Written by: Debbie McDanielCrosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Life is precious. Yet all too often, we may find that much of our time is spent around negative, toxic people, draining the life right out of us. Sometimes they’re co-workers, friends, or sadly, even family members.
We often hear friends wondering where they’re making the right move in marrying their significant other. The New York Times surveyed what critical questions partners should be asking each other before taking the final leap, and this list of 15 questions is what relationship experts came back with:
1) Have we discussed whether or not to have children, and if the answer is yes, who is going to be the primary care giver?
2) Do we have a clear idea of each other’s financial obligations and goals, and do our ideas about spending and saving mesh?
3) Have we discussed our expectations for how the household will be maintained, and are we in agreement on who will manage the chores?
4) Have we fully disclosed our health histories, both physical and mental?
5) Is my partner affectionate to the degree that I expect?
6) Can we comfortably and openly discuss our sexual needs, preferences and fears?
7) Will there be a television in the bedroom?
8) Do we truly listen to each other and fairly consider one another’s ideas and complaints?
9) Have we reached a clear understanding of each other’s spiritual beliefs and needs, and have we discussed when and how our children will be exposed to religious/moral education?
10) Do we like and respect each other’s friends?
11) Do we value and respect each other’s parents, and is either of us concerned about whether the parents will interfere with the relationship?
12) What does my family do that annoys you?
13) Are there some things that you and I are NOT prepared to give up in the marriage?
14) If one of us were to be offered a career opportunity in a location far from the other’s family, are we prepared to move?
15) Does each of us feel fully confident in the other’s commitment to the marriage and believe that the bond can survive whatever challenges we may face?
Those that fail to ask each other the above questions may one day find themselves at the center of an explosive dispute — with much graver consequences than if had you fully shared your perspectives on these topics beforehand.
So, if you and your partner are looking to get married, make sure to ask each other this list of questions first, and hopefully you’ll be able to lay all your cards on the table and clarify any uncertainties between the two of you. If you are able to negotiate and reach a compromise on the above, you’ll be in a great place with your partner.
If these important questions prove helpful to you, share them with your friends, too.
As Christians, some of us feel hopelessly trapped in abusive relationships. We think the Lord wants us to be endlessly patient and tolerant of the sins of others against us. We believe that it is sinful to protect ourselves, and we believe that it is sinful to leave a family relationship. We think that once we are born into a family, through no fault of our own, we are stuck with them, no matter what they do to us. Some of us feel that once we start ANY relationship, family or otherwise, with someone who then turns out to be not the person we thought they were, it would be “un-Christian” for us to leave. For some reason, we are under the misconception that we would not be good Christians if we did not stick it out and continue tolerating just about anything the other person says or does.
No, you don’t necessarily need to have everything in common
Nick Hornby once said, “It’s no good pretending that any relationship has a future if your record collections disagree violently or if your favorite films wouldn’t even speak to each other if they met at a party.”
I’m not a therapist or relationship expert, but after nearly a decade of marriage, I’m not convinced that your taste in movies or music determines if you and your significant other are destined for happily-ever-after or a bad break-up. My marriage isn’t perfect, but it’s satisfying and happy and it’s taught me a few things about what keeps long-term partnerships working. Thankfully, those things have nothing to do with musical preferences or I would have taken my country albums and left my Beatles-loving husband long ago. Instead, we’ve figured out how to compromise on music, and other things, and settle in for the long haul.
Here are a few of those things that I’ve learned do seem to say something about the strength of your union:
You Speak Your Mind
Relationships thrive when couples can express themselves freely and honestly. That means no topic is off-limits, and you both feel heard. Consistent communication is vital to building a lasting life together.
You Have Your Own Space
Just because you’re in love doesn’t mean you have to spend every moment together. Taking time to pursue your own interests and friendships keeps your relationship fresh and gives you both the opportunity to grow as individuals—even while you’re growing as a couple.
Disagreements are normal, so if you aren’t fighting, chances are you’re holding back. But when people in healthy relationships fight, they fight productively and fairly. That means avoiding name-calling or put-downs. It also means striving to understand your partner instead of trying to score points. And when you’re wrong? You apologize.
You Like Yourself And Your Partner
Chances are your relationship won’t suddenly get better if you win the lottery, have a baby, or move into your dream house. So don’t base your partnership on the hope that it will change. You recognize that neither of you is perfect, and you accept and value each other for who you are right now—not who you might become.
You Make Decisions Jointly You don’t call all the shots. Neither does your partner. From what movie to see to how many children to have, you make decisions together and listen to each other’s concerns and desires. Sure, this may mean you see Transformers on Saturday night. But on Sunday night, it’s your turn.
You Find Joy Healthy relationships are full of laughter and fun. This doesn’t mean you’re giddy every hour of the day—or that she doesn’t drive you up the wall sometimes—but it does mean that your life together is mostly happy in sometimes simple ways. (Making dinner, laughing at the same things, finishing each others’ sentences…)
You Find Balance Sometimes your partner needs to work longer hours while you play chauffeur and chief cook. Or you must devote time to an elderly parent while your spouse tackles the chores. That’s life. What matters is that, in the long run, your trade-offs seem fair
You Treat Each Other With Kindness Nothing is more important than treating the person you love with care, consideration, empathy, and appreciation. If you find yourself showing more respect to people you hardly know than you show your partner, take a step back and revisit your priorities.
You Trust Each Other Healthy relationships are built on trust and a commitment to communication without reservations or secrets. Want to know how much you trust each other now? Take this quiz from the University of California, Berkeley
You Let Things Go Your partner will annoy you. You will annoy him or her, too. You will say things you don’t mean. You will behave inconsiderately. The important thing is how you deal with all this. So he forgot to pick up milk for the second time? Tell him you’re disappointed, of course—then let it go.
You Are Intimate Sex is an important part of healthy relationships, but it’s only one part, and it’s different than intimacy, which is less about physical satisfaction than about bonding, friendship, and familiarity. If you’re in a healthy relationship, you’ll feel connected—in and out of bed.
Your Relationship Is Your Safe Place
Your relationship should be a safety net—a stable place to come home to at the end of the day. That doesn’t mean you don’t fight—it just means that when things are hard, you’d rather see your partner than commiserate with coworkers at Happy Hour.
You Talk To Your Partner, Not To Other People
When you have issues and concerns, you share them with your partner, not your Facebook friends. You can use pals as a sounding board, of course, but not as a crutch to avoid hard conversations with your significant other.
You Say The Magic Words
“I love you”, “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry.”
You’re a smart woman with a good head on your shoulders and you know better than to go down the romance road with a man who idolizes Hefner and is still obsessed with his bottle (service). But let’s face it; chemistry, attraction, hope and passion can make the most logical ladies go a little loco. Here, we list 25 signs it’s time to move past “Go” and fly solo.
1. He never uses your name. I once knew a guy who was sleeping with a woman and he, oops, forgot her name. She didn’t realize it because he was calling her “baby” all of the time. “Babe”, “Baby”, “Sweetheart”, “Beautiful” .. .these pet names are sweet when you’re in a relationship, but on text three? Not so much. Beware of men who look to create a false sense of intimacy in order to get what they want.
2. He’s inconsistent. When things are great, he’s talking about taking you to weddings or meeting his parents, but then Thursday night comes around and suddenly he doesn’t know what he wants. Best case scenario: He’s confused. Worst case: He’s trying to say just enough to keep you hopeful but wants you to feel OK when he disappears. Either way, you’re going to get hurt.
3. He claims to be exclusive but he’s still online. The current dating model tends to lend itself to the idea of entertaining more than one potential partner, but there’s a big difference between an honest guy looking to play the field and a dude who’s just looking play with your emotions. If he’s on Tinder, Match or any other dating site and there’s been no discussion of exclusivity, that’s fine. But if he’s telling you there’s no one else and he’s “just looking”, don’t be naive. He’s “just looking” for someone to take out tomorrow night.
4. He’s shady as Sh*t. Maybe his phone is always dying or perhaps you give him a compliment and hear him repeat it to another woman right in front of you (true story). It could be that he hides his phone or excuses himself to go to the bathroom when a text comes in oor he rushes you out of a bar without explanation. Whatever it is, pay attention to your gut, use common sense and don’t argue with your intuition. You’re a grown, intelligent woman, you know when someone is acting strange.
5. He has a “reputation”: Leave your James Dean/Johnny Depp fantasies with your 16-year-old-self. You might be the most incredible woman on the planet but don’t go into a situation with a game-player expecting to be the game-changer.
6. He talks about hurting other women: If he says he’s always failed women or has never met someone worthy of being monogamous with, run-for-your-life!
7. You catch him in a lie. He may have a dozen very good reasons for not telling you the truth, but how can you love – or even like – someone you cannot trust?
8. His friends are dismissive or overly-friendly. They’re either tired of putting in the effort for women they won’t see again or they are trying to help him bed you. Being friendly is one thing but bonds take time to build. Also, are his friends douchey? Birds of a feather, lovely.
9. You don’t meet his friends (and he doesn’t want to meet yours.) Not a red flag, a red fire truck. It doesn’t matter what he says or how nice he is, if he’s not opening up his world (and willing to become a part of yours) he’s not planning to stay around.
10. He makes blanket statements about women, and they’re not particulary nice. If your guy is claiming “all” women are gold diggers/tantrum throwers/cheaters/delusional or any other negative, understand that there will be a massive respect disconnect. You can’t possibly be the one woman who is different, no matter what he tells you.
11. He goes M.I.A. Men who are interested and serious about you are not going to leave you alone to meet someone new. Another concern? His consistent texting gets spotty at night and you don’t hear from him until late afternoon the next day.
12. He says he doesn’t care if you date other people. Again, this is fine if you’re both on the same page, but if you’ve developed stronger feelings, you need to understand the translation: I want to see other people to add you to my bed rotation.
13. He always asks you to split the check or you’re picking it up most of the time. Now, let me clarify: Fancy dinners are not our right as women and a man taking us on them doesn’t mean he’s anymore interested in us than ones who do not; he may just have more money or a corporate card. It’s also a fallacy that men should always have to pay for everything. That said, most will want to take you out here and there in the beginning of a courtship.
14. He never takes you on a “real” date: If your guy is meeting you at bars and blowing you up late night, you’re not dating. You’re meeting up. There’s a difference.
15. He flatters you to death from day one. He loves your clothes, your smile, your wit, your home, your eyes, your laugh. In fact, you’re just perfect in every way. Funny, he knows nothing about you. The point is to keep you so contented that you don’t notice any of the red flags your good sense is trying to point out.Well-deserved compliments should be well-received, but flattery used as manipulation? Not so much.
16. He has a goodie drawer. Extra toothbrushes? Check. Lube? Check. An enormous half-empty box of condoms? Oh, boy.
17. His “jokes” are rude. Whether it’s objectifying comments about your body parts, crass sexual references or swipes about your personality or intellect, demeaning comments that make you feel uncomfortable do not suddenly become respectful just because he laughs.
18. He’s on his phone all of the time (and secretive about it). Is your man texting mid-conversation or on his phone the second you excuse yourself to go to the restroom? It could be his buddy, Bill, sure. Or it could be that he’s sending one-liners to other ladies. If he’s secretive about it or you notice that you’re also getting quick texts and replies when he’s not around, put two and two together.
19. You really know nothing about him. Yes, you have a great time together, but how much do you really know about him? Sharing time is fun, but unless actual information is being exchanged, there’s no bond being built.
20. All of his friend’s girlfriends hate him and yours don’t like him much, either. Is he always complaining that his friend’s girlfriend’s don’t like him? There’s likely a reason.
21. Are your friends worried? Remember this: Love is blind and lust is ignorant. If objective eyes are screaming “yield!” slow down!
22. He won’t make future plans. Getting him to commit to anything that’s beyond 72 hours away will give him hives.
23. Things just don’t make sense. There’s a reason illogical comments and behavior leave us feeling we are embroiled in “drama” and “anxiety”; for the most part, we live in a logical world. When something doesn’t make sense it’s usually because there’s more to the story, or worse, the story isn’t true!
24. He’s in it for the ego boost. There are some men who seek the affections of women solely as a fix. He will enter your life and sweep you off of your feet and then have you convinced he’s been kidnapped by ninjas and taken to a remote location across the world. When you get fed up and and blow him off, he’ll wait for you to cool off and pop up again because he “just realized” that all he wants is you. Yawn.
25. You feel something is off. He’s great when you are together and talking, but when he’s not around, you’re feeling more anxiety than butterflies. Trust yourself!
In the end, you have to trust and protect yourself, and while this piece is written for the ladies, men can apply this, too.