Factors to Consider When Choosing A Life Partner
We’ve all heard of stories where people who have dated for years, with one party dragging their feet to commit. The relationship eventually fizzles, and only mere months after the breakup, news of the person who was reluctant to commit to getting engaged sends shock waves through the circle of friends.
Why does that happen, one might ask?
That’s probably because marriage requires so much more than love and/or physical attraction. There are a ton of factors at play here in assessing true compatibility, before making that leap to a lifelong commitment.
Here’re a few main considerations when choosing your life partner:
- Money Matters
- How Many Kids
- Generosity To Each Other
- Support in Unforeseen Circumstances
- Accountability and Responsibilities
- Inclusivity in Decision Making
- Trajectory and Direction
- Elders In the Family
- Celebration, Honor, and Gratitude
In a 2017 survey by analytics firm Experian, 59 percent of divorcees surveyed said that finances played at least “somewhat” a role in their separations, out of which 20 percent believed it played a “big” role.
In addition, 53 percent revealed that they were not financially compatible with their former spouses, and most surveyed regretted not finding this out before the big day.
A couple I once knew had the most extreme spending habits – One desperately saved money for both and was actively depositing a monthly sum into their joint account to save for rainy days, while the other was frequently draining that same account. That contributed to numerous fights, leaving the party who was trying to save money feeling like their marriage isn’t a partnership at all. Unsurprisingly, the couple is now headed towards a divorce.
However delicate a subject it might be, always talk about finances. Find out each other’s spending habits. Talk about asset allocation, whether you’d still keep separate accounts while depositing a fixed sum into a joint account every month, right down to how you’d like to split bills for the house. Full disclosure before matrimony is essential.
Financial wisdom is also extremely pertinent. Are you and your partner well-equipped to make sound financial decisions, decisions that your marriage wouldn’t pay for later in life?
How Many Kids
This is another weighty topic and one that should be approached with complete honesty and transparency, preferably even at the start of dating. While some people adore children and wish to have them, others, do not so much.
Never shy away from letting your partner know how you truly feel about the need to procreate. If both parties are divided on this, especially if one party feels strongly for or against it, it might be advisable to step back to reassess.
Generosity To Each Other
One of the key components of lasting marriages is whether your partner is generous to you, and vice versa. Generosity can come in many forms, whether it’s time, resources, money, etc. Generosity is considered the No. 1 key to a good relationship, according to a long-term study at the University of Virginia
The last thing we want is to be married to someone who is calculative, which will cause issues too.
Support in Unforeseen Circumstances
None of us can foresee nor control what happens in life. Future potential events might include job loss, accidental pregnancy, sudden illnesses, etc.
The first thing to ask yourself is: Would you be able to go through it alone? That would give you a good gauge as to whether you’re entering matrimony for the right reasons, and not because you’re afraid of being alone.
The next question is: Are you certain your partner stands by you through it all? Has the person demonstrated the ability to?
If you’re hesitating at this juncture, as uncomfortable as it might feel, dig deeper and dare to face the answer because anything less than unwavering certainty to that question is just not good enough.
Accountability and Responsibilities
Both parties have to be self-sustaining adults before the union. This goes beyond the financial aspect. Are you both emotionally and mentally strong individually, to form the strongest team?
We should always complete ourselves, before merging our lives with someone else’s.
Inclusivity in Decision Making
Does your partner include you in decisions, big or small? That is the foundation of trust.
If you realize there has been little to no transparency, and no room for discussion, that is a deal breaker for any relationship.
Trajectory and Direction
What’re your plans? Are they aligned, at least for now?
While it is inevitable that people change as they age, do yourself a favor by giving you the best possible chance for a happy marriage.
Character traits are important when considering this. Are you both similar in some (crucial) aspects? Some people are geared towards continuous, positive improvements. If you’re one such person, does your partner share the same drive?
Elders In the Family
When we marry someone, we marry into their families as well.
While this discussion might play a larger role in the later years, discuss them now and have an aligned understanding from the offset. This includes responsibilities about welfare, both physical and financial, and whether assisted support would be required to lessen your loads.
Celebration, Honor, and Gratitude
This goes beyond a mere appreciation for the humdrum of the day-to-day.
- Do you value your partner, and does your partner value you?
- Are you able to have honest conversations with one another?
- Are you proud of him/her, and vice versa?
- Do you feel seen, heard, understood, and safe?
- Do you feel excited letting the world know about your relationship?
- Are you both able and willing to celebrate love, in the absence of fear?
- Are you both willing to throw caution to the wind to say, “This is IT! This is the man/woman I will spend the rest of my life with.”?
The stars have to align, as they say. These factors are your ‘stars’.
Lastly, and perhaps the most significant question to ask yourself is: Whether he or she is my best friend?
In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “It is not the lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
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Deborah Choo loves discussing relationships, platonic or not, as that remains at the heart of human existence. She draws upon learnings from couples’ counselling, and continues to celebrate an incredible journey of growth.