Now that we've agreed that there's no such thing as the perfect person, that you need to know yourself before knowing what you want in a partner and acknowledging the daily effort it takes to sustain and nurture a relationship, let's talk about how you can differentiate between Mr. Right and the flavor of the month. Below are a list of questions some readers have asked, so I wanted to share those thoughts and possible points of guidance with you.
How can you judge if a man is marriage-worthy and reduce your chances of picking the wrong partner?
Both partners need to be "in the right zone" for marriage. The qualities a man possesses when in this place include showing a desire to contribute to building the foundations of a healthy and lasting relationship. This includes an awareness that trust is fragile, therefore he is honest, transparent about his life, goals and ambitions. He is interested in your life and caring and supportive of your growth process. He is generous with his time and resources, not selfish and protective of his territory.
How good a predictor of his future is his past? If his past relationships all ended badly, with him cheating, for example, is it a mistake to think you can change him?
Knowing about a man's past should not be used as an accurate barometer of his present or future relationship because the dynamics of those unions were very different. What is helpful is listening to what he has to say about what he learnt from those relationships, the mistakes he might have made and behaviors he doesn't want to repeat. If he cheated in a past relationship and shows no remorse, then that can be a red flag. However, you can invest in a man who might have previously cheated and explains that now he understands that he made a mistake and realizes how destructive that can be.
How can you tell if mistakes in his relationship past were just because of his youth, or if they are hardwired into his personality?
More decisions are made as a result of situational variables rather than hardwired natural programming, therefore the context of those mistakes need to be understood rather than a surface judgment of boxing a man into descriptive personality categories. We are all complex beings capable of both inappropriate and appropriate behaviors, depending on contextual factors.
How should you prioritize what qualities are important in a potential partner?
Each person will have their own list of qualities important to them. We're likely to know what we don't want as a result of past experience, as well as what we do want in a man. Self-awareness, insight and confidence in acknowledging those qualities should be practices, especially when we are single, before jumping into another relationship.
How important is it to marry the guy he is now, not the guy you think he is going to become?
Psychological development and growth is an inevitable and healthy part of our aging process, therefore we can't fully determine how he is going to evolve. However, if the foundation is built on strong commonalities and principles, it is likely that the couple will grow together rather than apart.
Why is financial security the wrong reason to get married?
Not just financial security, it is wrong to get married for just any one reason; whether that's financial, physical attraction, comfort or physical appearance. That one variable will not be able to sustain the many challenges and ups and downs a relationship will go through. The glue that binds two people needs to be made up of other components as well.
How important is it that you get on with your future husband's family? Should you examine his family traditions and see if they fit with your idea of family life?
It depends which cultural background the couple is from. If they are from an individualistic culture, such as the U.S. or UK, they are more likely to focus on and build their own unit, separate from the in-laws. However, if from a collectivist culture, such as Arab or Indian, they will have more of an interdependent connection to their families. The relationship with families should be considered and evaluated long before you say "I do" because certain unfamiliar principles and expectations might make you wish you had said "I don't!" Discussing topics such as children, careers, division of labor, in-laws, friends and living arrangements are an integral part of successfully merging two lives together.
How can you distinguish between someone who is a best friend and someone who is a great husband?
Try and distinguish between compassionate and passionate love when deciding whether he is a great friend or lover. Most non-platonic relationships start with greater intensity, passion, sexual attraction, possessiveness and an almost intoxicating state of euphoria. Eventually, this sensation does subside into a much more comfortable and compassionate affiliation.
Is there a danger that women get married because they think they've reached an age where they should settle down? The pressure to settle down is again different across cultures, however it can definitely influence a women in choosing a man who may not be suitable for her. Many women have been socialized into believing that by a particular age they should be married. Therefore, if they are in a relationship at that age, it's likely that they may jump into marriage, to avoid the anxiety caused by that early programming, rather than rationally evaluating if the person is marriage material.
How can you be sure you aren't settling?
You can try and distinguish between Mr. Right and Mr. Good Enough by the way you answer the following questions:
1. Is this person's presence in my life going to enhance my existence?
2. Am I marrying them because its time or because its him?
3. Am I going to learn from this person?
4. Am I afraid of remaining single?
5. Do you often fantasize about the grass being greener elsewhere?
6. Would I miss their presence if they left?
7. Do I continuously compare him to other people?
8. Would I rather be with anyone else?
Remember, learning more result in living more... over to you.