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These are the 6 things that really matter when you choose your partner

Posted August 5

Think about why you got together with your partner. Perhaps it was a coincidence, or maybe it was love at first sight. Maybe you had a list of characteristics you looked for, and maybe you took a lot of time getting comfortable with each other. Either way, there was an initiated process, a decision made, and a direction pursued.

Here are the six things that really matter when you choose your partner:

1. Your cumulative direction in life

We pay attention to the things that matter most to us. It is common to find a university student buried in books if they are intentional about their academic goals. A student who doesn't enjoy their program is not so dedicated to their schooling. Either way, both students are on a path, and will end up somewhere. They are both at risk to end up in a place of disappointment or in a place of success.

There are certain directions in life that can take a very long time to correct. There are clear risks in pursuing a relationship with someone who sets off red flags for you. You must consider the costs of pursuing such a relationship. If the cumulative direction is positive or can be turned positive with minimal costs, then the relationship is worth pursuing.

2. What you expect from the relationship

Even if you fall in love with someone and you vow to love them unconditionally, you will find that there are conditions attached. We have physiological, social, emotional and spiritual needs. Two partners who both have deep emotional needs might experience difficulties growing together. They look to each other to provide a need that neither is capable of fulfilling in the early stages.

As the relationship persists, the couple can grow to where they are comfortable fulfilling each other’s needs. This can also make it easier to define relationship roles.

3. Your role in the relationship

There are many roles in a marriage. Some come naturally, like who will be the mother and who will be the father. However, relationships vary, causing roles to vary. Who will manage the finances? Who will take the lead on key decisions? Roles can be difficult and overwhelming.

Some roles will take effect immediately and some will form organically, but knowing it's happening will strengthen your relationship.

4. Your view on family (current and future)

When two people get in a relationship, the partnership includes both of their families. When my wife and I got together, we expressed how much we valued our families. We needed our parents' guidance in the early years of our marriage, but we struggled to set boundaries, often leaving one of us hurt when a family member went too far.

Over the years, we revisited this discussion several times to make sure neither of us are struggling with family related issues. When choosing your partner, you should decide what role your families will play in your relationship.

My wife and I also discussed how many children we wanted. She wanted four. I was OK with four but better with two or three. Some couples might not want children, despite their parent’s eagerness for grandchildren. Career goals can also be a contributing factor to how a person views family in the context of relationship.

5. Your career expectations

We spend so much time in our careers, from kindergarten all the way to retirement and beyond. My dentist spent 26 years of his life in school and has worked as a dentist for more than 25 years. After finishing his dentistry studies, he worked for another dentist, then eventually launched his own practice. This was his dream all along.

He knew it would be time-consuming, so he and his wife settled for one child and his wife was a stay at home mother. Then she started a home based business when their son started school.

They got the best of both worlds. However, this is not the typical case for the current generation. According to Quartz, "63 percent of millennial women believe that having children will make it harder for them to advance their career, and 56% of working moms find it very or somewhat difficult to balance career and family responsibilities." Many choose to take on leadership roles earlier, resulting in higher income and the dilemma of spending or saving.

6. How you spend money

My pastor, Dr. Ralph Dartey, teaches that "it is better to have a broken engagement than to have a broken marriage. It is a good idea to talk about how you spend money to get a view of each person’s perception of money."

It is also important to find out as much information as possible about their financial position. Your cumulative direction is important, and how you manage money provides more insight into your cumulative direction.

Whether it was love at first sight or check marks on a long list of qualities that brought you together, the decision to pursue the relationship required proper assessment. The six things mentioned above will help you gain traction as you look to grow your relationship.

Gary is an economist and professor. Juliana, formerly a nurse, is a style and image consultant. We are stewards of four amazing children and founders of LeadingandLove.

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