7 Things You Should Talk About With Your Partner Before Getting Engaged

The cast of Netflix's The Ultimatum might want to give this a read.
Have you watched Netflix's latest dating show offering?
Have you watched Netflix's latest dating show offering?

If you’re watching The Ultimatum on Netflix you might be thinking: “Don’t these people ever talk to each other?”

For those yet to dive in, the premise of the show is simple: couples who are thinking about marriage (usually one-sided in each case) date other people to decide if they want to marry their original partner or not.

Yes, we know how it sounds. It’s easy to judge the gorgeously sculpted reality TV show characters for their lack of insight into one another, but it’s not just Netflix stars that need to be more communicative.

Most of us who are coupled up also need to talk openly about what we want out of a relationship.

We spoke to a relationship expert Carole Spiers, a Relate-trained counsellor and member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), about things you should be talking about before you even think about getting engaged.

We also chatted with psychologist Dr. Madeleine Mason Roantree, a dating coach and director of relationship psychology services at The Vida Consultancy.


This one seems obvious but money is a huge issue for many couples and – as marriage counsellors will often say – is one of the most argued-about topics.

Spiers can also attest to this. “Financial topics are really important. Who’s going to do what? Are you going to divide up looking after the household? Is one person working from home? How is that going to affect you? How much savings do you have?”


This is another one that seems like a no-brainer, but many couples have the conversation initially and don’t pick it back up until later. Where one might be against having kids, the other might hold out for their opinion to change. But it’s of utmost importance this is discussed openly with both sides explaining their view.

Spiers adds: “You should be talking about children, whether you’re going to have children or not have children. This also ties in with finances – can you afford children?”


Friends and family are a part of us, so this seems like a moot thing to discuss, but Spiers says it’s important for both parties to express how they feel about the other’s relationships.

“In terms of friendships, are the friends around? Are you both in tune with the friends that you each have? Do you like the friends that they have?”

While compromises can be made in this area (you can’t ask someone to drop their friends and family after all), you might need to talk about what it is about their relationship that you don’t like – is it that they expect your partner to be out all the time or make difficult commitments? They have expensive taste? They bring out a side to your partner you don’t enjoy? These are the things you should be addressing.

Bad habits

Bad habits might seem small and inconsequential at first – but after a number of years, they can grate on you and/or your partner.

But everyone has their dealbreakers. Anything that you don’t see yourself putting up with in the long run, discuss with your partner.

“Little things can become big things,” says Spiers. “If you move in together, it’s very different to when you’re young and you’re dating. You might even laugh about their bad behaviours. But actually, it’s a pattern of behaviour. That if somebody’s doing something that upsets them, they’re not listening to the other person, which can make them feel unheard.”


When you’re young and carefree, health isn’t at the forefront of your mind but it’s arguably the most important thing to be aware of.

Your partner may have mental health issues which you’ll need to be mindful of, more so than you were as their girlfriend/boyfriend.

You might need to discuss hereditary issues, reproductive issues (best form of contraception?), and other matters pertaining to health.

Sex and intimacy

Another no-brainer, but our sexual styles are very important to establish. Dr Roantree says: “For some people, the frequency of sexual intimacy is very important, for others it’s less so. If one partner is into more experimental and less traditional forms of sex, be that kinks, fetishes, or polyamory, it might be a good idea to talk about this beforehand and how to manage the differences. Understand each other’s expectations and hopes around intimacy. Are public displays of affection ok? Ask other questions of how each party resonates with intimacy too.”

Love languages

Everyone’s got one, but not all of us talk about it a lot.

Dr Roantree adds: “How people express and feel cared for can vary, be this via giving gifts, acts of services, words of affection, spending quality time together or via physical touch. If the love languages are the same, then the relationship will fall into a natural affectionate groove. However, if they are not aligned, it is important to incorporate each other’s love language in order for each party to feel that they are special. Having a conversation about what works for whom is hugely helpful. There is little point in buying flowers if your partner would rather you do the dishes.”

So why are these so important to talk about?

Spiers continues: “Things that I’ve mentioned are fundamental key issues for a relationship. And if we don’t get addressed right at the early stages, then people say ‘well, I didn’t realise that’s what you meant/how you felt’ so you need to have clarity throughout.

“Relationships are about compromise, negotiation. In terms of some of the tricky issues I’ve mentioned, realistically, they have to be looked at at the early stages, because some of those mountains cannot be climbed later.”

Perhaps The Ultimatum folks should have had a few of these conversations.