How to Choose Your Life Partner
When did you last think about how vitally important it is to know how to pick your life partner? How Do you choose the right partner? I usually ask people, how is your people picker when it comes to choosing a life partner?
Dating is a process of interviews in the form of meetings for coffee or dinner, and it is a vetting process. One of the most critical steps for each person is to take time to become clear on his/her own personal issues which are carried from their own early life experiences. You want to get healthy before getting married. You want to become clear on what it is you want out of life and marriage. You must take time to know yourself, your values in life, your needs, and your competencies in relationships. The more challenging and confusing your upbringing was, the more difficult your adulthood and your marriage will be. There is no way that you can skip this unless you take the time to work on this stuff and grow. When you take the time to know who you are and what you need in a long-term relationship, then you can practice in your dating process!
Marriage is difficult and requires the right skills for growing closer together and staying connected as you will each change through the years to come. In marriage, one learns to become less selfish and less self-centered while knowing how to let his/her needs be known to the other in honest and healthy ways. To know how to talk honestly about your needs and your wants in marriage takes a great deal of work and learned skills. I usually tell couples it is critical that you know how to verbalize your needs in honest ways without reacting to each other. Therefore, a vetting process which is dating also requires the right information and right skills in order to make good choices.
Most of us don’t really know what we want from relationships.
This is no surprise. Human beings only get good at something through practice, practice, practice on a regular basis. So it’s really hard to know what you desire and need in a healthy relationship if you haven’t had one yet and if you don’t know yourself well. This includes reflecting on your values, your competencies, and character issues.
Our culture gives us wrong and misleading advice.
Firstly, it encourages us to remain uneducated about the art and science of healthy relationships and tells us to let our romantic feelings guide us. It teaches us to rely on “fate”, luck, following our instincts and then hoping for the best.
Secondly, our culture mocks the wise and diligent search for a life partner. Research on meeting decisions shows that our choices usually depend on who is available at that time. Don’t limit yourself! Get them approved by your good and safe friends and family, and those people who know you well.
Third, our cultural bias is to “settle down” with someone before you’re “too old” – whatever that means. You’re never too old to be with your life partner. This process takes time and effort and is worth investing in because you’re in it for the long haul. There are young men and women who want to get married without really finding out how to pick the right fit for a lifetime of a marriage.
HERE ARE SOME COMMON PATTERNS OF THOSE WHO END UP IN UNHAPPY RELATIONSHIPS
The blind and deaf romantics
These people believe that falling in love is reason enough for a long-term commitment. Romance is an integral part of genuine relationships and love (true love is an act resulting from the repetitive actions you take) and is vital to long-term happy relationships. Feeling of love and romance is not enough for a solid relationship and marriage. You two need to have more than feeling love toward each other. When there are challenges and frustrations in your relationship, and then you say, “but I love him”, loving him is not enough and the real solution. You need more than just love.
The person who is afraid
Anxiety can be a sound warning system, but it distorts health decisions and is terrible in the long run. Our culture offers us many messages driven by fear that we should ignore. It tells us to be afraid of being left alone (“off the shelf”), to be scared of older parents, to be scared of the opinions of others. This forces people to “reconcile” with inappropriate partners. A fear to follow is the fear of spending the rest of your life with someone with whom you have been continuously unhappy and with whom your friends and family are monitoring the harmful effects on self-esteem.
The person who does not trust their own feelings
These people let the influence of others guide the choice of a life partner. Your choice is very complex and personal and varies from person to person. No one outside of you can fully understand your emotional depth. This is why you’ve got to take the time to do some in-depth work with the right therapist who can help you. Unless your relationship is neglected, abused, or abused, others’ preferences should not be taken into account.
The person who is moved by a list
These individuals identify the boxes on the list of “ideal partners” rather than on paying attention to their character and competencies in terms of having the skills to resolve conflicts in life and more, and their values, do you share values that matter in life. Life is hard and messy. Is this person someone who has the skills and the competencies to face difficulties of life etc?
The selfish person
There are three main types in this category:
- The “My Way or the Highway” type. These are people who do not negotiate, do not compromise, or do not think about others. She is convinced that her wishes, desires, and needs always take precedence over her partners’ wishes. Decisions must go their own way. Teamwork and genuine partnership are not on the agenda. They want to live a single life with someone who is there for the company and does what they are told. The best-case scenario is that they have an unofficial partner (who gets angry at the end) or, in the worst case, a damaged mop of self-esteem, which is called a martyr because she is in a relationship and is not of high quality.
- The “Lead Role” type. These people want to be the star of the show. Their self-absorption is so great that they want their life partner to be there for them as a therapist plus a fan club, with no concept that they must give these back to the other person. The main problem here is their total focus on themselves. This makes their life partner a subordinate which leads to an awfully boring relationship.
- The “My Needs and Desires” type. Of course, we all have needs and desires and we appreciate those needs being met. These people have little sense of putting their needs in perspective. They have little idea of giving back in a reciprocal fashion. If there’s not much else to bolster it apart from the satisfaction of needs, the relationship becomes lifeless.
SO, HOW DO YOU PICK YOUR LIFE PARTNER?
Think of the friends you most enjoy hanging out with. When choosing a life partner, make sure you are a good friend and enjoy spending time with them. Remember, this is what you intend to do for the rest of your life!
Formidable friendships usually have these qualities:
- Compatible sense of humor. Who wants to spend 50 years fake laughing?
- Playing Well Together. There are going to be many humorless situations in your life like doing housework, childcare, traffic jams, delayed transport, illnesses, and money troubles. Make sure you find the ability to laugh together to ease the burden.
- Respect for each other’s way of thinking and processing events. Because you’ll be communicating your thoughts and feelings about your day’s events, your work, and other interesting tidbits to your life partner on a daily basis, lack of high regard for their opinions will be a major obstacle to long-term happiness.
- Enough shared interests, pleasures, and people preferences. These are what make you up as an individual. Without enough common ground here, you’ll feel less and less like yourself. In addition, you’ll both be hard pushed to enjoy spending time together.
- Honesty – the person you are in a relationship with must be a safe place so that you can be honest and yourself.
A Feeling of Home
Do you know what it’s like to sit in an uncomfortable chair for a long time? You don’t want that in a life partnership! Feeling “at home” means that you can ultimately be yourself and feel confident enough to be real with each other, without excuses. A few things are mandatory for this to occur:
- Trust and Safety. Secrets are poison to a relationship, because they form an invisible wall inside the relationship, leaving both people somewhat alone in the world.
- Mutual attraction/chemistry. When this is present your interactions generally feel easy, free-flowing, “on the same page”.
- Ability to embrace human foibles. Guess what? You are not perfect. In fact, you have lots of flaws, just like I do and your life partner does. There is no such thing as a perfect human being! If you or your partner see flaws as faults instead of wounds to be healed, you’re in for big trouble. We all have some wounds and these provide ongoing opportunities for growth. Carefully choose the set of flaws you are comfortable enough to live with because they’re part of the partner you’ll be with for the rest of your life.
- A mostly upbeat vibe. If your partner’s energy or mood is more negative than positive, this is a big warning sign! To realistically assess this, you need to have hung out with them long enough to have passed through the “honeymoon phase”. The second phase of a relationship involves getting to know each other’s real selves.
An unwavering determination to be good in relationships
All relationships are hard! There’s no such thing as a low-maintenance relationship. It’s the hardest thing we have to do in the world. It requires learning relationship skills and putting in sustained, repeated, and persistent practice to get on well with another person at close quarters for a long time. What are the skills you need to be good at a long-term partnership?
- Communication. This is a major thing that undoes couples. John Gottman’s scientific studies show that 96% of the time you can predict the outcome of a conversation based on the first 3 minutes of interaction! Successful couples (he calls them “masters of relationship”) start discussions gently, listen openly, and take responsibility for themselves.
- Money – what is your relationship with money and hers/his? You must talk about this. Is she going to have a separate joint account or does he not want to clue you in and share the details of his financial status etc. These are hard but important conversations to have for it will be much more intense after the wedding day. Don’t be afraid to talk about this and get help on this.
- Focus on Equality. Differences in power are inevitable in all relationships. We need to learn how to use energy healthily and how to deal with energy problems efficiently. It is about understanding the “power” of skills and eliminating the “control” tactic. Power comes when one of you walks a lot on the eggshells around the other, when everyone’s wishes and opinions always prevail, or when one of you is disrespectful to the other. Learn and practice these equality and negotiation skills carefully. Otherwise, you may be heading for a breakup.
- Fighting Fair. It is OK to fight. The real issue is how you fight. It is a fact that conflict and struggle are inevitable in any relationship. But did you know that you can learn to fight well? A “good” fight can quickly defuse tension. You can listen before answering. You can see that your partner’s perspective is as legitimate as yours and that you focus on the problem, not the person. This way, you will reduce the fight anyway.
So now you have a good idea of what it takes to make this vitally important decision about a life partner. You’ve no doubt be assessing your own relationship as you’ve been reading this. Remember each person and every relationship has flaws, so there’s no “perfect partner” out there waiting to fulfill you and your every need. It’s a team effort. Good relationships are made, not born.
Many of us need help to navigate this extremely important process. As a psychotherapist, Jousline Savra has nearly 22 years of counseling experience helping couples and adult individuals to attain emotional stability, improve their relationships, enhance their communication and their emotional connection. Jousline creates a warm, open, and trusting environment so that the individual or couple is better able to explore core patterns in their relationships and the way they interact with each other.
Core patterns are key components of your relationship and are those core fears and beliefs that have been maladaptive and they are in the way of achieving satisfying, healthy communication skills and happy relationships. Jousline’s focus is to provide you with the best counseling process and the type of therapy that is helpful to you and your relationships. Whether it’s marriage counseling or individual counseling, she will work closely with you in a safe and non-judgmental setting. Give her a call today to start your journey.