People in relationships that last usually do everything they can to help each other achieve their personal goals and work together toward shared ones. The most successful relationships are primarily the result of clear communication. Yet, some people communicate poorly when they start a relationship. They discuss their interests and similarities when they date, but they fail to discuss what their relationship means to them, what they hope to get out of it or how they might successfully combine their lives. They fail to make detailed plans. As a result, they often experience headaches and heartbreak that they could have prevented by discussing just a few key relationship topics early on:

Goals

Always, to the best of your ability, talk with your partner about your short-term and long-term relationship and life goals, including career and financial ones. For example, if you plan to make a major career change in the future, you need to talk about this plan with your partner early on to prevent this change from disrupting their plans and making them miserable. People often let go of certain dreams and obviously change their goals as they age. That said, you and your partner can only benefit by explaining clearly what you each need in life to feel fulfilled not only within the relationship, but also in your overall personal and professional lives.

Expectations

While a goals conversation covers dreams and plans, an expectations one covers what each person in the relationship expects of the other day-to-day. For example, it’s important for partners to discuss their sexual preferences, what they expect emotionally and physically in regards to intimacy and what might make them feel uncomfortable. You also need to discuss household responsibility topics. For example, a lot of couples only discuss chore responsibilities as their relationship progresses. Sometimes they simply fall into a pattern that involves one person doing a chore because the other one isn’t around to do it or likes to do it less. Even if you enjoy a specific chore, you might start to harbor ill feelings toward your partner if you’re the only one who does the chore and you didn’t discuss long-term expectations. The same can also happen if you feel like you’re performing more chores than your partner.

Money

Arguments about money often destroy relationships by creating high levels of anger, anxiety, frustration and stress. Lack of communication about budgeting, finances and debt often leads to one or both partners giving into bad habits. One person in the relationship might turn to drugs or other addictions like overspending or overeating to cope. They might hide evidence of purchases or even cheat on their loved one. You and your partner need to have an honest conversation about more than your financial dreams. You need to discuss your financial problems and work together toward solutions that help you create a stable financial situation. Additionally, you need to determine if you want to pull together resources or pay for shared bills and other costs by dividing them in half. Money talks don’t end at the start of the relationship. Always set aside a time every day and once a week to discuss finances and readjust goals as needed.

Outcomes

Each person also needs to discuss their limits in regards to serious relationship infractions and then outline what they believe they might do if a certain event takes place. For example, you need to talk with your partner about what you might do if you thought they were cheating. Some people use apps and other online tools like the ones outlined in Safeguarde’s Catching a Cheater Blogs article and then publicly post about their partner’s cheating on social media. Cheating has also resulted in one partner suing the other, especially after they marry. An outcomes discussion is similar to a prenuptial agreement one: both parties discuss what happens if one of them breaks a major relationship agreement and then agree to the outcome.

It’s critical that you and your partner hone active listening skills and regard each other’s belief statements as firm and unchangeable. A lot of people learn that some aspect of their partner’s point of view about life doesn’t match what they believe, want or need and then try to persuade their partner to change their mind. For example, many people think they have found the perfect partner only to discover later that their loved one doesn’t want children or dislikes a certain level of intimacy that they prefer. Always remember that you can never have a relationship made up of equal parties if one person tries to command or manipulate the other. If your partner states firmly that they don’t share your major beliefs, wants or needs, it’s time to end the relationship.

As you can see, relationships involve far more work than most people realize. By having discussions about these four topics early on, you can discover if you’ve made the right partner choice. Revisiting these topics regularly while together then helps you both to continue to explore life side-by-side in an amicable manner. If you love someone, you will learn that communicating clearly with them is worth the effort.