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Six Questions to Consider in Choosing a Life Partner
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Oct 12, 2016
I've long felt that choosing a life partner should be a subject that is thoroughly discussed sometime in high school and perhaps even in university. It amazes me that so little time, if any, is given to considering this topic on a meaningful level in school.
Near as I can tell, it's probably the single most important decision that all of us can make.
My feeling is that most people who get married in modern society don't have the foresight and life experience needed to make the best possible choice.
I'm sure that some people are quite thoughtful and wise in choosing a life partner, but from my little spot on the planet, it looks like most of us, myself included, rely mainly on our instincts to choose the one person we want to be with forever.
And why wouldn't we? Society teaches us that love is what matters. Love is the only thing that matters. And what is love? Isn't it that special feeling that occupies your thoracic cavity and makes you feel blissfully alive?
Well, here are some thoughts that I would like my loved ones to consider in choosing a life partner:
Do you like him?
To me, it's not about if you love him. It's if you actually like him.
The challenge is in knowing if what you are feeling is genuine like or fool's like, which I think is a symptom of being intoxicated with lust; healthy and respectful lust is great, of course, but probably not the best primary source of fuel to maintain a healthy relationship over the long term.
How do you know if you genuinely like and admire him? Ask yourself if you would want your child or future child to marry someone like him. And in answering this question, think about how he consistently behaves, not what he says.
As most of us know, feelings of "being in love" come and go. I wouldn't want to rely on such feelings to keep my life partnership healthy and intact. Much better, I think, to have a foundation of genuine like in place. Because ultimately, we want to spend our time with those we genuinely enjoy being with.
Why do you like her?
I think most would agree that being aesthetically pleasing, having a trust fund, and taking good care of you are not enough sustenance for a healthy long term marriage.
Nor are any other reasons that belong in the "what can she do for me" category.
She can make you spontaneously laugh from your belly? You admire the way she treats others, especially in instances when she doesn't realize that you are aware of what she is doing? She inspires you to strengthen your character? You respect her work ethic? Here and there, her thoughts prompt you to consider a new perspective? Now we're talking about some powerful fuel to sustain feelings of respect, genuine like, and even adoration for a lifetime.
Do you have the same basic attitudes and beliefs about religion?
Specifically, do both of you have about the same tolerance level for other people's beliefs? If not, think carefully about how this might affect the way that you feel about raising your children together.
Speaking of children...
Do both of you have similar feelings on having or not having children? If both of you want to have children, do you have a good inkling of what type of parent your partner will be?
Are you relatively clear on how much time you would like to spend with parents, siblings, relatives, and friends on both sides of your family?
If you would absolutely love having your parents in their golden years live next door or at least in the same town, I would suggest making this perfectly clear and asking your potential life partner to give this careful consideration and letting you know how it sits with him or her.
I imagine that very few life experiences can create more sorrow than not being able to spend time with your loved ones or, on the other side of the fence, being forced to spend time with people who make it clear through their behavior that they don't cherish you.
Do you have similar money values?
What do both of you like to spend your money on? Do you spend the bulk of your money on things or experiences? How much do you spend on items and experiences that aren't essential to your survival? How much do you like to save?
Those are the big ones for me. They're the issues that rise above the inevitable squabbles that accompany all life partnerships and float around in potential deal-breaker territory.
To be clear, if you don't really like who the other person is (not as obvious as you'd think or hope in the honeymoon phase), if you don't really laugh together, if you don't have the same basic attitudes about religion, having children, raising children, other family members, close friends, and money, it's probably best to pause and reflect before committing to a long term relationship.
I once asked our readership to share their tips on choosing a life partner. Choose your best friend, choose someone you respect, be super careful - these are the recurring pieces of advice that came in.
If this is a topic that is on your mind and heart at the moment, I think you'll find value in the following passage from one of my favorite authors, Kent Nerburn:
Hope this collection of thoughts on choosing a life partner is useful to someone out there.
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