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UF expert: Are you ready to get engaged during the holidays?

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Cooler weather, twinkling lights and presents under a tree can mean only one thing to those in love: It’s the holiday season and maybe, just maybe, the perfect time to put a ring on it.

Are you ready to get engaged? Ready to start the process of planning your future with someone else? Victor Harris, an associate professor and Extension specialist in the University of Florida IFAS family, youth and community sciences department, offers advice on gauging your level of readiness.

“Marriage is a partnership that has emotional, financial and legal implications,” said Harris, who heads the Smart Couples statewide program. “Before entering into this union, it is important for you and your partner to be open and honest as you examine your individual attitudes and behaviors about both social and financial issues.”

For example, what if you and your partner get into a heated argument. Is the relationship over? “Constructive conflict can actually help improve your relationship,” Harris said.

Harris suggests a couple sit down and consider the following 10 questions before getting engaged:

  1. How are your habits the same and how are they different? What is a deal breaker?
  2. Do you know how to negotiate differences? Do you constantly criticize?
  3. Have you agreed on whether or not to have children?
  4. What are your goals and ideas for raising children?
  5. If there are stepchildren involved, what will be your role in their lives?
  6. What are your financial goals?
  7. How will you manage your money together?
  8. What are your attitudes regarding your responsibility toward your immediate and extended family?
  9. What are your individual career goals and how will they affect your marriage and future children?
  10. Have you discussed healthcare directives?

“These are great questions because they open up a discussion between couples before taking what may be the biggest step of their lives,” Harris said. “The goal is to honestly assess your individual characteristics, background and how you interact as a couple. As you assess these characteristics, you may be able to get an idea as to how life as a married couple will proceed.”

Taking a free SMART Couples class is a great way to answer these questions together. You can sign up at under Classes/Events for the next series of classes beginning January 7, 8 and 9. You will be served a light meal, enjoy a lot of fun information and activities, and receive up to $35 in gift cards for completing all five class sessions. Space is limited, so check out the classes today.

And remember, enjoy the journey.


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.