The way to know if your relationship will last is to observe your partner's past and present behavior and to learn the proven skills to make marriage work. Because I see so much of the damage caused by people blindly connecting — rushing through the stages of commitment and not creating the solid basis a true relationship needs — I always welcome the chance to do pre-commitment counseling. My job is to ask the tough questions that, in the excitement of a new romance, the couple may not have considered. Here are several questions every couple should consider before moving in together or making joint financial commitments:
1. What is your definition of commitment? Whether you know it or not, you and your partner will define your relationship. If you don't know what your relationship means to both the of you, you risk repeating past mistakes, getting stuck in uncomfortable roles, or fighting about what a healthy relationship is. Talk about what you mean by words such as relationship, commitment, love and faithfulness. You'll be amazed by what you learn.
2. Have you discussed finances? Next to sex, money is the biggest generator of problems, arguments and resentment in long-term relationships. Couples tend to assume that money should be pooled, but it usually isn't that easy. A disparity in income can mean struggling about who pays for what, or whose income determines your lifestyle. Different financial habits (one likes to save, the other spends more, or doesn't keep track) can become a source of argument. For many couples, separating your money makes things run smoother; you don't wind up struggling for control. You can split expenses evenly, or work out a percentage share if your incomes are different.
3. What about household responsibilities? If you're not yet living together, take a tour of each other's homes. Drastically different decorating styles, neatness and organization levels can become sources of argument, and so can housekeeping and chores. If you have different tastes, it may require a lot of creativity and negotiation to decorate a joint home in a way that makes both of you comfortable.Additionally, think hard before moving into your partner's established home. You may have trouble feeling as if you "belong" in a home that was previously established by your partner, unless you participate together in reorganizing and redecorating it.
4. How close are you to family or friends? If one of you has a lot of family or friends, and the other does not, find out what those relationships mean. Where will you spend holidays? If there are family members who have problems, such as addiction or mental illness, how much will that impact your relationship? Keep reading...
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