The People Pro

Training, Tips and Tools to Build Your Business and Balance Your Life!

My Photo
Location: Small town, Northern Wisconsin

Barbara is an author, speaker and psychotherapist in private practice. She provides keynote presentations and is a Certified Professional Speaker, a designation held by fewer than 8% of the speakers in the world. She has appeared on FOX, CNN, and CBS and is considered an expert in relationships.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Marriage Counseling--The Top Three Issues You Must Talk About Before Saying "I Do"

The wedding preparations seem endless; send the invitations, order the cake, choose the flowers, pick out a dress, etc. Couples run in a frenzy, especially as the important date gets closer. The wedding is the constant topic of conversation but are you and your partner taking the time to talk about what is really important?

Too often, more attention is given to the wedding day than is given to preparing for marriage. To my amazement many couples say “I Do,” without any discussion of the issues that often lead to divorce. Perhaps there is magical thinking that “things will just work out,” or “it will be better after we are married.”

The top three issues that you need to discuss before you say “I do” are money, sex, and kids. These are the top concerns that couples argue about after marriage. You will avoid a lot of conflict if you can reach some agreement on key questions.

Money. There are five different money personalities; planners, savers, strugglers, impulsives and deniers. Planners are careful savers and enjoy financial planning. Savers are extremely careful with their money and seldom see their finances upset by unexpected events. But they are hesitant to take any risks. Strugglers have frequent set backs with their finances. Impulsives are not disciplined to save and plan for the future. And deniers dislike financial planning and don’t worry about the future.

It is important that you and your partner understand your money personality and come to some agreements. Research has shown that planners and savers are the best money managers and wise couples let the partner with that personality handle the money. If neither of you have developed those skills then it is important to seek outside assistance.

Sex. Many couples are shocked to find that their sexual needs are different. Or they have the unrealistic expectation that sex and romance will be like when they first met. Sex lives ebb and flow and wise couples communicate about their needs. A commitment to build intimacy both in and out of the bedroom is essential. You can arrive at a comfortable agreement as to frequency and other issues by some careful communication.

What happens outside of the bedroom is as important as the activity behind closed doors. Research has shown that men who do housework have better sex lives. Couples who partner in activities of daily living find that this partnership spills into the bedroom as well. A little romance, understanding and communication outside of the bedroom enhances intimacy in a marriage.

Kids. Basic question: do you want them? I know, this seems obvious. Yet I have married couples who come to counseling arguing whether they want children. This needs to be discussed before you say “I do.” And if your partner says they REALLY don’t want them, don’t count on changing their mind after marriage. It probably won’t happen.

Sometimes couples already have children and disagree on how to raise them. It is important to talk about and arrive at a shared philosophy of parenting. This does not mean that you have to agree on everything. It is very common that one parent is more of the disciplinary but philosophy, strategies and approaches to child rearing need to be discussed.

Talk about these issues before saying “I do” and you and your partner will be able to navigate the challenges of a long term relationship.

FREE marriage quizzes to determine your money personality, to increase intimacy and evaluate your parenting style at

Get your copy of the just released second edition of Why Did I Marry You Anyway? Overcoming the Myths That Hinder a Happy Marriage. It includes chapters on second marriages and blended families.

Copyright 2007 by Barbara Bartlein. All rights reserved.