations about taking them on vacations? What are the expectations about who will be the primary caretaker? If one of you goes on parental leave, will that person be expected to eventually go back to work?
2. How will you manage your finances? What individual assets and debts will you bring to the marriage? Who will pay the bills? What will be considered a "big ticket" item and how much money can spend on a purchase before you should consult your spouse? How will you save? What are your financial goals and how will you reach them together? Will there be joint bank account or separate bank accounts? Will you each have an allowance of spending money and how much?
3. How will you spend free time? How do you expect to spend it -- together or individually? Will you still have time with friends that doesn't include each other? How often would you like to vacation and what kind of destinations would you like to visit? How will you let each other know if you feel like you need space?
4. Do you have expectations about sex? How often will you have sex? When is a good time? How will you keep your sex life from getting boring? How will you share sexual fantasies and desires? Do you have any boundaries when it comes to intimacy?
5. How will you divvy up chores? Who will do what in the home? If your spouse cooks dinner, are you expected to clean the dishes, pots and pans? Who will keep up with the maintenance around the house? Who will mow the lawn or take out the trash? Will the children lend a hand in the chores and will they be given an allowance? How will you divvy up the everyday load?
6. What can you do to openly communicate? How can you make sure that you keep your communication as good as it is now? How will you make sure to handle your conflicts appropriately? Will you check in with each other at the end of the day or once a week? What can you do as an individual to make sure that you keep the health of your marriage a priority?
7. Do you have any annoyances? What annoys you? What annoys your spouse-to-be? How will you let each other know when certain habits or behaviors bother you? How is it best to tell the other person about things regarding family that are upsetting?
Paraphrasing a famous commercial from years ago: the more educated you are, the better off you will be. So, have yourselves an intelligent and informative conversation so that when the big day arrives, you'll have a ball!
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