1. Talk About Reproduction!
Children are a big deal. Let's face it, they're entirely new people! But what happens if you have your heart set on making new people and your person despises children? Cut the pain and hardship, and just talk about it before it turns into an expensive legal decision.
Also, the timing and methods of adding said little people should be something you discuss. If adoption isn't an option in your mind no matter what, and your person wants to be a parent by any means necessary, that's another really important thing to know.
2. Discuss Parenting Techniques.
As mentioned above, children are a big deal. Often they can put the greatest stresses on a marriage, and if one of you believes in corporal punishment and the other likes positive reinforcement, the children will be able to play you two off of each other to manipulate the situation to get what they want. There's a reason so many parents mention having a united front as an integral piece of parenting.
If you want one of you to be able to stay home with the children while the other person does all the money making, that's another possible point of contention. You especially need to be on the same page with who does what as a parent which brings us to number three.
Roles need to be defined so there won't be confusion or resentment due to housework. If you're both working and expect the housework to be split 50/50, make sure your person agrees. Maybe one of you hates laundry but loves mopping so you want to divide the chores that way. Whatever. Find a split that makes you both happy even if that's one of you does all of the cleaning and the other does all of the cooking. Talk about it, and come to an agreement. Then you don't have to fight about always getting stuck taking the dogs out even though you have pollen allergies and hate the stupid trees some idiot planted in your backyard.
4. Where Does the Money Go?
This is honestly the most important thing to agree on, but I find money is easier to compromise on than children so here it is. ALWAYS, ALWAYS SAVE!!! Something always breaks so you need to be able to save money every month. This is easy to accomplish if you budget, meal plan, use the envelope system, whatever newfangled way is out there for managing money. You both need to be aware of the bills you have (car(s), rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, phones, Internet, etc.) because it'll add up quickly if you forget to factor in buying gas or that auto-renewing gym membership that comes out every month without you realizing. Also, if one of you values tithing, you've got to respect that. No need to disrespect someone's religion.
5. What Are Your Personal/Marital Goals?
Last but not least, you have to know who you are as an individual, not just as a partner. You need to set goals for yourself personally as well as goals for your team. If you want to be trilingual, do it! Your person should love and support you and all your dreams. If your person hopes to return to college and change career paths, great! Love and support your person. Don't lose yourselves as individuals because codependency is NOT healthy.
In addition to having an idea of how you want to grow as a person, you do need desires for your partnership whether you like traveling together, raising a family, starting a mom and pop shop, or even just going to dance classes together. Grow as individuals so you'll have more to bring to the table, AND grow as a couple so you can weather any storm together.
That's my list. Religion is another pretty important piece of people whether they do or don't have one, but I feel like that is a part of personal goals be it to further your relationship with God or be more mindful of all life or just getting through life. Whatever you believe, it will play into what you strive to achieve. I could probably write an entire post on each of these five so please let me know what you think.
Have any of your past relationships ended over one of these? (Number 5 was always a big problem in my dating life.) Are there any important conversations you would add?