Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook someone’s faults in the early stage of a relationship. Infatuation and chemistry can prevent us from seeing red flags even if they seem obvious to others. We might fall in love quickly because it feels good to be desired and fail to ask crucial questions about a person’s values, interests, and character.
Who we choose to commit to is one of the most important and costliest decisions a person will make, yet it’s not uncommon for lovers to make errors in judgment. Why does this happen? One reason is that most of us aren’t raised with a healthy template of romantic relationships to follow. We also lack self-awareness and may be afraid of ending up alone.
Truth be told, unrealistic expectations of love and marriage can impact our choice in partners. According to author Pamela Paul lots of marriages seem to be trial marriages and people tie the knot with the notion of “If it doesn’t make me happy, I’ll just move on.” Since more and more individuals grow up in divorced homes where they witness divorce being the solution to marital problems, they may not approach marriage with a thoughtful mindset.
8 signs your partner is good marriage material:
- You admire your partner for who they are as a person. You like and respect who he/she is and how they carry themselves through the world. If you can’t respect the way a person lives their life, let alone admire them, it’s hard to keep any relationship going.
- Your partner is trustworthy because they keep agreements. His or her actions are consistent with their words. When you share something personal you trust they will keep it to themselves.
- He/she makes time for you on a regular basis. They make you a priority because they value your relationship. Even when he/she is swamped, they make time to spend with you. This includes regular text messages or phone calls to show that they’re thinking of you.
- Your partner is comfortable talking about the things that interest you and asks you questions about your hobbies, friends, and family. They appreciate you for who you are right now and aren’t trying to change you.
- Your significant other is comfortable dealing with conflict and being vulnerable. Is he/she someone who stonewalls or is emotionally distant when problems arise? If they are and you are a processor, this can set the stage for on-going high conflict. This difference can set up a pursuer/distancer pattern which is the most common cause of divorce according to Dr. John Gottman.
- Does your partner seem to take responsibility for their role in conflicts or blame you most of the time? Are they comfortable being vulnerable and sharing their innermost thoughts, feelings, and wishes? Since vulnerability is the glue that holds a marriage together, it’s essential to find this out before tying the knot.
- He/she makes you feel good about yourself. A partner who truly cares about you is a boost to your self-esteem. He/she values you and gives you compliments and praise.
- You share a vision. Sharing a dream for your life together can help you gain a healthy perspective. When couples possess a shared vision, the inevitable ups and downs of marriage are less bothersome. Creating a larger context of meaning in life, can help couples to avoid focusing on the small stuff that happens and to keep their eyes on the big picture.
Perhaps the first step in deciding whether a person is a good risk for marriage is to get clarity around “deal breakers” and “deal makers.” It’s crucial to know those things that are important to you from the list above (or other questions) and to not compromise too many of your values and beliefs.
There is no such thing as a sole mate or perfect partner. You might want to ask yourself this question: Is there something about the way that he/she treats me that makes me a bigger and better person? If the answer is no, ask yourself: Am I settling for less than I deserve in the relationship?
Mira Kirshenbaum’s book “Is He Mr. Right?” offers a valuable model for looking at compatibility. One of the central premises of her groundbreaking book is that chemistry is the best way to figure out if someone is right for you. Surprisingly, she’s not just talking about sexual chemistry but also the feeling that you enjoy being around your partner and have fun together.
5 Dimensions of Chemistry according to Mira Kirshenbaum:
- You feel comfortable with each other and it’s easy to get close. In other words, you feel that you can be yourself.
- You feel safe in the relationship. Your partner can take care of him/herself, and you feel comfortable being vulnerable and honest with your partner.
- It’s fun to be together. Kirshenbaum writes, “Couples who have this dimension of chemistry going for them have a shortcut to intimacy and a buffer against the stressful times we all face.”
- You have real affection and passion for each other. This is where sexual chemistry comes in and it should go hand and hand with affection.
- You feel there’s real mutual respect. You accept, admire, and respect each other for who you are. Kirshenbaum posits that if you don’t have respect for your partner, it will eat away at chemistry until you have nothing left.
It’s understandable that you’d have a need for certainty before continuing to pursue the commitment of marriage. However, don’t panic and jump into a commitment because you believe that the clock is ticking or most of your friends are married. Rushing into making a commitment will decrease your chances for a happy, long-term relationship. Take it slow and get to know your partner over at least a few years before you make a life-long commitment.
Know that no relationship is conflict free, but you are worthy of having a relationship that makes you happy. If you aren’t there yet, embrace where you are now. What is it that holds you back from achieving a satisfying relationship? And once you have it, what will you do when you get there?
Finding a partner who likes and respects you as much as you do him/her will give you the best chance of finding long-lasting love. The best partner will compliment you and bring out your very best. When you are with him or her, you will begin to see untapped possibilities within yourself and in the world. In any relationship, you will face ups and downs and your love will be tested. However, where admiration and respect are found, love will be sustained. But where these things are absent, love will die.
Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
Terry’s book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, was published by Sounds True in February of 2020.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry