FINDING AND KEEPING A LIFE PARTNER
by Dov Heller, M.A.
When it comes to making the decision about choosing a life partner, no one
wants to make a mistake. Yet, with a divorce rate of close to 50%, it
appears that many are making serious mistakes in their approach to finding
If you ask most couples who are engaged why they’re getting married,
they’ll say: ‘We’re in love’; I believe this is the ..1 mistake people make
when they date. Choosing a life partner should never be based on love.
Though this may sound ‘not politically correct’, there’s a profound truth
Love is not the basis for getting married. Rather, love is the result of a
good marriage. When the other ingredients are right, then the love will
come. Let me say it again: ‘You can’t build a lifetime relationship on love
alone’; You need a lot more!!! Here are five questions you must ask
yourself if you’re serious about finding and keeping a life partner.
QUESTION ..1: Do we share a common life purpose?
Why is this so important? Let me put it this way: If you’re married for 20
or 30 years, that’s a long time to live with someone. What do you plan to
do with each other all that time? Travel, eat and jog together? You need to
share something deeper and more meaningful. You need a common life purpose.
Two things can happen in a marriage: (1) You can grow together, or (2)you
can grow apart. 50% of the people out there are growing apart. To make a
marriage work, you need to know what you want out of life! Bottom line;
marry someone who wants the same thing.
QUESTION ..2: Do I feel safe expressing my feelings and thoughts with this
This question goes to the core of the quality of your relationship. Feeling
safe means you can communicate openly with this person. The basis of having
good communication is trust i.e. trust that I won’t get ‘punished’; or hurt
for expressing my honest thoughts and feelings. A colleague of mine defines
an abusive person as someone with whom you feel afraid to express your
thoughts and feelings. Be honest with yourself on this one. Make sure you
feel emotionally safe with the person you plan to marry.
QUESTION ..3: Is he/she a mensch?
A mensch is someone who is a refined and sensitive person. How can you
test? Here are some suggestions. Do they work on personal growth on a
regular basis? Are they serious about improving themselves? A teacher of
mine defines a good person as ’someone who is always striving to be good
and do the right ‘;. So ask about your significant other: What do they do
with their time? Is this person materialistic? Usually a materialistic
person is not someone whose top priority is character refinement.
There are essentially two types of people in the world: (1) People who are
dedicated to personal growth and (2) people who are dedicated to seeking
comfort. Someone whose goal in life is to be comfortable will put personal
comfort ahead of doing the right thing. You need to know that before
walking down the aisle.
QUESTION ..4: How does he/she treat other people?
The one most important thing that makes any relationship work is the
ability to give. By giving, we mean the ability to give another person
Ask: Is this someone who enjoys giving pleasure to others or are they
wrapped up in themselves and self absorbed? To measure this, think about
the following: How do they treat people whom they do not have to be nice
to, such as waiters, bus boys, taxi drivers, etc.. How do they treat their
parents and siblings? Do they have gratitude and appreciation? If they
don’t have gratitude for the people who have given them everything; can you
do nearly as much for them? You can be sure that someone, who treats others
poorly, will eventually treat you poorly as well.
QUESTION ..5: Is there anything I’m hoping to change about this person
after we’re married?
Too many people make the mistake of marrying someone with the intention of
trying to ‘improve’ them after they’re married. As a colleague of mine puts
it: ‘You can probably expect someone to change after marriage for the
worse’ If you cannot fully accept this person the way they are now, then
you are not ready to marry them.
In conclusion, dating doesn’t have to be difficult and treacherous. The key
is to try leading a little more with your head and less with your heart. It
pays to be as objective as possible when you are dating; to be sure to ask
questions that will help you get to the key issues. Falling in love is a
great feeling, but when you wake up with a ring on our finger, you don’t
want to find yourself trouble because you didn’t do your homework.
Another perspective…There are some people in your life that need to be
loved from a distance.. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let
go of or at
least minimize your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not going
anywhere relationships. Observe the relationships around you. Pay
attention…Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones encourage and
which ones discourage? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which
ones are going downhill? When you leave certain people do you feel better
or feel worse? Which ones don’t appreciate you? Which ones make you feel
good, praises you, boosts you with loving and caring words or annotations.
The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth
around you…the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in
the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life.
An African proverb states, ‘Before you get married, keep both eyes open,
and after you marry, close one eye’; Before you get involved and make a
commitment to someone, don’t let lust, desperation, immaturity, ignorance,
pressure from others or a low self-esteem make you blind to warning signs.
Keep your eyes open, and don’t fool yourself that you can change someone or
that what you see as faults isn’t really that important. Do you bring out
the best in each other? Do you compliment and compromise with each other,
or do you compete, compare and control? What do you bring to the
relationship? Do you bring past relationships, past hurt, past mistrust,
past pain? You can’t take someone to the altar to alter them. You can’t
make someone love you or make someone stay. If you develop self-esteem,
spiritual discernment, and ‘a life’; you won’t find yourself making someone
else responsible for your happiness or responsible for your pain. Seeking
status, sex, and security are the wrong reasons to be in a relationship.
WHAT KEEPS A RELATIONSHIP STRONG IS:
4. A SENSE OF HUMOR
5. SHARING TASKS
6. DAILY EXCHANGES (meal, shared activity, hug, call, touch, notes, etc.)
7. SHARING COMMON GOALS AND INTERESTS
8. GIVING EACH OTHER SPACE TO GROW WITHOUT FEELING INSECURE
9.GIVING EACH OTHER A SENSE OF BELONGING AND ASSURANCES OF COMMITMENT
10. CONCERN AND CARE FOR YOUR LOVER IN YOUR OWN WAYS.
If these qualities are missing, the relationship will erode as resentment
withdrawal, abuse, neglect, and dishonesty; and pain will replace.