It is a commonly known fact that communication is an essential part of a relationship. However, the subject matter of what should be communicated is not so commonly known or practiced.
Quite often people initiate relationships based on infatuation, lust or physical attraction. Although these may be what attract two people to one another initially, it will not provide the basis of a solid foundation to build and sustain a long lasting relationship. We all know of a couple (or have been the couple) who dated without direction. Many months or years later, the relationship ended due to reasons that could have been identified, addressed and perhaps even prevented if discussed at the beginning. Time is valuable to all of us, so frivolousness should be avoided, if and when possible.
Whether you are just beginning a relationship or have already invested time, ensure the following topics have been discussed with your partner to the extent you are aware of one another’s expectations. It is never too late to have these conversations. Once you clarify which direction you would like to take your relationship, you can begin planning toward it.
While you read the following questions to yourself, determine how you and your partner would answer. If you do not know or find you are guessing and/or assuming, that is a clear indication of what needs to be discussed with your partner.
ENGAGEMENT & MARRIAGE
Do you believe in marriage?
What are your views on common-law arrangements?
How long should couples be in a relationship before getting engaged?
How long of an engagement should couples have before the wedding?
At what age would you ideally like to be married?
FAMILY & CULTURE
How involved are your parents in your relationships (very, somewhat, or not at all)?
Do your parents plan on retiring in Canada? What role (if any), will you play in their retirement (emotional support and companionship, financial support and old age care, etc.)?
What role does culture and religion play in your life currently? How might you see it playing a role long term or in marriage?
Are you interested in having children?
At what age would you like to have children? Would you consider adopting?
How many children would you like to have and/or adopt?
How long after marriage would you like to have your first child?
What elements from culture and religion would you like to instill in your children?
CAREER GOALS & SUCCESS
What are your top three career goals? What steps are you taking today to achieve these goals?
Would you consider yourself financially stable? If not, what is your plan toward being debt free?
Do you plan on working fulltime when cohabitating or married?
What are your thoughts about working fulltime after having children? Do you predict having a child will impact your career goals?
What would you like to accomplish in your personal life and career while in a relationship? When living together? When engaged? When married?
Do you plan on seeking further education (i.e. master’s degree, individual courses or any other form of training) in the near future?
Do you have or did you have any health related problems that did/will impact your quality of life or our relationship in the short term or long term?
How important is living a healthy lifestyle to you? Do you participate in any hobbies or activities to keep active and healthy?
LIFE & LIFESTYLE
Is there anything you want/need to do before getting married (i.e. travel, experiences, sexual fantasies, etc.)?
Have you had enough experiences and variety with dating, sex and single life for you to feel ready to be in a committed, monogamous relationship?
What do you think changes in a relationship when one lives together? When one gets married?
What will a typical weekday and weekend look like now, compared to when living together or when married?
City life or suburbs? Condo, loft or house?
These questions are serious, but there are ways for you to creatively enjoy this exercise. For example, suggest you play a game with your partner, where you have to guess how the other person would answer. Laugh and joke, but make sure you don’t move on to the next question without clearly expressing your answer and understanding your partner’s. Another suggestion is you both write down your answers to these questions independently, then come together to compare and contrast, discuss and compromise.
It is important not to let your significant-other feel interrogated by asking these questions, so initiate the conversation when you both feel calm and relaxed, in a safe place preferably without interruptions. Discuss these topics openly and acceptingly. Disagreements are expected; therefore it is important to compromise, if and when you can.
In the end, this proactive and assertive approach to better understanding yourself, your partner and the relationship will lead you toward dating with direction!.