You think you are ready for a commitment, maybe even marriage, but have you explored the critical areas of your relationship to find out just how right he really is for you and your future? How does he define mature sex or does he have sexual inhibitions—do you? Have you explored money and any potential money issues you may have as a couple? What about marriage values, teaching child values and whether or not you’ll even have children? What is his passion and can you support it? Does he believe in a chaotic universe or a world guided by a higher spiritual power? Discover the essential keys to a happy relationship before you jump into commitment and save yourself (and him) enormous grief!
You’ve dated him for several months and you’re nuts about him, but is he the one you want to spend the rest of your life with? Unfortunately, it is easy to be so caught up in the thrill of love that you really can’t tell if you’ve chosen a partner for life, momentary passion, or simply the idea of loving and being loved. While it is wonderful to have the fresh experience of love, it is essential to apply practical thinking to choosing a life partner. Here are five questions you can use to determine if you should hang on to this man or make a new choice, and do it as fast as possible!
We all have certain things in common, which is why some say we could eventually love nearly anyone, if we wound up with them on a distant island where there was no one else with whom to converse or survive. In this world however, we generally have a few more options to consider besides mere survival. To truly know who you are committing your future to, there are five general areas to consider when choosing a partner if you want the relationship to survive the test of time.
- Passion For Life
Each of the above categories appear uncomplicated on the surface, but each is a potentially loaded cannon. Let’s look at money first and explore possible challenges couples often face throughout their relationship. Years ago, who earned the money wasn’t as big of an issue as it has become. In years past, when you married, everything became “ours”. Women chose to stay at home, take care of children, keep the house clean, and have dinner ready when their husbands came home. This is often not the case today. Before you jump into a marriage, do some serious delving into what your partner thinks about money. You might be surprised. We often present ourselves one way early in the courtship, putting our best face on, but when it gets down to the wire for marriage or commitment, that can change, and disenchantment can rear its ugly head.
Know the answers before you tie the knot. Here are a few questions you should ask your partner in advance of saying “I do”:
- How will you handle the money earned by either or both parties once married? Do your earnings belong to you, and his to him, or will they all go into a communal pot?
- Will you split expenses fifty-fifty? (You might laugh at this, but today it is very common to set up households with a fifty-fifty split. They are “partners” in life and each contribution has an estimated value. For example, if you are going to be the party keeping the house clean, or running errands, or caring for children, a value is placed on that service and that amount would be applied to your percentage that goes into the pot.)
- If one of you is staying home to care for the children, will that be perceived as a contribution—a job worthy of pay, or are you hooking yourself up with someone who believes it is just your responsibility as a female or spouse? Will you be given a household and personal budget with which to run your home and spending money since you aren’t working outside the home?
- If you’ll be using a communal bank account, will you both have access? (This is a common point of disagreement between spouses, and can leave one feeling without personal control or self-worth, while the other struts like a Donald Trump throughout the entire relationship. Know how your partner views money and the control that it can give.)
Again, you might laugh, but money issues trip multiple triggers in relationships, and it is best to know where it all stands in advance of marriage. Who will be managing the money in your relationship? Please don’t say you don’t care! You will care when you have to ask your partner for enough money to buy ice cream or a new dress and you are made to feel guilty for asking.
Whether you’ll be having children is best decided up front. More than one couple has slipped on platinum rings and dazzling diamonds to discover too late that one of them has no interest in children. And, if you are to have children, will it be a shared responsibility or one that will fall exclusively to one partner? Who will get up with the baby during the night? How does he feel about changing diapers? What methods of discipline does your partner feel are appropriate? What type of schools do you both agree the children should attend? What about sports? Music? Who does the cooking and cleaning if one of you is at home with the kids? While the answer might seem obvious to some, it is a source for contention with others. Know it in advance.
You are in love, you feel passionate about one another. Sex will always be good with this man—right? Hold on a minute here! Everyone has different perceptions, and likes and dislikes around sexual intimacy, and we each go through high and low drives for frequency of sex. Will you discuss this with your partner before you marry, or assume it will stay the same or work itself out down the road? Trust me, unless you talk about it now, you’ll be coming up against the topic in the future. Sex is a big part of relationships and if neither of you are willing to speak up about your likes, dislikes, drive, and inhibitions, etc., you’ll wish you had after his hundredth headache in a month.
Passion also relates to how we perceive life and what extremes we’re willing to go through to unlock life’s secrets. What is your partner’s passion in life? What does he love to do? If he says he loves it, does he follow through and actually do it? Maybe he loves to rock climb but the outdoors make you itch. Maybe you love roller coasters, and will travel from one end of the earth to the other to experience a new ride but he hates crowds. This can cause a problem for sure. We tend to begin by loving everything about him, but in time, we can discover that what appeared to be his passion or zest for life is quickly replaced by 24/7 television watching. Is that enough for you? If it isn’t, consider that this is likely not the right man for you.
So, what’s the future entertainment score in your relationship? Try asking some of the following questions to find out before you discover yourself watching reruns of Seinfeld until you run screaming out of the house:
- Does he like group or individual activities?
- Does he enjoy outdoor activities like camping, biking, golf, or hunting, or prefer darts at the local tavern?
- How does he feel about going to a movie and dinner with just the two of you?
- Does he watch television and if so, how often?
- Will he go to church with you or does he commune with nature for his spiritual infusion?
As a final point, let’s talk about the one area of relationships almost never discussed in advance of commitment—your individual views on spirituality, religion and your overall values. Our values define us, who we are, what we see as our purpose on the planet, what’s right and what’s wrong with the world, and whether or not we feel responsible to change it. Values determine how we spend our money, raise our children, what and who we love, our beliefs about war versus peace, the significance of commitments and just about all else in life. Do you and your potential spouse share the same values?
This question has enormous impact on your overall compatibility and requires careful consideration rather than a quick positive response. Far too many of us compromise values in the beginning because of our passion, a need for love or for having a relationship, and we wind up in divorce court as a result. Spend enough time with your potential mate to discuss everything under the sun. Get to know his history, what he liked or disliked about his experiences growing up. Understand his views on money, which one of you will control the purse strings, sex and intimacy, children, personal passion, spirituality and values. Find out how emotionally supportive he is now rather than later. Ask what he thinks about war, politics, discipline, religion versus spirituality, racism, sexism, money, women, and what he’d do for the world if he won eighty million in the lottery. Is your potential partner a critical individual or an accepting one? How does your spouse view his neighbor? Does your partner believe in God or a higher power?
All of these are vital to explore before taking the fast walk down this lifetime aisle of love. Take the time to learn about every aspect of your mate. Find out what he is really all about. In the end, you will either love him more than you did before you asked, or you’ll know for certain he’s just not the one. Ask today rather than later and save yourself and him time and agony down the road. You can “love the one you’re with” if you take the time to know who that is first.