Most of your conversations with your soon-to-be spouse likely revolve around your impending wedding (and there's nothing wrong with that), but sometimes more serious conversations are warranted in the year leading up to your nuptials. After all, the two of you are about to enter a life together and become each other's family. For this reason, the topic of health should be broached in a few different ways. "Health is everything—if you don't have your health, nothing else matters, it's as simple as that," says Anate Brauer, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at the Greenwich Fertility and IVF Centers and assistant professor of OB/GYN at NYU School of Medicine. "Take care of yourself, eat well, exercise, and go for testing that is required—you are about to join your life with someone else's, so it's not just about you anymore!"
To help you start talking about your health ahead of the big day, we asked experts to share the four most important conversations every couple needs to have before they say "I do."
If kids are in the cards, it's important that you and your partner are in agreement in terms of when to start trying. "If you are ready to pull the goalie on your honeymoon, but your partner is thinking of waiting three to five years, you need to address this," says Jaime Knopman, MD, director of fertility preservation at CCRM New York Testing. "It' a great idea to have your fertility assessed before your wedding so you have time for family planning and aren't left scrambling after the wedding if perhaps you waited too long."
While it's not the sexiest conversation to have, it's another important one since it too could affect your family planning. "Certain medical conditions are inherited—think: cystic fibrosis, Tay Sachs disease or BRCA mutation—so at some point ideally before you conceive you'll want to be tested to see if you or your partner carry any of these genetic conditions," says Dr. Knopman. If you're not ready for genetic testing just yet, at least talking about your histories is important, especially if your partner doesn't know about these yet.
Ramani Durvasula, Psy.D., licensed clinical psychologist in private practice and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, suggests that engaged couples have a conversation about their respective family histories, too. "These histories may have implications for particular health vulnerabilities for yourself, your partner, any children you may have in the future, as well as for caregiving issues that may arise," she says. "If you learn there is a history of cerebrovascular disease and hypertension in your husband-to-be's family, for example, then you might be a motivator in helping him focus on maintaining a healthy diet, nutrition, and exercising."
Thankfully, mental illness is becoming less and less of a stigma and more of a conscious reality in the 21st century, but still, too few couples have active discussions about their mental health. For this reason, Dr. Durvasula recommends opening up the conversation about any history of mental illness in your respective families, including addictions such as alcoholism or drugs. "This may have bearing on how the months leading to a wedding, the day of your wedding, and even occasions during your married life may evolve," she says. "It may also have implications for your own long-term planning of time and resource as a couple and as a family."