You think you know your boyfriend through and through after having dated him for three years? Think again! It’s only after being married that certain topics arise . . .

Andrea met Christo at university and after being in a relationship for more than four years they decided to get married. “It was only after our wedding that I discovered I don’t know this man at all!” says Andrea. She knew his favourite colour was turquoise, but not that he was weary of having children. She knew he was crazy about cricket, but not that he didn’t believe in long-term investments.

Today, after a very stormy three years, they have worked through all these issues with a therapist, but Andrea wishes that they spoke about certain things before the wedding. “These huge fights early on in our marriage definitely left their mark. I wish we could’ve just had a carefree honeymoon like other newlyweds.”

  1. Children and what if it’s not meant to be . . .

When you plan the wedding, the last thing you are most probably thinking of is the question of children. But as soon as you and your fiancé are married, you start a new “family” which will inevitably result in the birth of children – or maybe not. You must discuss the topic of having children – how many children you want, when you must start with a family and what route you will take if you struggle with infertility. Don’t think that you will be able to change his mind after the wedding.

  1. Money and accounts, who pays what?

Life is expensive and it is very important to discuss the issue of money before you get married. You must decide whether you want a separate bank account or not. You must also decide who will pay what account and how much you will save each month. Discuss your long-term financial plans, when you will buy a house and whether you are on the same wave length with regards to spending practises.

  1. Family and the in-laws are part of your new life

It is very important to get to know each other’s families before you get married. If his family lives overseas, make a plan to fly with him to them before the wedding. Do you like each other’s family? If there are issues, now is the time to decide how you will handle the in-law’s and where you will draw the line. Don’t think that you are only marrying him, you are marrying his family too. The in-laws play a bigger role in a marriage than you think.

  1. Discuss your goals, dreams and what you want to achieve

Do you know what each other’s dreams and goals are? Does he want to go to another country in a few years? Do you want to start your own business in a year’s time? Is he planning on leaving his full-time job and becoming a full-time musician within the next few years? Do you want to keep working until you have children and thereafter become a full-time mother? It is important to discuss your goals with each other.

  1. Discuss the issue regarding your religious beliefs

Hopefully you share the same faith – which makes things a lot easier and less complicated. But within the Christian faith, there are several denominations and ways of worship. Does he believe in adult baptism and you are accustomed to baby baptism? Has your family always celebrated Christmas with a bunch of gifts, a father Christmas and a bubbly food table, while he wants to raise his children without Christmas gifts or a father Christmas? You will have to decide how religious days will be celebrated and how you will find a middle ground regarding your religious beliefs.

  1. Secrets become monsters in a marriage

We all have secrets – some more than others. If a boyfriend in your past persuaded you to take a dirty photo of yourself and it’s now doing the rounds on the internet, tell him about it. If you did things in the past that you are less than proud of, tell each other. It’s better than living in fear that it may come out and to see the disappointment on your partners face when it does eventually happen, all because of a secret that you have been hiding from him for many years.

  1. Faithfulness means different things to different people

Yip, faithfulness is a topic that you will have to touch on before getting married. Maybe your father cheated on your mother and you loathe it so much that you will never forgive a man that cheats on you. Maybe he has his own ideas about unfaithfulness, and he thinks that cheating can only be considered being unfaithful when penetration occurs, while flirting is already a form of cheating for you. There are even people that think it is okay to have a fling every now and then! Rather find out now about this as opposed to later.

  1. Make sure that you understand each other’s roles

No, we aren’t talking about Superman in the bedroom, but rather about the real roles that each of you need to fulfil on a daily basis. Do you expect him to cut the grass? Maybe he thinks that a garden boy is high on his priority list. Maybe he believes raising children is the wife’s role, while you were raised with a very hands-on father. Maybe he wants a clean house every day and a fresh cup of coffee when arrives home . . . not knowing that you are planning to turn the bedroom (the one with his good light) into your art room.

  1. Do you agree on how to raise the children?

Different parenting styles can cause a lot of conflict in a relationship. Maybe you are extremely against hidings, while he believes that a smack at the right time is a good thing! You may think that rules have to be strictly followed, while he believes they can be broken over weekends. You believe in government schools for the children, but he thinks home schooling is the only solution in the current South African climate. Make sure that you agree on how you will raise your children.

  1. Do you fight correctly and do you forgive each other?

At this stage the conflict could pan out as follows: You fight, you slam the door closed and he doesn’t phone you for three days. Thereafter you make up, spend time with each other again (but don’t forgive each other). Remember, a marriage is a whole other ball game. You can’t run away when the water gets too hot, so you have to deal with the conflict. Make sure that you agree on conflict management – and if you don’t agree, ensure that you find a good middle ground. Also find out how forgiving your husband is, and tell him what acts you regard as unforgiveable.

Sometimes it is difficult to talk about these things and it may feel forced and unnatural, but think about it this way: You want to equip yourself with knowledge to the best of your ability to ensure that your marriage is never shorter than your honeymoon…