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Things To Know Before Getting Engaged

by Ossiana Tepfenhart 5 years ago in advice / list / marriage / love
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Calling someone "fiance" is exciting, but less exciting is calling it off because you didn't take the time to understand things to know before getting engaged.

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell

Getting engaged is a major, major step in anyone's life. It's the moment that a relationship is viewed as very serious in the eyes of society, and it's also a sign that your partner may be the last person you ever date.

In most peoples's cases, an engagement means that you're off the market, about to move in with your significant other, and that you're about to make huge, life-changing moves. Obviously, getting engaged is a huge step that you need to be careful making.

Most experts agree that getting engaged is a "look before you leap" issue. The following things below are things you should know before you decide to get engaged with a partner.

Each other's financial situation.

Photographed By Ruby Yeh

You should never marry a person without having an idea of what financial situation they're in. It's not romantic, but this advice is practical and can help you avoid marrying the wrong person.

There have been many, many cases in which one partner marries the other only to find out that their partner is $400,000 in debt, has a credit score of 500, and was hoping that they could just hide piggyback off their spouse's credit. Imagine the hurt that the well-off person felt when the "grand scheme" was revealed!

If you marry someone with really bad credit, this is a sign that they may have problems that you don't want to deal with - or worse, that you don't know about.

Moreover, marrying into bad credit can also affect your chances at getting a house. So, if you do marry someone with low credit, make a point of trying to figure out a plan that you can both work with before you walk down the aisle.

Their family's opinions of you - and whether or not your spouse would be willing to put you before them if they hate you.

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer

Once again, this is one of those pieces of advice that no one wants to hear, but could save you from making a huge mistake. Whether people want to admit it or not, many divorces begin when family members put pressure on one spouse to leave the other.

Family that meddles too much in your relationship can become incredibly toxic - and can easily make your life with your partner a living hell. Worse still, many partners will never be willing to establish healthy boundaries to prevent the negativity from hurting their marriage.

This is a very widespread problem. In fact, there are entire subreddits that are devoted to partners who are totally exasperated with their in-laws' attempts to break up their marriages. Reddit's JustNoMIL is only one example of a forum that tackles this behavior, and reading the horror stories there will make you realize what a big issue this can become.

Even if you love the good parts of your partner, you do not want to be with someone who would let his family treat you this way. It will eat away at your relationship with him - and frankly, no one deserves that level of abuse.

If your partner wants to get married.

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams

Engagement is something that you should discuss prior to popping the question. If your partner doesn't want to get married for a couple of years, popping the question now may result in them rejecting you - and that usually will result in a full breakup within a matter of months.

Moreover, if you just randomly spring this on them in front of others, you also are putting them on a major bind to say yes. They may say yes, only to tell you no later on. Don't do this to yourself!

How many kids you both want.

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer

Kids are the big, bad, grandaddy of marriage deal-breakers. Most deal-breakers, like bad finances or crazy in-laws, can be overcome if both people are willing to work on it.

However, kids aren't something many people are willing to compromise on - even if it's something as simple as deciding between two or three babies. The problem gets worse the bigger the difference in ideal family sizes is.

If someone wants a huge number of kids, and you're a "one and done" type of potential parent, then there is absolutely no way to make it work without one partner feeling cheated. Additionally, some partners may make a "mistake" in order to get the number they want - and that may end up causing resentment towards them and the kid.

There are certain things that aren't negotiable, and one of them happens to be biological needs. For many people, having a certain number of kids are a need rather than a want in a relationship - and as such, you need to talk about this before you even pop the question.

IF you both want kids.

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer

As hard as it is to believe for some folks, there are people out there who really, truly, do not want kids. They're called "childfree" people - or CF for short. Since not everyone wants kids, it's crucial that you find out your partners' stance on kids before you marry.

Considering that many people won't budge on the number of kids they want, negotiating on having kids at all is just not going to happen. You can't have half a kid. There's no compromise with "just one," because having one kid means dealing with dirty diapers, responsibilities, and school lunches - and childfree people are very much not with that life.

If you hear that your partner doesn't like kids, or doesn't want kids, please believe them. Don't try to change their mind after you get engaged. All you're doing is prolonging heartbreak.

Lifestyle needs.

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer

It's very possible to love someone with all your heart but detest the kind of lifestyle they have. In some cases, the things a person needs in order to stay happy can be a hidden dealbreaker that causes divorce later on.

To prevent this from happening to you, you need to know what their lifestyle needs are. These are things that are 100 percent non-negotiable. Do they need to be in an area where a certain industry exists? Do they absolutely, positively require a certain medication, or a certain form of entertainment?

If you can't stand certain lifestyle requirements they have in order to stay happy, you shouldn't marry this person. However, if they're willing to negotiate with you and make a compromise, there may be some hope for you still.

Political and religious leanings.

Photo via Refinery29

Politics and religion can tell you volumes about what a person really believes, and what kind of expectations they will have in marriage. I've heard of many cases of people marrying into a religious family, only to end up feeling trapped by the expectations placed on them.

People who are staunchly religious may expect you to convert to their religion and conform to their religion's standards of a married spouse. People who have extreme political views may have similar expectations, and that may not jive with you after a while.

If you can't agree on politics or even be civil about it, it may not work out. Similarly, ideological differences can be difficult to circumnavigate without extensive conversation. Of course, if religion isn't a major part of your partner's life, it may be workable.

Overall, knowing these things will give you a better idea of what you're really signing up for.

Life goals.

Photo via Nylon

You need to know what your partner's life goals are in order to determine whether getting engaged with them is a good idea. Clashing life goals will often result in divorce - simply because you can't usually be happy with someone whose lifestyle or needs go directly against what you want in your own life.

For example, if your life goal is to be a housewife, but your partner wants to marry a career woman, there's going to be strife there. Similarly, if your life goal is to be an animal rights activist, marrying the biggest fur ranch owner probably won't work out well for you.

You need to talk about what you want, and why you want it. If they don't seem supportive of it, you may want to delay (or cancel) the engagement.

How your partner communicates.

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer

Communication is key to having a healthy, long term relationship. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to do this very well and there are many people out there whose communication methods may not mesh well with you.

Getting engaged is a terrible idea if you haven't actually seen your partner try to talk about a difficult subject with you - or if you haven't seen them resolve a conflict. If he never complains and never actually talks about his needs, there's a very good chance that he may end up resenting you later on for slights you didn't even know you did.

Major dealbreakers.

Illustrated by Anna Sudit

Some people have hidden dealbreakers that you would never guess by just talking to them casually. If you're getting engaged, you need to be frank and ask them if there's anything that you should know about their past, other people, as well as anything else that could potentially cause a major problem down the line.

You may not find out everything, but at the very least, you can say you asked if such a dealbreaker does show up later on.

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About the author

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of New Jersey. This is her work account. She loves gifts and tips, so if you like something, tip her!

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