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9 Conversations Every Couple Should Have

Dating & Relationships / July 21, 2016

How many kids you want, how often you floss, what flavor wedding cake you’re imagining — these topics aren’t exactly appropriate for first-date conversations. But by the time you’re in a serious relationship, there are certain subjects you absolutely must discuss if you’re going to continue to build a healthy partnership.

So whether you’re already hitched, thinking about shacking up, or even if you’ve been dating for years without any intention of moving in together or getting married, this list is for you. Check out the nine discussions you and your partner need to have, STAT.

1. The Talk about Sex, Baby

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Maybe you two have already done the deed a million times. That doesn’t necessarily mean you know exactly what your partner wants and likes in bed, and it’s probably a good idea to find out. Relationship experts say perceived sexual compatibility (as in, how well you think you guys work out sexually) can make or break a relationship. Maybe she has a secret fetish she still hasn’t shared with you; maybe you’ve been afraid to tell her you’re intimidated by how often she wants sex. Whatever your preferences, be as open and as non-judgmental as possible during the discussion.

2. The Dolla-Dolla Bills Discussion

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Even if you’ve never explicitly talked about money, you probably already have a vague idea of how much your partner makes and how he/she likes to spend a paycheck. Still, if there’s a possibility that you two might end up sharing a bank account or co-owning a house (or if you already are), it’s crucial to have a conversation about finances. Taffy Wagner, financial expert and CEO of MoneyTalkMatters.com, told Woman’s Day that one important question to ask your partner is, “How did you manage your money when you were on your own?” It’s also a good idea, Wagner said, to decide which partner will be the main financial manager (although he/she always needs to keep the other partner informed).

3. The Communication Conversation

Wait — why would you talk about fighting if you’re not actually mad at each other? Because learning about your partner’s communication style, especially when he/she wants to talk about something that’s bothersome, helps prevent big blow-ups down the road. Relationship expert Rebecca Hendrix writes on TheKnot.com that it’s useful to think back to a recent quarrel and analyze it to see how each partner approached the situation differently. It could be that you chose to speak up the minute your partner did something annoying. It could be that your partner needs some time to process his/her emotions before beginning a discussion. Just knowing this information is really valuable for handling future conflicts.

4. The Fuss about the Future

For sure, thinking about what lies ahead for you two can be seriously anxiety provoking. While it might be nicer to just lay in bed together binge-watching Modern Family and “enjoy the moment,” a serious relationship requires some conversation about what each person envisions for the next few years. Are you planning to apply to Ph.D. programs all over the country? Is your partner hoping to quit his/her job and travel for a year? As Dr. Laura Berman, a sex and relationship educator and therapist, writes on Everyday Health, it’s important to get on the same page about your plans. Make sure to cover all the possibilities now so that, should one of them become a reality, you’ll be as prepared as possible. 

5. The Cinderella Story

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Unfortunately, this conversation is less about romance and Prince Charming and more about household chores. Especially for couples who live together, it’s important to figure out who’s responsible for and actually enjoys which everyday tasks. According to relationship expert Paulette Kouffman-Sherman, the most important thing is that thedivision of chores feels fair. So if you hate cooking, go ahead and ask your partner if he/she would prefer to take charge in the kitchen, while you agree to wash the dishes afterward. 

6. The Cheating Chat

Sometimes infidelity is easily defined. Having sex with someone else in the bed you share with your partner? Ding, ding, ding! That is cheating, times a thousand. But don’t take your partner’s thoughts about infidelity for granted. It’s worth having a sit-down discussion about what exactly constitutes cheating in the context of your unique relationship. Online communication is especially tricky — Dr. Aaron Ben-Zeev writes on PsychologyToday.com that people have different ideas about whether a virtual connection is actually an instance of infidelity if there’s no in-person interaction. There are all kinds of relationships with all kinds of boundaries, so make sure to figure out what yours are before someone gets hurt. 

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