1. Sleeping Habits: Let’s just start with the most important minor: SLEEP. Who is going to sleep on which side of the bed? What time is bed-time going to be? Will we always go to sleep together, or fall asleep at different times? And what should the temperature be? On the cooler side or warmer side? I can’t say these are things we covered in pre-marital counseling! But I’ve heard from a lot of couples who’ve had to work through these kind of things post-marriage. Because as we all know: Sleep is a really big deal, people!
2. Money Stuff: Spending habits, credit history, bills, etc.: What’s our budget going to look like? How much fun money do we get? Should we save or invest? How often can we afford to eat out? I think we all get that money issues are going to be a part of our relationship, but I don’t think we really understand how much of a topic of conversation it will actually be.
3. Household Duties: So….who does what? What if we both hate cleaning bathrooms? What if his mom always did his laundry? What if neither of us can cook? What if one of us is a neat freak? Who’s job is it to clean that gross clump of hair out of the shower (Or…maybe I’m the only one who sheds like a dog…?)What if he thinks that the majority of household chores are the “woman’s” job? What if my family split all the chores evenly but her family didn’t? What now? If you find yourself disagreeing about simple household duties, it’s time to sit down and make time for these “dirty” conversations.
4. Spiritual Temperament: This one totally caught me off guard when we got married. You see, I’m an external processor. I have to say things out loud in order to work through them. I like to share what I’m feeling, thinking, and experiencing- especially when it comes to my life with Jesus. My husband, on the other hand, is wired more internally. His spiritual life and experiences with God are reflected through his actions, rather than his words: his patience, his gentleness, his kindness, his self-control….etc. For the first two years of marriage, we had to figure this one out. How would we balance his internal wiring with my external wiring? How would we experience God together, but how much would we need to experience Him alone? I think we’ve finally figured out what that looks like in our marriage, but it’s something that has been crucial to the health of our relationship!
5. Social Preferences: A friend of mine told a funny story about how she was on her way home with a crew of friends, when her husband called to let her know: no thanks, not in the mood for people today; which made for an awkward post-phone call conversation with her friends. Where you fall on the introversion to extroversion scale is a really important thing to know and discuss in a marriage. When you become “one”- how will you handle your need for socialization or alone time?
6. Different Tastes: Taste in food, taste in movies and entertainment, taste in clothing, taste in style, taste in fashion…all of these little things are joined together in the wonderful world of marriage. Thankfully, in so many ways you end up “rubbing off on each other” in marriage (I’m officially a sushi-addict now, thanks to John!). But until then, do you know your unique differences in tastes, and how will you work through these differences when they come up in day to day life?
7. Emotional Temperament: My husband says one of the things that surprised him most when we got married, is how emotional I am (gee….thanks….)! But seriously, I have to laugh, because it’s so true. I don’t think I let the floodgates fully open on that one until we got married. But the truth is, I am an emotional person in every sense of the word! It even comes out in my writing, as I’ve been known to use WAY to many exclamation marks!!! My ups and downs are completely opposite to my husband’s almost constant mood. It’s something we’ve had to figure out and discuss, so that we can learn how to appreciate, understand, and respect, and respond to each other’s differences.
8. Lifestyle Differences: How much TV do you watch in a day? Or for that matter- how much football? Do you sit at the dinner table to eat, or on the couch? What’s your parenting style and how does that play out with your spouse’s parenting style? How much time do you invest in career, ministry, or family? Is vacation time for resting, or living it up? There are so many simple lifestyle decisions that come into play when you connect your life with another person. What are some topics that you might need to work through with your spouse?
9. Holidays: Oooooooh the holidays can be so joyful, and nostalgic, and…..STRESSFUL!!! It’s sad that that’s actually a true statement. But for many couples, it is! Where do you spend the holidays, and with who’s family? Do you go all out, or keep it simple? What family traditions do you pass down to your children (mine, or yours!), and when do you decide to make new traditions? How much time do you spend with extended family? Can you even handle each other’s extended family? These are all important factors that you need to be deliberate about figuring out in the making of a healthy family.
10. Free Time: She: “So what should we do this weekend?” – He: “Umm…I actually made plans to hang out with the guys on Saturday” (Cue horror film music in the background…..) But the thing is, these are real life scenarios that come up in marriage. What you do with your free time becomes a huge issue, because your time is no longer your own- it’s YOURS, together. How much time do you spend together? Do you prioritize date night? And when can you spend time with your friends? On your hobbies? For yourself? Free time can turn into an opportunity for major strife if these conversations don’t happen, and the expectations aren’t discussed. Do your marriage a favor and “free some time” for this one.