While recently browsing a national UK newspaper, I came across an article concerning a comment made by Barack Obama concerning the questions you might ask yourself about a potential partner before committing yourself to a long term relationship with them. They are as as follows:
“Here’s the advice I give everyone about marriage—is she someone you find interesting? You will spend more time with this person than anyone else for the rest of your life, and there is nothing more important than always wanting to hear what she has to say about things. Does she make you laugh? And I don’t know if you want kids, but if you do, do you think she will be a good mom? Life is long. These are the things that really matter over the longterm.”
Nice questions and obviously if he did ask those before he got married, he got the right answers as his marriage has endured for many years. I find the questions important and quaint but not over deep. Perhaps that was the intention and many people will gain inspiration from them just because they came from who they did.
This set me thinking. How do really now that you might have the ‘one’ in front of you? You certainly won’t know this in the first six months when some people naively believe that they have found their ‘special’ one and sometimes make major decisions based on this initial period like getting married and having children. It is only after an extended period that you have the basis of understanding of the other person to able to ask questions about long term commitment. When you reach that point, questioning yourself about who you want to make that commitment with is valid and right. That said, I would certainly look to ask different questions to Mr Obama. In my opinion, these are the vital questions everyone should be asking themselves before they think about committing to someone long-term.
1. In Sickness And Health. Part of the standard marriage vows package in the Western world and often never questioned. However, it is an important question to ask. Do I think that my partner will be as committed in bad times as well as good? Will they be around if I get sick, suffer major setbacks or disaster and do I believe I would do the same for them?
2. Team Player. Is this a person I feel comfortable with sharing a vision? Am I on the same page on most things? Do we celebrate the things that keep us together and work willingly on the things that divide us? Is this a person I can freely share my feelings and thoughts with without being shut down or blocked? Is this a person who will work with me in a solution-focused problem solving process without blame or defensiveness?
3. Boundaries. Does my potential partner value their sense of independence, allows me to do the same but is interdependent in the relationship? Does he or she set boundaries and allow me to do the same? Do they see boundaries as a healthy concept in relationships? Are they willing to see conflict as manageable and potentially a way to build and grow?
4. The 4 Pillars. I have often stated here the importance of the four pillars of a relationship basis and I firmly believe them to be an essential part of any relationship. Can I trust my partner fully? Is there respect between us when we are together (and apart)? Have we been honest with each other? Does my partner generally meet my needs and allow me to do the same for them?
5. Togetherness. Here is where I agree with Barack. Do I have fun with my partner? Do we have shared interests? Do we have plenty to talk about? Is there a sense of routine and being taken for granted on both sides?
6. The Right Thing. Does my partner have values and sees that action speaks louder than words? Is this a person who does the right thing and demands the same of me ? Do I feel I grow and become a better version of myself when I am with them?
And I can answer yes to all six!