Career & Success

Career Advice: What to Ask Your Partner Before a Romantic Merger

Important questions to ask each other before you pop the question.

April 13, 2023

A close up photo of a couple holding hands. Credit: iStock/franckreporter

Talking about careers and money now can help secure a long-term relationship. | iStock/franckreporter

“We’re not the first to assert that the most important career decision you’ll make is about whom to marry and what kind of relationship you will have,” write Myra Strober and Abby Davisson. Warren Buffett and Sheryl Sandberg have offered similar advice.

Yet in their new book, Money and Love: An Intelligent Roadmap for Life’s Biggest Decisions, Strober and Davisson lay out a detailed approach to planning a long-term romantic partnership.

If you think you’ve found “the one,” don’t wait to talk honestly about your potential future together, say Davisson, MBA/MA Education ’08, the former president of the Gap Foundation, and Strober, a professor emerita of economics at Stanford Graduate School of Education who taught the popular Stanford GSB course Work and Family. “If a disagreement about a high-priority issue is unresolvable,” they write, “it’s better to know now, before your lives are even further intertwined.”

A few questions to kick off the conversation:

Living Together

  • If you move in together, what do you think it will lead to in the longer term?
  • Where do you want to live in the near term? Is that different from the long term?
  • How will you divide chores? Does income make a difference in how tasks are divided?

Career and Money

  • Do you want both of your careers to be equally advantaged?
  • Do you want to prioritize one partner’s career while the other focuses more on home life?
  • How do you want to handle finances? Pool everything, pool some, or keep everything separate?

Marriage and Family

  • Do you want to get married? Why or why not? What does marriage mean to you?
  • How do you feel about prenups?
  • Do you want kids? If so, how many and when?
  • Is it important for you to raise your children within the same religion or belief system you grew up with?

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