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5 conversations to have before you get engaged.

Have you been talking about marriage with your significant other? Are you anticipating a proposal at the next special occasion? If so, now might be a good time to pause and talk through some important considerations. Make sure you’re on the same page – financially and otherwise – with the following conversations.

1. How big will our wedding be?

Some people grow up dreaming of a blow-out affair. Others hate being the center of attention and would rather have an intimate backyard ceremony. There’s no right way to get married; what matters most is making sure you and your partner agree on what’s right for the two of you. How many guests will you invite? How much are you willing to spend? Will your family members contribute, and who will pay for what?

Line drawing of a wedding cake.

2. What will our life together be like?

You probably have a good sense of this if you’ve been dating for a while, but it doesn’t hurt to talk about it. You might want to live in a city, maintain a busy social life but also spend free time outdoors. Maybe your partner wants to move to the suburbs and put disposable income toward expensive cars and traveling the world. Discuss where you want to live and how you’ll spend your free time – as well as your money.

Line drawing of a house.

3. What do you want to achieve, and by when?

Do you want kids? How many and how soon? Are you planning to stay in your current job, considering changing careers or dreaming of launching a startup? Do you want to go to school or get an advanced degree? Do you want to stay where you are or move to a different city? You don’t need to make any permanent decisions, but it’s good to know if your significant other has certain plans in mind that may carry larger implications for you, too. Talking about it can also help both of you clarify what you want.

Line drawing of a road map.

4. How will we manage our money?

Talking about money isn’t always easy or comfortable, but now is the time to share your full financial situation – the good and the bad. What debt do you both have, as well as savings and sources of income? What are your credit scores? Will you have a joint account or separate accounts? You might also discuss whether you need a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement. Ask your significant other about their approach to budgeting and spending, and discuss how you’ll make financial decisions together.

Line drawing of a contract with a heart on it.

5. What does retirement look like to you?

We realize this may seem too far away to think about now. You may not even know what you want for retirement yet. But, generally speaking, do you picture quiet, restful golden years in a city near your grandkids? Or will retirement be the time to tackle your bucket list and travel the world? If you’re about to spend the rest of your lives together, it helps to get a sense of whether your expectations are compatible – even into your retirement years.

Line drawing of palms on an island with the sun in the background.

This is an exciting time for both of you. By having these conversations now, you’re making the effort to understand what’s important to the other person. That way, when the big moment comes and one of you pops the question, you’ll feel confident about the life you’re about to start building together.

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