Before you pop the question or put the champagne on ice to celebrate whatever form of partnership you have chosen, do me a favor, will you? Read the 8 questions you need to ask yourself before settling. Take your time and think abut them. These will be the foundation stones for your time together. Who wants to live “unhappily ever after?” With marriage rates in the USA at an all time low and divorce rates rocketing, these questions must be asked.
1. How well do you know your partner?
And what does your partner know about you? Well, you are a wonderful person, for a start! But let us probe deeper and discover whether you are a balanced person and if you are prepared to try and change some defects or not. Ask yourself the following:
- How you deal with mood swings and whether you are often moody.
- If you are prepared to love and cherish your partner.
- If you empathetic or not.
- If you are aware of any defects, how do you think they might affect the relationship and if you are prepared to talk about them.
You should feel at ease exchanging views on how you both want to be better people and how this could impact the relationship.
2. How often do you argue?
Think of the last argument you had with your partner. Maybe it did not solve anything or maybe you ended up at loggerheads. Maybe the fallout was pretty toxic in that there was a lot of resentment and hurtful remarks which lingered in the air afterwards. If this is a frequent occurrence, you may well have to think whether you are both compatible. Look at arguments in the following way. They are perfectly normal in any relationship, but they should always be managed so that they provide a negotiated decision or resolve a problem to both partners’ satisfaction.
“Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.” —Robert Quillen
3. What are your views on your careers?
“A career is wonderful but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” —Marilyn Monroe
Is there any risk that one of you might become a workaholic? At the other end of the spectrum, you have to look at a boring job which gives you neither satisfaction nor any prospect of a career. You have to think about whether your job is going to become the elephant in the room. You both need to be able to maintain a decent work-life balance if any relationship is going to stay the course. Talk about your plans and how these could:
- Help you both with financial rewards and security.
- Impact negatively on spending time together.
- Lead to stress or worry.
- Affect your children and their upbringing, if you decide to have a family.
4. What is your view of your partner’s limitations?
You need to think about this carefully. There may be problems with untidiness, distraction, forgetfulness and unpunctuality, just to name a few. The perfect partner does not exist and we will never know whether Cinderella and her Prince Charming split up! Now here is the question. If one partner tries to reform or convert the other, then problems will begin to bubble up to the surface. The key is being aware of these problems and attempting to change yourself first, rather than your nearest and dearest. Look at the give and take in your relationship and see whether it has been fairly balanced up to now.
5. Are you really happy with each other?
Many people have leaped into a marriage or partnership because of the fear of being alone or because of unbearable peer and family pressure. Sad, but true. But women are delaying marriage according to the Bowling Green State University. Think of it like this. Do not believe that things will change and that you will be able to adapt, if you do not feel 98% of the time happy, relaxed and satisfied now.
6. How reliable are you?
In every sphere of life, reliability is the one quality that makes or breaks a relationship. You both need to know that you can depend on each other 100%. Reflect on how you have delivered on your promises up until now. There will be times when you have to care for a loved one who is ill or deal with difficult children. There will be the day-to-day chores where each partner will have to deliver so that the home runs smoothly. Give yourself a score on your own reliability and assess your partner too.
7. Do you share the same values?
One of the reasons you were attracted to each other was that you have similar views on lots of things, such as politics, cooking, gun control, equal human rights, and religion. There may be things that you disagree amicably about, but in general, your world view is pretty much in sync. But, if you argue a lot about politics or ethical values such as birth control or abortion, it may be time to reflect on how these could start to erode your relationship. There could be problems about having children if you have very different views on family planning, for example. Think of various scenarios such as “what if…” and ask your partner how she or he would react to these.
8. Do you want to have a family?
This is a key question. I once knew a couple where the wife deliberately sought to get pregnant in spite of her husband’s expressed desire to have no children. They ended up with three sons! Needless to say, the marriage floundered and ended most unhappily. Discuss your ideas about children and more importantly how to bring them up. Your own childhood will have an enormous influence on how you approach this. If it was an unhappy one, there will be a challenge to make sure that the same mistakes are not made. We often parent like our own parents did.
“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” —George Bernard Shaw
Have you any other questions that you think are important? Let us know in the comments
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