I can’t remember exactly when we talked about getting engaged but it came up at within the first year of our relationship and more seriously around our one year anniversary. We knew where things were headed before deciding to move in together and that we would get engaged early this year. Here’s are 9 things to do before getting engaged. You can read about the lessons i learned during our first year of marriage, here.

9 Things to Do Before Getting Engaged

Learn How to Fight

How you treat each other when life feels difficult, when you disagree, or when you’re struggling is really important. Marriage is for better or worse so if you’re going to spend your lives together, you’ll need to get through both the highs and the lows, too. This might not work for everyone but we do not yell, and I’ve found that talking things through instead of getting heated can make communication a lot easier. We’ve had had our arguments but we talk about them.

Talk about Money

We have been very open about money. How much we spend and save and our goals for the future. Fortunately, we’re both on the same page and have similar ideas of budgets for shopping, travel, and saving, too. How would you handle things if one partner lost their job? When do you plan on saving for a home? Will you combine finances or split things 50/50? There’s no right or wrong way to do things but it’s really important to be open, honest, and to come up with something that works for you. Here’s how we manage finances together.

Do you want kids? 

How many you’d like and how you plan on raising them, too. About a year ago we actually weren’t sure that we were on the same page with this one and struggled for a good month or two. After a few (ok maybe more than a few) long talks we figured out what worked for us.

Travel Together

Take a long trip together. We took our first weekend trip 2 months in and our first international trip a few months before our one year anniversary. If you’re going to spend your lives together, you should probably be able to get through a long trip together without bickering.

Figure Out The Small Stuff

And while you’re at it, figure out the big stuff, too. It is unlikely that any issues you have now will magically change once you’re married because that’s not how life works and you’re not going to agree on everything. So figure out a few compromises now because this is the stuff that builds up and causes bickering (like cleanliness and strange habits etc). Do not assume these issues will bother you less as the years go by.

Talk about the hard stuff 

This wasn’t easy for me since I don’t have a relationship with my dad and have a complicated relationship with my mom who Conor has only met once. He’s been very supportive and fortunately, Conor is extremely close with his family and they’re wonderful–something I always hoped I’d find in a partner. Be upfront about your family dynamics–both the good and the bad–and know what you’re getting into, too.

Wedding Plans

I always thought I wanted to elope (small family I’m not close to). Conor did not (big family he’s very close to). Things changed when I met his family and I am excited to celebrate with the people we love most. Figure out what it is you want and come up with something that works for both of you and your families, too.

Discuss where you want to live

The city or suburbs? West Coast? Midwest?Talk about where you see yourself in 5-10 years. Fortunately, we are on the same page in terms of where we want to end up.

Be honest about your needs

This is one of the hardest things to do before getting engaged, but it’s important. Talk about what’s important to you and what you’re struggling with. Early on, I remember Conor waiting months to tell me about something that was bothering him. He didn’t want to start a fight, but it was fine. He learned over time that he could bring anything up with me and that we’d talk through it. 

It’s so easy to think about our own wants and needs and I’m not suggesting that you let those go. Think of at least one kind thing you can do for the other person each day.