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Six Questions to Consider in Choosing a Life Partner

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:

Kent Nerburn on Marriage

Hope this collection of thoughts on choosing a life partner is useful to someone out there.

 
 

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Comments

I enjoyed your post. Being a parent and teaching our children about a life partner is a tough task. I encouraged my children to not date when all their friends were dating at 13yo. I told them dating is a prelude to marriage and that this was not the time in their life to pursue this. I told them take your time and spend it with friends. Both boys and girls. Learn to relate to both sexes and be yourself. Figure out who you are - what you like/don't like. What you need and want. My own personal experience was that I spent a lot of time trying to impress those I liked and becoming something that I wasn't. It led to a lot of heartache and wasted time and stress trying to be someone else. One day I woke up and said - who am I? What do I like/love? What do I need from another person? It wasn't until that time that I was able to find the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I also told my kids you need someone to go the distance with you. Someone who is willing to take the good and bad times and not skip out when things get rough. Anyway, I will be sharing your questions with them. Thanks.

I recently lost my husband of twenty years. Many were doubtful when I married a man 30 years my senior. We had very different outward personalities but possessed the same soul. We had the same views on religion, money, child raising, friendships etc. It was a lovely life in which we traveled in many countries and enjoyed each day.

One important thing that I believe we did was to sit down and explain to each other what was necessary for each of us to have a successful relationship and make an agreement of our needs. Life was beautiful each day that were were privilaged to be together.

Life can be wonderfull when both partners see each other as their best friend and always look for and expect the best in each other.Respecting and showing it to the other person.To put it very simple, One must be willing to give your life for the partner you chose for life and it must be vice reversa. Your children will automatically follow your example. Take the sword out of the hands of her hostile family members by doing kind things to them and speak as little as possible to them until the conditions change for the better. Soon your kind ways will become so atractive to the hostile party that he or she may, and propably will become your best friend bringing lots of joy to all those who was concerned about the hostilities.
Families of both partners should help their newly weds untill they are strong and financialy secure.Very important!

#1 reason ...best friend...soulmate really!
#2 great sex ...even after 40 years..actually better now than ever
#3 always remember how much you felt when you met
# 4 never take your relationship for- granted. ... What would you do if you had to meet someone new...do it for your mate!!!

Dear sir,
There are other considerations too!. Like 'In-laws'!...
Marriages these days in almost all cultures have become very demanding affairs, a process of continuous adjustment with an ever increasing flow of changes--Indeed an experience very difficult to cope with in most cases and hence so many broken and unhappy marriages and/or very unhealthy arrangements. If one partner has the spirit of tolerance and sacrifice, there is a fifty percent chance of a continuing relationship. If both have these qualities, success rate is higher. Since, tolerance and sacrifice are now mostly obsolete values, best thing, for better or for worse, is not to marry!. Thanks to the information age, the institution of marriage, I am afraid, has now become a farce!

Undoubtedly I would agree with your idea of giving an opportunity to study this subject as it is one the most important decisions of your life. The kind of exposure teens have gets them into frivolous relations from time to time going a long way in disrupting their mental balance and confidence.And they idolise sportspersons who themselves are not able to manage their personal lives.With time everything is OK for them-meeting,breaking without realising the long term aspects.Sadly even older people did their mistakes as noone was there to guide them. A little background study would go a long way.

I'd like to add one more to that if you've already hooked up with someone: "Do you have the confidence to decide?"

If you feel like you have to ask others their opinion on who you chose, then you better wait. If you're not sure and you don't have the confidence to just say yes, or you simply have doubts, then that's not a good basis for a relationship.

A friend of mine even went so far as to ask a pastor from her church because she was so insecure about it. He determined that he was a good christian man and that that was enough.

Needless to say it's a nightmare for both of them - they're very unhappy, call each other names in public etc. And now they even blame the pastor.

If you don't have the confidence to determine your partner is right, then you're not ready.

I am 19 , and I start looking at the boys/men around me as my future possible husbands . haha! Yes it sounds funny, I know.
I am conservative, and if I have a bf now- that will be my fiancé for sure.
The problem is that the new generation doesn't believe in stable relationship anymore, simply because it's boring or they are disappointed (personally I rather belong to the Victorian Age).
Those "Six Questions to Ponder in Choosing a Life Partner" you revealed in your article are very important. I would add another one - the food lifestyle. I am rawfoodist, and consequently I should marry only a rawfoodist , a fruitarian, or... max a vegan vegetarian. Some people neglect this topic, because love is the most important thing. Yes it is, but it's so easy to mix it up for passion. And passion is temporarily dangerous. Then it passes.
Looking forward to reading your new articles!
Great job!

I've only read a few pieces of your work so far but would like to say I've enjoyed them all. You're a very good writer. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and insights with us! Keep it up, thank you.

Hi,

I came across this article some while ago and it resonated well with me, and have used it as a guide while I have been searching for a life partner, and so have been dating women.

I wanted to make a contribution to this thread by saying that I have been seeing a woman for the past few months who I respect for her ideals and values on matters that tick some of the boxes in your list.

But unfortunately I lack physical chemisty with her, so even though we share some key values together, I am coming to the conclusion that that is not enough for me. Physical chemistry is equally important to me.

In my view having physical and mental chemistry are key requirements for a sustainable marriage or relationship.

Just my 2 cents

thanks

Valuable resources: the Gottman's workbooks/videos etc on relationships. Also Joyce and Barry Vissell have just written two books (soon to be published and distributed) called "To Really Love a Woman/Man" Very worth reading.

#1 NEVER give anyone but you the responsibility for your life #2 Don't choose someone to "complete" you--rather,choose someone who will always be willing to help make your life such that you are able to "complete " yourself.

 

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