With wedding season fast approaching, it’s easy to get caught up in nuptial fever; watching your friends get engaged, throw bridal showers, and anticipate spending the rest of their lives with their ~one true love~ can easily make you feel like doing the same. All this hullaballoo around weddings is wonderful, but it can also take away from the more serious side of the getting-married business: the vow you’re making to your partner. Before you pop the question (or say yes when asked), consider these questions from Dr. Tanisha M. Ranger, a licensed psychologist.

Dr. Ranger says that the “pre-engagement conversation” is much more than just a conversation. Prior to getting engaged, it’s important for couples to have discussed marriage on multiple occasions. As Dr. Ranger says, successful couples have had the pre-engagement conversation “early and often!” — and earlier and more often than you might think. “It starts even before the first date, when people should be clear and up-front about whether or not marriage is even on their respective agendas,” Dr. Ranger says.

Productive conversations about marriage and life together might also include specifics about your relationship. Are there things about your relationship that need to change before you get married? It might also be helpful to discuss your goals for your marriage to your partner: Consider things like financial aspirations, whether or not you want children, and where you might want to settle down after tying the knot.

Dr. Ranger believes that most of these motivations come up naturally. For some couples, however, conversations about the future might feel scary or impossible. In these cases, she recommends investigating the things that are holding you back, both individually and as a couple. She lists three primary questions that can hopefully shed some light on you and your partner’s struggles with marriage:

1. Where does your partner stand on you and the future of your relationship?

2. Why are you afraid of bringing up future plans with your partner?

3. What are your thoughts about the future of your relationship?

If this soul-searching feels fruitless or conversations about the future with your S.O. don’t get where you want them to, Dr. Ranger suggests turning to a therapist. “It can be so helpful to have that third person there mediating and supporting both of you with no agenda other than to get everything out on the table,” she explains. “Even if one doesn’t want couple’s therapy, individual therapy can be extremely helpful when it comes to clarifying your wants, needs, and values.”

Between some proactive soul-searching, earnest conversation, and potential intervention from a therapist, you and your partner will begin to understand the role you might be able to play in each other’s futures. Before you say “I do,” you’ll be happy you took the time to consider exactly what you’re committing to.

What did you and your partner talk about before getting engaged? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)