Have you ever ended a relationship and thought “Wow, I can’t believe I just wasted three years of my LIFE!”?
Time is precious, and you only have so much of it. You definitely do not have time to invest in a partner that is incompatible with your long term desires and dreams.
You don’t have to get all of this off of your chest on the first date (frankly, no one wants that), but we suggest you avoid big problems down the road by discussing the following expectations before you get too serious with your partner. Ask these 10 relationship questions relatively early on to avoid heartache and missed opportunities.
1. Do You Want To Tie The Knot? How Soon?
Marriage used to be an expectation. Two people date for a certain amount of time, and then they walk down the aisle and say “I do.” Not anymore. It is becoming more and more common for people to choose NOT to get married. This is especially true if they have already been married and divorced. Make sure you are both on the same page. This sticking point can definitely be a deal breaker. Do not make the assumption that both parties are looking for an official, legal commitment.
2. Are You Hoping To Have A Mini-Me?
Not everyone dreams of the cute little house with a white picket fence filled with the pitter-patter of tiny feet. And not everyone is even physically capable of reproducing. Children are not for everyone. As career growth becomes more important, people are choosing not to have kids at all. If having children is a must for you (or you are completely against it), make sure your partner knows sooner rather than later.
3. Where Do You Want To Plant Roots?
Are you a New Yorker for life? Better let your partner know because he or she may have a passion for the west coast to be nearer the family (see point 10). This sticking point is easily overlooked if you both currently live in the same location, but it can rear its ugly head down the road when your partner finally figures out that you like to move every two to three years or hate the cold weather.
4. Bill Collectors Knocking On Your Door?
No one likes to talk about baggage, but money and debt are silent relationship killers. If you haven’t had this conversation, buy a bottle of wine and have it tonight! You both need to know what you are coming to the table with. How much money do you owe, and what is the plan for paying it off? Don’t wait until your honeymoon to divulge you have a hundred grand in student loans. Don’t keep it a secret if you can’t control your spending. It will haunt you later.
5. Go To Church? Practice Voodoo?
If you practice a religion, how important is it that your partner shares it with you? What is required in your religion, and how will it impact your lives? How will you raise your kids? Even if your partner knows about it, he or she might not realize that they will be expected to participate and believe. Get this awkward conversation out there in the open sooner rather than later.
If the two of you end up together for the long haul, who is going to do what around the house? Who makes the bed? Who cooks dinner? Gone are the days when the woman upkeeps the house by herself. It is important to know that both partners agree on chore assignments. Do you split the chores or take turns? It may seem like a silly talking point, but just wait until two years from now when both parties refuse to do the dishes or put away the laundry.
7. Have Dreams Of Becoming CEO?
How invested are you in your career? What about your partner? How will it affect your future? Is travel required and how much? What kind of personal sacrifices are going to be made to climb the corporate ladder? If you have kids, how will you balance career and family? Do you expect your partner to leave their career for the kids? All of these questions need to be answered from both parties before you spend years of your life assuming you and your partner are on the same page.
8. Dogs? Cats? Fish?
Do you hate dogs? Allergic to cats? Afraid of snakes? This may seem like it will never be an issue, but if you expect your partner to give up his or her precious Fido after you move in together, you may be in for a rude awakening. You may be surprised at how many relationships are ended over pet disagreements. Don’t allow the excitement of a new relationship to keep you from letting your better half know you can’t stand pet hair.
9. Mountain Hiking Or Mai Tai On The Beach?
Are you adventurous or do you like to sit on the beach? Vacations are an essential piece of relationships. They are your chance to unwind and reconnect. If you dream of hiking the mountains while your partner dreams of laying on a beach, there is going to be trouble. Don’t worry. Even if you disagree, as long as you agree to compromise or take turns, things can still work out. The key is to talk about it to ensure you are singing from the same hymn sheet.
10. Love Spending Time With The Fam?
We all have the crazy aunt or busy-body mother. Your partner probably expects that he or she will have to deal with your family from time to time, but if you expect your brother to stay with you every summer or your parents to move in once they retire…you better have the conversation now! Want to spend every Christmas at your mom’s house or vacation with your sister? Better to avoid the future fights and let your partner know up front.
Divorce rates are on the rise. Do you want to fall into that statistic? You certainly do not dream about filing for a divorce or breaking up when you begin a relationship. While there is no guarantee your relationship will last, you will certainly stand a better chance if you communicate openly with each other. Talk about what is important to you and what you expect from your partner. Set yourself up for success and ask these relationship questions now before you waste each other’s time!
Is there anything else you’d advise couples to talk about before things get too serious? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Melissa Ricker is a nuclear engineer and a professional freelance writer specializing in career growth, technical writing and online entrepreneurship. She writes a blog, Engineered Motherhood, for working mothers who need help balancing career growth and time management.