Relationships are risky. Getting to know a prospective partner and asking the right questions early on is crucial to reducing this risk – especially when we all know love can be blind, and it doesn't always recognise the pitfalls.
As a relationship therapist and educator who owned a private practice for nearly 20 years, my clients often felt if they asked the following nine questions early on, many would have understood the relationship better, thinking twice before marrying their partners. You too may find these questions just as beneficial when choosing your own partner.
Relationships are risky. Getting to know a prospective partner and asking the right questions early on, is crucial to reducing this risk – especially when we all know that love can be blind, and it doesn't always recognize the pitfalls. And if things go wrong, the heartache can be painful and indeed, costly in some cases.
Sadly, besides a partner possibly being the "right one" to kick start self-reflection and self-development, the reality is if children are involved - a 'bad' choice can have sad and devastating consequences for all involved.
We inquire about people's CV during a job interview, but forget to do the same from someone we're about to spend the rest of our lives with, share a mortgage, and have children with. There's also the reality of sharing families, who may also be involved with bringing up the kids. Being unsuspecting, many often sleepwalk themselves into disaster saying things like, "I never saw it coming or I never read the signs."
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What "The Undoing" teaches us about ignoring red flags in a relationship conversations.indy100.com
Red flags are often easy to spot. It's our disregard for those red flags that become an issue.
People are often too quickly bowled over by anyone, who they think has fallen in love with them – forgetting they may not be suitable. Serious issues may be lurking beneath the surface, remaining hidden until the right questions or events, force them out into the open. Sadly, this usually only happens when it's too late and sometimes when children are involved.
It is wiser to learn how to become more discerning, so as to make better choices from the get-go. Starting a program of prioritizing self-awareness and self-knowledge can be extremely valuable. It is only until we know ourselves better that we can begin to focus on what we want to achieve, how we wish to live, and what kind of partner we want to settle down with.
This knowledge usually emerges from how much work we are prepared to do on ourselves. This path is far better than blindly jumping into a relationship, resulting in losing half of your assets, being unable to trust, and becoming an emotional wreck if things don't work out.
Miguel de Cervantes once said, "Forewarned is forearmed – and being prepared is half the victory." Asking the following questions is a good starting point to getting it right:
1. Find out what type of relationship your prospective partner's parents have with one another. Are they still married, are they divorced, did they have affairs, etc? This is because your partner will be inclined to follow their example.
2. How does your prospective partner speak to or indeed, treat their parents? They'll most likely do the same to you.
3. Ask about your partner's previous relationships. You don't need to know the intimate details, but you should try to get an idea as to why their relationships ended. This will tell you more about your partner. Find out whether they are married. Many hide this fact – wishing to have fun without having to marry you. Be careful.
4. Get to know your prospective partner's family and friends. What do they say or really think about your partner? And what kind of relationship do they all have with your partner? Is your partner abusive, and what are they like when they get angry? Friends often know.
5. What are your prospective partner's attitudes towards money? Do they have any? Can they save? Or have they run up debts?
6. Does your partner want children? How do they expect to bring up their children and what are their thoughts about sex?
7. Are there any major religious or cultural differences?
The next two questions are for you
1. Are you with your partner because you are lonely and needy, or are you with them because you are developing a mutual, mature relationship based on a deep friendship and respect? Or, are you staying because you feel sorry for them?
2. Have you introduced your partner to people, possibly older and wiser, whose opinion you can trust? They often have experience and can see things you simply cannot. Also, you may have to network, or even introduce your partner to your boss and colleagues. So choose carefully.
Marriage or any kind of partnership is an important step and having children is a massive responsibility. Getting the foundation right is pivotal, because when things go wrong – it's often the children who suffer most.
If and when children arrive, it's amazing how quickly each partner will want their children to be brought up in the same vein as they were. No matter how many times they say it won't matter - it will. Religion and cultural conflicts are known to easily destroy a marriage. So beware and become aware.
On the other hand, some of you may have found a great partner without having to ask any of these questions. Unfortunately, you may be in the minority, and divorce statistics bear this out. It is still worth teaching your children to ask these nine questions, as they may not be as lucky as you.
Others may suggest falling in love cannot be helped. It just happens. Once you mature and realize there are many innocent-looking male and female scoundrels, or charismatic narcissists out there - hopefully you will become more cautious.
Instead, take it easy. Don't rush. Get to know your partner. People will tell you everything you need to know about them – you just have to know how to listen. Watch out for any discrepancies. Keep your eyes wide open. No one is perfect. You don't want to make unnecessary mistakes —which could lead to feelings of failure which can damage your confidence and self-worth.
By using the nine questions, hopefully, you'll never have to say, "If I had this knowledge earlier, I might have chosen differently."
As Ally Yarid on Twitter wrote, "The same people who are in a rush to get in a relationship are usually the same people who are in rush to get out of one."
Deidré Wallace is a relationship coach and educator who has owned and operated a private practice for over 20 years. For more information, visit her website here.