Whether you are months into a new relationship or have been together for years, there are some important questions to ask yourself and your partner if you see yourselves being together long term.
Are you planning to get married? If so, what are your reasons for getting married? What are your partner’s reasons? Are you ready for a life of unwavering commitment? And do you have the skills and desire to push through the inevitably tough moments alongside all the joyous ones?
To answer those questions, you really need to know yourself and your partner on a deep level.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Dara Bushman, psychotherapist Jason Eric Ross and matchmaker Pam Stanger put together a list of the crucial things to know about your partner before getting engaged and married. It isn’t an exhaustive list but consider it a guide.
1.Know whether they want children or not – and how many
If you aren’t on the same page about kids, you will likely break up due to this.
This topic sometimes gets shoved under the rug as people don’t ask the right questions, then are shocked to find out their partners don’t have the same view as they do.
If you have already had this discussion, make sure you know how many children your partner wants and what their ideal timeline looks like. Sometimes you figure these things out along the way but having consistent and open conversations is key. If you or they already have children, how will your marriage impact the family dynamic?
2.Their full financial situation – and how they approach money
The number one cause of divorce is financially not agreeing on how money is handled. Whether they have good credit or not could block any home purchase. Also, who pays for what? Don’t assume if you’ve marrying a wealthy person that they will pay for everything.
You want to know if your potential partner uses reasonable judgement, and you definitely want to know if they have any debt you may take on. Someone who is fiscally responsible will bring less baggage to the relationship, and thus there will be less arguing.
3.How they get along with others – including loved ones – exes, and strangers
The way someone treats other people speaks volumes. Whether it’s being kind or rude to waitstaff or speaking positively or negatively about close friends or family members, pay attention.
Family of origin may be the most important factor to consider. How someone interacts with family is something you will likely have play out in your relationship unless they’re really mindful and have had counseling to keep this from happening. Understanding the family dynamics will give you a sense of how much, if any, drama you should expect.
Even the way your partner interacts with or speaks about an ex can be very telling. Are they compassionate? Hateful? This is often overlooked, but truly important. If someone speaks well of an ex, there are better odds they will treat you with compassion. It’s one way to gauge emotional well-being and emotional intelligence.
4.How your partner likes to be touched
Intimacy is the primary difference between a romantic relationship and a platonic one. Sex, snuggling, kissing, and general touching really matters. But how does your partner interact with just general physical contact? It is important to not let sex be the foundation of your relationship. Before marriage, implement holding hands for 20 seconds. Go to bed touching feet. Kiss for four seconds a day. Spell out “kiss” with your lips touching. Hug your partner. Make a commitment to touch in some capacity every day.
ALL relationships go through Peaks and Valleys in all areas, including physical intimacy. It’s OK if libido ebbs and flows over the years, bur being highly comfortable with each other physically is very important to lifelong bonding and happiness.
5.What they are like in crisis mode
Everyone deals with tough sports, whether it’s a major family issue, career-related upset, or health scare. What you need to know is how they work through a crisis. It’s not ideal if they avoid the problem throw their hands up or run in the other direction. This demonstrates an inability – or an unwillingness – to deal with their own emotions and to problem-solve. Perfection isn’t necessary here. Nobody is perfect. It’s that drive to remain positive and find resolve that matters most.
One sign that your partner can work through a crisis is if they’re open to therapy. Being willing to undergo counseling, to me, is a sign of maturity and willingness. I do believe people who seek therapy end up having better insight, which tends to lead to healthier relationships.
Another good barometer is to see what they’re like during the holidays or while traveling, which can both be pretty stressful events. Again, nobody is perfect – and you shouldn’t expect flawless superhero problem-solving – but how your partner handles difficult situations before marriage is how they’ll likely handle them after. Make sure you’re OK with their approach.