1. Think about the pre-nup. Do you need a pre-nuptial agreement? It is much better to have these awkward conversations at the beginning of a relationship – especially if you already have a lot of assets
Be aware of the legal status of jewellery. Jewellery is normally considered a gift and not a loan. Therefore, if you give an engagement ring to the other party then that is for them to keep – whether you get married or not. A pre-nup contract that specifies the shared ownership of the engagement ring, would be an exception.
2. If you are given an advance to buy a house together then there is often uncertainty as to whether advances are considered a loan or a gift. If your family members are the ones giving the advance, have it documented in writing with a lawyer.
3. It is important to have conversations about finances with your partner, no matter how far away that seems from romance. Will you have separate or joint bank accounts? Who will pay for food and other day-to-day things if you live together? Will you have joint credit cards? Have you talked about whether you want to have children?
4. Consider going to pre-marriage counselling if love deepens. It seems silly that we only go to counselling once a relationship has broken, down rather than at the beginning. From what I see as a divorce lawyer, a lot of relationship success is about preparation. After all, how many other big decisions do you make by just drifting into the future? Some churches strongly promote pre-marital counselling. You have to undertake it to get married. A neutral third party mediates and unearths any tensions that need to be out in the open. There is wisdom in that approach, even if you aren’t religious.
5. Have some normal times with the person you love. I see lots of couples who have spent plenty of time on holidays in exotic locations, and not much time just hanging out around the house or doing mundane things together. You have to know you can be with this person in unexciting times. That’s true compatibility.
It is really important for you to know more about your partner financially as well as emotionally, before you get serious in your relationship. It’s much easier to ask the hard questions at an early stage, questions that will not only protect you, but give love a better chance of lasting and deepening.