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Adelani Temiloluwa
School Of Nursing Ondo
Nursing Student
300Level, Nigeria.

FOR a while, I have been honored to counsel people in some shape or form for about 15 years, and I have observed that quite a number of partners never discussed some key issues or topics before settling down. Some have avoided it deliberately while some are not even aware issues like these should be raised and addressed from the beginning. You sometimes see cases where husband and wife have drastically different ideas on where they’d like to raise a family, career, religion, running a joint account and so much more. Below are some of the topics I personally consider need to be discussed if you and your spouse are serious about each other.

Debt before and after
Money matter is one of the major things that can cause distrust amongst couples.You must ask the question:who is currently in debt and what is the plan for repayment? Even after settling down, you should not incur a debt that will affect your partner.If it will, please carry him/her along. If there is no transparency in this aspect that union may never have enough trust or stand the test of time.

Child bearing and upbringing
Sad to say, not everyone wants children. To some if they never have kids, that can break them, while for others they don’t care if they have kids or not. Do you want them? If so, how many? If not, are you sure about that decision to take permanent steps to ensure you don’t have them (like a vasectomy)? Or tying of tubes? If you do want them, when do you want to have your first? second, third and maybe 12th. I remember I, in the past, always wanted six children. My husband gave me a resounding NO; he wanted only two or maybe even one. Eventually we came to an agreement of two children. As at now, I am considering adoption but he is yet to agree, hopefully soon. Another question to ask is: Are you open to adoption or fertility treatments if you’re unable to conceive naturally? How long do you want to try to conceive naturally before trying different options? Would you be open to surrogacy or other methods of having a child? May be going to an orphanage? This also has to be discussed extensively.

Settling down location
Where would you like to live? And if you don’t want to put roots down and would prefer to stay on the move indefinitely, is it something your partner would be open to? Remember nature of job has to be considered as well. Would you say any location is fine with you? Or you have specific areas you would hate living in? In terms of street, state, country? If you love where you live, what would persuade you to move? Is it more pay? Better job? Children? Proximity to parents or other extended family? School? Easy access to basic amenities? Security?

Religion
If you practice a religion or any faith, is it important to you that your partner shares the same faith and practice with you? How does your religion or faith affect your lifestyle or even his/her own? Can either of you tolerate each other’s religion? If you plan to have kids, what religion, if any, do you want to raise them in? Would you mind if none of them goes with your own faith and belief? Would you tolerate them being indoctrinated by another?

Plan for your ideal home
Do you want a mansion in Victoria Garden city, Lagos? Or normal 3-bedroom flat in Mushin Lagos? A cozy bungalow in Ikoyi? Or ‘face me I slap you’ in Ajegunle? It may not be so easy to build your own physical home as not everyone ends up becoming a landlord.But knowing whether you and your partner share common goals will help solidify your roles as partners in each other’s lives, showing respect and consideration establishing a common ground confirming that you both are on the same page.


SHARING bank accounts and sharing the bills
My husband and I share bank accounts for projects and other things, but we still operate our individual accounts.We withdraw with consent from each other. Agreed consent. So another question here is: “Will you be able to share one bank account? Would you prefer to keep individual accounts? Both? And what bills will be paid from what accounts? And by whom? And when? Will you each put a certain percentage of your income/revenue into it and toward shared bills? Would you be open to having an emergency fund account? Would you open accounts for the kids? As joint signatories or not? And what percentage of funds would go in and how regularly? What if one person is out of job? Or then decides to stay home to raise the kids? What if the male wants to stay home? What’s your plan for affording that? Or if you both will work, what would be the cost implication? Electricity bill? Dstv? Food? Clothes? Medical? Who will handle those? How about school fees? Toiletries? Upkeep for in laws and siblings?

Division of house chores .
You will need to decide who will do the dishes? Wash clothes? Baby sit? It is important to negotiate and plead if you have to so that you aren’t stuck doing the thing you least like all the time. For instance, I hate washing plates, even as a woman. I can wash clothes for Africa, but plates? I HATE it.I thank God that the children have now rescued me; they have been given the duty of ensuring the plates get washed. If you hate washing dishes, but don’t mind washing clothes like I do, suggest to your partner that you’ll handle meal preparations all the time if he or she agrees to take on the dishes for you. Come to an amicable agreement. This can only work if what you hate is what your partner can tolerate or even likes. But if your partner hates it too, then you have to find a way to compromise, using your best skills.Just add an incentive if you want the other person to help with it. I didn’t say manipulation, use a positive incentive. May be expensive take out regularly etc.

Sex.
This may be hard to discuss but it is very, very important. Do you want to sleep with just one person for the rest of your life? Hmmm, tough question! Would you be happy and satisfied? If not, then you will need to discuss this with your partner, especially in these days of ‘open marriages’. Discuss methods you intend to use to keep the fire burning, and of course ensure you both remain sexually appealing to each other. It is all a matter of choice really.

Nuclear and Extended Family obligations.
In the face of economic hardship and the need for both parents to work and earn income to sustain the family, you also have to decide how much time each of you will spend with the family, home training, spending time with the grandmas and grandpas or relatives.How much do you expect to spend with them once you’re married and have children, or even without children. Discuss how much time you expect your spouse to spend with them (and vice versa) and how or who will be responsible for care of the parents or extended family. Especially as our culture dictates one must care for other family members.

Vacations.
What would you want your vacation to be like? With the children or without the children? In addition to extended family vacations, you and your partner need to discuss other types of vacations you do or don’t enjoy. Which country would be a yes for you both? And which would be a NO!!! Likewise, are you a workaholic so much that you can’t bear to be away from the business or job? In this case, you will need to agree amicably as vacation e is meant to be a time of rest and fun. You can’t expect to plan all your vacations for the rest of your life together, but discussing some solutions that you’re both OK with will help you address friction in the future and maintain peace in the home.

The family name
There are some cultures where children bear the names of grandparents. So you need to decide what your family name should be? Is it very common? Would you want to make it a compound name? Will your spouse change her maiden name? What’s your family name going to be? Do not wait till the final day to decide. Talk it out.

Career and academics
Are both of you committed to your career? How committed are you? Do you live to work or work to live? Does your life revolve round your job? How will your respective careers affect your family life and family time? Have you been able to achieve your dream career? Are you going to face academics or professional certification? And if you have not achieved that level, what time frame will this take? What kind of personal sacrifices will you have to make to climb the career ladder of your choice? Are you ready to throw it all away for career? Or stick to the family first motto?

All these aspects and maybe more need to be discussed s to ensure there are no misconceptions or assumptions. I wish you all the best!

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