Thursday, September 08, 2016

3 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married

Ordinarily, catchy titles like these are just gimmicks or click-baits that make you click to an article that falls severely short of the promised content.

I did not even intent to make this into a public post, but after the continued urging and coercing by my peers, I felt that perhaps, there is some value of this wisdom that I have acquired through many years of studying human relationships and personalities.

One could argue that apart from finding your purpose in life, finding your soul mate is considered to be one of life's most important quests. It would seem unlikely that anyone could reduce such a complex matter to just 3 questions.

As a keen observer of life, I would actually argue the opposite. Most of life's greatest wonders are often simplest. When asked to describe their soul mate, many people have a list of criteria that they tend to belt out: e.g. smart, funny, has a nice smile, kind eyes, caring, loving and the list goes on. But this is the problem. Once the list gets too long, the criteria becomes impossible to meet.

So how then, do we know if we are marrying the right person? The 3 questions below will help you determine if your partner is that right one.

1. What does he/she do when shit hits the fan?

It is inevitable in life that things can and will go wrong. How does your partner react when you experience an unforeseen and unfortunate event. What does your partner do when your car breaks down in the middle of the highway. Does he drive out to pick you up? Or does he ask you to take a cab?

While it may seem like common sense, it is very far from common practice. The point I am trying to make is that, is your partner willing to sacrifice his own convenience to assist you in overcoming yours? Such behavior would be a clear indicator of how he/she would treat you when you are in need.
It is easy to be caring and loving in good times. But the true test of the right partner is whether he will stick around in bad times. Try to observe your partner's preference over a period of time. This is the most easily observable trait. If he/she fails this first question, we don't even have to go to questions 2 and 3.

2. Do you have common principles?

What are principles? Google gives us this definition:

a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior.

An example of life's principles is Abundance:

Abundance: We live in a world of abundance. There are unlimited wealth and unlimited opportunities for everyone. So don’t worry about whether you can succeed in something and focus on how to succeed in it.

Another example:

Being yourself: It is better to be a first rate version of yourself than a second rate version of someone else.

There are always tells for your partner's principles. Does your partner require other people's approval to to feel happy? Do you feel that your success is defined by your own terms and not on others?
Bear in mind that there is no right or wrong here. It is just how you choose to live your life. However, if your fundamental beliefs are different, it will more often than not become the source of your disagreements.

You will begin to notice that many of your arguments often begin or end with the question, "Why do you keep.... *insert verb*...?" These are clues that show that you have differing life principles.
Having similar life principles is infinitely more important than liking the same movies or the same songs. Tastes and preferences change over time. But our fundamental beliefs and principles? I would not bet on it.

3. Am I bargaining?

Well, sorry because I tricked you. This question us actually in 2 parts. So technically it is 4 questions. But these 2 questions are so interlinked, I decided to lump them together.

3a. Am I bargaining with my partner?

Some people tend to see this as compromise. Yes, if done sparingly, this can be perceived as compromise. For example, this question manifests itself when situations like these occur:

"Yesterday I washed the dishes. Today is your turn."

"I just hung the clothes out to dry earlier. Can you please bring it inside?"

On the surface, this appears like helping each other out. However, if these scenarios happen too frequently, it can transform into pettiness. It is actually a symptom of being calculative. For a relationship to be sustainable, partners should be generous with one another. As in all relationships, we often get in return more than what we put into the relationship.

As my wife often suggests, always aim to give 10% more than what you are supposed to. You will be surprised at what you get in return.

3b. Am I bargaining with myself?

Often, in our journey towards finding a soul mate, we come very close. We arm ourselves with our lists of criteria, go out into the world, in search for the partner that meets all our criteria. After years of searching, some of us get lucky, but most of us, usually come close.

Some of my peers have commented that they love their partner very much, but there is just one or two things that they wish that their partners could change. The counter argument to this is that we should accept our partners as they are, their flaws as well as their imperfections.

I submit that it is hogwash. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as finding someone who is perfect. Rather, only someone who is perfect for you. You would usually find yourself in such a situation when your partner fails Question No.2. On some level, your principles are not aligned. Eventually, you will find start bargaining with yourself, especially regarding your partner's behavior. You tell yourself that you should be able to accept them for who they are, including their flaws.

Therein lies the problem. The fact that you perceive your partner's traits as flaws is in itself problematic. Traits are just traits. If you have to bargain with yourself to accept your partner's traits, you will be starting an internal conflict that will continue to fester until it eventually erupts.

However, that is not to say there is no remedy for this. For starters open communication is key. We need to be able to communicate our dissatisfaction openly. In order to avoid getting stuck with being unhappy with certain traits, we should openly discuss how we can move on together as a couple.

For example, if you are a neat freak and find that your partner likes to leave things around all over the place. It is easy to just whine about how they should keep keep their stuff neat and tidy. However, we need to take the extra step and provide an enabler for that behavior. One way is to buy a shelf for them to store their things. Perhaps, the reason they are leaving their things lying around is simply because there is insufficient space to store those things.

It must be surprising that the secret to a lasting relationship can be simplified to 3 simple questions. But it sure beats having to run each and every one of your partners through a list of criteria that cannot be fulfilled in its entirety.

I must however warn that the 3 questions above must not be compromised. If your partner meets 2 out of 3 of the criteria above, it is still very far from being sufficient. All 3 must be met for a long and sustainable relationship.

That said, I wish all of you the very best in finding your soul mates. I would very much like to hear from your experiences in the comments below!

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