When you’re getting serious with someone, there are certain things you need to know about them—partially to assess compatibility, and partially because communication, openness and trust are foundations of a healthy relationship. Sometimes, couples avoid these hot-button topics, or keep secret something they think their new partner won’t like.
Don’t worry. The major differences you end up finding between the two of you need not be deal breakers.
Plenty of couples make it work, despite divergent views on politics, money and social issues. But talking about these issues can strengthen and deepen your relationship—or make you realize you don’t want to commit to this person after all.
1. Financial status.
Is one of you in debt? Are you super-good at saving money? Does either of you have an IRA or 401K, and how often do you contribute?
This won’t matter so much at the beginning of your relationship but, if you take things to the next level, you’ll need to know how the financial burden might be divided between the two of you, especially considering that money is the number one thing most couples fight about.
2. Attitudes about money.
How much you have isn’t the only thing to consider. You should also know your partner’s views on spending and saving.
If you ever shacked up together, would you want to open a joint account, or would you prefer to keep things separate? Does one of you earn less money and, if so, how do you feel about that? How often are you comfortable eating out or going on vacation, given the constraints of your budgets?
Does one of you identify with a particular faith? How strong are your religious beliefs? If you plan on someday having kids, would either of you be adamant about raising them in a certain way?
You may feel that—when it comes to religion—love knows no bounds. And we certainly agree that religion doesn’t have to be an immovable barrier to love. But a person’s faith can often be a core part of their identity, and it can become surprisingly divisive when kids come into the picture.
4. Feelings about kids.
Before getting in too deep, you should know how you each feel about children. Do you want them? Once you’ve established that you do (or do not) want to reproduce, find out how many your partner wants and when.
Not only that, but what are your views on parenting and gender roles? Can either of you imagine taking a break from a high-powered career in order to focus more on caregiving? How do you see your roles as Mom and Dad?
5. Commitment to work.
Ambition. Dedication. Financial stability. All very sexy attributes. But if one of you is married to your job, can you also be married to each other?
Look for signs that your partner is maintaining a (moderately) healthy work/life balance, and consider carefully whether or not you can handle a partnership that leaves you lonely most of the time.
6. Level of wanderlust.
Do you like living here? Or are you itching to try somewhere new? How open would he be to the possibility of moving?
If, for example, you landed your dream job in Bumblefudge, Massachusetts, would one of you have to leave the other behind? While long-distance relationships can certainly work—even when you’re married—they can also be very tough to manage.
Do either of you have any major health concerns? Are they contagious? Do they directly affect life span? Or could they potentially affect your future offspring? These are things you probably don’t want to be surprised by sometime down the road.
8. Sex drive.
After money, sex is one of the top things couples fight about. Some even get divorced over arguments centered around their sex lives. This is why it’s important to determine early on whether you’re sexually compatible in terms of both libido and kink levels.
9. Social habits.
Opposites attract—it’s true. But sometimes, when introverts and extroverts fall in love, it ends up being more trouble than it’s worth. In cases like these, it’s important to be respectful of each other’s comfort levels and to come to an agreement about how you’ll handle different types of social situations as a couple.