Falling in love with someone is an amazing feeling. It is a journey to find someone you truly connect with and love. And when you do as your emotions continue to grow deeper for one another, it is natural to have a desire to marry them.
I interviewed couples in successful relationships and asked them to share what they wish they had known about their significant other (SO) and what they think you should know too before you take that walk down the aisle.
Let’s get started.
1.) Does your partner display empathy for others and you?
You know there are the basics you should know about your SO before taking the plunge, but there are also some of the not so obvious things, which is why this is a good question.
How your partner interacts and communicates with others around them will eventually be the same way that they interact with you. Observing how they treat waitstaff at restaurants, how they handle a disagreement with a stranger, and their regular day-to-day interactions will give you a lot of insight into them as an individual.
Are they kind? Do they try to help others? Are they sensitive to the needs and well-being of those around them?
My favorite is when I hear someone say, “Yes, they are difficult and moody with others, but they are not the same way towards me.” And when I circle back to this person to see if things have changed, guess what behavioral traits surface in their relationship? The same ones which they observed their partner exhibits with others. If someone lacks empathy in their interactions, it is only a matter of time before it manifests itself in your relationship with them.
2.) How do you handle stress or something that really frustrates you?
I often advise my clients that you need to allow your relationship time. It means observation of your SO in every season, situation, and scenario.
And when you put in time with someone, it is only a matter of time before you see how they handle life when things are going well and when things may not be going as well. Watching aggression levels and seeing if they have a healthy outlet for their frustration will show you definite signs of someone’s personality.
3.) What is your relationship with your family?
Your in-laws will become an extension of your relationship, and if you are marrying someone with kids, their kids will become part of your family too. Be sure you are observant and well aware of your SO’s family dynamics.
Are they particularly close to them? Do you enjoy spending time with your SO’s family? Are the family dynamics favorable? Don’t go into this one blindly. Everyone has some level of dysfunction in their families, but observe, and determine if their family is one that is a fit for you.
4.) This question is three-fold. What is your partner passionate about, how do they pursue that passion, and is it something you can support in the long-term?
Each person will have different passions in a relationship. And this is a good thing. Being with someone who is passionate about their interests helps to add another layer to your relationship.
But, the key is to ask yourself are you ok with their hobby, business endeavor, or activity to the point that you don’t feel it would impact your relationship negatively? If you aren’t good with something that is uber important to your SO, it will be a rub in a not so good way.
5.) What values are most important to you if we decide to have and raise our kids?
First of all, you both need to have a serious conversation to determine if you want to have kids. If you aren’t both on the same page on this one, it can wreak havoc later on in the relationship. Don’t go into your relationship thinking that your partner will change his/her mind about having kids if they have told you this is something they do not want to do. Even in instances where this may change, or one person decides to have kids when the other person didn’t can be a source of contention.
If you pass that hurdle and decide you do want to have kids, discuss how you want to raise your kids. Do you want to live in the city or the suburbs? Do you want your kids to go to public or private school? What sports activities do you anticipate you would be willing to allow your kids to participate in on a yearly basis? Do you believe in corporal punishment? What values are most important that you and I instill in our son/daughter?
When a couple decides to have a child, it is generally the thing that will either bring them closer or farther apart. My belief as to why this happens is because of different values around how to raise a child which are influenced by the way we are raised as children.
You must be on the same page. Having similar core reliefs about how you want to raise your kids will make or break your relationship. Be open and ask lots of questions to make sure you two are thinking similarly.
6.) How often do you think we need to be intimate and how are we going to communicate it to another if our needs change?
Physical chemistry matters in a relationship. And it’s only natural after marriage and being around someone more frequently that sex can become stagnant or routine. It’s why it’s important to figure out early on what your partner’s love languages are to keep the flame going.
Gary Chapman breaks down the five love languages here, which can help a couple have a loving relationship. But, the bottom line is that each of us has different things that trigger us to be more receptive, loving and tuned in to one another.
One more thing, some people like sex in more frequency than others and it’s critical to pay attention to this in your relationship. For some, being physical with their partner is a way to keep your connection close. While for others, they may look for that intimacy in other ways via quality time, frequent communication, activities with one another, etc. Discuss what you need and what works for the both of you to keep these needs met.
Life will always bring its distraction even in the best relationships. But two people who have ongoing discussions about their needs of one another and who put in the work to meet these needs even as they change will stay one step ahead.
7.) What are your partner’s spiritual beliefs and how would they want the family to be a part of this spirituality?
Religion matters and depending on the religion, it can be a part of someone’s everyday life. Spirituality means different things to different people. For some, it means attending church regularly. While for others, it may mean more self-reflection and living their life in a particular way. Spiritual beliefs come in many forms, but understanding each other’s expectations, core beliefs, and how they exercise their spirituality will help you both get off to a good start.
8.) When you and I disagree, how would you handle it especially if things become heated?
We touched on this a little bit earlier, but no matter how much you love your SO, you will have disagreements. You won’t agree on everything. And this will repeatedly happen throughout your relationship because you each hold your own beliefs. And it’s quite normal and healthy.
But, the more significant issue will be how you deal with your disagreements, especially when they become heated. Physical aggression is unacceptable and tearing down your partner and saying things to lower their self-esteem, hurt their feelings or make them feel bad about themselves are non-starters. Healthy disagreements should never be about these things.
Learning how to cool off, take a break from one another, or some space and then coming back to deal with the issues without making them about the other person in a personal way is extremely important. Statistically, couples who argue well and in a respectful way tend to stand the test of time and have longevity in their relationships. It is also one of the most significant factors of a successful relationship.
Ask your SO how they would handle a disagreement and more importantly observe what happens when the two of you have a dispute with one another.
9.) Who will handle the financial matters in our home?
Finances are essential in a relationship. And it’s critical that you and your SO are on the same page about money and how you will handle it in your household. Here are a couple of things you should know before you walk down the aisle.
Review each other’s credit report and bank accounts. Your debt will become his/her debt and likewise. Know what you are getting into and how you plan to manage the co-mingling of your money. A credit report also provides you with useful insight into how someone handles their financial responsibilities. It is a historical snapshot of how someone manages their budget.
Determine if you will have joint accounts or keep your finances separate. Some couples decide to keep things separate and have one joint account together. Other couples choose to combine their money across several accounts. Decide if one person will take the lead in handling the finances or if it will be a shared duty.
Discuss what retirement looks like to your partner. What needs to happen now so that you can have a secure future? It includes taking into consideration the purchase of a home, vacations, your kids’ education, emergency savings, etc. Don’t enter into a marriage blindly not knowing anything about your SO’s finances. It is a recipe for disaster.
10.) What would you do if we fell out of love?
This is another insightful question. No one gets married with the goal of divorcing. But, in your relationship, you will have ups and downs which will test the strength of your relationship.
I love what one of my friends always says about her marriage to her husband, “Yes, we hit rough spots here and there, but we made a pact that divorce is not even part of the equation.”
If you want to have a successful marriage; you have to have the mindset that nothing will take you away from your partner. And having an open dialogue about what your plan would be if things were to get tough, can be the thing that saves you when dynamics change in your relationship.
Marriage is a good thing. Finding someone you love, care about and want to spend your life with can bring value to your life in ways you would have never expected. By answering these 10 important questions before you walk down the aisle, it will help you to get your marriage off to a great start!