As you get to know your partner, you start to see glimpses of the future throughout your relationship. It begins in the early stages when you’re just getting to know what you have in common, and continues as you start talking about “someday” things, like vacations you’d like to take together. Many couples discuss future plans and even accept them to some degree, but there are no goals built around them—yet.
While you’ve likely imagined what a future together looks like, you may not have considered the financial implications of that future. Think: careers, kids, caring for aging parents, and even where you want to live and travel to. In reality, all these things have price tags attached.
For us, location was easy. My fiancé, Rebecca, is from the Philadelphia suburbs, which is where Vanguard is based, so we decided to remain near Philly. Once we made that decision, the details started to emerge: a spacious guest room for out-of-town family, train access for Rebecca’s commute to the city, and room for 2 kids (though I think Rebecca is secretly hoping for 3). Career-wise, we both enjoy working and want to advance in our careers, but would prioritize family time over top salaries that require late nights in the office and lots of travel. We both also want to be able to care for our parents if needed. We’ve even joked about building tiny homes in our backyard for them, which my mom lovingly refers to as her future “Granny pod.”
It may seem like a lot of planning, but it’s easier than you think. I suggest starting with understanding what lifestyle you both want. Do you want children? If yes, how many, and when would you like to start your family? Will you prioritize career ambitions or family time? Will you live in the city or the suburbs? All of these decisions involve money, so understanding how much is required to achieve your ideal lifestyle is important. If you want to live in a big house, raise a family, drive luxury cars, and get your passports stamped, you’ll need a lot of resources.
The future can be scary—I get it. And often, plans will change over time. For example, as you get older, you may become more interested in raising children than maintaining a “dual income, no kids” lifestyle. You could get a promotion or win the lottery, or you might wind up losing a job or a loved one unexpectedly. Whether it’s a windfall or a crisis that comes your way, you’re going to have things pop up in your life that force you to look at the future differently. In circumstances like these—especially those that are outside of your control—flexibility and empathy are key.
Think about the past talk, or even the present talk, and how vulnerable you or your partner may have felt when having that conversation. You’ve had to pull back the curtain and share your deepest thoughts and feelings with each other. Has your partner been open, patient, kind, and willing to participate? Do they listen to you and acknowledge what you’ve said? Have you done the same for them? It takes a while to master these conversations. But if both of you dedicate the time and effort needed to work through whatever challenges come your way, nothing can stop you.
No matter how stressful each talk is, remember what’s most important: This is the person you’ll be spending the rest of your life with. Your goal is to share many wonderful years together and create lots of beautiful and lasting memories. Don’t think of these talks as simply checking boxes. Take the time to dive deep and get into the messy details. You’ll thank yourselves later—trust me. Marriage is one of the coolest, happiest, scariest, and biggest decisions of your lives. Embrace it!
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