Picking a partner may be life’s most important decision but it’s still stupidly hard. Even if you find someone to love, how do you know if you’ll be good together way down the line? Faced with that question ourselves, we built a series of challenges to test our relationship. These are some of our favorites from the book we authored “The Marriage Test.”
1. Trade phones.
If you don’t truly trust each other the rest won’t matter much. Exchange phones for a weekend to show your partner you have nothing to hide. It will also force you get on the same page about what is and isn’t acceptable online behavior. And then prove you truly trust each other by vowing never to snoop on each other’s device again.
2. Slash your budget.
Many relationship researches say money trouble is the top marital hurdle. So simulate how your relationship will handle financial strife: calculate your average spending and then live off half that amount for a month. Even just determining your “normal” spending can be eye opening. Check in every week or so on the state of your budget and the impact it’s having on your relationship.
3. Exchange sexual performance reviews.
Maintaining intimacy in a long-term relationship is hard. For a week, give each other your best efforts. Then write out what is and isn’t working for you in the bedroom and (gently) share it with your partner. Be sure to emphasize all the good parts and try not to get defensive if you hear some disappointing critiques.
4. Adopt a new parent’s sleep schedule.
This one requires true commitment. For a week, set an alarm to ring every three hours during the night. When woken, complete a chore: do the dishes, drive around the block or re-organize your cabinets (full credit even if the chore is useful!). You can take turns getting up or do the chore together.
5. Poll the audience.
It’s super awkward for your friends and family to be honest about your relationship—even if they say you’re great together, can you fully believe them? Use Survey Monkey or a similar service to create an anonymous online survey asking friends and family questions like: What is best and worst about us as a couple? How can we be better partners to each other? Do you think we’re right for each other?
6. Pack their bags.
For your next weekend away, pack each other’s bags—it’s a surprising test of how well you know your partner’s day-to-day needs. No asking for hints and no going back for what you forgot! It may also prompt a discussion about how you divide responsibilities, (“See, I always have to pack the sunscreen!”)
7. Map out your life.
It can be hard to discuss the future in concrete terms. “When do you want to get married?” is a pretty loaded question. Now you have an excuse! Separately make timelines of your future: exactly when you want to get married, have kids, buy a house, etc. Then compare your plans and discuss how they do—or don’t—complement each other.