Understanding your spouse and partner is one of the most important things to do so you don’t end up divorced, broke, and broken.
Cuz’ let’s be honest…do you REALLY get married ONLY to get divorced?
Of course not. (Not unless you’re a complete nut job.)
So, the opposite is learning about your partner so that you can have a successful, long-term relationship.
That said, relationships aren’t without struggles. I’m not arguing that because those don’t exist unless you’re living in a Nicholas Sparks film.
But one of the MOST IMPORTANT things to do inside of a committed relationship is to KNOW them…especially if they come from a divorce situation where they’re bound to have triggers or some sort of trauma.
When you reach the stage in a relationship where you’re thinking about a future with them, thinking of creating a life together with a serious commitment, then you’re going to want to learn about them.
You MUST know if you’re both compatible or not. You’ll want to know their fears, their goals, and their worldviews from finances to fidelity.
While it’s not possible for two freethinkers to agree on everything, you DO want to make sure that your core values align. There are some things that you just have to agree on if you’ve got any shot of making your relationship work.
Here’s a few philosophies you MUST identify to figure out if they’re really the one for you.
“Do You Believe In Marriage?”
For some, the notion of getting remarried someday is about as appealing as a root canal….without Novocain.
For others, they KNOW they will someday. It’s simply a matter of finding the right person. Right being ready + healthy.
Marriage isn’t for everyone, and that’s totally OK. But if it’s something you definitely see in your future and your partner is vehemently against it, you’ve got a major problem on your hands. Time to move on.
“Are You Open To Counseling?”
Relationships are HARD WORK.
Often, there’s seasons of excruciating pain and agony where fun seems like a concept only found in scripts from a Hollywood chick flick.
When couples are in these seasons, they’ll need help.
You’ll need help from professionals who are experts at repairing what’s broken so you can constructively work THROUGH your struggles, together.
In these seasons, you’ll need outside wisdom to examine your issues as a couple. But, if your partner refuses to go to therapy or counseling with you, how can you progress as a couple? How can you heal? How can you fix your issues and create a framework of mutual respect, love, and admiration?
The short answer is you can’t.
Now, you *might* feel that individual therapy will help if you’re partner says ‘no’ to counseling.
Maybe you feel like working on your relationship problems on your own will “magically fix” what’s broken.
It makes sense, right? What else can you do?
Unfortunately, there’s bad news: Research has not shown that individual therapy helps couple’s problems.
In a 2014 article in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy entitled, “Individual Therapy for Couple Problems: Perspectives and Pitfalls” the authors found no evidence that individual therapy is helpful with couple problems.
If your partner isn’t willing to work on your relationship, get healthy, and work to create an atmosphere that’s embedded in unconditional love then you need to think about other options.
And if you’re simply dating, then ask the question about their thoughts on counseling and dating.
Unless you’re robots, you WILL need it someday. Learning about whether or not your future partner is open to it will save you a lot of heartache the closer you become.
If they say ‘no’ to counseling, it might be time to say ‘no’ to them.
“What Do You Think About Monogamy?”
This might sound like a ridiculous question, but you’d be SURPRISED about the differing views of what monogamy is.
You might feel that monogamy is a cut and dried concept, while others think there’s wiggle room.
Things like pornography might be subjective to some while others think it’s harmless.
Some might feel that occasionally chatting with an ex is innocent, while others may see it as betrayal.
If you can’t define your relationship and what constitutes monogamy, then there’s probably heartbreak ahead.
“Do You Support Me Professionally?”
A wise mentor once told me this: Your career can become your mistress.
This is especially true for driven men, who happen to be businesses owners or entrepreneurs.
Men often find their identities in their vocations and work tireless hours to grow, stretch, and build. Sometimes this means ignoring you.
The best relationships are about a give and take, with compromise being necessary to make things work. If your partner isn’t willing to give you freedom in certain seasons, while helping you build, then they’re probably not for you.
Be sure and talk this over, openly and honestly.
Lay EVERYTHING on the table and express what you REALLY WANT AND DESIRE when it comes to your profession and relationship.
Then, you can choose if this relationship is for you or not.
“How Do You Feel About Money?”
Finances are a huge source of stress for most couples.
If your partner isn’t willing to be transparent about how they feel about money, then it might be a deal breaker.
- Do they pay for things?
- What should you pay for?
- How do you balance these finances?
- How do you invest?
- Are you a saver or are you a spender?
- How do you feel about debt?
- Do you view money as a tool or a weapon?
Money is just a tool to help you achieve your goals. It shouldn’t be worshipped, and it should never come before relationships.
Those who are high earners should be generous with it not greedy.
Look for these things when entering a serious relationship.
If your financial goals are not aligned, then this probably isn’t the relationship for you.
“What If Your Partner Says ‘No’ To You Sexually Or Otherwise?”
The older I get, the more I believe in stating what you want.
For example, if you DON’T want to visit weird Uncle Eddie’s place for the holidays, then speak up.
If you have certain places you want to travel to, then speak up.
If you want to explore certain things, like skydiving, sexual experiences, or swimming with dolphins then SAY WHAT YOU WANT.
One of the keys to strong relationships is knowing what you want and being willing to ask for it, despite if you get rejected or not.
Being able to clearly express what you want, verbally, is a skill you MUST have to have healthy boundaries.
Hearing no from your partner is HARD, especially for those who have ADHD and things like Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. (Yes, this is a thing.)
However, you HAVE to be okay with hearing no every once in a while because having the freedom to have boundaries is CRITICALLY important.
You HAVE to be willing to accept your partners boundaries and THEIR preferences. Sometimes, them saying no isn’t anything to make a mountain from a molehill even though hearing the word no can be hurtful.
When your partner says no to you do your best to NOT take it personally. I know this is easier said than done but not necessarily easy to do. It might feel like a knife to the heart, but it’s not about you, it’s about them.
I’ll say it again: saying no isn’t about you, it’s about them.
Someone saying no to you isn’t about you being unlovable. Try and remember how hard it can be to actually say no, especially to someone you love. Though it hurts, give your very best to NOT lash out emotionally when someone says no. It’s ok to feel hurt, but it’s not ok to lash out.
This is where putting yourself first is important.
Here’s what I mean: it’s easier to accept no as answer from your partner when you’re eating right, emotionally healthy, and getting the rest you need. If you’re meeting your OWN needs first, it’s easier to pause, practice empathy, and respond instead of reacting.
Conversely, if you’re tired, stressed, and emotional it’s virtually impossible to practice empathy and constructively respond.
Rather than making assumptions, find out why they said no. This process needs to be done in a genuinely curious way, not in an aggressive manner. If you’re feeling defensive it will come across as an indictment and the conversation will stop. Reacting by being defensive stops vulnerability and your partner will shut down.
Remember, when communicating you must express your feelings in an ‘I’ sentence instead of a ‘you’ sentence.
Expressing yourself by saying “I felt hurt when you said this”, is much more constructive than saying “you hurt me when you did this.” Sentences that begin with ‘you’ create more conflict, which is what you want to avoid.
When you find out why your partner said no to you, you’ll have to determine how you want to move forward. And from there you can work out how to move forward so both your needs are met. This is where good conversation happens instead of making assumptions.
There’s nothing wrong with setting boundaries and saying no.
But a mindset that’s closed off to progress through things like counseling, shut down to growth because of a lack of compromise, and stuck in a perpetual prison of regression, then maybe it’s time you say no to the relationship before you’re in too deep.
To that end, I want to remind you to keep going. You can do hard things. You are lovable, important, and valuable.