I believe every couple who wants to get married needs to consider the reality that no amount of therapy can overcome the wrong choice in partner. As a relationship coach, I have seen a few times where couples end up running into relationship problems within a couple of months of the wedding. They end up fighting about nothing, but also everything and all the time. And it usually comes down to them rushing into something without thinking things through. This made me wonder that if someone were to ask me about some important things to consider in a life partner – what would they be? I came up with four:
Let’s look at each briefly.
Are they good for you? This is a strange but vital question. Is being with the person, actually bringing out the best in YOU? It doesn’t matter if they’re successful or sexy – the thing that will make or break your relationship, in the end, is how they treat you as a person. If you’re simply an add-on for them, happiness won’t last in your relationship. If being with your partner actually causes you to be the best version of yourself, you might have a winner on your hands. How do they make you feel? This one flows on from the previous one. We all have unconscious expectations about how we want to feel in our relationships, and how we want our partners to treat us, in order to feel that way. Most of us want to feel respected, for example. So ask yourself: Do you feel respected by your partner? Does your partner make you feel the way you want to feel? Here’s the deal, if your life is filled with negativity and inner turmoil because of the relationship you’re in, maybe it’s something to consider. Are they trustworthy? Trust is foundational to any stable and long-term relationship. And you deserve a relationship in which you feel great certainty and trust, rather than being consumed by new anxieties or doubt.
Discuss previous relationships. Individuals have different comfort levels with regards to discussing past lovers. But, sometimes it’s necessary to process some past emotional hurt. Even though one doesn’t necessarily need to go into details, it is important to be aware of any past relationship patterns or injuries, and learn how to manage them in the present. Even though we can’t change the past, we can change our recollection and framing of it in the now. Consider one another’s family history. Our childhood has a profound influence in shaping our worldview and way of life. Learning how your potential partner felt and dealt with a controlling parent, for example, will help you understand them better. Find common ground on money matters. Mixing finances is a huge step. So, get a sense of how different you are with regards to spending and saving. Many successful couples have different perspectives on money, but they still create great results by utilizing one another’s strengths and weaknesses. Know one another’s expectations about parenting. Having kids is another common minefield for couples. Before committing for life, clarify whether you’re on the same page about wanting kids, when the most ideal time would be, and how many.
Some research suggests that the worst combination of personalities for a couple is when one is anxious and one avoidant. People with an anxious attachment style tend to be overly concerned with abandonment and rejection. Conversely, people with an avoidant attachment style find it difficult to be close and intimate with their relationship partners. An important question to ask here is – what are your attachment styles, and are they compatible? If not, take steps to address this. The goal is to adopt a secure attachment style, which tends to create more stable and satisfy relationships.
The compatibility-myth Sameness does not guarantee long-term relationship happiness. It’s diversity that makes relationships interesting. Having and sustaining “connection” is much more important for long-term chemistry and intimacy than compatibility. Too much so-called “compatibility” can easily lead to boredom and dullness. Take a balanced view of romance. There is research that shows that couples who display more than understandable levels of affection towards each other from the start are more likely to divorce. It has to do with creating unrealistic expectations during the initial infatuation period and being disillusioned later on. So, what is the answer? How much affection should we show? That really depends on the couple as some are simply more touchy-feely by nature. However, researchers have found that showing consistent, steady and unwavering affection toward each other, contributes much more to a successful relationship.
Your choice in a life partner is a big one. Take your time with it, as there is no need to rush into anything you might regret later. Make sure you know what’s important to you, and spend enough time learning where your partner is at regarding those same things.